History of our Church

     For 125 years, the First United Methodist in Perry, Oklahoma, has always blazed new trails with pioneers. It is not surprising that before a month had passed after the Cherokee Strip was opened for settlement, a service of Christian worship was held by the Methodists in Perry.
     Our first Minister, Rev. Thomas Walcott, was transferred from the Missouri Conference to take charge of the mission work in Perry. Rev. Walcott was on the ground at noon, September 16, 1893. He held the first services in a tent until October 8, 1893, when the first regular church service was held in the "Banks and Wade" building on the north side of the Square.
     On the following Sunday, October 15, 1893, Rev. Walcott preached again in the same place. The church was organized with a class of ten members, and a Board of Trustees was appointed.

     Later the trustees secured a site for a church chapel at the corner of 10th and Elm Streets. The site of the First Methodist Church edifice was a frame chapel built at the corner of Tenth and Elm Streets, and the first service was held in this building February 11, 1894. The church relocated in 1901 to the corner of Seventh and Elm Streets. In order to meet an immediate need, the basement of the church was enlarged in 1926, under the pastorate of Reverend J. A. Nayle.
     The framed chapel structure held services for twenty-eight years until it was deemed necessary to build a new church. Under the pastorate of Reverend George Parkhurst, a building committee was appointed and consisted of Charles Christoph, Guy Dayton, J. W. Yoce, Dr. O. W. Boyer, H. L. Boyes, George Sims, John Mugler, Everett Nelson and Reverend Parkhurst. The proposed building would cost $50,000. The church cornerstone was laid and the building construction started in 1929. The new brick church was consecrated on June 8, 1930. A dedication service was held on June 9, 1946, under the pastorate of Reverend Charles Thigpen.
    The church continued to grow so a lot was purchased on the corner of 7th and Elm Streets. Part of the building at the old site was moved to this place and a new addition was added. In the spring of 1929 a new brick church was planned. A dedication service was held for the beautiful new building on June 8, 1930. A parsonage next to the church was built in 1940. A youth fellowship building (now Fellowship Hall) was built behind the church under the pastorate of Reverend Howard Bush and dedicated on February 29, 1953.  The committee appointed by the official board, was composed of O. J. Moore, Everett Morrow, Raymond Frailey, George Spraberry, Frank Eby, John Mugler and Art Coffey. Members of a special finance committee were Phillip Reese, Myrl Mc Cormick and Monte Jones. The building was erected at a cost of $25,000 and was completed in 1953.The church building and parsonage remained until 1980.
      In 1978, the property west of the church, adjoining the youth building came up for sale. Three lots were purchased during the pastorate of Reverend William J. Higgins. On September 12, 1979, Reverend David Thomas, District Superintendent, presided over the annual charge conference; a committee was elected to develop preliminary plans for a new church. The building committee included: Bill Parker, Ken Dalrymple, Jo Kennedy, Ken Schuermann, Dolly Brown, Dan Hasenfratz, Pete Byers, Donez Womack, Rex Nelson, David Bluethman, Larry Paschall, Art Hamby, Gary Billingsley, Charles Van Tine and Reverend Don T. Johnson. Ground breaking service were held July 13, 1980.They were razed when a new church facility was completed and dedicated on April 19, 1981, where it remains today. A service of consecration for the present day worship and educational facilities were held at 10:50 A.M. with Bishop John Wesley Hardt presiding, assisted by Reverend Don T. Johnson. The Cornerstone Laying Ceremonies were held at 2:30 P.M. and continued with the open house. The goal was to pay the debt of $800,000 by 1995. Through faithful stewardship, the church was debt free in 1989.
     The Ladies Aid Society immediately became the right arm of the church. The church bell, which can now be seen on the corner of 7th and Elm, was purchased and placed in the steeple of the old wooden church in 1904 by the Ladies Aid. All officers and members of the group were engraved on the bell. Now known as United Methodist Women (UMW), they are ready and willing to assist with the mission of the church locally and within the Methodist Conference, serving funeral dinners, making prayer quilts for cancer and ill patients, shut-ins, veterans and others. Also, shut-ins and nursing home and hospital patients are remembered each holiday with a goodie bag", A church wide homemade ice cream social is held yearly during the summer. In the past the ice-cream social has been held at CCC Lake Park, but was moved to Century Park in the summer of 2018.
     Successful Vacation Bible Schools are held each summer reaching many children and the volunteers are always plentiful. The First United Methodist Church of Perry is very supportive of the programs designed for children.
     The First United Methodist Church sponsors the scouting programs in Perry. Cub Scout and Boy Scouts meet weekly in a building called the Boy Scout building. All eligible kids are invited to participate.
     Paige Schwandt serves as our Young Person's Ministry Director planning fun, worship and spiritual growth in our Youth. A light meal, worship and games is provided for fifth grade through senior every Wednesday night at 5:30 PM. The youth are also sponsored for church camp and many adventures throughout the year. Lori St. Clair is over our nursery with assistance from others in the church. They are there to watch over our youngest as their parents worship.
     For the Worth of a Child is a mission that began several years ago, to provide clothing to children who are taken out of their homes by the Department of Human Services.  This program has grown and grown. Earlier this year, the program First Fridays For Foster Families began. This program is a part of For the Worth of a Child. The first Friday of the month, foster families are given the opportunity to shop for clothes for their foster children.
     Another successful mission of the church is sponsoring the soup kitchen each Thursday evening. This mission includes many churches, civic organizations, and volunteers of the community. Each week there are between forty and eighty people that have an opportunity to enjoy a meal prepared by the soup kitchen sponsors in Noble County. Michelle Lawson coordinates this very important outreach.
There is special music in our worship service each Sunday under the direction of Nancy Thomason, our church organist and music director. We have a wide variety of musical talent in our church, and we are regularly blessed by guitar, flute, trumpet, saxophone, organ and piano. Beverly Alexander plays during worship service once a month.
     At the First United Methodist Church, we trey hard to present the unchanging message of the gospel in new and creative ways. We believe that the Bible is God's Word for us and that it is relevant to our everyday lives. Most importantly, we strive to make known this truth: that Jesus Christ is Lord, and in Him is life. If you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit us and check out our community of faith.

First United Methodist Church of Perry will celebrate 125 years in October 2018.