The First United Methodist Church of Galva has the distinction of being
the oldest church in Galva.
In the fall of 1854 the city of
Galva, Illinois was founded. Just a few months later on June 26, 1855
the First United Methodist Church, then known as the Methodist
Episcopal Church, and later as the First Methodist Church, was
organized under the leadership of the Reverend John Morey. Rev. Morey,
of the former LaFayette circuit, presided over the organizational
meeting. At this meeting there were 19 charter members
present. Seven trustees, and twelve other people made up the list
of charter members.
At this meeting the decision was
made to buy a plot of land, located one block south of the building
known as the F.U. White Community Center, would be purchased, upon
which a church could later be built. During the first two years
of meeting, the Methodists, as well as all other local denominations
present at that time, met in a wood frame building, known as
“North School.” They would meet there for two years until their
building was inhabitable.
In the spring of 1857 the
Methodists began work on a basement for their structure. There
were some problems which existed during this time which hampered their
progress. Among the largest of these was a banking panic, which
forced a temporary halt to construction. The members decided that
it was important to have the basement completed by winter. As a
result of this goal the Ladies’ Aid Society discussed the matter and
decided to host a two day festival, in which funds would be raised to
complete the basement section of the structure. After those two
days sufficient money was raised, and building material was hauled from
Rock Island to complete the basement structure.
For use in the basement of this
structure lamps and stoves were purchased to make it inhabitible.
The completed structure measured 36 x 50 feet with total area amounting
to 3600 square feet, including the basement. The church structure
which is still standing as a private residence, would ultimately cost
$3,000. After completion this building served the congregation
By 1880 the members of the
congregation had come to the conclusion that they had outgrown their
surroundings and needed a new, larger building. After the
building committee was chosen they began to plan a new structure on the
site of the present church at the corner of Northwest Second Avenue and
Northwest Second Street. On September 7, 1881, the cornerstone,
which is now in the south interior wall of the current sanctuary,
was laid. The completed church was dedicated on July 30, 1882,
and was of brick construction with a stone foundation.
In 1904-1905 a major remodeling
and enlargement program was started. Several areas of the church were
improved, and the large room known as Wesley Parlor was added. At
this time a large stained-glass window, as well as the present organ
were installed in the sanctuary. The dedication of these
improvements was held on March 5, 1905. At this service a total
of $5,500 was collected, which completely paid for all of the
improvements, and additions.
In 1938-1939 a kitchen (now known as “The Old Kitchen”), and the High
School Sunday school room were added.
From 1939 till 1963 the church
building remained largely unchanged. In 1964 it was again decided
that the congregation had outgrown it facilities, and that an addition
was needed. At this time a chapel, as well as a large dining area
known as Epworth Hall, several Sunday school rooms, and a new kitchen
were added. Four years later, in 1968, work on a new sanctuary
began. That year demolition of the sanctuary, with the exception of the
organ began. After clean up of the old church, construction of
the new sanctuary began. At the time of the reconstruction, a new
south entrance, two Sunday school rooms, and a set of bathrooms were
added. The 1904 and 1938 additions were remodeled to blend in
with the newer structures.
After the reconstruction of the
church, during the 1970’s a garden, called the “Living Memorial
Garden,” was constructed. In this Garden a bell tower stands
which contains the original bell donated by Susan Jennings.
In 1984 the loan on the church was paid off in full, and a dedication
ceremony was held.
On June 24, 1990 the church
celebrated its 135th anniversary. On this day the Sunday service
was conducted by Rev. Richard Brownfield, former pastor of this church,
and Sunday School was held, followed by a potluck dinner, and an
informal program. Several historical exhibits were displayed,
including pictures of the old church.
In September, a handicapped
accessibility project began with the installation of a handicapped
accessible bathroom. By the next year a ramp, which made the main
portions of the church completely handicapped accessible, was
completed. New windows were installed in the parsonage and
ceiling fans were installed in Epworth Hall.
The front porch of the parsonage was replaced and a tape duplicator was
On June 18, 1995, the congregation celebrated its 140th anniversary,
reflecting on the history and legacy of the first church in the Galva
and will celebrat it's 150th anniversary during the Summer of 2005.