First United Methodist Church, Eufaula
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
It was Christmas morning. Eight men stood on the east bank of the Missippi River, waiting for daylight to lead their eight horses onto the small flatboat tied at the pier. Each man had packed a Bible and a Methodist Hymnal in his saddle bag. The Methodist mission to Oklahoma was about to begin. The year was 1831. All materials had to come by boat or ox team. Roads were little more than wide paths. Enthusiasm was high because this was the largest building enterprise undertaken in Indian Territory up to that time.
In November of 1847, While at Doaksville, the conference made plans for establishing Asbury Manual Labor School in Indian Territory. Bishop William Capers appointed the Rev. Thomas B. Ruble to select a site and supervise the construction of the school buildings. He secured the help of Colonel Logan, the U.S. Indian Agent for the Creek Nation, and Colonell Rutherford, superintendent of the Western Territory. The site chosen for the school was an 80-acre farm near what is now the town of Eufaula.
The first classes were held in the log house on August 8, 1848, with the Reverend W. S. Cobb as teacher. The classes continued in the log house until the new buildings were ready to use. When it was completed, the building served the people both for church and school until 1879 when a plain frame church was erected on what is now the corner of Main Street and Foley Avenue. As the town of Eufaula began to grow, the church was moved a couple of blocks South where this church now stands. The present sanctuary was erected in 1956. A parsonage was built in 1959 on North 6th Street. The education building with fellowship hall was added in 1970. A two room nursery was added a few years later. In 1975, a bell tower was moved from the Seely Chapel at Folsom Training School in Smithville, Oklahoma by William E. Smith family.
In 1989, an addition to the courtyard gave space for a pastor's study, conference room, restroom, church office, and full attic storage space. The South lawn was paved for parking and the small playground area became Johnson Hall Youth Department. These improvements were completed for approximately $70,000 and without debt. In March 1993, a Class-A parsonage was completed and furnished on North 'L' Street and dedicated in April.
In 1997, the entire year was devoted to an array of commemorative events in celebration of our church's 150th anniversary of being Oklahoma's oldest Methodist Church with continuing service.
Submitted by Velma L. Whitmer. Sources: Detour Into Yesterday - Paul Milhouse.