Our History

A large portion of the following time line is taken from The History of the First United Methodist Church – Ann Arbor, Michigan – 1827-1990; Fay Allen Kincaid, Editor; Reba Robinson, Church Historian. This book was published by the Archives and History Committee of the First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1990.

Additional information has been added to keep the time line up-to-date.

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1825
The first Methodist sermon was preached in Ann Arbor by J. A. Baughman.

1827
July 29. A Methodist Society was organized consisting of five members.

1830
Ann Arbor appears on the list of appointments for the first time.

1835
Ann Arbor Church was made a full station. (The minister was assigned for work only in Ann Arbor.)

1836
A site was purchased for a church on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Ann Street.

1837
Michigan admitted to the Union by Congress as the twenty-sixth state.
A group of enterprising citizens forming the Ann Arbor Land Company offered forty acres of land in the thriving town of Ann Arbor as a site for the University. On March 20, 1837, the offer was approved by the legislature.

1839
The new church was dedicated and the Michigan Conference had its session in the church at the same time.
Railroad connection was made with Detroit.

1847
April. Judson Collins, a church member and University of Michigan graduate, went to China as the first Methodist missionary.

1861 – 65  The Civil War
Several former ministers served as chaplains in the Union Army.
It is estimated that 125,000 or more Methodist men fought on the Union side.

1866
A new church site was secured at Washington and Huron Streets. The cornerstone was laid on May 9.

1867
January 27. Dr. Haven, President of the University of Michigan, preached the first service in the new brick church.
March 11. Wendell Phillips lectured on reconstruction.
August 21. The new church was dedicated. The Board of Trustees underwrote the entire church debt, some of them mortgaging their homes to fulfill their pledges.

1871
July. The Women’s Foreign Missionary Society was organized with fifty-three charter members.

1883
November 14. The Women’s Home Missionary Society was organized with thirty charter members. This was the first one in the Detroit Conference. The organization received numerous substantial gifts, which were used in assisting worthy causes and important institutions.

1886
The Wesleyan Guild was organized for Methodist students enrolled at the University of Michigan. If was the first ministry for college students at a state university.

1887
Electric lights were installed in the church.

1897
Henry Martin Loud left $64,000 to the Wesleyan Guild to establish a lecture fund.

1903
The Chinese Sunday School was organized to teach English and the Bible to Chinese laborers. Each class was limited to twenty-two students, and the school lasted for more than twenty years.

1905
Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Stalker started their long pastorate of twenty-five years, the longest of any Methodist minister in Michigan.

1917 – 18
United States participated in World War I.

1930
The second century started with a bishop, Dr. Frederick Fisher, from India, as the minister.
He served during the Great Depression.

1934
Dr. Charles W. Brashares became the pastor.
The present building was planned and built during his pastorate.

1940
October 6. Dedication of the present building.

1941 – 45  World War II (United States)
In 1943, there were 131 men and women in the service from First Church.
Sixteen members of the church gave their lives in the service of their country.

1950
Appointment of Dr. Dwight S. Large as senior minister. An inspirational speaker, he made us aware of peace issues.
The Education wing was planned and financed.

1953
Dr. Merrill R. Abbey, senior minister, was a noted scholar and preacher. He left in 1958 to teach at Garrett Seminary.

1959
Dr. Hoover Rupert became the senior minister. He was an inspirational speaker and the author of several books.
The chapel was built within the education wing.
With Dr. Kendall Cowing, the youth program gained national recognition.
Cheng Lim discovered living in our attic.

1972
Dr. Donald B. Strobe was appointed senior minister. Dr. Strobe was a scholar and an inspirational speaker.

1981
Memorial Garden dedicated.

1982
Rev. Fred Maitland retired. “He touched the lives of so many.”

1986
Accessible promenade finished.

1987
The Wesley Foundation had its centennial banquet and celebration.

1988
In one day, “Miracle Sunday,” $200,000 was pledged for restoration and renovation of the building.

1990
First Church continued to be a Detroit Conference “spotlight” church for paying 100% of apportionments for missions.
The Kitchen and Social Hall were renovated.
Anonymous gift of $50,000 received for a new organ console.
First Church became a Peace Covenant Church at Annual Conference.
After 18 years, Dr. Strobe retired from the active pastoral ministry to become a faculty member of the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies.
Dr. Alfred T. Bamsey appointed senior minister of the largest United Methodist church in Washtenaw County.

1994
First Church acquired the property of the former Glacier Way United Methodist Church on the north side of Ann Arbor, thus becoming a multi-site congregation. The church also recieved its first female pastor as Rev. Marsha M. Woolley came on board following the retirement of Associate Pastor Russell Smith.

2000
With the retirement of Dr. Alfred Bamsey, the Rev. Dr. John E. Harnish was appointed Senior Pastor. His first Sunday in the pulpit was the last Sunday in the sanctuary for 17 weeks as the church moved into the first phase of renovation. The congregation worshiped in a tent on the Wesley lawn and at the Michigan Theater until November. The renovation included complete renewal of the sanctuary and two floors of the education wing. A new west entry was constructed.

2001
The renovated West Entry, Sanctuary, and Education rooms were dedicated on June 3, 2001.

2002
Phase II of the renovation took place, with a complete renovation of the Social Hall, robe room, and restrooms adjacent to the Social Hall. New signs on State Street at both Huron and Washington were built. Wesley Foundation did some renovations in the Pine Room.

2003
The renovated Social Hall was dedicated during Annual Conference on January 12, 2003.
Rev. Michael Mayo-Moyle appointed Pastor at Blissfield FUMC, Blissfield, Michigan.
Rev. Timothy R. Ziegler appointed Associate Pastor at FUMC Ann Arbor.

2005
Dr. John E. Harnish appointed Senior Pastor at FUMC in Birmingham, Michigan.
The Rev. J. Douglas Paterson appointed Senior Pastor at FUMC Ann Arbor.

2006
The renovated Office Wing was consecrated after worship on June 11, 2006. This was also the final worship service with Rev. Marsha M. Woolley, who was appointed Pastor at Newburg United Methodist Church in Livonia, Michigan.
Rev. Joanne R. Bartelt appointed Associate Pastor at FUMC Ann Arbor.

2007
Welcoming statement adopted by the church at Annual Conference on January 7.
Staff Covenant adopted February 7.
Boy Scout Troop 4 celebrated it’s 90th Anniversary on March 17.
Mural depicting the Biblical and Church Timeline, by Katherine Larsen, installed on the top floor of the West entry to the downtown church.
Dr. Ann Marie Koukios welcomed as Minister of Music and Liturgical Arts.

2008
L.O.V.E. (Local Outreach Volunteer Effort) Thy Neighbor ministry begun to serve bag lunches to the homeless on Saturdays, filling a targeted need in our community.
A new sound and technology system is installed in the downtown Sanctuary.
“The Gathering” is launched at 11:15am on Sunday mornings, offering a different worship experience from that offered at 9:30am.
Rev. Dr. Gilson Miller joins staff.

2009
Rev. Joanne R. Bartelt appointed District Superintendant of the Port Huron district.
Rev. Timothy R. Ziegler appointed Pastor at Lexington United Methodist Church in Lexington, Michigan.
Rev. Robert H. Roth, Jr. joins staff with shared duties as Associate Pastor and as Director of the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministries

2010
Rev. Dr. Gilson Miller and Youth Director, Beth Miller, retire.
Rev. Nancy S. Lynn appointed Associate Pastor.
Drew Angotti hired as Youth Director.

2012
Drew Angotti left staff.
Melanie Snook hired as Youth Director; Wendy Everett hired as Associate Youth Director.
Debbie Houghton hired as Director of Adult Education.
Melissa Svastisalee Hart hired as Childrens Ministry Administrative Assistant.
$400,000 pledge by congregation to address building maintenance issues at Green Wood and downtown.
Maintenance projects begun – Green Wood sanctuary lighting updated, downtown sanctuary operable windows reglazed and hardware/mullions, repaired, promenade waterproofing and storm drainage work, and other projects addressed.

2013
Rev. Nancy Lynn ordained.
Capital improvements continued – refinished sanctuary floors at Green Wood, office and education wing window repair.
Youth Ministries moved Confirmation class into a 2-year rotation.
Shifted from a January-December fiscal calendar to a July-June fiscal calendar.

2014
Rev. Robert H. Roth, Jr. moved into full time Chaplain position at Wesley Foundation.
Rev. William Dunifon hired as Assistant Pastor, with responsibilities in Congregational Care.
Rev. William Dunifon resigned his position.

2015
Amy Kennedy hired as Minister of Congregational Care.