Courtesy photo Joel Givens served as a circuit rider in Roosevelt County in the early 1900’s, driving a horse-drawn buggy to take the Methodist ministry to rural residents.
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Traveling by horse and buggy, the Rev. Joel Givens traversed the small communities of Roosevelt County in the early 1900’s, visiting homes and small congregations.
More than 100 years later, Givens’ service will be memorialized Monday with a grave marker commemorating his service to the Methodist community.
Dave Tanner, a retired state environmental worker and history buff, said he stumbled across Givens’ story and wanted to be sure he was recognized for his contribution.
Tanner said he and David Caffey research Methodist preachers of the past in the area for the First United Methodist Church in the interest of placing markers on their graves to remember and honor their commitment to their faith.
Known as circuit riders, Tanner said preachers like Givens would visit small communities and rural residents, holding church services in homes and meeting halls.
Inez, Arch, and Rogers were some of the communities he served. Tanner’s research showed he also doubled as the postmaster for the small community of Givens, a rural community that grew up around the Givens family.
Moving to Roosevelt County in 1907 from Tennessee, where he also worked as a circuit rider.
The father of 12 died in 1913 at the age of 57.
His descendants still live in the area.
Givens drove a horse-drawn buggy rather than riding, his granddaughter Neva Sanders said.
Sanders, 86, is now a Clovis resident but spent much of her life in Roosevelt County.
Born and raised in the Methodist faith, she is a longtime member of First United Methodist Church.
She never met her grandfather, but had several documents and photos reflecting his service that had been passed down through the family.
When Tanner approached her, she said she was surprised and honored and appreciative of all the time and effort he put into researching her grandfather’s work.
“I didn’t realize that anybody else would be interested in it,” she said.
“I think it’s very nice. It’s a nice honor.”
Monday at 2 p.m., Givens and her daughters, the great-grandchildren of Joel Givens, will gather at his grave at Mission Garden of Memories in Clovis to see a gold and black medallion placed on his marker, grateful to see his commitment to his faith honored.