Today, members of Midway Hills Christian Church worship and commune with God and each other in a beautiful sanctuary with sunlight streaming through magnificent stained glass windows and hear the spoken word and share communion under a beautiful cross. We share beautiful music, and sometimes focus on the beautiful baptistery and its cleansing waters of life.
This worshipful setting was made possible by the generous gifts of many people. We give our special thanks to those many members, both living and dead, who made sacrifices through the years, in order to provide to us such a beautiful, meaningful building, which has been used throughout the years as a place of learning, fellowship, and worship for many, many men, women, and children.
Groundbreaking for the first building (Fellowship Hall building) occurred on July 10, 1955. The first service in the building was in the fellowship hall on Easter Sunday, April 8, 1956. Ground was broken on June 29, 1958, for the second building, the Children’s Education building. The sanctuary was dedicated on September 12, 1965.
A Sanctuary Study Committee researched and analyzed the theology and the practices of the Christian Church to form the basis of the sanctuary design. The primary concept of the design of the sanctuary came from two conclusions of the study committee: 1) The belief that the service of communion is central to the Christian Church worship service, both philosophically and physically; the gathered church should, in fact, gather round the table as the twelve apostles did, and 2) The choir should be participants in the worship as members of the congregation. All elements of the sanctuary plan (pews, suspended cross, symmetry of the roof, location of the choir, and central location of the communion table) emphasizes the centrality of communion with God.
Towering above the sanctuary is a spire topped with a cross, clearly identifying it as a gathering place of Christian believers and sojourners. In front of the main entrance stands the Edgar DeWitt Jones Bell Tower —dedicated in October, 1956— supported by three columns representing the Holy Trinity. Both the exterior and interior of the building are intended to create a response of being in the presence of God, and receptive to God’s message through corporate worship and individual meditation.
The baptistery is a beautiful display of sienna travertine marble, covered with many broken pieces that make a large mosaic of crosses.
The Suspended Cross
The suspended cross is neither grounded in the world or in heaven, but stands as a bridge between worldly history and eternal life with God.
The Architect, William E. Benson, A.I.A.
William E. Benson, A.I.A., architect and engineer, received his degree from the University of Illinois in 1947. After a year of graduate work in design, he moved to Dallas, where he opened his own office in 1952. During a period of rapid church expansion, he designed nearly fifty church projects from master plans and first units to sanctuaries.
In 1954, Bill was employed by the Joint Board of the Christian Churches of Dallas County to design the master plan and first unit for what was to become Midway Hills Christian Church. The first unit, partially funded by the Joint Board, was built by a group of MHCC members acting as the contractor. Bill was one of those who labored in many ways to complete the first building in 1956. That building housed all church functions, including worship, education, fellowship, and offices.
Again in 1960, Bill was assigned his second MHCC building project, the children’s education building. This completed a second step in the master plan for MHCC.
Next, for more than a year, he participated in a committee appointed to establish the philosophical and theological basis for developing a sanctuary design. After the congregation approved the results of the committee’s study, his architectural firm was selected to fulfill these plans. The sanctuary was dedicated on September 12, 1965.
Bill worked closely with various artists and craftsmen to assure a unified whole in the building. Though he personally designed the communion table, he commissioned Henry Bartscht, Professor of Art at the University of Dallas, to design and execute the copper panels. MHCC has often been visited by Perkins Seminary students as they study church art and architecture.
Bill and Lee Benson were charter members of MHCC. Bill served in many capacities at MHCC, including deacon, elder, trustee and chairman of the Board. He served the Joint Board of the Christian Churches of Dallas County as secretary and was one of the original organizers of the Dallas Area Association of Christian Churches and served as its director and committee chairman. He was active in community affairs as director of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Vice President of the Dallas Founders Lions Club, President of Save Open Space and member of the Campus Christian Ministries at University of North Texas and Southern Methodist University.