In The Beginning...
In November of 1871, thirteen charter members gathered for worship with their pastor, Thomas Mullet. It was not until three years later in 1874 that the members constructed a designated place of worship. It was called Methodist Episcopal Church South and it was the first Protestant church in Lake Charles. The original building was located on the corner of Broad and Bilbo Streets and the small wooden structure was 30-by-50 feet. A Sunday school class was organized shortly after in 1876.
The New Church in 1900
Growth continued, and in 1900, a new church building was constructed in the same location. This new building was adorned with a Blymyer Bell, which was a gift from the Sunday School.
The Cradle Roll
In 1902, a Cradle Roll was founded by Mrs. A. E. Price, and the first two youngsters to be enrolled were Clement Moss and Hubert Foster. The Cradle Roll continued to grow, and the church flourished with an abundance of young members. A severe storm in 1918 damaged the church, and although the wooden structure was not destroyed, the bell tower collapsed. The bell tower was never replaced, and the bell now resides at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.
The members repaired the building and the church continued to flourish. One year later, in 1919, Miss Julia Reid and Miss Sara Gaunt made church history by becoming the first women delegates to the District Conference. Miss Julia Reid, later Mrs. Julia Reid Paxton, is the saint after whom our present fellowship hall is named.
A New Sanctuary Constructed
A new era of the church began when the property on the corner of Broad and Kirkman was purchased in 1925. The sanctuary was completed in 1928.
A New Sanctuary Constructed...cont.
The new sanctuary offered more room to accommodate an increasing congregation, and the church continued to grow in this thriving downtown location throughout the 30’s and 40’s. Mission work, youth activities, music ministry, and community outreach kept the church healthy and strong through two world wars and incredible changes in the face of Lake Charles.
Growth in the 1950's
The growth of the church continued in the 1950’s. Two Sunday services were inaugurated in 1952. Ground was broken for the three-story educational building in 1953. The educational building presently houses the Sunday School classrooms.
Growth in the 1960's
In 1961, work on the Mayo Children’s Building was completed, and the Mayo building housed additional Sunday school rooms. The building is presently home to First Methodist School, our daycare and preschool. In 1968, after a merger of two churches, our church was given its present name, First United Methodist Church.
Gym Converted to Worship Center in 2002
A very important addition to our church facilities was built in 1976. The Family Activity Center (FAC) housed additional classrooms, a gymnasium, and secondary fellowship areas. In 2000, the building was re-modeled into a Contemporary Worship Center and renovation of the west end of the main church building. The contemporary worship center opened in August of 2002 and can seat as many as 500 people.
A Rich Tradition... A Bright Future!
Our history spans close to 150 years. We are thankful for this rich tradition of ministry and worship. First United Methodist Church still thrives today and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Our current membership roll is approximately 1,190 and our average Sunday attendance is 525.
Rev. Weldon Bares was appointed senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in June of 2010.