Forward Through the Ages

This book is a series of chapters about the history of Methodists in Santa Rosa, CA, as provided by Norm Hardin.

This series is available as two .pdf files:

Forward Through the Ages, part 1

Forward Through the Ages, part 2

Our Story

From the earliest Methodist circuit riders during the gold rush era through the present day, the First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa has had a vital impact in the community. Methodists were here before there was a city of Santa Rosa, and we have grown as an integral and important asset to Sonoma County. We pray that our future is as full and effective in mission and ministry as our past has been.

The first Protestant church in the whole North Bay was the Methodist church in Sonoma. The first handful of Santa Rosa Methodists began meeting in1851with Baptists, who built the first church in the Santa Rosa area. Methodists built their first church structure in 1861 at Third and D Streets. During the1890’s the Santa Rosa Methodists were at their highest point with the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal (South) church, The German Methodist Episcopal church and the Pacific Methodist College, all very active in the community. In 1901 a new Methodist Episcopal church was completed on Fourth Street . The church soon grew to be a popular landmark in the town, and was featured in several picture post cards of the day. Following the famous northern California earthquake of 1906. the steeple of the Methodist Episcopal (South) church on Fifth Street stood like a beacon of hope in the rubble of demolished buildings During the 1920’s to the 40’s the Southern branch and the German language branch merged with “the mother church” to become the Methodist Church of Santa Rosa. Because of the mergers and growth of the town, the church had grown considerably and no longer fit in the building built in 1901. 

A new facility was completed on Montgomery Drive in 1951, on property given by Mrs. Mead Clark. The growth in ministry and mission continued through the 20th century leading the church to embark on a multi-site ministry at the turn of the century. Eight acres were purchased at the corner of Giffen Ave. and Stony Point Road for a second campus of the church, with worship services beginning in in the R. L. Stevens School in the year 2000. In 2006, the Stony Point Ministry Center was consecrated as the first new building on the Stony Point Campus.

The First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa currently offers six worship services at both the Montgomery and Stony Point campuses throughout the week. Each service offers a somewhat different style of worship that represents the many different ways that people think about and express their faith. It is important to note that the differences are of style, and not substance. We have come to understand that diversity is healthy. The people called Methodists are 

not of one mind and perhaps never will be; however, we agree with John Wesley, the founder of Methodism in 19th century England, when he said: "We do not have to think alike to love alike."

When we examine the soul of the church, we miss the centrality of God's love if we look only at location, wood or concrete. The "historical" Methodist Church has been a presence, not merely a place. It is a body of well-meaning, God-serving people who have joined with others to create a community of love. Where should a church be? Anywhere the love of God is needed. Therefore, we are a church that strives to create a community of love by reaching up through personal spirituality and reaching out with social responsibility to all of God's people.

Take a quick peek at our church history in the series of vignettes titled: Forward Through the Ages.

Methodist Churches in Santa Rosa

Methodist Churches in Santa Rosa

Welcome to this inaugural edition of Forward Through the Ages,a series providing some of the history of Methodists in Santa Rosa.

A good place to start  is with the three churches in the masthead.  Two are the “ancestors” of our present church.

The first Methodist Episcopal Church building was erected in 1861 at the corner of Third and D Streets.  The property was acquired in October, 1858, from town fathers Berthold "Barney" Hoen and Feodor "Ted" Hahman, who donated lots to the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians to establish churches..  Four lots were received, for $20 apiece.  Each lot had 40 feet of frontage, two facing Second Street and two facing Third Street.  In December 1858, two more lots facing Third Street were purchased.  In 1861, the two lots on Second Street were sold, and the money was used to help build the church at the corner of  3rd and D Streets.

In the 1890’s, the church built in 1861 was showing its age.  In 1874 the church had been enlarged and improved at a cost of $5,000.  In 1886 the parsonage had been built, and the church had once again been improved.  There had been a great harvest of souls at that location, and the greatest Methodists in the conference had preached from the pulpit of the little church. However, it was evident that the church had not been built to accommodate a twentieth century congregation.  During the mid to late 1890’s, funds were collected and plans were made to build a new church.

In 1900 construction started on anew church on Fourth Street. It was completed in 1901 for a cost of $13,550.38.  At the time of its dedication a debt of $4,000 remained.  The dedication ceremony, held on April 14, 1901, must have been very rousing to those in attendance, because the amount collected at that service was sufficient to pay off the remaining debt.  The parsonage was constructed adjacent to the church, but rather than facing Fourth Street, it faced Fifth Street. 

This photograph after the 1906 earthquake shows what appears to be the rubble of the 1861 church in the foreground.  The  Methodist Episcopal (South) Church at Fifth and Orchard, where Pederson’s Furniture store is now, survived, as did the Fourth Street Methodist Episcopal church just outside this photo to the right.

By the 1940’s the Fourth Street Methodist Church had grown considerably since the church had been first occupied in 1901.  Pressure grew to correct the problems of overcrowding, and it became apparent that more remodeling would not be the cure.  In 1947 the pastor, Cecil Wilkins, started a building fund for a new and larger church.  While the need was obvious, many of the older members, who made up the “financial backbone” of the church, were resistant to the strain of disruption and debt that a church in a new location who pose.  The new church project was given great impetus with the donation of several residential lots at the corner of California Street and Montgomery Drive by Mrs. Mead Clark, a long-time faithful member of the church. 

In 1950, the church property on Fourth Street was sold to Santa Rosa Savings and Loan, and construction was begun on the new church. The last service at the Fourth Street church was held on June 10, 1951.  The next two  weeks services were held in the new Social Hall (now the McMullin room and Lehman Chapel) as the sanctuary wasn’t quite ready.  The first worship services held in the new sanctuary were on June 24, 1951, with pastor Bert Weeks.

The story of the “other” Methodist churches and the Methodist College are stories for another day.

  

Early Christianity in Sonoma County

Early Christianity in Sonoma County

In the book “Wild Oats in Eden” Harvey Hansen and Jeanne Miller present a description of the beginning of Christianity in Sonoma County.

In 1812, long before the Mexicans colonized north of San Francisco, Ivan A. Kuskoff, an adventurer with only one leg who was later to become a Russian hero, chose a site for a Russian colony on a remote and rocky coastal bluff thirteen miles north of the Slavianka, or Russian River as we would later call it.  Kuskoff the diplomat, who had been busy making friends with the Indians on previous trips, leased the land, site of the Pomo village known as Mad Shui Nui, for three blankets, three pairs of breeches, three horses, two axes, and some beads.  The fort was built with nine buildings inside the walls and fifty building outside.  One of the most prominent buildings in the fort, and certainly one of the most prominent in the life and culture of the Russian inhabitants, was the Russian Orthodox Chapel.  The fort and settlement was christened simply Ross, an archaic name for Russia.

The Mexican government's first attempt at establishing a frontier north of San Francisco was made in 1823 when the Spanish Franciscan Padre, Jose Altimira, came from San Francisco full of missionary zeal to convert the "heathen Indians".

Bypassing church authority, Altimira received permission for a survey from Governor Arguello and with a military escort and a group of Christian Indians as workers explored the area from Petaluma to Suisun for a mission site.  The Padre was enthusiastic about the Sonoma Valley, and thus it was there that the site was selected for the only mission to be established by the Mexican government, the mission that was fated to be the last one in a series stretching north from Mexico.  On July 4, 1823, a redwood cross was erected at the site, a two-hour service was held, the soldiers fired a volley, and the new mission was christened Nuevo San Francisco.  The following year, on the occasion of the dedication, the mission was renamed San Francisco Solano de Sonoma.  The religious life of the mission lasted only ten years.  Anti-mission sentiment among the soldiers and settlers culminated in the secularization of the mission by decree of the Mexican government, and in 1834 it was turned over to the civil authority headed by General Mariano Vallejo.  In 1850, only fifteen years after the last mission padre left the Sonoma mission and returned to the San Rafael mission, Isaac Owen, Methodist missionary, packed his saddlebags and went to Sonoma to found the first Protestant Church in the north bay area. 

A sketch made on a visit to Fort Ross in 1828 - California Historical Society

The Start of Methodists in Santa Rosa

The Start of Methodists in Santa Rosa

True to our tradition of frontier religion, Methodism soon followed Russian Orthodoxy and Catholicism.  The exact origins of Methodism in Sonoma County are unclear.  There seems to have been several circuit riders not officially related to any Annual Conference who were in the area from 1849 on.  The book “Story Of My Life”,  by Methodist Bishop William Taylor, 1895, found by Jo Bodle in Indiana, gives his description about the arrival of the first Methodist ministers in the area.   As you read it, there are three people in particular who have close ties to our church: Isaac Owen, who later built the first Methodist church in Sonoma County in the town of Sonoma; Asa White, or “Blue Tent White” as he was know by reputation in San Francisco, who was our pastor from 1857 to 1859; and James Corwin who was our pastor in 1859 to 1861.

  In 1850, only fifteen years after the last mission padre left the Sonoma mission and returned to the San Rafael mission, Isaac Owen packed his saddlebags and went to Sonoma to found the first Protestant Church in the north bay area. 

Gaye LeBaron’s book “Santa Rosa A Nineteenth Century Town”  tells about the start of organized religion in Santa Rosa.  The Lebanon Baptist Church was the first organized congregation in the Santa Rosa area, with the circuit riding Reverend Steven Riley holding meetings in Martin Hudson's cabin in the Los Guilucos valley, six miles east of what was to become the town center.  When the membership outgrew the Hudson home, the congregation moved outdoors under the branches of a large live oak tree.

That proving to be "too open to both the winter storms and the summer cows", the entire community joined in with their Baptist neighbors and erected the first church building, locating it in the short-lived town of Franklin.  The next church to organize in the Santa Rosa area was the Methodist church.

The Southern Methodists arrived first.  The Reverend Solomon Smith of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South) visited the Santa Rosa valley in 1851 or 1852.  At first he was not connected to any conference, but none the less was an active preacher.  In 1853 he was officially appointed to the Bodega Bay Circuit.  Santa Rosa was a preaching point on that circuit, and the first services were held in the Baptist church in Franklin before the town of Santa Rosa was founded.  The Methodist Episcopal (South) continued to meet in Baptist churches until 1868, when a church was erected at the corner of Fifth and B Streets. 

It appears that the Methodist Episcopal Church began as part of the old Russian River Circuit.  Santa Rosa was laid out in 1853, and our first records indicate that the Reverend A. L. S. Bateman was appointed to that circuit in 1854.  Bateman conducted services first in the courthouse, and then in the home of appropriately named Judge Churchman.  The first Methodist Episcopal Church building was erected in 1861, at the corner of Third and D Streets.

The “Other” Methodists in Santa Rosa

The "Other" Methodists in Santa Rosa

Our “ancestor” churches here in Santa Rosa consisted of more than just the mainstream Methodist Episcopal churches talked about earlier.  Tracing the roots of Methodism in Santa Rosa becomes confusing due to the church being split into various branches, each quite active in the community.  There was the Methodist Episcopal Church that was the main foundational organization, the M.E.(South) Church, which split from the main body over the question of slavery, and later the German M.E.Church, which was aligned with the main body, but was a German language church.  In addition to the various  church activities in the community, the M.E.(South) Church established a major college here in Santa Rosa that took on a life of it’s own.

The Southern Methodists arrived first, though they were not the first Methodists to build a church..  The Reverend Solomon Smith of the M.E.(South)  visited the Santa Rosa valley in 1851 or 1852.  In1853 he was officially appointed to the Bodega Bay Circuit, which included Santa Rosa as a preaching point.  The M.E.(South)congregation met in Baptist churches until 1868, when a church was erected at the corner of Fifth and B Streets, seven years after the M.E. church was built at Fifth and D.  In 1884 the M.E.(South) moved their original church to a new site at the corner of Fifth and Orchard. In 1894 the old church, having outgrown the facilities which were built before the arrival of Pacific Methodist College with its influx of professors, staff and students,  was moved to the rear of the lot, rotated 90 degrees, and a new sanctuary, steeple and  entrance was added.  In the photo, the old church can be seen at the back, with two narrow windows and a doorway.

  The  church remained there until after its merger.  In 1924 a plan for merging the M.E. can M.E. (South) churches was voted on at the annual conferences.  The California Conference voted unanimously in favor of the unification plan.  The Pacific Conference had a majority in favor, but the vote fell short of the two-thirds majority required.  With the failure of the 1924 plan, the two Santa Rosa churches decided to ignore the vote and merged on their own.

The numbers of Southern Methodists grew sharply in 1871 when the Pacific Methodist College relocated to Santa RosafromVacaville.  After President Lincoln's assassination, the college in Vacaville had been burned to the ground by Yankees angered at the college's southern parentage.  Looking for a kinder reception, the college found it in Santa Rosa, a town with Confederate leanings.  The new school was built and the street leading up to it was named College Avenue.  At the turn of the 20th century, Pacific Methodist College reported that it had graduated over 180 students since coming to Santa Rosa, and had "partially educated" over 4,000 more.  Pacific Methodist College endured until after 1900, surviving financial setbacks, the arrest of one of its professors for forgery, and finally a move to the outskirts of town.

In 1882 the Reverend August Lemkau established the local German Methodist Episcopal Church, which was Wesleyan Methodist.  The church building was erected in 1888 at the corner of Cherry and Orchard Streets.  By 1942 World War I and onset of World War II had changed the nature of German culture in America, and  a German language churchwas no longer desired. The buildingcontinued to serve as a church for many years after the Methodists sold it, and still exists.

 

 

Early Methodist Women

Early Methodist Women

Methodist women have always been a powerful and integral part of the church body.  They have always been interested in spiritual growth and fellowship for women, missions, and the welfare of women and children.  At first was an unorganized, loosely knit group of women that assisted the pastors.  The records we have of organized women's groups begin November 22, 1882. Called the Ladies Aid Society, their first recorded meeting was in the Third Street church, and their first task was to develop and approve a constitution, shown at the right. 

 In May of 1883, a chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was formed, led primarily by women of our church.  They believed that God provides water as a natural drink for “man and beast”, and that alcohol is a poison.   Their doxology was:

“Praise God, from who all blessings flow,

Praise God, who heals the drunkard’s woe,

Praise God, who leads the temperance host,

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

We have all enjoyed the annual “Snowflake Bazaar”, but few realize how old this tradition is.  In the minutes for November 21, 1883, there is this entry:“It was decided to have a “Fair” just before the Holidays, & work for the same was commenced.” 

In 1887 there were about a dozen women attending meetings in homes or the church parlor. They did hand work for missions or had a study.  Money was raised from mite boxes. dues, box socials, teas, rummage sales and bazaars. They canned pears and plums for Gum Moon home in San Francisco and for the Deaconess's home. They also sent rag rugs and comforters to Gum Moon. They bought furniture and other things for the parsonage and took care of needy families in Santa Rosa.

By 1914 there were 49 members. That year they spent $52 on missions.  Those supported were Indians in Covelo, Jessie Lee Home in Alaska, Italian Friends Center and Gum Moon in San Francisco, Ellen Stark Home and Fred Finch Home. They sent $5 to Beulah Home in Oakland for fruit trees and a vegetable garden.  Study topics mentioned were Moslem Women, India, drug and narcotic problems and labor problems.  Due to the flu epidemic, there were no meetings from September 1918 to February 1919.

Some things never change!  Stuck in the book of minutes for the 1880’s was a handwritten note: “Gone to the Ladies Aid.  Lock the back door and shut the lattice.”

Montgomery’s Magnolia Tree

Montgomery’s Magnolia Tree

Steve Brown was a member of the construction crew working on  Larry and Wilma Thompson’s home following a fire in 2004.  He asked about the church the Thompsons attended, as he was impressed by the number of church members who had stopped by to support the Thompsons and ask how they could help.  When told that it was First United Methodist Church, He told mehis mother had gone there, and in about 1962 she had  brought a magnolia sapling from Arlington, Virginia, where she was raised and had planted it in the lawn  on the side yard next to California Street.

That sapling is now a magnificent tree, gracing us every year with its beautiful blossoms and fragrance.

His mother’s name was Billy Brown and their family lived on Reagan Way.  He had fond memories of playing with the Daulton boys, sons of our pastor from 1961 to 1970, and “camping out” under the large fir tree that is behind the altar window.

His mother died in 1995, but the magnolia tree lives on  in all its splendor, a wonderful testament to her gift for the church.

No Doubt, Methodists Like to Eat!

No Doubt, Methodists Like to Eat!

How many joke have we heard about Methodists eating?  We have always liked church meals, and our forefathers were no exception.  This flyer from early in the 20th century promises “A good square meal,25¢.”  Don’t we wish the price was still the same!

Fund-raising meals have been a long tradition and have enabled the financial support of many good projects.  Social concerns, missionary work, building maintenance and many other causes have benefited throughout the years from our fondness for food and fellowship.

Sometimes we have a communal meal just because it is a nice thing to do.  No fund-raising, no hidden reasons, just food and fellowship.  Our Thanksgiving mid-day meals are like that and have been a tradition for over twenty years.  Pastor Dave Slorpe and John Lindemann started the first one in 1989.  In 1992 Keith Tyler became the coordinator and about 1995 Andy Kawecki joined him.

Besides special occasions like Thanksgiving, Advent soup suppers and periodic potlucks, routine eating events also play a large role.  There are the Thursday Morning Men’s Breakfast group, the monthly Saturday Men’s Breakfast, the Men’s Lunch Bunch, the Ethel Greene’s Ladies Lunch Bunch, the Fijian’s feasts, and meals put on by the various social groups of the church.

Folks beginning to gather for the mid-day Thanksgiving meal in Field’s Fellowship Hall, 2011.
Over 200 people attended that day, which included church goers, friends, families, the disadvantaged, homeless and hungry

The Altar Cross

The Altar Cross

Inside the Montgomery sanctuary when it first opened in 1951

One evening while seated with the choir at the back wall of the chancel area, I commented on the bronze plaque dedicating the cross given in memory of Mrs. Lillis LeBaron. I thought it was good that the plaque was still there, even though the cross had been removed about 50 years ago. A singer sitting nearby was surprised, as she thought the plaque referred to the brass cross sitting on the altar. Not so, I said, and told her what I knew of the story of the large cross.

Mrs. Lillis LeBaron was quite active in the Methodist church. Though related to the three LeBarons who initially moved into the area, she is no direct relation to John LeBaron, photographer husband of historian Gaye LeBaron.

Lillis LeBaron died in 1948 and when plans were being made for building the “new” church on Montgomery Drive, funds were donated in her memory for the large gold-colored wooden cross that hung in front of red velvet drapes at the back of the chancel. This photograph, taken close to the opening on September 15, 1951, shows the cross. Note that there is no brass cross on the altar, the large cross serving that purpose.

I have been unable to determine the exact date, but years later the Rapp family purchased the stained glass altar window and it was installed in place of the cross. Fifteen years after the Methodist Church on Montgomery Drive opened, Christ Church on Yulupa Avenue opened, and our large cross formed the backdrop for their altar, having been donated to them.

In 1984 the Christ Church sanctuary burned, taking the large cross with it. With a history of serving two churches and their congregations for 33 years, Mrs. LeBaron’s memorial was certainly a worthy one.

Another historical note is that the formation of Christ Church, which was officially chartered by the Annual Conference in 1962, was the act that caused the “Santa Rosa Methodist Church” to change its name to “The First Methodist Church of Santa Rosa.” In 1968, following the merger of the Methodist church with the United Brethren church, we became “The First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa.”


 

The Metamorphosis of the Sanctuary Facade

The Metamorphosis of the Sanctuary Facade

                1952                                   1957                                      1960

In 1951 when the sanctuary was completed, the columns were very prominent, and the church slogan on the official letterhead was: “The Church with Columns.”  The cross on top was wishful thinking as photographs show just a plain roof.  In 1957 church expansion included the steeple and cross, a memorial to Pershing Liddle, a long-time Trustee and member of the Building Committee.  Also the gable had been enclosed, reducing the visual effect of the columns.

By 1960,  short concrete block walls with trees behind them had been added to both sides of the entrance and a signboard placed in the middle of the walkway.  By 2005 the trees had grown far too big, breaking and uplifting the walkway.  For safety and to create a more open, welcoming feeling, the trees, walls and signboard were removed, being replaced by a trellis covered with climbing roses and a new concrete surface was poured.  Later the name was added to the building.

          

Our First Church

Our First Church

Most of us know that Mrs. Mead Clark donated the land upon which the Montgomery facility is built.  Did you know that the first Methodist church in Santa Rosa was also built on land donated for a small fee to make the sale legal?  For that story, we’ll go back to the very origins of Methodism in Santa Rosa.

Due to differing philosophies concerning slavery, the Methodist church was split into two main factions during the 1850’s - the Methodist Episcopal Church which was against slavery and the Methodist Episcopal Church (South) which was pro-slavery. 

Feodor "Ted" Hahman

The Southern Methodists arrived  here first.  The Reverend Solomon Smith of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South) visited the Santa Rosa valley in 1851 or 1852.  At first he was not connected to any conference, but none the less was an active preacher.  In 1853 he was officially appointed to the Bodega Bay Circuit.  Santa Rosa, a very small community at that time,  was a preaching point on that circuit, and the first services were held in the Baptist church in Franklin before the town of Santa Rosa was founded.  The Methodist Episcopal Church (South) continued to meet in Baptist churches until 1868, when a church was erected at the corner of Fifth and B Streets. 

Berthold "Barney" Hoen

It appears that the Methodist Episcopal Church began as part of the old Russian River Circuit.  Santa Rosa was laid out in 1853, and our first records indicate that the Reverend A. L. S. Bateman was appointed to that circuit in 1854.  Bateman conducted services first in the courthouse, and then in the home of appropriately named Judge Churchman.  The first Methodist Episcopal Church building was erected in 1861, at the corner of Third and D Streets.  The property was donatedin October, 1858, from town fathers Berthold "Barney" Hoen and Feodor "Ted" Hahman, who donated a number of lots to the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians.  They felt strongly that to be a successful town, Santa Rosa needed to have themajorchurchesrepresented.  Four lots were receivedby the Methodists for $20 apiece.  Each lot had 40 feet of frontage, two facing Second Street and two facing Third Street.  In December 1858, two more lots facing Third Street were purchased.  In 1861, the two lots on Second Street were sold, and the money was used to help build the church at the corner of  3rd and D Streets.  It is the church pictured above at the far left of the masthead.

Today, most of us know Hahman and Hoen only as two streets, with Hahman Drive running parallel to Farmers Lane on the East side of Montgomery Village and Hoen Avenue running from Farmers Lane to the boundary of Annadel State Park. 

Although they were not Methodists themselves, Ted Hahman and Barney Hoen featured strongly in the start of Methodism in Santa Rosa.

First Service at Stony Point

First Service at Stony Point

Although many of us think we remember the first service at Stony Point, we really don’t.

Reverend William Angwin, Pastor
Methodist Episcopal Church of Santa Rosa
1871-1872; 1890-1895
A son, Charlie Angwin, died in July 1891 at
the age of 9 and is buried in Santa Rosa's
Rural Cemetery on Franklin Avenue.

The Rev. W, Angwin was appointed to Santa Rosa during the conference of 1871.  In his records, contained in our church archives, he reports: “The second Sunday after our arrival we opened our work and had perhaps 20 or 25 as a congregation – during the year prayer meetings were established and a Sunday School organized.  At the request of the Elder I preached also at Stony Point and at the Bethel School House not far from Petaluma.”

Angwin also reports that at the conference of 1872 he was again appointed as preacher for Santa Rosa and D. E. Thomas was appointed Elder, a position relating most closely to today’s District Superintendant.  “During that year Bro. Thomas was killed by Modoc Indians,”presumably on a visit to Northern California.  To me, that changes the perspective to know that the first preaching at Stony Point was done during the time that we still had Indian wars in California!

Angwin was appointed to another church after his 1872-1873 stint, but was reappointed back to Santa Rosa in 1890, serving until 1895.

At the end of his second term, he was justifiably proud of the progress that had been made since his first arrival.  He reports: ”The membership for several years has been steadily increasing, and at the close of this pastorate in 1895 was 190 members, 15 probationers, and 25 officers and teachers and 250 scholars in Sunday School, an Epworth League of 58 members and a Junior League organized June 1894 of 90 members.  The Epworth League purchased a piano at the cost of $200, the parsonage was recarpeted and several other improvements were made on the property, notably the introduction of electric lights at a total cost of about $500 including the piano.”

What a change he had seen, from 20 to 25 in the congregation when he first arrived in 1871 to over 400 when he left in 1895.  The church was overcrowded and five years after he left construction started on a new church building on Fourth Street.

The Methodist Episcopal Church (South)

The Methodist Episcopal Church (South)

The first Methodist Episcopal Church (South) building in Santa Rosa was built in 1868 on the property of Judge W. Churchman, at the corner of 5th and B Streets.  We don’t have any photos of the church at that location, but the building can be seen in the drawing of the 1894 church at the far right.

Sixteen years after it was built (1884)  the first building was moved down Fifth Street to the corner of 5th and Orchard, the site of the present day Pedersen’s Furniture store.  At first it faced 5th street, but in 1894 it was pushed to the back of the lot and turned sideways.  A new sanctuary and front section with steeples, stained glass windows and a new entry was built onto the existing structure.

This block print  was used in the Santa Rosa “Republican” newspaper following the church’s dedication service by Bishop Fitzgerald on Sunday, October 21st,  1894.  The paper reported “The decorations were simple, a number of beautiful boquets being on the pulpit, boquets of chrysanthemums and red roses.  On the rostrum with Bishop Fitzgerald sat the ministers of other churches in Santa Rosa and a number of ministers of the conference.  The choir had been strengthened by the singers from some of the other churches and the music was full and sweet.  After singing the coronation hymn, Bishop Fitzgerald offered a fervant prayer.  There was more music and then Bishop Fitzgerald began his sermon.  About this time, the white, fleecy clouds which had shadowed the earth at intervals during this forenoon parted and let in a flood of sunshine.  It illuminated the noble countenance of the grand old man and cast a halo of glory all over the congregation.”