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Button United Methodist Church Celebrates 170 Years of Ministry in Little Elm, Texas

Button United Methodist Church started in 1853. This year, 2023, marked 170 years of continuous ministry! Read more about our history that dates pre-Civil War.

Humble beginnings of Button UMC in North Texas

Button Memorial United Methodist Church in Little Elm was organized by Rev. William E. Bates in 1853 as First Methodist Church. The church was later renamed Button Memorial United Methodist Church in 1963 to honor another Little Elm pioneer, George Lafayette Button.


Rev. Bates was born in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1812, and moved to Barren County, Kentucky, in 1820. In 1843, the Methodist church licensed him. He moved to Denton County, Texas, in 1851 near the Bridges settlement and to the Little Elm settlement in 1852.

Rev. Bates organized a Methodist church in Little Elm in 1853. He then moved his family to the Hawkins settlement that same year and later built a church house and called it Zion after the old Zion church in Kentucky. In 1855, he had charge of the church in Lewisville and later organized the church at Denton in 1857, and churches in Montague, Gainseville, Jacksboro, Oak Grove, and other frontier points.

First Methodist services in Little Elm were held in a log cabin at the John House Springs (NW section of 720 and Pecan Drive), 1.5 miles east of Button's current location. All denominations shared the same log cabin, taking turns for their worship services. After the Civil War, a new, two-story building was built in the Little Elm Cemetery that continued to serve the three denominations in Little Elm: the Methodists, Baptists, and Christians. The first floor of the two-story building was used for school and church and the upper level was used for fraternal organizations. The building was occupied for several years although it never had indoor water.

In 1916, each of the three churches bought land for their own church buildings. They spread out in various directions but were still in close proximity to one another. Methodists built a church on what is now First Baptist Church property, at the corner of Main Street and 720.

In 1954, when the Corps of Engineers began acquiring land for Lake Lewisville, the Methodist Church was forced to move again. They bought property a mile northeast of the site taken for the lake and moved the church building there. The building is still at that site and is now occupied by the New Life Tabernacle congregation. The building served Little Elm Methodists for about 65 years.  

Moving to Button UMC's Current Location on Eldorado Parkway

In 1962, plans for a new church began with a donation of $50,000 from Annie Hughey, the granddaughter of George L. Button. Mrs. Hughey paid for the construction of the church plus the price of the two-acre tract on which it stands. A total of $50,000 was contributed and the building was named Button Memorial United Methodist Church. The belfry has the bell that the Hughey’s used on their ranch near San Antonio, Texas.  Mrs Hughey made her donation to honor her grandfather and grandmother, George Lafayette Button and Sarah Ann White Button.

George and Sara Button moved from Nacogdoches County, Texas, to the Little Elm community in October 1866. Mr. Button established a harness, saddle. and shoe repair business. The Buttons were active members of the Methodist church and other civic organizations. As a steward of the church, Mr. Button would travel many miles to collect the quarterage. He was a mason for many years and served as justice of the peace. He became known as Squire Button. His daughter, Ida Erwin, has papers showing his appointment and certificate of election to Justice of the peace and Notary public. One was signed by Governor J.S. Hogg. 

The Button home was a place where friends, neighbors, and strangers were equally welcome. They gave of their material things, time, and strength to help others. After the death of two daughters and one daughter-in-law, the Buttons helped to care for seven grandchildren. Annie Young lived with the Buttons after her mother died and her father was forced to return to Scotland. Annie remained with the Buttons until she married M.B. Hughey in 1914 and moved with him to East Texas. But she never forgot the kindness the Buttons showed her. Mrs Hughey and members of the church broke ground for the current chapel on July 7, 1963.  The children’s wing and fellowship hall followed shortly thereafter and the sanctuary where we hold services today was built in 2001.

Button United Methodist Church in the 21st Century

Scouts served food at Button's 170th birthday celebration

As the town of Little Elm has expanded so have the ministries of this community-focuxed church. Our Feed My Sheep food panty started in 2012 and has been a recipient of three different Eagle Scout projects:

  1. Mitchell McClellan bought shelving and started the beginning of the food pantry’s formation in 2012.

  2. In 2019, Alex Cunningham did a much-needed renovation of the very busy pantry by adding hand built can runners, new flooring, and new lighting. 

  3. In 2021, another Eagle Scout replaced flooring in the extra storage rooms and started a clothing donation area; new floors were installed too.

Button's food pantry serves more than 300 people each month and are the hands and feet of Jesus. Feed My Sheep also continued to operate weekly during the pandemic for those in need.

Our amazing Kids Day Out program is constantly in demand and even though they are only open two days a week, they are consistently fully enrolled and staffed. The teachers are caring and know each child by name, creating a special environment, especially for those that cannot handle the larger day care and church settings.

Button participates in Kids Eat Free each summer and provides not only food, but books for each child during the summer months. This program also continued during the pandemic, when the need was even greater. 

Summers include Camp Button. Button UMC is able to provide a one-to-one experience for children. We also continue to present third grade Bibles and during the pandemic Button had the largest class of confirmations and were recognized with the One Matters Award at a United Methodist conference level.

This past summer our youth traveled to the Oklahoma Missionary Conference with three other youth groups to not only perform mission work but to learn about our Native American brothers and sisters. It was a powerful experience and Button's youth are planning to travel again this coming summer.

As a community-oriented church, we continue our efforts to remain actively engaged in our local area. It this spirit of involvement that has led to our diverse number of church groups and programs all dedicated to the support, education, and enrichment of those in our congregation and community at large.  These groups and programs provide many ways for our members to strengthen one another and give back to a community that has given us so much. With 170 years of serving the needs of this community, Button United Methodist Church looks forward to expanding boundaries and to forever be a beacon of light for seekers of God’s love. Even our new logo communicates that with our beautiful lighthouse.  

Rev. John Gowling and wife.

Rev. Mel Caraway

Since our beginning, Button UMC has had 53 pastors and Senior Pastor Melissa Hatch serve as number 54. Of those pastors, only three have been women. Three former pastors, including Rev. John Gowling and Rev. Mel Caraway, spoke during the 170th birthday service. Rev. Denise Peckham joined us via video message.

We look forward to the future and always remember our humble beginnings.

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