History of the First United Methodist Church of Galva

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 until 1882. 
        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 purchased.
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.