First Church History

A Celebration of 147 Years of Serving Christ Together

First Church Building History

The first record of the appointment of a pastor (J.K. Nelson) at First Church was in 1867.  On November 13, 1868 land on Green Street was purchased to build a church.  A one room frame Church was built in 1869 and dedicated in 1870.  G.W. Howe was pastor.  A frame parsonage was built beside the church.

The wooden church was razed in 1906 and the new church, built of concrete block on the same site, still stands today.  It was dedicated on June 30, 1907, while the Rev. George P. Hott was pastor.  The Men’s Bible Class is named after him.  In 1910 this class had a membership of 300 men.

A new parsonage was built in 1912-1913 with the Rev. E.E. Neff  starting it and Dr. J.A. Brunk completing it.  It was made of a new concrete block.

The next major improvement came in 1929 under the pastorate of the Rev. J. Paul Gruver.  The basement was excavated and finished to make a place for the children’s department of the Sunday School and for a church social hall.  In 1940, during the pastorate of the Rev. F.G. Senger, an addition to the church was built which provided an enlarged pulpit area, an enlarged basement, and Sunday School class rooms.

In 1946, the Evangelical and United Brethren in Christ denominations merged to become known as The Evangelical United Brethren Church.  Our United Brethren Church became known as the First United Evangelical Brethren CHURCH.

In 1949, the remainder of the Dr. Green estate was purchased and in the 1950’s the D.C. Fearnow property, located directly behind the parsonage and church, was acquired which made the total land area owned by the church about 2.0 acres.

In 1968, we became the First United Methodist Church, with the merger of the Methodist and E.U.B. denominations.  We are part of the Cumberland-Hagerstown District of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.

On May 17, 1981, under the direction of Pastor A. Fred Walz, ground was broken for a new parsonage located near the nineteenth century home of Dr. Green’s “Oakwood Hall.”  The new parsonage was constructed by a group of volunteers from the Elkhart District, North Indiana Methodist Conference.  This group, as a ministry, came at their own expense and donated their labor.  The old parsonage was razed and the area was turned into a lawn.

In the 1990’s an addition and a number of renovations were undertaken.  In 1991, central air conditioning was added to the sanctuary, the balcony was renovated, and new pews were acquired for this area.  In June 1992, the ground was broken for a new two-story educational building.  The 6100 square foot addition, built north of the church, on the old parsonage site, contains eleven classrooms and cost about $330,000.  It was consecrated on February 14, 1993.  July 30, 1995, marked the completion of the renovation of the social hall under the supervision of Ernest Schrider.  In October of 1995, a completely new sound system was installed.  On February 2, 1997, we dedicated a new Baldwin Organ.

In 2001, Phil Kesecker called with an offer to donate 23 acres of land.  We accepted that gift and began developing a Master Plan.  In 2011 the Fearnow Campus, what we now call the Blue, began construction. Over the course of two years, the property would become a testament to First Church’s Mission. Hosting many outreach and fellowship events. With aid from Trinity-Asbury, the Blue – Dedicated to Doris “Diggie Kesecker”, and the Trinity Asbury Pavillion were opened early in 2013.

The Leagacy of Pastors

A history of First Church would not be complete without mentioning the spiritual aspects.  Over the years, a total of eleven men and women from the congregation have entered the ministry: George S. Widmyer, Charles (Billy) Weber, Calvin Harden, Gary L. Kerns, George Edward Grove, Tim Close, Marc Roberson, Kathy Spitzer, Dan Wright, Garrett Kell, Jason Seville, and Charles Bergen. John Langenstein is currently in seminary to prepare for the ministry and will soon be added to this list.

For 147 years, First Church has tried to be a faithful witness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and we hope to continue in the Lord’s work for many years to come.  Our desire is to continue to be faithful to our mission: To Win disciples for Jesus Christ, Build them up in their faith, and Send them out into the world in service to Christ.

The church has been blessed by the assignment of many dedicated pastors over the years and the laity of First Church has always been deeply involved in the life of the Church.  The following is a list of the Pastor Appointments: