First United Methodist Church
1320 Main Street, Houston, Texas, Downtown 77002 United StatesPrint this page   •   Share this page

Churches are familiar with the concept of "sanctuary." Within their walls weary travelers find sanctuary. Troubled souls find sanctuary. And the main section of the church is even known as a "sanctuary." But what this church needs is a bit of shelter, protection, and sanctuary of its own. The congregation used to meet at a church on Texas Avenue, but moved out because of the noise, the traffic, and the urban cacophony that surrounded it. So, this church was built in what was then considered almost a suburb. It was surrounded by stately manors, lush gardens, and tranquility. All of those things are gone, and the church is once again in the center of activity with frantic commuters, towering skyscrapers, and a tram line its modern neighbors. The First United Methodist Church still manages to handle itself well, in spite of these onslaughts. Its corner tower stands powerful and defiant against the skyline. Will the church move again, seeking greener, quieter pastures? In a sense, it already has; opening satellite offices in other parts of the city to serve its scattered congregation's needs. Still, the church learned an important lesson about urban growth from its first move. When the church's education center was built next door in 1929, it was designed to be converted into an office building if the congregation once again decided to move.

Quick Facts
    >1839 - Houston's First United Methodist Church is born (then known as Shearn Memorial Methodist Church). It is organized in the Senate chamber of the Republic of Texas. At the time, Houston was the capital of the Republic.
    >1842 - The cornerstone is laid for the First United Methodist Church's first building.
    >1844 - The first church building opens to the public, serving a congregation of 38.
    >1860 - A powerful storm knocks down one of the building's brick walls. The congregation has to meet at different building erected when the black and white members of the congregation were segregated.
    >1883 - The congregation returns to a newly constructed church located at the present site of the Houston Chronicle.
    >1907 - The church building is sold. The congregation meets in Alabambra Hall and Beach's Auditorium.
    >1908 - The land for the current building is purchased.
    >1910 - The new building is finished and services begin.
    >1983 - A huge fire severely damages the building.
    >1985 - Fire restoration is completed.
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