Historic Markers Across Alabama

First United Methodist Church

Marker ID: AHA 
Location: 805Canal St NE, Decatur, AL
County: Morgan
Coordinates: N 34° 36.74    W 086° 59.022
  34.61233333    -86.9837
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


First United Methodist Church

(Side 1:)
The historic First United Methodist Church is the oldest continually meeting congregation in Decatur and the only downtown church still worshiping in its nineteenth century sanctuary.

Circuit riders served local Methodists from 1827 until the 1840's. In 1834 this congregation of approximately 67 white and black members built the Methodist Episcopal Church, the first house of worship in Decatur, at the corner of Railroad Street and Church Street. In 1854 black members began meeting separately, forming what later became historic King's Memorial United Methodist Church.

The Methodist Episcopal congregation worshiped in the 1834 building until the War Between the States when Confederates used it as a hospital. Union troops later camped in and around the building. Near war's end, Federal forces dismantled the church building along with all but four Decatur structures.

The Methodist Church, known then as The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, relocated and built a frame structure on the present site in 1868.

(Side 2:)
The tower bell was donated to the church by a former Union officer who moved to Decatur. The bell still calls people to worship, alerts the community to disaster and celebrates major events.

Thirty years later the congregation moved the 1868 frame building and erected the present brick structure of Romanesque architectural exterior and Akron style sanctuary. The three stained glass windows, representing the Holy Trinity, were framed in Decatur, using glass supplied by an Atlanta company. Some 300,000 bricks, many made in Decatur, were used in the building. The church's Ladies Aid Society provided 555 yards of Brussels carpet.

Using mostly local talent and labor, plus donated material and funds, the total cost of the building and furnishing was $14,460.
The congregation dedicated the building on Easter Sunday, 1890. Growth of the church membership resulted in expanded fellowship and classroom facilities in 1927, 1955, 1991 and 2008.

Despite war's destruction, two yellow fever epidemics in Decatur, several name changes and the city's economic struggles, Decatur's First United Methodist Church continues to share the faith and serve the community and world.

Alabama Historical Association

End of First United Methodist Church