In 1848, a small congregation of religious followers of the Methodist Church first met in Waxahachie. The following spring, the group known as the Formal Methodist Society was organized.
This past Sunday, 170 years later, members of First United Methodist Church in Waxahachie celebrated their beginnings with a birthday party and group photo.
“It’s a great honor and it boggles the mind to think about all that has occurred in these past 170 years,” senior pastor Dr. Kevin Tully said at the celebration. “This congregation began before even the Civil War. It saw its congregants through that terrible time, through Reconstruction, the turn of the 20th century, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, World Wars 1 and 2 and the turbulent ’60s and ’70s. And to think this church has reached out to minister and do God’s work all those many years is astounding.”
Tracing back the church’s origins was FUMC director of communications Jane Ann Shipp.
“The first building was built in 1852 on what is now East Franklin Street,” she said. “In 1852, the second building was constructed, taking two years to build.”
Along the way, FUMC helped two other churches get their start in Waxahachie.
“Our church buildings were used by the Cumberland Presbyterian and Baptist churches until they could build their own,” Shipp said.
From its nine founding members, the church has grown to more than 1,600 members.
“Having a social conscious and being involved in the society at large is a part of our DNA as Methodists,” Tully said. “From the very start, when John Wesley reached out to the poor and slums in the streets of London, until today with soup kitchens and clothes ministries and the like.
“That is just a part of how we are to understand what we are as Christians in the world,” said Tully, describing the many ministries where the church has been a part of supporting the community.
Tully’s remarks included reading from a proclamation from state Rep. John Wray as commemorated in the Texas House of Representatives during the 86th Legislature.
In part, the proclamation read, “The First Methodist Church of Waxahachie has long served as a source of inspiration and guidance to those who worship there and its continued existence is a testament to the unwavering commitment of members and clergy, both past and present.”
“It’s a great honor to lead this church during this historic time,” Tully said.
At the conclusion of the reception, church members gathered in the Family Life Center for a group photo.