A Timeline of the FUMC Church

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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.

The new church was dedicated and the Michigan Conference had its session in the church at the same time.

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

1861 – 1865  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.

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

Jan. 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.
Aug. 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.

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

Nov. 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.

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.

Electric lights were installed in the church.

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

The Chinese Sunday School was organized to teach English and the Bible to Chinese laborers. Each class was limited to 22 students, and the school lasted for more than 20 years.

Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Stalker started their long pastorate of 25 years, the longest of any Methodist minister in Michigan.

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

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

Oct. 6 – Dedication of the present building.

1941 – 1945  World War II
In 1943, there were 131 men and women in the service from First Church. 16 members of the church gave their lives in the service of their country.

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.

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

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.

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

Memorial Garden dedicated.

Rev. Fred Maitland retired.

Accessible promenade finished.

The Wesley Foundation had its centennial banquet and celebration.

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

First Church continued to be a Detroit Conference “spotlight” church for paying 100% of apportionments for missions.
First Church became a Peace Covenant Church at Annual Conference.
After 18 years, Dr. Strobe retired from the active pastoral ministry.
Dr. Alfred T. Bamsey appointed senior minister of the largest United Methodist church in Washtenaw County.

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 received its first female pastor as Rev. Marsha M. Woolley came on board.

With the retirement of Dr. Alfred Bamsey, the Rev. Dr. John E. Harnish was appointed Senior Pastor. The church moved into the first phase of renovation. The renovation included complete renewal of the sanctuary and two floors of the education wing. A new west entry was constructed.

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

Phase II of the renovation took place, with a complete renovation of the Social Hall, robe room, and restrooms adjacent to the Social Hall. Wesley Foundation did some renovations in the Pine Room.

The renovated Social Hall was dedicated during Annual Conference on Jan. 12, 2003.
Rev. Timothy R. Ziegler appointed Associate Pastor at FUMC Ann Arbor.

The Rev. J. Douglas Paterson appointed Senior Pastor at FUMC Ann Arbor.

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.

Welcoming statement adopted by the church at Annual Conference on Jan. 7. FUMC became a Reconciling Congregation.
Staff Covenant adopted Feb. 7. 
Mural depicting the Biblical and Church Timeline, by Katherine Larsen, installed on the top floor of the West entry to the downtown church.

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.
Rev. Dr. Gilson Miller joins staff.

Rev. Joanne R. Bartelt appointed District Superintendant of the Port Huron district.
Rev. Robert H. Roth, Jr. joins staff with shared duties as Associate Pastor and as Director of the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministries

Rev. Dr. Gilson Miller retire.
Rev. Nancy S. Lynn appointed Associate Pastor.

$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.

Rev. Nancy Lynn ordained.
Capital improvements continued – refinished sanctuary floors at Green Wood, office and education wing window repair.

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.

Leadership Council worked with staff, program directors, clergy and volunteers to develop a written 2021 Vision to set goals for the next five years of ministry.

Congregation-wide Neighborhood Care Group program developed and launched.
Congregation voted to become a Solidarity Sanctuary Congregation.

Lenten “Pilgrimage of Hope” Stations of the Resurrection Passion Art exhibit by congregation members.
Rev. Robert H. Roth, Jr. announced planned retirement as Wesley Foundation Chaplain, effective July 2018.
Rev. Nancy S. Lynn appointed senior pastor, effective July 2018.
Rev. Nick Berlanga appointed associate pastor, effective July 2018.
Rev. Tim Kobler moved into full-time Chaplain position at Wesley Foundation
Three “A Way Forward” series of all-church learning sessions about full LGBTQ inclusion in the United Methodist Church, followed by visit and conversation with Bishop Bard in late November

February General Conference vote on the Bishop’s Way Forward.
Strategic Priorities developed.

The Justice League Charter was issued on March 3.
In May, the Stephen Ministry team grew with the graduation of three additional members.