WPPC History

Davis Elementary   It is hard to believe how much we have grown in the relatively short span of just over forty years! Our church was a joint development effort on the part of Covenant and Trinity Presbyteries (since then, Grace Presbytery, part of the PCUSA, has replaced these presbyteries). They purchased land on our present Custer road site and called the Reverend Maurice Barnett to start the ball rolling. Under Maurice’s aegis, we began meeting in homes in the fall of 1974. Eventually, we moved to Davis Elementary School Cafetorium.

 

WPPC was officially organized on March 2 of 1975. The church office was established in an apartment (now demolished) on Spring Lane north of 15th Street near the present day Collin Creek Mall. Our organizing pastor, Maurice Barnett, was a graduate of McCormick Seminary, Chicago, Illinois. Our associate pastor was Rebecca Weaver, who graduated from Austin Seminary. In addition to setting up programs at WPPC, Maurice was instrumental in establishing a Geriatric Center, later renamed the Maurice Barnett Wellness Center in his memory.   Maurice and Rebecca

 

In July of 1975, long before we had our own worship facilities, our youth — assisted by interested adults — constructed a yurt on our property. They earned over half the cost through various work projects. Patterned after the traditional hut of Mongolian nomads, the yurt design was both economical and flexible. The structure was originally used as a youth meeting place and for Sunday. Later it provided additional storage space for church materials. The Yurt was finally torn down in the summer of 2004.   The Yurt

Two years after organizing, we broke ground for our present building on Custer Road. Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony was the Plano Mayor Pro Tem Bob Ellis and architect Byron Schaff. Jim Jacobs served as groundbreaking chairman. Specially milled lumber was required for the sanctuary. Carpenters said they had never worked before with 32 foot long 2 x 10s!

 

The steeple goes up   Our first Sunday in the new building was February 12, 1978. The structure was officially dedicated March 5, 1978. Even as we moved in, we realized that we needed more room — though it would be eight years before we were ready to fix this problem! Following the open classroom concept popular in Plano schools, we conducted Sunday classes for most elementary grades in what is now the library, with dividers to separate the individual classes. The church also welcomed Lorraine Darley’s Mother’s Day Out program (supplanted by Custer Parkway Preschool, which now has its own separate location) and provided initial meeting space for the Plano Senior Citizens and Geriatric Center groups, which have now moved to separate locations).

 

The dedication of our permanent church home on our third birthday was a very special occasion for us! After a processional entrance, members leading the worship service were seated in the front row, followed by our 10 session members in the second row, and members of the building committee in the third row. For this occasion, the moveable interlocking seats were positioned much as they are today. However, the building committee purposely chose chairs rather than pews to allow flexible worship arrangements, including worship in the round. In the early days we experimented with a variety of different configurations.   Dedication of West Plano Presbyterian Church building, 1978

During this period, we called David Mack to be our interim pastor. David had conducted a shopping mall ministry prior to moving to Plano and embracing Presbyterianism. On the side, he assisted his wife Judy in running Stretch and Sew Fabrics in Richardson. David helped the Congregation see the lighter, human side of life. His sermons, liberally illustrated with Snoopy and other cartoon slides, were just what we needed as we took an introspective look at ourselves and searched for a senior pastor to replace Maurice.

 

Jim Serviss   In 1981, we called Jim Serviss to be our next pastor. Standing well over 6 feet, Jim was a Texas-sized individual with an unusually colorful past. Prior to coming to WPPC, he ministered to the Papago Indians in Arizona. It seems like there wasn’t much that Jim hadn’t done at some time. He escaped the slums of Toledo on a music scholarship to the University of Cincinnati. After college he tried “jobbing” as an opera singer. Then he joined the Army, where he was trained as a neuro-psychiatric technician. Because he could speak German (as well as Italian and French), he was sent to Europe as an intelligence officer, posing as a German opera student. When he mustered out of the service, he felt a call
to the Lutheran ministry. A divorce led him to the Presbyterian church. Eventually, Jim arrived in Plano ... riding a motorcycle and singing up a storm. It turned out to be a difficult transition for him to make, moving from the poverty of the Indian Reservation to the relative affluence of Plano. After much good work, but a lot of accompanying frustration, Jim left WPPC.

 

At this time, Presbytery asked Wes Lackey to be our stated-supply minister. Looking back, this was an inspired decision. Wes had just the right chemistry to make things click at WPPC. In recognition of this, and with Presbytery’s blessing, Wes was called and installed as pastor in June of 1984. He was our head of staff for eighteen years, before retiring. Wes is a native of New Mexico with a Doctorate of Theology from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth and over 40 years of experience in the pastorate. Previously, he served at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Dallas and First Presbyterian Church in Waco. His interests included archaeological investigations (including on-site supervision at digs in Hebron, New Mexico, and Texas), mathematical studies, building harpsichords, and — most noticeably — playing golf.   Wes Lackey

 

Ground breaking for CE wing   As early as 1982, we selected a new building committee to assess our obvious need for more space and propose options. By 1985, under Wes Lackey’s aegis, we felt financially stable enough to begin a campaign to make additional program space a reality. Together, architect Michael Bausch and the Building Committee came up with a conceptual design that blended nicely with our existing structure. A building fund was established and pledges were solicited. In February of 1986 we were able to break ground for a much needed Christian Education wing.

The new education wing added eight classrooms, a fellowship hall, and a youth loft. In the process, we enlarged our kitchen, added more accessible attic storage space, and introduced a courtyard between the classrooms and the original structure. We were assisted in this endeavor with funds from the Canyon Creek Day School, owned by Claire Tubbs, which operated out of the wing during the week. Their contribution over a 5-year period covered more than one third of the cost of the new addition. As a result of their support we were financially able to solve our overcrowded classroom situation, while at the same time attracting a first-class preschool program to Plano.

 

In August of 1993, Beth Fultz joined our church staff as Director of Christian Education and Youth Director. Beth enthusiastically picked up the reins of our youth program and expanded it. Her energy, creativity abilities, and singing talent were admired by all. Examples of activities cooked up by Beth are the adult senior activity group Forever 39, family ski trips, youth plays, and mission trips. Beth left WPPC in June of 2006, having accomplished much and made and many friends!   Beth Fultz

 

Charles Taylor   In March of 1998, we welcomed the Reverend Charles Taylor as Parish Associate. Charles shared the pulpit with Wes and helped to nurture our congregation, applying his special teaching skills and functioning as a resource individual for our Christian Education program. He was a graduate of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, who also brought more than two score years of experience in the ministry. In 1976 he received his Doctorate in Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. Previously he served at Hewitt Memorial Presbyterian Church in Mansfield, LA; First Presbyterian Church in Killeen; First Presbyterian Church in Lubbock; and Westminster Presbyterian church in Dallas. In addition to his work at West Plano, he was a consultant to our
Presbytery Committee on Ministry and a member of the Bills and Overtures Task Group. His interests include photography, singing, bridge, and reading.

 

Martha Hopson was our organist and choir director from March of 1998 to January of 2012. Prior to joining us she served on the faculty of Scarritt Graduate School; was guest lecturer at universities including Westminster Choir College at Princeton, NJ; and published articles in a variety of church music journals. On the national level, she served on the Executive Board of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians and the Editorial Board of the periodical “Reformed Liturgy and Music.” On special occasions Martha’s husband Hal played the organ while Martha conducted the choir, and he also helped with choir practice. Hal is an internationally recognized arranger and composer of church music, and a former composer in residence at West Plano Presbyterian Church.   Hal and Martha Hopson

 

After serving for 18 years as our pastor, Wes Lackey retired from the ministry in November of 2000. While our pastor nominating committee searched for a replacement, Charles Taylor took on the job of Interim Minister, guiding us and preparing us for a new senior pastor. In 2002 we called the Reverend Dr. David Batchelder to lead us forward in the new milenium. David is a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor and Master of Arts in European History. He received his Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, and his Doctor of Ministry with emphasis on Worship & Liturgy from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas. He and his wife Nancy have 4 children: Mark, Heidi, and twins Scott and   David Batchelder
John. He is the author of All through the Day, All Through the Year: Family Prayers & Celebrations, published in 2000. Prior to coming to West Plano, he was senior pastor at Latrobe Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Pennsylvania for 12 years.

David is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy. He has been very active in supporting our denomination. At our 1999 General Assembly Meeting in Fort Worth, he was Vice Moderator of the Ecumenical Partnership Committee which recommended approval of PCUSA joining 8 other denominations in “Churches United in Christ.” At the Columbia Theological Seminary symposium on Worship & Music in 2000 he led a workshop on “Equipping Parents to Nurture the Faith of Their Children.” Since 2000 he has participated on the Synod of the Trinity Ecumenical Relations Committee, and served as a member of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches and of the Task Force for Presbyterian Catechumenate (ecumenical training and support). He is a past Moderator for the Presbytery of Redstone and a past president of the Greater Latrobe Ministerial Association. He has also served on the faculty and board for Presbytery Lay Preachers Academy. For his last 7 years in Pennsylvania he was Co-Director of the Greater Latrobe Area Crop Walk.

 

Betty Weckerly   Dr. Betty Wecklerly joined us on November 11, 2007, as our Director of Christian Formation. Betty comes to us from the First Presbyterian Church of Ashtabula, OH, where she was Director of Family Ministries for 4 years. She is a retired educator and school principal, whose specialty is the field of special ed. She has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in education from Texas Woman’s University. As a past member of WPPC, she served as an elder and was active in Grace Presbytery in the area of hunger advocacy. She has participated in a number of WPPC and Grace Presbytery youth mission trips. To use her words, she is truly “jazzed up” about this opportunity!

 

Since our inception we have been blessed with a number of talented organists and choir directors. Kathy Johnson became our organist in August of 2013. Her educational background includes a master of arts with a concentration in organ performance from Valparaiso University and Deacon Studies at the Perkins School of Theology. She has a deep involvement in mission and feels that music is always a helpmate in guiding congregants to prayer, meditation, or adoration.   Kathy Johnson

 

Matt Calvert   In October of 2012, Matt Calvert joined us as Parish Associate. We are very pleased to add that Matt grew up in our church, served on our session, and eventually decided to pursue a career in the ministry. He received his MDiv from Austin Theological Seminary. Our church sponsored him during this process. He serves as a chaplain at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Recently, Matt was ordained at West Plano Presbyterian Church. Pastor emeritus, Wes Lackey, returned to participate in Matt's ordination ceremony!

As we look back on over four decades of history we can see that WPPC has indeed grown. And as with all growth there has been some growing pain. Certainly there has been change. Old friends have left or passed away. But along the way there has been a continual influx of new friends, new energy, and new accomplishments. As we continue to mature, we look forward to new challenges and joys!