60 years of learning and fellowship together and serving others
To meet the need of a Sunday school class for young married couples in August of 1956, the precursor of the Candlelighters class was formed — the “Mr. and Mrs. Class.” By that October the class of more than 20 members changed its name to “Kumduble,” of “come double” to the class. They adopted the Candlelighters name in the fall of 1958.
None of the original class members remain with us today, but those who do have also remained active in the lives of each other as well as the broader St. Paul’s Family. New members still find their way to the Candlelighters’ S-109 home in the Sanctuary basement, where they have met since the winter of 1985.
Many attribute the deep roots and longevity of the class to their children having grown up together as the Candlelighters themselves matured into older adulthood. Fond memories were made at their annual family weekends together in the Hill Country, Lakeview Methodist Assembly, and at Ole Moon, St. Paul’s own retreat property near Magnolia. To commemorate those days, the class donated a glider swing to Ole Moon.
After functioning as a self-taught discussion group during the first year, with the appointment of Dr. Alfred Freeman as St. Paul’s senior minister, they gained a sponsor/teacher — his wife, Carolyn Freeman. Strong leadership and teaching has continued to be a hallmark of the class.
Today they enjoy a mix of lessons taught by clergy and their own members, some of whom also teach other classes as well as Bible studies.
They each take seriously their membership vows of participating “faithfully in the ministries of the church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness, that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
Look at almost any area of activity at St. Paul’s — current and past — and you will usually find at least one Candlelighter, often as the organizer. Recently they filled more than one large white board with a list that included:
- Teach Sunday School for children and adults
- Work with Vacation Bible School and Sights Sounds and Smells of Christmas
- Lead a variety of adult Bible studies
- Lead PrimeTimers
- Organize children and youth choirs
- Sing in St. Paul’s Choir
- Provide annual Easter Brunch for choir members and clergy
- Help with the Royal Society of Church Music summer course
- Administrative Board, Church Council, Board of Trustees, St. Paul’s Foundation, Centennial Committee
- Participate on mission trips and in mission projects, including many Mitzvah Days
- Help remodel the GROW classrooms
- Build/rebuild the large church signs on Main and Fannin Streets
- Active members or supporters of the Society of St. Stephen, Stephen Ministries, CanCare, EAC and predecessor Food Pantry, Group Home and Nursing facility visitation committees