First United Methodist Church
strives to be: A sanctuary of Christian hope, love and encouragement in the heart of Sioux Falls.
Our Mission: is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Our Vision: is to grow in Christian hope, love and encouragement in an inclusive and welcoming community of faith in the heart of Sioux Falls.
5 Areas of Focus:
1. Radical Hospitality
2. Passionate Worship
3. Intentional Faith Development
4. Risk-Taking Mission and Service
5. Extravagant Generosity
How Did We Get Here?
Settlement, Uprisings, and Methodist Beginnings (1856-1872)
The city of Sioux Falls was first settled by two land companies who came to this area within months of each other in 1856. The small community grew until 1862, when the Territorial Governor ordered all citizens to evacuate to the Fort at Yankton due to Indian uprisings. Following the Civil War, a company of soldiers was sent to the area to build Fort Dakota and to protect settlers. By 1869 the Fort was abandoned and the land was free to be "proved up." In 1871, a small gathering of settlers called "Methodist Class" met in the old army barracks and organized what was eventually to become the Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. Thomas Cuthbert, an Englishman, was assigned as pastor that first year. He also served Canton, Elk Point and Beloit, and was a genuine Methodist Circuit Rider. He and his family lived in a part dugout, part sod house east of the Big Sioux River, and he would preach to the Methodists "when he could ford the river."
Church Incorporation and Building, Building, Building (1873-1938)
By 1873, Mrs. Louisa Gale, wife of one of the land company's founders, offered the Methodists a lot provided they would build on it. A meeting house between 11th and 12th Streets on the west side of First Avenue was built and served as both a place for church services and a residence for the pastor. Articles of Incorporation were drawn up and signed July 31, 1875, and the group officially became the First Methodist Episcopal Church. The town's population now reached 593. By 1878 lots were procured from Dr. Phillips (for whom Phillips Avenue is named), and the basement of a church building was constructed on the southeast corner of 11th Street and Main Avenue. By 1880, the church building was finished and in 1881 the parsonage was constructed next door south on Main Avenue. This was the first parsonage of any denomination in the city. As the town grew, so did the church membership. By 1890 a larger church building was erected on the southwest corner of 11th Street and Minnesota Avenue, and another parsonage, this one west of the church on 11th Street. This was a time of revival meetings and altar calls, and before very long an addition to the church in 1902 nearly doubled the seating capacity. Dr. J.W. Potter was appointed minister in 1911 and soon felt it necessary to enlarge the church, so the former Judge Aiken property on the southwest comer of 12th Street and Spring Avenue was purchased. One of our own members, John Chapman, was the architect and the core of our present building was built and dedicated on December 28, 1913. The dedication brochure claims there were 43 separate rooms. The large 10 room house on the property was moved to face Spring Avenue rather than 12th Street, and was used as a parsonage for many years. The barn was torn down to make room for the church. The total cost was $85,000 which included a Moller pipe organ for which the L.D. Manchester family donated $3,600. This edifice served well through the financial crises of the 20's and the dust bowl days of the 30's.
FUMC Celebrates 100 Years (1939-2011)
On May 10, 1939, Bishops from the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South declared "the Methodists are one people," thus becoming the Methodist Church. In 1947 we celebrated our 75th anniversary. In 1952, Rev. Henry H. Lewis came to us as pastor from the Lake Harriet Methodist Church and under his leadership a new educational unit was added, as well as new offices and a Chapel in 1956. In 1969, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Churches united to become the United Methodist Church. The Women's Society of Christian Service became the United Methodist Women, and the now familiar logo of the cross and the flame came into existence in January 1970. Dr. Robert Wagner (1967-73) headed the Centennial Celebration in 1971 to commemorate our 100 years of existence, culminating in an all-church dinner at the arena. By the 1980's additional room for education, evangelism and outreach was needed, so plans were laid for another addition under the supervision of Dr. Donald Klarup. In June 1988, Rev. Kent Millard arrived, and his first Sunday here he conducted the ground breaking services for a new unit which included additional classrooms, the Friendship Room, a large kitchen and the Multi-Purpose Room, as well as two large rooms and an office for the United Day Care. The United Day Care was started in 1970 with the assistance of Bonnie Messer. A new tracker action mechanical pipe organ was built and installed by the John F. Nordlie Company, a Sioux Falls organ builder. The choir and the chancel areas were enlarged. In 1994, Rev. Randy Hogarth was appointed as senior pastor. In 1998, a new vision was cast for our church. In 2005, Pastor William Bates was appointed as senior pastor.
In 2012 Pastor Bob Ruedebusch was appointed as senior pastor. In the fall of 2013, we celebrated a Jubulation, commemorating 100 years in the current building. With a new vision and a focus on the future the people of First United Methodist Church are excited to find out what God has in store!