The First Methodist Episcopal Church had its beginning in the Oklahoma Territory on August 11,1901. It was on a lot at 4th and B Avenue, which was purchased for a grand total of $200. In the beginning months, worshipers joined together beneath a tent with dry grass and straw for a floor covering, and civic activities, including ice cream socials, were known to take place at the location. Rev. T.J. Lillie was appointed as the first pastor and held the appointment until Rev. Isaac Hodge took over as Senior Pastor in 1902.
The congregation didn’t take long to begin building. In October the frame building begin to go up, and the first services were held on Thanksgiving Day and where celebrated with the ringing of a new church bell, the same bell that we still hear ringing today.
The new church quickly adopted the motto of the “Church with the growing Future.” And grow it did. By 1919, the church was ready to take the leap and ground was broken at 8th and B Avenue for the “construction of a new edifice to the Glory of God.” The building was completed in 1921, and the 575 member church moved into their new sanctuary.
The 1930s proved to be years of change within the church. The church reorganized in 1930to become the Methodist Protestant Church when 5000 preachers and laypersons left because the denomination would not grant them equal representation. In 1939 more change occurred with the Methodist Protestant Church joined with the Methodist Church South to become The Methodist Church. Our church continued to flourish even through the changes of the decade.
In April of 1951, a lot was purchased for the construction of Lawton Heights Methodist Church, and this prompted the members of the First Methodist Church to vote to buy lots in West Lawton for a new church site; the building at 8th and B was 30 years old and other Methodist churches now occupied locations close to First Methodist. On May 1, 1955, that dream became reality, and ground was broken on what is now the location of First United Methodist Church. It was not until almost two years later, on March 24, 1957, that the cornerstone from the church on 8th and B was moved and placed at the new location, and on October 27, 1957, the first service was held in the brand new sanctuary on 27th and Wesley.
The early 1960s included the expansion of the church with an educational wing and the purchase of a new parsonage, but one of the greatest changes came on April 23, 1968, when The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church united to form a new denomination, the United Methodist Church. Since then, our church has been First United Methodist Church.
The 1970s were decades of continued growth in the church and by the 1980s it was time to again consider expansion. A committee was created and on November 8, 1985, it was recommend that the church build a Christian Life Center. The dedication of this building was held on August 11, 1992, after many years of dreaming, planning and fundraising. The new building included the Fowler Center (Gym), a chapel and offices spaces.
Not until 2014 was the interior of the church changed again in a drastic way. With the construction of a new modern worship space, Grace Hall, the church sought to live out our call to reach more people in the community. And in 2017, the addition of two new Children’s Corner pre-school spaces were added to meet the growing needs of the Lawton community for quality, Christian child care. The church’s desire is to fulfill the calling to reach new people for Christ in our ever changing culture.
For over a century, Lawton First Methodist has served and loved the Lawton community. And will proudly continue.
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