First Methodist service goes beyond 100 years

ERIC WALKER/The Mayfield Messenger

The congregation and community will celebrate a 100-year-plus history of Mayfield First United Methodist Church on Sunday, Nov. 24. The service will mark a century of the church at its present location on the corner of South Eighth Street and West Water Street.

Mayfield had only been in existence for 14 years when the Methodist faith was first planted here. In the 182 years that followed, its roots have become firmly latched into the foundational soil - and soul - of the community.

On Nov. 24, one of Mayfield's cornerstone churches, Mayfield First United Methodist, will mark and celebrate the 100th anniversary of its current sanctuary on the corner of South Eighth and West Water streets.

"When the congregation obtained the design and secured the construction of our present sanctuary, they may not have realized they were creating a landmark for the city of Mayfield," said current Mayfield First United Methodist pastor, the Rev. Joey Reed.

Known for its massive columns that stand outside its front doors, the early working of what would become Mayfield First UMC began like many churches with prayer meetings and bible readings held in local homes. According to archival information of the church, early west Kentucky Methodists congregated at a wooden meeting hall on Broadway that was used by any group which needed a place to meet other than their homes.

In 1853, local blacksmith Samuel Benson Wright paid $40 for the construction of a church at the site that is the Eight and Broadway parking lot for First Baptist Church. Carol Covington, a member of First Methodist, said it was the first building in Mayfield that was to be used solely as a church.

More than 20 years later, the church relocated again across the road next to the current Carr's Steakhouse. It was also reportedly the first local church to have stained glass windows. But after that building burned, the church re-built at West South and South Seventh streets with the first brick building in Mayfield.

Mayfield Methodists affiliated with the church remained there until 1918 when work began on a new church building at Mayfield FUMC's current location.

Members marked their first service on Thanksgiving week of 1919 in the first floor ladies' parlor of the church.

The cost of the church building and former parsonage (which is now the church office) was $110,000.

The anniversary next week will begin at 10:15 a.m. in the church sanctuary with several speakers sharing information on the church history. Covington also noted that music will be from the early church with the opening hymn's first verse being sung a cappella before adding organ and piano accompaniment.

"To show the difference between then and now," she said.

A meal will also follow Reed's sermon.

Covington, however, stated that while the celebration recognizes the 100 years of the current structure, it is the work of the church, its members and its fellow community churches that strives to make a difference.

"Our church, starting with itinerant ministers and people meeting in their homes, has always been a service-minded church," she said. "We've had missions, whether we called them missions or not; missions to help the poor, missions to help slaves, missions to help people who needed help in our community, and that continues today.

"Today, we're working on (Operation Christmas Child) shoebox ministries, we're working on Lighthouse (women and children's shelter), Reelfoot Lake missions, Fuller Apartments, Need Line and Food Pantry. It goes on and on," Covington said. "It's not a building doing this work; it's the people in the building doing this work and caring."

Reed added: "We hope that the impact of this congregation well exceeds a hundred years, and continues to make disciples of the citizens of Mayfield for Jesus Christ."

The community is invited to attend the anniversary service.

Eric Walker is the news editor for The Mayfield Messenger. He has also worked as a staff writer for the Messenger, editor for the Murray Ledger & Times, and in public relations. He is married with two sons.