FUMC History

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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 twenty-two students, and the school lasted for more than twenty years.

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.

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.

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.

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.
Cheng Lim discovered living in our attic.

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

Memorial Garden dedicated.

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

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.
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.

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 following the retirement of Associate Pastor Russell Smith.

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.

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. New signs on State Street at both Huron and Washington were built. Wesley Foundation did some renovations in the Pine Room.

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.

Dr. John E. Harnish appointed Senior Pastor at FUMC in Birmingham, Michigan.
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 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.

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.

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
Ellen Lewis leaves position as Coordinator of Children’s and Family Ministries

Beth Pascoe joins the staff as Director of Children’s Ministries
Rev. Dr. Gilson Miller and Youth Director, Beth Miller, retire.
Rev. Nancy S. Lynn appointed Associate Pastor.
Drew Angotti hired as Youth Director.

Christine Nelson joins staff as Associate Director of Children’s Ministries.

Drew Angotti left staff.
Melanie Snook hired as Youth Director; Wendy Everett named 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.

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.

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.

Amy Kennedy hired as Minister of Congregational Care.

Church Trip to Israel
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.
Chris Nelson left her position in Children’s ministries.
Jen Sopoci and Melissa Svastisalee Hart joined the Children’s ministries staff.
Green Wood kitchen and bathrooms renovated.

Boy Scout Troop 4 Centennial Celebration took place in March.
Congregation-wide Neighborhood Care Group program developed and launched.
Congregation voted to become a Solidarity Sanctuary Congregation.
Melissa Svastisalee Hart left her position in Children’s ministries.
Rev. J. Douglas Paterson announced planned retirement, effective July 2018.

Lenten “Pilgrimage of Hope” Stations of the Resurrection Passion Art exhibit by congregation members.
Diana Butler Bass visited for a weekend in March
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
Anne Lamott speaking engagement in coordination with Literati Bookstore, for 2 sold-out evenings in late October
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
Michigan Annual Conference
Visiting speakers included Nadia Bolz Weber (March) and Sister Helen Prejean (June)
Strategic Priorities developed
Cantata performed in honor of the generosity of Mary Crichton

Church trip to Israel
Shonagh Taruza hired as Minister of Outreach, Social Justice, and Diversity
The Justice League Charter was issued on March 3
In March, the Covid-19 Pandemic shut down all typical in-person operations of the church – Worship services prepared and posted online at www.youtube.com/fumcannarbor – Staff and Congregation meet remotely on zoom.us
Adele Roy moved into Worship Video Production role
In May, the Stephen Ministry team grew with the graduation of three additional members
In June, Rev. Lynn issued a statement on Systemic Racism
Beth Pascoe left Children’s ministries to become Minister of Connection and Engagement
Robin Bursch and Laura Hayden are co-directors of Children’s Ministries
Jessica Allison hired as part time Communications Director