As First United Methodist of Lubbock continues to grow in its ministry, it is important to know where we came from and what sacrifices were made to help us get here. First United Methodist Church has a reputation of being a giving church with a long history of purpose and vision.
Even before the Sanctuary and education building opened in 1955, First United Methodist Church already had been a major force in the city of Lubbock for more than half a century.
The story of First United Methodist Church began in 1892. Church services were held in the Lubbock County Courthouse or the local school because there were neither enough money nor members to support a church building. As the local congregation grew, the need for a permanent building did also. In 1902, the congregation began raising funds to build a new facility. The building committee purchased three lots of land near 14th Street and Texas Avenue for $30 and the building process began. In late summer 1905, members dedicated the new church. It was a small wooden framed structure valued at $1500.
By 1917, the congregation had outgrown the tall steepled, wooden structure. However before plans for a new building could be made, a fire burned the church to the ground. The very next day, the pastor and church leaders arranged to hold worship services at the local school, and soon after, FUMC members arranged to construct a new church.
In 1918, the second building was completed. Constructed of gray brick, it contained a full basement, and a sanctuary with a balcony extending around both sides and the rear. It was located on the corner of Broadway Avenue and 13th Street.
By the early 1950s, everyone realized that a larger sanctuary was necessary. To ease overcrowding at Sunday worship services, the church began 8:30 am and 10:50 am worship services in October, 1952. Under the leadership and guidance of Dr. H.I. Robinson, the church broke ground for the new building on June 22, 1952. Construction of the magnificent Gothic-style facility began the following September. The new sanctuary opened on March 6, 1955. Two months later in May, 1955, the church launched another building program, for the Education Building. The official board raised $750,000 for the new structure within six weeks.
The new church's contemporary gothic features were based on English architectural styles. The architect was Wyatt Hedrick of Fort Worth, TX. With its majestic stained glass windows, it has become known as the "Cathedral of the West." Above the altar is the famous Rose Window, a central point of Sunday worship. It measures over 26 feet in diameter, and the design is based on The Creation. The church held its first Sunday worship in the building March 6, 1955. Less than three months later, the church began work on the education building. On the first Sunday it was in use, 1,982 people attended Sunday school, a record as yet unmatched.
By Easter 2002, attendance reached a Sunday record, with more than 4000 people attending. Once more, the congregation realized First Church required another expansion. The Christian Life Center was proposed in 2002 to alleviate the overcrowding of the current building. With a emphasis on youth, it includes a great area for the contemporary worship service, a full-sized gym, classrooms, on two floors, a game room, a commercial kitchen, and a gathering area on the second floor for the youth. There is finally enough space to provide a warm, personal atmosphere tailored to meet the needs of the youth plus everyone else in the congregation. The building was completed and dedicated in February 2005.
We are a church that will and must be a mission tool in the fields of humanity. We must be an oasis for families who seek survival in a real world. We must touch the lives of people like no one else can. In short, we must continue to be Christ for the 21st century and for all time.