Methodism had its beginning in Texico-Farwell in 1904 when the New Mexico Mission Conference met in Albuquerque and placed the Texico charge in the El Paso District and named the Reverend Joe Hedgepeth as its pastor. The first church building was located at the intersection of Highway 84 and the Pleasant Hill Highway and remained at that site until April of 1908. At that time and continuing for its first few years of existence, the small church was supported by mission money from the Church Extension Section and Women’s Home Mission Board. The church building was a wooden frame structure measuring 30 feet wide and 44 feet long, containing 29 pews with seating for 100 people and was heated with a coal burning pot-bellied stove.
After James M. Hamlin and family moved from St. Louis to Farwell after 1906, he became active in the growth and development of the church which was later named in his honor for his leadership and service. According to records, “by 1908, a rather unhealthy moral situation had developed” in the neighborhood of the church; so church officials decided to move their building to a new site in Eastern Texico where it was to remain until February 1926 when on a cold Sunday morning, a faulty flue started a fire which destroyed the building.
The pastor, Reverend W. B. Gilliam, along with members of the official board, met the same afternoon among the smoldering ruins to make plans for building a new church. A contract for a new house of worship was let July 8, 1926 for the facility; however, the contractor abandoned the project on November 1, and the structure stood incomplete and unusable until March of 1927. During construction of that building, the congregation met in the District Courtroom of the Parmer County Courthouse. At that time, the church was known as the Texico-Farwell Episcopal Methodist Church, and that building remained in constant use by the congregation until construction of the present facility in Farwell in the 1960’s.
In the years of droughts and hard times, many people left the area for “greener pastures,” but records show that a strong group of dedicated church members continued in their quest to keep the Methodist Church alive and growing in the Twin Cities.
It was as early as 1945 that the congregation experienced growing pains in the little church in Texico, sorely needing more space and modern facilities, but it was not until the Spring of 1957 that then pastor Reverend R. C. Cantrell presided at a church conference at which the congregation voted to build a new church at a new location. Hamlin Overstreet, grandson of James M. Hamlin, donated the 300 block of Fifth Street in Farwell to the church for its relocation. In May of that year, Reverend William Hardwick was appointed pastor and plans were made for carrying out the wishes of the conference and in November, final authority was given for the project. A building committee was appointed, a financial campaign for $75,000 was successful, and construction began on the Farwell site in July of 1959, culminating in one half of the total project being completed in 1965.
This portion of the building included eight classrooms, an audio-visual room, two equipment rooms, four restrooms, a parlor, kitchen, and a fellowship room with seating for 200, all built around an open court or patio. The fellowship area served as the sanctuary until the second phase of the building project was completed in 1965.
Open house at the new building, which included the much awaited and longed for sanctuary, along with church offices, was August 1, 1965, with Dr. Ralph Seiler, District Superintendent of the Clovis District, presiding at official opening and consecration services. Three years later, in 1968, the Methodist Churches and the Evangelical United Brethren Churches united to become The United Methodist Church, and the local church then became Hamlin Memorial United Methodist Church of Texico-Farwell. Dedication of the church was January 7, 1973, with Bishop Alsie H. Carleton of Albuquerque giving the dedicatory address and sermon.
In November 1974, the church facility was enhanced by the addition of the Memorial Tower to house a carillon system designed by the Schulmerich Carillion’s, Inc., of Pennsylvania. The tower was paid for by memorial donations to the church and thus gained its name. The system which may be programmed to play at set times of the day or may also be manually set for special occasions, was purchased two years before the educational wing of the building while awaiting a permanent home in the tower. Plans for the tower were presented to church member Jerry Darby of Steel Products of Farwell and the tower was constructed and moved to the building for installation of the speakers. Finding a crane large enough to move the tower to the church site posed a problem, as did the fact that the bells had been stolen. They were recovered a bit later in a farmer’s field a few miles southeast of Farwell and finally, on November 19, 1974, the Memorial Tower complete with bells and speakers was in place.
As in times past, when the loyal members strived to keep the church alive and growing during hard times, today’s congregation is composed of just such dedicated people who work and serve in all capacities. Much emphasis is placed on the development of the children’s and youth programs, thus training those who will become the nucleus of the future church. Membership at Hamlin Memorial UMC is diversified, with people from all walks of life and from many vocations joining in working together to make it a UNITED Methodist Church.