First United Methodist Church Slidell, Louisiana
Friday, February 12, 2016
First UMC History
First United Methodist Church began on September 26, 1887, as a result of a brush arbor revival held by the Reverend James Tucker, pastor of the West Pearl Charge, Seashore District of the Mississippi Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Twelve members, a significant number in New Testament history, formed the “Slidell Methodist Church.” Eleven were received by profession of faith: Mr. J. F. Luther, Mr. W. A. Lutcher, Mrs. T. Lutcher, Mrs. Iola Lutcher, Miss C. J. Lutcher, Miss Janie Dunham, Miss Iola Gray, Mrs. C. S. Ward, Mrs. A. Joiner, Mrs. Allen, and Mrs. J. A. Cherry. The twelfth member, Mrs. T. C. Provost, was received by transfer of membership.
The fledgling church met in a community building, used as both a school and church meeting house, erected near the railroad tracks by the Salmen Brick and Lumber Company. The original Methodist Church and a parsonage were built at Second and Guzman Streets. A graveyard, now Greenwood Cemetery, was situated directly behind the church. The congregation was subsequently separated from the West Pearl Charge and added to the Talisheek Charge. By 1905, continued growth constituted the need for relocation to First Street, with the later addition of an education building and new parsonage. The church remained a part of the Mandeville Charge until 1908 when the Slidell Charge was organized.
In 1957, an entire city block across from the city park was purchased and is the location of the present church complex. The first structure, now known as Fellowship Hall, was begun in 1960, followed by the sanctuary which was dedicated in 1969. The Mears Building that once stood behind the sanctuary was constructed by a group of adult and youth volunteers and dedicated in 1974. As our church family grew, construction of the Family Life Center was completed in 1982 and a new parking lot was constructed on Fourth Street in 2002 to help accommodate our membership.
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina came to shore and devastated the community of Slidell, New Orleans, and surrounding parishes. Packing 145mph winds, this storm brought close to 5 feet of water onto or church campus which destroyed 95% of all contents. Unified through a spirit of perseverance, the people of First United Methodist began the task of gutting homes, businesses, and the church campus.
With hands-on help from faith-based work teams, gifts of supplies and equipment, financial donations from other sister United Methodist Churches, organizations and individuals and the mighty power of prayer, we celebrate our recovery and restoration that enabled us to be the church we are today.
Through visionary leadership, dedicated teamwork and tremendous faith, we saw our Sanctuary and Family Life Center fully restored in 2007. A newly designed playground now gives children a safe place in which to experience joy. Former classrooms have been converted into administrative office space along with a refurbished Fellowship Hall that was once the original Sanctuary in the late 1950’s.
On August 30, 2015, ten years after Hurricane Katrina, “Celebration Sunday” was held, dedicating and consecrating a new electronic church sign as well as the newly renovated education wing, vacant since the hurricane. The education building is a multi-purpose space, housing rooms for Rotational Sunday School for Children, as well as “The Gathering Place,” a fellowship space welcoming members and visitors alike.
The future is bright for First Church! We are growing! And we continue to be faithful to our Core Values of being “Family Focused,” “Nurturing and Caring,” “Mission Oriented and Driven,” and “Community Connected.”
Our Vision for the future is to be, “A Family of Christ’s Servants, Sowing Seeds, Growing Branches, Harvesting for the Kingdom of God.”