Where We Worship: First United Methodist Church
April 29, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 29, 2010 at 11:30 p.m.
Q: Please give a brief history of the church:
A: Our church family grew out of the early work of Methodist circuit riders serving the protestant residents of this area. Protestant churches were illegal in the Mexican state of Texas-Coahuila, but many of the protestant colonists arriving here continued to practice their faith in secret.
Circuit riders like the Rev. Jesse Hord, who preached in Victoria in 1839, were critical in serving the spiritual needs of this 'flock' both before the Revolution in 1836 and afterwards.
The Methodist Episcopal Church in Victoria was formally established in December 1840, when the Rev. Joseph P. Sneed was sent to pastor the Methodists here, becoming the first protestant congregation in the town.
Four different buildings in two separate locations have served our church family. Since 1875, we have worshipped at 407 N. Bridge; the current sanctuary was completed in 1960.
Q: What activities do you have through the week?
A: Our church's activities take place both on our campus and beyond. Our buildings host community groups (German club, pickle ball, Compassionate Friends, Scouts and others). Methodist Day School provides excellent childcare each weekday; children and youth activities fill Sunday afternoons and evenings and other times; the Prescription Assistance Program provides help on Monday mornings; other ministries, studies, and fellowship groups meet here every day of the week. Beyond our campus, our church offers the Twice Blessed ministry to our community; we are significantly involved in Christ's Kitchen, VCAM and other service groups that address community needs. All of our work attempts to make a difference in our neighbors' lives here and around the world.
Q: Are you working on any projects? If so, describe them.
A: We're currently doing major renovations on our youth space. Our church family is doing most of the work ourselves.
We're exploring options for a contemporary service focused on people who aren't already worshipping somewhere.
We're beginning a new men's group committed to service in the community and building friendships. In 2010, we'll be working with other United Methodists on the Imagine No Malaria effort, with the goal of eliminating malaria in Africa by 2020. Our biggest project right now is our 170th Anniversary Celebration on May 23. Our bishop, Jim Dorff, will be here to confirm several of our youth and lead our celebrations that day.
Q: How are you involved with the community?
A: First, UMC has a long tradition of involvement in Victoria and beyond. Stroman campus and DeTar hospital were named for members of our church family, for example. In addition to the activities already mentioned, we provide meals for the Hopkins Boys & Girls Club program in the summertime and gave out more than 75 Christmas boxes last year, each with enough food for the family for a week. More importantly, however, we put great emphasis on each person finding their own individual way of serving others in the Name of Christ and being involved in the community and world.
Q: If I'm new to the community, what sets your church apart from others in the area?
A: We try to balance our long history with a forward-looking vision; expectations of excellence in worship with significant impact in the world; the gifts of laypersons with the gifts of pastors; individuals' need for food, shelter, and health with their need for the love of Christ Jesus; and clarity about theological foundations with compassion for every child of God.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share about your church?
A: Everyone's welcome; questions and doubts are OK; service and care are essential.