After the completion of the Rock Church in 1939, the members of Coker Church tackled the need for an educational building and a parsonage. These buildings would be built according to the available money as the members wanted the church to carry no debt. At this time, 1940, Rev. William M. Rader was minister.
Arthur Nagel reported on the need for the educational building. He taught an adult Sunday school class and it was necessary to use two or three pews in the back rows of the sanctuary.
Lumber had been saved from the original frame church. It was decided to continue to use rock veneer for both of these buildings. In December 1940, the educational building was finished.
Members of the church were innovative in volunteering their services in special ways and in the maintenance of the church. Verne and Zylpha Fleischaur joined the church in 1942. Verne chopped off the top of his G.I. boot while mowing the grass and needed medical treatment. Later, Verne organized a church volleyball team in his own backyard. Arthur and Bernice Jones, daughter of Eldred and Frances Jones, were married in the rock church in 1941.
Lonnie Weaver was Sunday School Superintendent and reported an attendance of approximately 80 people. Jeanette Jones was Superintendent of the children’s Sunday School. One of these classes met in the kitchen with Mrs. Fleischaur and the other classes shared the large educational room.
During the years of W.W. II, and because of the concern for “The Men of Coker Community Church” who were serving in the military, a prayer list was compiled of the names of these men who were overseas. The ladies of the Women’s Society (the name at this time) prayed daily for the names on this list.
At this period of time Monte Brown served as choir director and his wife was the accompanist on the piano. Membership in the choir varied from 5 to10 voices. Among the participants were Jeanette Jones, Lola Townsend, Elbert Isom, Jerry and Hank Haag, Diane Haag, and Barbara Fleischaur.
In 1946, Rev. J.H. Meredith became the minister. Since there were services on both Sunday morning and Sunday evening a cot was placed at the back of the Sunday school room so he could spend the night and not make the drive into San Antonio in the dark. The periodic flooding of Salado Creek also influenced the decision to build a parsonage. The parsonage was completed in the spring of 1955 and Rev. C.C. McKinney and his family were the first to live in the house. The Rock church was air conditioned about this time. Seven rock veneered classrooms were added along with the church office and pastor’s study by March 23, 1960.
A huge celebration was planned for the dedication of the buildings. This event was held on Easter Sunday, March 28, 1948. A basket dinner for the 139 members began at noon. The day’s special honored guest was Rev. A.E. Rector, first minister of Coker Church. Familiar names of participants are: Mrs. Fannie Hatch Coker, Mrs. Mattie Coker McNett, Arthur Nagel, District Lay Leader Monte Brown and V.I. Jones. You should now begin to recognize some of the familiar names of San Antonio streets which were named for early Coker family and church members.
Coker Church began to undergo a subtle change from a small rural church to a community church, to an urban church, and eventually to the large metropolitan church we have today. This was a gradual change due to the agriculture and ranch use of the surrounding areas. A big building boom started after W.W. II, and during this period the city of San Antonio bought the property of the parents of Eldred Jones for the construction of the San Antonio Municipal Airport.
In later years the parsonage was used as an office and classrooms. The parsonage and the fence with the rock gate posts were later removed to make way for the future growth of the church. The Educational Building is still in use today after 70 years and is known as the Epworth Wing. Indeed, these early Coker members of great faith built a solid foundation for us and future generations where we have a beautiful place to worship our Lord. For this, we give thanks and are truly grateful.
On a personal note I would like to add that I was privileged to know a few of the people named in this article when my family joined Coker in the 1970’s. I want to mention Royce and Jeanette Jones and Verne and Zylpha Fleischaur. Their presence was felt everywhere in the church. Jeanette, especially, was involved in all areas of the church. She and Royce were the most welcoming members of my family, both at church and the San Antonio Public Service Company where Royce was employed and my husband began his work as an engineer.
They were a true embodiment of the Methodist Church desire for each church to be a “Welcoming Church”. We should all follow in their footsteps and be an example to all who come to worship at Coker United Methodist Church.