One Church, Two Locations

1320 Main Street @ Clay
Houston, TX 77002
832-668-1800
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  10570 Westpark Drive
Houston, TX 77042
713-458-4700
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 1-800-652-2999

 
About Us  >  Our History
 
       
THE HISTORY OF FIRST METHODIST HOUSTON

First Methodist Houston exists to bring people to Christ, grow disciples, and impact the city for God.

The first church building was constructed on Texas Avenue at the current site of the Houston Chronicle Building. In 1910, the congregation moved to the corner of Main and Clay streets. Then, in 1993, the church added a second campus on the west side of the city (Westchase), which offers additional worship opportunities, a school, and a recreational center complete with swimming pools and softball fields. Additionally, over the years the church has founded Wesley Community Center, Clarewood House Retirement Home, First Choice Media Ministry, and Christian Alliance Ministry to better serve the larger Houston area.

1835-1904
1905-1940
1941-1995
1996-current
Texas Historical Marker Dedication

175th Anniversary Celebrations

METHODISM COMES TO A TEXAS TOWN

1835 - 1904

1835  Colonel William Barrett Travis wrote, in a letter to the New York Christian Advocate and Journal on August 17, 1835, of the urgent need for religious instruction in Texas. This letter was read at the Methodist General Conference which inspired the church to send missionaries:

My dear Sir:

I take liberty of addressing you from this distant quarter of the world for the purpose of requesting you to receive my name as a subscriber of your widely circulated Advocate. We are very destitute of religious instruction in this extensive fine country, and the circulation of your paper here will be greatly beneficial, in the absence of the stated preaching of the Gospel. Although the exercise of religion in any form is not prohibited here, but is encouraged by the people, yet but few preachers have come among us to dispense the tidings of salvation to upwards of sixty thousand destitute souls. I regret that the Methodist church, with its excellent itinerant system, has hitherto sent the pioneers of the Gospel into almost every destitute portion of the globe, should have neglected so long this interesting country. I wish you would do me and the good cause the favor to publish such remarks as will call the attention of the reverend Bishops, the different Conferences, and the Board of Missions, to the subject of spreading the Gospel in Texas. About five educated and talented young preachers would find employment in Texas, and no doubt would produce much good in this benighted land. Texas is composed of the shrewdest and most intelligent population of any new country on earth; therefore, a preacher to do good must be respectable and talented. In sending your heralds in the four corners of the Earth, remember Texas. 
Wm B. Travis
 
1839  Reverend Jess Hord organizes Houston's first Methodist church in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol Building of the Republic located, at that time, in Houston.

1843  At the December 13 Conference of Texas Methodists, it was reported that the Houston congregation consisted of 36 white members and 32 black members.

1844  The first Methodist church building in Houston, also the first brick church in Texas, was completed.

1848  "Slaves" and "Free" form separate congregations. It is the joy of the First family that, today, we minister to ALL people across lines of race, culture, class, or nationality.

1854  Reverend James Ferguson becomes our pastor. Ferguson is also remembered as the father of Jim Ferguson who later became Governor of Texas and the father-in-law of Miriam "Ma" Ferguson who was Texas' first woman Governor.

1860  A wall of the church's original brick building collapses during a storm just minutes after Sunday services. The congregation meets in the black members' building on a nearby lot until after the Civil War.

1867  A yellow fever epidemic kills more than 1,000 Houstonians, including our pastor, William Rees.

1883  On December 9, we begin worship in our new church building. It is an English Gothic brick church called Shearn Memorial. The church property is located at Travis and Texas Avenue, at the present downtown location of the Houston Chronicle.

1900  A disastrous September hurricane devastates Galveston, requiring the church to minister in dramatic ways to the survivors, followed by extensive support of the work to rebuild Galveston and much of Houston. Shearn church severely damaged.

1901 The automobile arrives on Houston streets creating a future need in church ministries as the city spreads out. Since then, the First family has helped start other Methodist churches throughout the Houston area.

1904  Members of the church form a city-wide ministry which becomes known as Wesley Community Center. Wesley is now supported by many churches and ministers to over 50,000 persons in need throughout Harris County each year.

FIRST METHODIST MOVES TO MAIN AND CLAY

1905 - 1940

1907  Our church property is sold and the congregation meets in Alabambra Hall and Beach's Auditorium until late 1910. Two corner lots at Main and Clay (our present location) are purchased. One trustee resigns, convinced that the property is "too far out of town".

1908  We use printed bulletins for the first time.

1909  We change our name from Shearn Memorial Methodist to First Methodist Episcopal Church South.

1910  Construction is completed on the new (and current) downtown sanctuary. The first worship service is held on December 18, 1910. Membership totals 1,200.

1924  The Methodist Hospital opens in Houston through the efforts and leadership of First Methodist. In addition, we have our first live worship broadcast on radio.

1928  Construction begins on the seven-story education building. It is designed so that it could be turned into an office buiding should such prove to be necessary or desirable.

1931  The first edition of the First Methodist Houston Times is published.

1940  First Methodist expands to two Sunday services.

REACHING BEYOND MAIN AND CLAY THROUGH TELEVISION AND A SECOND CAMPUS

1941 - 1995

1951 The sanctuary is remodeled to accommodate air conditioning!

1956  First live television broadcast. Our Sunday morning televised worship is the longest-running television program in the nation with a viewing audience each week in over 60,000 homes.

1959  The Quillian Center, named after Rev.Paul Quillian, is opened in the Alief area for ministry to the church and community. It is relocated to the Westchase Campus in the 1990's in order to bring together the various recreation ministries of the church to better serve the western part of the city.

1963  Members of the First family helps begin Clarewood House Retirement Home. In addition, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) opens in Houston. Since then, a number of our volunteers in First Choice Media Ministry have been communications and electronics staff from NASA.

1983  On December 27, a fire destroys much of the current sanctuary, chapel, and organ. The restoration project is completed in 1985.

1992 The Church decides to reach out and start a second campus at Beltway 8 and Westpark Dr., and acquires 27 acres of land to build a church at that location.

1993  The Westchase congregation begins holding Sunday services in January at Paul Revere Middle School. The congregation rotates, often at a minute's notice, between Paul Revere and the Adam's Mark Hotel. That same year, we acquire two office/warehouse buildings directly across from the original 27-acre parcel at Westchase. 

1994  Teams of walkers carry a flame from the altar of the downtown church to the Westchase facility on June 4, to commemorate the first services held at the temporary Westchase worship center. Construction begins on the first permanent buildings on the Westchase site.

1995  Wesley Academy opens in fall 1995 serving pre-K to second grade.

SPREADING THE GOSPEL THROUGH A SECOND CAMPUS, A SCHOOL AND RECREATION


1996 - Present

1998  Members of the First family begin Christian Alliance, a ministry for disaster relief anywhere in the world supported by churches and individuals throughout the nation.

2000  Construction is completed on Wesley Academy two story educational building and the Quillian Center recreational facility along with the Olympic size pool and Noah's Ark water feature for children.

2001  The renovation of the downtown facility begins with the reconstruction of the children's classrooms, the Welcome Center, and the Fellowship Hall.

2004  Our P.O.R.T. ministry to students and their families in the predominately Hispanic neighborhood of Port Houston is incorporated as Neighbors In Action.

2009 Our Administrative Board unanimously approves a Children/Youth Task Force to begin work to ensure outstanding ministries for all ages.

TEXAS HISTORICAL MARKER DEDICATION
 


The Harris County Historical Commission dedicated a Texas Historical Marker to the Congregation of First United Methodist Church Houston on Sunday, September 12, 2010. The historic significance of this Congregation dates back to 1837 when itinerant preachers and missionaries came to the new town of Houston and formed a Sunday School Society.  The church was officially established on April 14, 1839. Over the past 171 years this Congregation has maintained an influential  role in local ministries and missions throughout the world.  Some of their commitments include The Wesley Community Center, Blue Bird Circle, Quillian Memorial Center, Clarewood House, Wesley Academy, Christian Alliance, First Choice Television Ministry and an additional worship center - First Methodist Westchase.  In addition to these commitments, through the generosity of Dr. Oscar L. Norsworthy, the Texas Conference and First Methodist Chuch, The Methodist Hospital exists today as a leader in medicine and the health care industry. 

The First Methodist Congregation is constantly working to meet the challenges placed before them in ministry to local, national and worldwide needs. 
 



 

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