The History of First United Methodist Church
at the 115th Anniversary Celebration on Sept. 18, 2011:
Pasadena was a name on a map and a land developer’s dream when Will and Katie Bailey and their son Will, Jr., moved from Ennis to Pasadena in 1896 to be closer to family. Katie’s sister, Mary Jane, and her husband Robert Guinn and daughter Katie lived in Deepwater. Will’s mother Martha and stepfather Josiah Rawlins soon followed.
These families were the solid citizens that would help to build a town. They were church-going people. They attended the non-denominational Union Congregation in Deepwater, where a Presbyterian minister preached. Then in 1896 with the help of Peter E. Nicholson, a Methodist minister who was in the Texas Conference as early as 1877 and who in 1905 was appointed to the Genoa circuit, they formed a Methodist “Society” in Deepwater that met in their homes. Their ministers were either local preachers or supply preachers from the conference, usually young men just beginning their careers and assigned to circuits.
In 1898, the Methodists moved their worship services to Pasadena, not because most of them lived here but probably to escape the threat of malaria and yellow fever and because they could meet in the new schoolhouse. On June 14, 1898, their minister, S.W. Warner, officially received seven members into the Methodist Episcopal Church South, of Pasadena, Texas. Robert Guinn, Will and Katie Bailey and Martha Rawlins entered by “certificate,” and Will, Jr., Katie Guinn, and Lydia Zlomke took the vows of the church.
By 1904, the congregation had twenty members, and they began to plan for the church’s future. Will Bailey, Robert Guinn, and Horace Plum (a newcomer and a handyman who owned a small pear orchard) each bought one lot on Shaver Street and gave them to the church. Because the property was to be used for a church J. O. Ross, the son-in-law of Col. J. H. Burnett who developed Pasadena, sold them the lots at half price—$12.50 each.
In 1907, eleven years and six ministers into their history, the twenty members opened the doors of their first church building. Under the leadership of the Rev. O. F. Zimmerman, they built an impressive L-shaped, Gothic structure with a tall steeple and a bell on Broadway Street and Shaver Street. A large gully off Little Vince Bayou ran alongside it and a white fence of criss-cross boards enclosed the bare churchyard. It cost $2300, or $150 per member. Within the next year, the membership increased by 50%. This sanctuary was succeeded by two others in 1938 and 1955 in the same location. In 1986, a fourth Sanctuary was constructed on Fairmont Parkway.
As Pasadena grew from village to city, so grew the church— from 7 members in 1896 to 2315 in 2008. Its buildings have been grand, built for the glory of God, built to make its people look upward when they pass and inward when the enter. Its forty six ministers have been people of varied personalities and interests and talents.
In a mobile, industrialized society, it has been a place to call home. Its people have followed the vision of its founders— of a Methodist family of believers, of Christian education, of the enhancement of life through its architecture and music, of civic-minded members who understand that community and church are interdependent, and most important, of a willingness to encounter the future with and for God.
We invite you to visit our Archives which is located in Room 221 to see our historical collection including original artifacts from earlier buildings, photos, documents and displays from each era of church history.