Meet the Staff
Rev. Dr. Abril Goforth
Abril Goforth is a graduate of Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. She is trained in conflict resolution and obtained the Doctorate of Ministry degree in Church Leadership from Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC.
Abril has many interests. Her vision for the church is one that is wildly diverse, where people of every age, nation, race, and identity gather in the name of Christ.
Dr. Caleb Chang
Director of Music Ministries
Caleb received both Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from University of North Texas. He has been conducting choirs and teaching voice lessons for over 10 years in the United States, and he actively performs as a professional baritone soloist. He has also devoted his musical talents to military events and ceremonies while he served in the U.S. military.
Caleb is a choir director and music professor at Hill College. As a Christian musician, his motto is reflected in the words of J. S. Bach, “To be a diligent musician who gives all of himself for God’s glory.”
Associate Director of Music Ministries
Director of First Methodist School
Erika is a 40+ year resident of Duncanville and a proud Duncanville High School graduate, where she met her high school sweetheart/husband. She received her BS in Computer Science Engineering from Southern Methodist University and teaching certification from East Texas State University. She worked as a programmer in the telecommunications industry before beginning her teaching career.
Erika taught math at Reed Middle School in Duncanville before her two children were born. She came to First Methodist School in 2002 when her children enrolled in school as toddlers. Her daughter and son both graduated from FMS's kindergarten program. In her spare time, Erika likes to garden and participate in Bible Study Fellowship International.
Parish Health Nurse
What is a parish health nurse?
The goal of the parish health nurse program is to focus on ones needs and to care enough to help individuals stay well by making healthy choices. This ministry will provide free confidential intervention to those in need. You are encouraged to contact the pastor or me if you have further questions. (FUMCD office # 972-298-6121) Watch for more information about the history of Parish Health Ministry included in our newsletter (NYCU) in the weeks to come. Natalie is excited to serve FUMCD as Parish Health Nurse.
Suszette White recently retired as an Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Human Resources at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Serving in that role for twenty plus years, she provided key Administrative support for the Office of the Vice President. She often served as the liaison for the VP of HR, triaging critical and emotional matters with care and sensitivity.
Suszette is an active member and elder at the First Christian Church in Duncanville. She is also an active member and supporter of the ROISD Hawkette/ Highstepper Booster Club and is an avid scrapbooking enthusiast.
Director of Church Plant Maintenance
At FUMC Duncanville, we are devoted to the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. We’re a friendly bunch that loves to worship, eat and, of course, watch a Cowboys game. We try to be simple, direct and honest. We do this for two reasons, first because we know that most people are tired of hearing churches speak in jargon and hollow platitudes. Second, because we have discovered that the more we get out of our own way and keep it simple, the more the Holy Spirit can move freely and inspire us to fulfill the calling that Christ has placed on all of our lives.
We have something for just about everyone here at FUMCD, and if we don’t have what you’re looking for, we’d love for you to help us fix that. There is a place for everyone here, but you should know that we’re a family focused on outreach so if you stick with us, we hope you are ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Scripture tells us that “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” You are invited into our family and we sincerely hope that you’ll come give us a hand, and help to spread the greatest news that the world has ever heard.
What is the UMC?
The area around Duncanville had its beginning in 1845 when the first families came and built their log cabins. In 1847 missionaries from Nacogdoches came and established Methodism. These missionaries built a log house and called it Wesley Chapel. It was located southeast of where Highway 67 crosses Camp Wisdom Road. In 1872 a church house was built at Wheatland (Hampton Road at Wheatland Road) and the membership moved there.
In 1881 R. G. Penn gave 2 acres of land on Horne Branch (Center Street east of Cedar Ridge Road) for church and school purposes. A house was built and called Union Hall. In 1882 the first Sunday School of this community was organized at Union Hall. In 1883 George W. Owens organized a Methodist Episcopal Church South at Union Hall with 14 members: H. S. and Eliza Carr, James and Nottie Horne, John and Rachel Hastings, John and Sallie Harrison, Joe and Lizzie Swytzer, Miss Cordelia Garner, Miss Rebecca Brandenburg, Miss Lura Carr, and Mrs. Jane Garner. In the 1880s and early 1890s camp meetings were held under the trees at Union Hall. In 1888 the land and house at Union Hall were traded to Mr. Penn for land where our church campus is located.A large one room house was built and the membership of Union Hall was moved. In 1896 Duncanville and Cedar Hill were made into a circuit and these two churches were together until 1913. In the summer of 1900 an addition was built to the church. A room on the north side was added with a vestibule and a belfry with a real bell.
In 1913 the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South at Duncanville were put with Wheatland and they were called the Duncanville and Wheatland Circuit. A large shingle-top tabernacle was built east of the church. This tabernacle was used for meetings, homecomings, funerals, and other gatherings during the summer. In 1926 the Duncanville membership decided that they needed a new church so they moved into the tabernacle and the church was torn down. Everyone helped by pulling nails and piling lumber. On Thanksgiving Day in 1927 the ladies served a dinner in the business part of town and raised $1400 for the construction of a new sanctuary. Much of the labor for this new facility was donated and when they dug the basement in solid rock, they dug deeper than needed and had to fill in a foot or more. Several outsiders and doubters, when they saw the excavation, commented that many a snow would fall in that hole before it is finished.
This new building cost $15,000 and was a pay-as-you-go undertaking. Every brick and every bit of mortar plus the labor was paid for before it was placed. D. L. Hopkins, Sr. was chairman of the men’s building committee and Mrs. N. M. Hunt was chairman of the ladies. This sanctuary was located at the corner of Daniel and Avenue C facing north on Daniel. The church was completed in 1928 and Rev. A. M. Stout was the first pastor to serve. On Sunday, July 8, 1962, Bishop William C. Martin and Rev. Walter Sullens led the congregation in the laying of the cornerstone and opening the sanctuary (presently Aldersgate Fellowship Hall) for worship.
On November 17, 1974 a Memorial Garden was dedicated on the site of the 1928 sanctuary which was razed in 1973. It was dedicated to the glory of Almighty God and for service in this church in loving memory of Mr. and Mrs. C. O. Vinyard, Mr. and Mrs. J. O. Fite, and Mrs. Frances LoPresti and also in a spirit of love and thanksgiving to all those who served in the 1928 church and to those for whom memorials have been given by loved ones and friends.
The Youth Center contained a gymnasium, scout rooms, equipment room, snack bar, a conference room, a suite of offices, a work room, and upstairs recreation room and youth classes. Over the years, several changes have been made. It now consists of a gymnasium, snack bar, recreation room for the youth, youth Sunday School classes, adult Sunday School classes both up and downstairs, and the Church Library.
Through the years, the church has actively served and met the needs of the community. Many of Duncanville’s earliest settlers and town leaders have been members here. With its founding dating to the first days of the city’s settlement, the First United Methodist Church of Duncanville is an important element of the area’s heritage. On September 27, 1984 the church accepted with gratitude a gift from Mr. and Mrs. S. G. Alexander the architectural plans as well as the shell of this building. The finishing of the building was made possible by donations from other members of the congregation and friends. November 17, 1974, the new S. Gus Alexander, Jr. United Methodist Youth Center was dedicated. Lieutenant Alexander, a life-long member of FUMC Duncanville, was killed while serving his country in Viet Nam. His wife, Kathy, initiated the action for the Youth Center in his memory.
The business of our church is conducted in the Administration Building located at the corner of Main Street and Daniel. It was purchased from Texas Power and Light in 1993 and remodeled to fit our needs and occupied in 1994.
In 1988 as worship attendance increased, the need for a new sanctuary was evident. Fund raising began and the groundbreaking took place October 30, 1994. The dream was realized on March 24, 1996 as we moved into a new 900 seat sanctuary, with a 70 seat choir loft, 2,300 square foot narthex and 2,300 square foot choir rehearsal hall.
After moving into the new sanctuary in 1996, work began on remodeling the old sanctuary into a 6,000 square foot bi-level fellowship hall plus a new 750 square foot commercially equipped kitchen.