Dayton First United Methodist Church Celebrates 150 Years
DAYTON, September 18, 2014 - Members of the First United Methodist Church of Dayton will be celebrating their Sesquicentennial (1864-2014) September 21 through October 5! There will be a special service and music each Sunday culminating in a “Homecoming” on October 5th. Past pastors, current and past members and the community are invited to share in this 150-year celebration. On October 5th the Homecoming Service will be followed by a Picnic on the Grounds with special gospel music and other entertainment. The Liberty County Historical Commission will dedicate a Sesquicentennial marker commemorating the landmark event and the history of the church and its beginnings will be shared.
The first valid record of a Methodist Church in Dayton shows a “mission” in 1863. The appointment was made in the Huntsville District of the Texas Conference in 1863. Dayton’s Methodist Heritage had officially begun.
1864 brought the appointment of William Monk as pastor-in-charge. The church had 166 members and most likely the church met in a home or school. According to the Liberty Vindicator on Friday, March 3, 1893, church was held once a month in the “schoolhouse.” From such humble beginnings Methodism flourished in the Dayton community.
Prior to 1906 Dayton Methodists worshiped with an interdenominational group known as a Union Church, a circuit church with services still being held in the schoolhouse.
In 1906 the Methodists organized to build a small frame building on the corner of Hwy. 90 and Church Street. They remained a circuit church until 1908 when they became a station charge. 1908 saw the addition of an annex for youth and children’s activities. Sunday school organized in 1906 when Mr. Charles Wilson was elected the first Sunday school superintendent. The Fanny Crosby class was one of the first adult Sunday school classes, circa 1908 and the first teacher was Mrs. E. G. Harrington.
In 1908 the newly organized “Women’s Parsonage and Home Mission Society” elected Mrs. Charles Wilson as its first president. There were eight members. The Women’s group has had many name changes over the years but their purpose has remained the same. In 1940 Mrs. J. R. Elder was elected president of the Women’s Society of Christian Service and its 66 charter members. Mrs. Milo Ford was very active in W.S.C.S. at the conference level. Today the name has changed again and is now the United Methodist Women (UMW).
The church was organized as Methodist Protestant Church (1830-1939) and when it merged with The Methodist Episcopal Church, South became The Methodist Church in 1939. In 1968 The Methodist Church merged with The Evangelical United Brethren Church to become The United Methodist Church. A new church was built in 1928 and was replaced with the present Sanctuary and campus buildings in 1981.
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