A STUDY OF THE HISTORY OF
THE CHURCH IN THE MOUNTAINS
FORT DAVIS, TEXAS
Origin. The Church in the Mountains [CITM], a non-denominational Charismatic
church, a FIRST for Fort Davis, was organized in mid-1978. CITM's primary focus was in the
areas of Missions, Intercessory Prayer and Bible Study. CITM first began as an outreach to
the Hispanic families in the community following a tent revival led by a traveling evangelist,
Porfirio Rodriquez of Seminole, Texas. Weekly Women's Bible Studies and Intercessory
Prayer were begun, and a Clothing Ministry for the community, as well as Mexico, continued
to involve many who would otherwise have never become a part ofCITM. Margaret Russell and
Genevieve Jimenez served as Outreach Director and Translator, respectively.
Charter Members. CITM's charter members included Virginia Hernandez and
Genevieve Jimenez (Mrs. Elias). (Another Genevieve Jimenez also resided in Fort Davis at this
same time, thus the husband's forename was used to distinguish between the two ladies.) Other
charter members included Howard Moos, Willa Moos, Margaret Russell, Jay Ward, Anna Beth
Ward, Shawn Ward, Tanya Ward and Revis Ward.
First Meeting Place--Home Church--1978. For nearly a year the group met in the
home of the John W. "Jay" Ward family. The first service was held on the Wards' Twenty-fifth
Wedding Anniversary, June 27,1978. On Sunday evenings Jay Ward led the weekly Bible
Studies; and Anna Beth Ward and Raymond Martinez, Alpine, led the praise and worship.
Bro. Martinez sometimes served as a translator. For the weekly afternoon Women's Bible
Studies and/or Intercessory Prayer, Willa Moos and Margaret Russell ministered in music for
the Spanish-speaking services, and Anna Beth Ward played her accordion or the piano for the
English-speaking services, with Mmes. Moos and Russell leading the Bible studies and
Second Meeting Place--Adobe Structure of 1915. Almost one year after its
organization, CITM members invited Evangelist Don Smith, an associate of the James Robison
Ministries; Fort Worth, to conduct a one-week revival beginning on June 24, 1979; and a larger
meeting place was needed. Evangelist Smith had held a revival at the Baptist Church, Fort Davis,
the previous year; therefore, he was familiar with the vast expanse of the Big Bend country.
In mid-June 1979, the members of CITM moved into a larger adobe structure and
leased it from Bryant and Alice (Jones) Harris, San Antonio, former Jeff Davis County ranchers.
The building, known as the old Brandon Store, was located one block north of the courthouse
and was bounded on the east by the downtown businesses' backside, and on its west side, by
the historic Overland Trail. This building was conveniently located; it had ample parking; and
it was easily accessible for guests, since simple directions could be given to its location. On the
town plat, its location was listed as being on Front Street.
Street signs were non-extant in Fort Davis until 1999, with the exception of markers for
the State Highways 17 and 118 through downtown=listed as State Street on the town plat. The
other road prominently labeled was cemetery road=listed as Military Drive on the plat.
Landmarks such as the Jeff Davis County Courthouse, Sleeping Lion Mountain and the
Overland Trail have been commonly used to point folks in the desired direction.
Background. The building has an interesting history. It was built in 1915 by Burrell I.
Musgrove, the maternal grandfather of the late Rena (McCutcheon) Duncan (Mrs. J. C. Sr.)
This adobe structure was built for recreational purposes, being used as a skating rink during
World War I. During the post-war years it became a shooting gallery and movie theater when
owned by Walter Spurgeon Miller (Audrey Kelly's father who was married to Lena Espy) and
operated by William Alfred Yarbro (Lillian "Bit" Miller's father). The local Baptists bought the
building and lots from Mr. Miller, and from 1921 to 1944 it was used for their church services.
The next owners, John Randolph and Angelie Meyers Brandon, used the building for
commercial purposes as a dry-goods store. At one time someone also had a mechanic's shop in
the back portion next to the one-story annex. About 1970 it became a restaurant and air
conditioning service center for Bob Galyon, but these businesses did not last more than two
years. Finally, it was used for storage purposes by the Harris family.
Interestingly enough, the building idly sat with locks on its doors for many years beginning in the
mid-Forties about the close of World War II. Details are not clear to this writer
concerning the alleged litigation against the Brandon Estate following Mr. Brandon's accidental
and untimely death, but no one was able to gain access into the building for almost a quarter of a
century. Whenever the estate was finally settled, plans called for a giant sale to rid the place of
its entire contents, including the furniture and fixtures. Merely walking into that old dust-laden
structure and looking over the items prior to the sale were quite memorable experiences. The
contents sold for a very nominal cost, and those buyers fortunate enough to acquire some of the
pre-war items felt that they had indeed found a bargain.
II. INCORPORATION / RECOGNITION / GROWH
The Name. The name selected, Church in the Mountains, was suggested by Margaret
Russell. At least three other names were used during 1982-1983, but the members chose to use
the original name of Church in the Mountains. They felt that place-names were scriptural as
supported in the epistles that were inspirationally written by Paul the Apostle, as well as in the
book of Revelation, inspirationally authored by John the Apostle.
First Full-Time Pastors--1982. Several church members ministered to the church body
along with invited guests, including Missionaries Frank and Dale Reed of Presidio who were
affiliated with East Texas Christian Center, Longview, Texas. The Reeds' four children Logan,
Morgan, Traci and Clay always accompanied their parents. In 1999 Clay Reed, his wife Sherri
and three young children became members ofCITM during their year's residency in Fort Davis.
Guitarist Jim Allan ministered in music, with many of the praise and worship renditions being
his original compositions. The Reeds and Allans had been former members of Rolling Hills
Church near Longview, Texas. CITM operated under the charter and by-laws of the Reeds' East
Texas Christian Center.
Turney and Donna Fletcher of Ojai, California, became CITM'S first full-time
pastors on February 14, 1982. Pastor Turney also led praise and worship, being an
accomplished guitarist. The Fletchers had not been in the pastorate previously but felt that God
had called them to serve in this office, and they had trained under the auspices oftheir Pastor
Garth Hickey at the Ojai Christian Center. Some members of Pastor Turney's paternal family,
the Fletcher-Weyrauch Family, have ranched in Presidio County for nearly a century; therefore,
he was no stranger to the area. His forename was chosen from the Tumey family, a Presidio
County pioneering ranch family.
Improvements. The first major improvement to the leased structure was the addition
of two restrooms and a nursery near the building's entrance and the installation of a forced-air
heater that was thermostatically controlled. These improvements necessitated the addition of a
hallway to facilitate easy access to the restrooms.
Furniture and/or Equipment. Jim and Barbara Allan donated a piano; and some metal
folding chairs were purchased. The first major piece of equipment purchased was a 16mm
movie projector, followed shortly by the acquisition of an overhead projector and screen.
Next, the addition of a sound system-- for recording the services and for use in praise and
worship=became an integral part of the church's program. Tapes and books were also made
available for sale/loan, with the book sales being discontinued during the 1990s. A copying
machine was the next item to be purchased, with a multiple-tapes duplicator added to the
inventory during the 1990s.
Programs and Services. When Herbert Eugene "Dude" Sproul's small rent house
located immediately north and adjacent to the church building was leased in mid-1982, CITM's
programs were further expanded. The activities included Sunday School taught by Dr.
Harvey Gilliam, Carol Truax, Ron Truax and Donna Fletcher and mid-week services led by
Pastor Tumey. Children's Church was conducted by Donna Fletcher, then by Del and Cindy
Dolph (nephew of Terry and Diana Taylor) and then by Anna Beth Ward. Intercessory prayer
meetings were led by Pastor Turney, then by Helen Gilliam, Carol Truax, Ron Truax and Tim
Edwards. Cell group studies were directed by Pastor Turney at the Fletchers' residence; Ron
Truax and Donna Fletcher at the Truaxes' residence; and Jim Dyer at ranch of Bernice Friend
and the Woffords near the Davis Mountains Resort. About this same time, Mrs. Lillie Mae
Lukins commuted weekly from Pecos to lead another evening Bible Study in the home of long
time friends Ron and Carol Truax. The latter continued for several years.
Movies, socials, campouts, youth outings and dinner on the grounds were the other
activities that were soon added. Perhaps, the biggest event was the Annual Winter Weekend
Retreat at Cloudcroft, New Mexico, led by Ron Truax. That event involved most of the church
families, but Jay Ward stayed in Fort Davis and was in charge ofthe Sunday services for those
who did not go to Cloudcroft. This event was discontinued in the mid-1990s. The Hallelujah
Parties, held annually at the end of October, encouraged all the youth of the community to
participate in that fun-filled evening. An Annual Christmas Pot "Blessing" Family Dinner,
with the entertainment being furnished by CITM members, was added in the late 1990s.
In August 1983, CITM began sponsoring a Christian school for Grades pre-K-12 known
as Davis Mountain Christian School [DMCS]. Toi Ann McAnally, of Alpine, was the first
graduate at the close of the fall term of the 1983-84 school year. Following graduation, she
married Jeff Fisher, a member ofa Jeff Davis pioneering family, Jess Cunningham and Winnie
Estelle (Davis) Fisher. Toi Ann is the daughter ofa former New Mexico Baptist pastor and his
wife, the Rev. Charles and Sondra McAnally, Fort Davis.
One student had matriculated the previous year [1982-83] when DMCS was under the
jurisdiction of a private board of directors. This board consisted of Ron and Carol Truax and
Johnny and Lynn Wofford, and the school was housed in the former Indian Museum located
next door to the residence of Mrs. Gloria (Granado) Marin. That graduate was Zanna Sullivan,
great-granddaughter of pioneer Jeff Davis County ranchers, Joe W. and Lola (Pruett) Espy.
Zanna's maternal grandparents were pioneer Presidio County and Jeff Davis County ranchers,
Gay and Ruth (Espy) Howard. Zanna is the daughter offormer Missionaries to Mexico, Dr.
James Lampkin and Suzanne (Howard) Sullivan, Fort Davis.
Plans called for the expansion of the youth outreach, the main area being the school
program with a recommendation of changing the curriculum to Accelerated Christian Education
[ACE], but retaining the A-Beka program for all pre-schoolers. No one from DMCS attended
the ACE training seminar in Florida; so the A-Beka curriculum was continued, and the school
was housed in the church's back rooms.
The enrollment fluctuated from 13 to 25, but the average enrollment was 19. Most of the
students were from Fort Davis, but some commuted daily from Verhalen, Alpine and Marfa.
Bake sales were held throughout the school's existence to help defray costs so that the
school personnel could purchase equipment, supplies and provide field trips. A VCR and color
TV were purchased in the mid-Eighties.
During the 1986-87 school year several of the students participated in a Christian School
Track Meet in Alpine with Alpine, Pecos and DMCS. DMCS brought home a third-place
trophy. The following year a second-place trophy was added whenever the Christian School
Track Meet was held in Pecos with Kermit, Pecos and DMCS participating.