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HUNTINGTON — In a Huntington carpentry shop 150 years ago, a small group of men gathered to organize a Methodist society.

A Union Sunday School was formed, prayer meeting leaders were appointed and hymns were offered. The group expanded to eventually become First United Methodist Church.

This year, First United Methodist celebrates a century-and-a-half of serving its congregation and the city in its mission of caring and compassion with enthusiasm and commitment.

First United Methodist Church has grown since 1872 from its carpentry shop origins into three church buildings, the last of which is its current home at 1124 5th Ave. in downtown Huntington.

“At first glance, it might be easy to think that the only way to celebrate a 150th anniversary would be to look back on what has happened,” said the Rev. Scott Sears, senior pastor, in a news release. “I do not think this is true. In fact, I believe that our congregation looks back on those 150 years so they can see how they have been prepared to be a presence of the living Christ in their community today. So we are focusing our celebration upon the acts of compassion, faithfulness and community within the area even as we take time to look back at what has gone before.”

First United Methodist of Huntington has a long history of community involvement, Sears said.

“This congregation has helped to build Habitat for Humanity houses, has worked on repairs to community homes, and participated in Helpington. Our members are involved in many local missions — City Mission, scouting and Harmony House, just to name a few. When we start to list all the ways that our church members reach out into their community, we get a glimpse of how much of a difference this church makes in the life of its community,” Sears said. “Recently, we have begun asking our members to report acts of compassion that they do in the community. This is not about bragging … it is about being intentional in linking our life of faith to our everyday life. It is about learning to exercise a ‘compassion muscle’ until the muscle memory is built to the point that we don’t even think about it.”

Throughout the year, the church has scheduled events to commemorate its 150th anniversary. A book chronicling First United Methodist Church’s rich history also has been written for members and friends to recount its years of service.

First United Methodist Church events, to which the public is invited, are scheduled throughout the year and include:

  • May 8: Mother’s Day. The Festival of the Christian Home will be observed. Former pastor the Rev. Mark Conner will bring the message. Service at 10:45 a.m.
  • May 11: Children’s program, “The Sailor’s Bible,” a musical presented by the children of the church, after dinner in Fellowship Hall at 6 p.m.
  • June 19: Organ recital by church organist Johann Botes. Reception afterward in the Fellowship Hall.
  • June 27-29: Dayspring Camp, a camp for all children, Ritter Park.
  • Oct. 7-9: A weekend of events celebrating the anniversary of the church.
  • Oct. 7: 7 to 9 p.m., welcome fellowship, tours of the church, displays of memorabilia.
  • Oct. 8: 10 a.m. to noon, reunion choir brunch and rehearsal for anyone who is a choir member, has been or wants to sing in a choir. Meet at the kitchenette or Panel Room on the lower level west hall.
  • Oct. 8: 2 to 8 p.m., church is open for tours and visiting; a history treasure hunt for children of all ages; prizes to be awarded.
  • Oct. 9: Celebration — 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., coffee and muffins; 9:45 a.m., Sunday School; church service, 10:45 a.m., guest speaker, the Rev. David Erenrich. Photos of the congregation after church in the courtyard. Lunch in Fellowship Hall.
  • Nov. 6: A service of music. All Saints Day. First Sunday of Advent.

For more information and to learn more about First United Methodist and its history, call the church at 304-522-0357 or visit

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