History of FUMC

Below is a brief history of First United Methodist Church


The first United Brethren Church was erected in 1873 during the pastorate of Rev. George W Howe. Trustees for this first church were Daniel Brown, Josiah Fries, and Joseph Funkhouser. The first church was erected on the same site as the present church at a cost of Two Thousand, Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500). The first parsonage was built in 1881 at a cost of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000). Rev. George W. Stover began his twenty-five years as pastor of our church in 1912. It was during his pastorate, that our present church was erected in 1921-1922. On April 17, 1921, Mr. James Darr began removing the original building to make room for the new church. Our present church building was dedicated on August 20, 1922 by Bishop W.M. Bell, D.D., assisted by Rev. W. O. Fries of Dayton, Ohio and Rev. W F. Gruver of Martinsburg, West Virginia. The Trustees serving at the time of the dedication were E. V. Hodges, L. D. Grubbs, W P. Anderson, W. A. Bailey, and J. A. Cather. The entire cost of the church was Sixty-Three Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty-Two Dollars and Ninety-Six Cents ($63,922.96).

On November 26, 1946 the United Brethren in Christ Church and the Evangelical Church were united to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church. As the church grew under the leadership of other assigned ministers, an educational building was needed.

During the twelve year pastorate of Mr. Carl W. Hiser, followed by the eleven year pastorate of Rev. Paul J. Slonaker, Funds were raised and plans made for the educational unit.

In 1958 the Inez and Grace Fries home was willed to the church for a parsonage, the value of which, after remodeling, was Twenty-Two Thousand and One Hundred Dollars ($22,100). Two (buildings north of the church were razed to make way for the construction of an educational unit. A contract was signed with Howard Shockey and Sons and construction began at once with ground breaking ceremonies being held on August 15, 1960. A corner stone laying ceremony was held on June 25, 1961. In 1961 the Conference Minutes recorded this statement: “The Educational Unit at Winchester First United Brethren Church was completed this year and was dedicated by Bishop J. Gordon Howard on Sunday, August 13th.” The cost of the building and equipment was Two Hundred and Twenty Thousand Dollars ($220,000). Trustees at the time of dedication were Carl B. Shickle, Sr., Harold Bageant, Charles Patton, Bill Chapman, Harold Cooper, Garvin Walter, Robert Palmer, and W. P. Anderson. The mortgage note was burned on November 30, 1969.

In May 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church merged to form the United Methodist Church.

On November 25, 1973, we celebrated our One Hundredth Anniversary, Rev. James H. Boice, Jr. was pastor at that time. Bishop J. Gordon Howard gave the sermon during the morning service with Bishop W. Kenneth Goodson providing the sermon during the afternoon service. Other ministers who participated in the services were: Rev. Esdras S. Gruver, Rev. William B. Obaugh, Rev. George Burroughs, and Rev. Paul J. Slonaker. A noon luncheon and time of fellowship were enjoyed by all.

In June 1974, a building for storage was erected at the rear of the education building by Boy Scout Troop #21. In March 1975, First Church joined other Winchester congregations in forming CCAP, an organization that offers emergency assistance to persons who need clothing, food, fuel or medicine. In April 1975, a new ( completely automated Maas-Rowe Carillon was installed in our church tower. Now, at noon each day, hymns make their way across the air waves over Winchester. A beautiful parsonage was purchased in January 1976 and is located at 324 Ridge Avenue.

A ministerial exchange took place during July 1976. Rev. Barrie Heafford, his wife Margaret and sons, Adrian, Andrew, and Nicholas came to First Church from Waterford, England in an exchange pastorate with Rev. James H. Boice, Jr. and family.

The Administrative Board authorized a Five Hundred Dollars ($500) contribution toward the building of Winchester House, which was dedicated on May 14, 1979. On September 7, 1980, Susan Schwetzer Garrett was welcomed as a student assistant to the pastor, Rev. James Cooke. In November 1981, Virginia Hundley Wyse was welcomed to our church as student assistant.

In March 1982, fire extinguishers and emergency lights were installed for fire protection with a cost of One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixty-Two Dollars ($1,762). A van, to be used by all First Church groups, was purchased in 1982.

October 14, 1984 was Homecoming Sunday with Rev. James H. Boice, Jr. as guest minister. A mission project in 1986 allowed the church to make a contribution of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000) toward the building of the Prince of Peace Church in Prince William County. Rev. James Cooke was the guest minister for Home-coming Sunday on October 13, 1985.

A classroom in the overflow area of the Sanctuary was converted into a much needed sacristy. On May 25, 1986, the Sacristy was dedicated in memory of Mrs. Kathleen McKee.

A group left for an Appalachian Service Project in Perry County, Kentucky on June 27, 1987. Our church began a tape ministry for shut-ins in August 1987 and on August 23, 1987 an early morning worship service, to be held at 8:45 a.m., was started. The time was later changed to 8:30 a.m.

In July 1988, our church youth participated in an Appalachian Service Project in Logan County, West Virginia. Our church, as a mission to our community, established a preschool, which is still growing strong today. The Discovery Preschool began on September 7, 1988 with Mrs. Anne Rembold as Director. A handbell choir was established and rehearsals began on February 5, 1989.

On Sunday, May 21, 1989 at 6:00 p.m., a Service of Consecration of our newly renovated sanctuary and overflow area was held. As part of the same service our new Schantz pipe organ was dedicated. Rev. Robert S. Brookover was pastor of First Church during this time. Special guests for the service were Rev. Susan Garrett, Rev. James Cooke, Rev. James H. Boice, Jr. and Superintendent, Rev. Thomas Coffman. At various times during the pastorate of Rev. Brookover, Jeffrey Cannon served as his assistant, Rev. Larry Erbin served as visitation minister and Donald A. Kimball was appointed associate minister in June, 1990. Our second parsonage, located at 118 Pebble Brook Lane, was purchased just prior to Rev. Kimball’s appointment.

In September 1993, the Steering Committee recommended that we establish a Building Committee and empower the Stewardship Committee, in consultation with the Finance Committee, to plan and implement the relocation of our church. The congregation voted to accept the recommendation. A display was set up by the Building Committee in June of 1994, showing specifications for a new building, various site evaluations, and information as to size and building functions. The committee requested input from the members of the congregation. Also, with the purchase of a new 1994 Dodge van, a ministry was established to transport our shut-ins to our church services. In 1992, Steve Biggs was hired as Youth Minister. He served in that capacity until 1997 when Todd Strader was hired and the job title was changed to Student Minister.

After a year long battle with cancer, our congregation was saddened by the death of our senior pastor, Rev. John P. Dyksen on December 7, 1994. A service of thanksgiving for his life was held in our church on December 9, 1994 at 2:00 p.m. Bishop Thomas B. Stockton, Rev. Jack Minnick, District Superintendent, and Rev. Randy Duncan, our Associate Pastor, officiated at the service. Rev. Duncan served as our minister for the remainder of the conference year assisted by the Rev. Charles Harless as visitation minister. In July 1995, Rev. Dr. Stephen C. Hundley began his ministry as senior pastor and Rev. Saundra Nottingham, the first appointed woman pastor in the history of First Church, served as the associate pastor. During this time many new programs were established for the expansion of our ministry.

A special charge conference was held on July 21, 1996, to hear recommendations from the Building Committee related to the potential location of the expansion of the ministry of our church. The Administrative Board unanimously approved the purchase of a 15.8 acre parcel of land located on the east side of Apple Pie Ridge Road at Frontage Road in Frederick County, Virginia. On November 13, 1996, the purchase of the land was completed at a cost of Two Hundred and Twenty-eight Thousand Dollars ($228,000).

During 1996-1997 the History Committee assembled materials relative to the history of our Church. The Shenandoah University have, in their archives, some of our United Brethren Church historical data. Additional information on our history has been compiled and placed in the archives at the Handley Library. In the History Room of the church, established by the committee and located in the overflow area of the Sanctuary, you will find displayed old pictures and other historical information of interest.