How long will a congregation listen to a sermon on Sunday morning? Well, it might depend on whether or not the Cowboys are playing. But it could also have something to do with how hungry the congregants are.

And so it was on one Sunday morning in the early 1920s when the pastor of Cochran Chapel vowed not to finish his sermon until the final $100 for a new chapel could be raised. A member of the Cochran family recalls that a few hearty souls pledged enough money that the pastor concluded his sermon, and construction on the new chapel began. Or at least, so the story goes.

More than 75 years later, Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church is still an active part of church life in Preston Hollow. Located near the intersection of Midway Road and Northwest Highway, the church is a state landmark, as recognized in 1970 by the Texas Historical Society.

The chapel’s history, however, reaches back to pioneer days.

Built in 1924, the current chapel sits on land given to the Methodist Church by Nancy Jane Cochran. In 1856, Cochran deeded several acres of land in memory of her late husband, William, and her infant daughter, Sarah Jane. Cochran’s generosity represents the first site in Dallas County deeded for a Methodist Church.

The first chapel, a mere 30-by-40-foot structure, was built in 1856 with lumber hauled by wagons from Jefferson, 150 miles east of Dallas. Eventually, the congregation built a second chapel in 1885. Another chapel built in 1924 seats 200, and is today referred to as the sanctuary. It’s part of a larger campus that includes an educational building, fellowship hall and another chapel.

Cochran Chapel features unique architecture, inside and out. There are a number of steps leading into the church from outside, and the brown earth tones of the sanctuary provide a warm contrast to the rich beauty of the stained glass windows given in memory of the church’s early members.

“The Methodist conference must have had a plan for how to build churches, because there was a church up in Hebron that was very similar in plan to the sanctuary,” a parishioner says. “They had steps going up to the sanctuary. They wanted to have a basement as a means of air conditioning.”

Approximately 300 members belong to Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church, and throughout its history, the church has had more than 50 pastors and currently is led by Dr. James Abel.

“We continue our rich heritage by equipping, energizing and encouraging the family to grow as Christian believers. Everyone will experience intimate fellowship,” Abel says.


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