Methodists began meeting in this area as long ago as 1832 when a small group of people gathered in the home of the Rev. Isaiah P’Pool located on Pool Spring Hill on the west side of Fourth Street south of what is now Vine Street. Rev. Boswell was the pastor.
A Murray Methodist Church was organized in 1839 with thirteen members who also met in homes. This church was part of the Wadesboro Circuit of 24 preaching units.
The Murray Circuit was organized in 1845 and the First Quarterly Conference was held at Martin’s Chapel. Murray Circuit went through several changes. First it was taken from the Paris District where it originated and put in the Dresden District. In 1876 it was put in the Paducah District before finally being returned to the Paris District.
The Civil War interrupted its growth. The church was reorganized in 1879 and the first building, a frame one, was constructed on South Fourth Street at a cost of three thousand dollars. The members paid $100.00 for the lot where the Swann Grocery building is now located. The Rev. B. B. Risenhoover was pastor. The first thirteen members included: J.M. P’Pool, Josie Banks, Sarah Farley, Susan Waters, Mary A. Widows, Nannie Conyers, Mary E. Bynum, John R. Schroder, S. Carter Whitnell, Mary W. Stephenson, Sam Bynum, Mary Bynum and Mollie Waters.
It wasn’t long until the congregation outgrew the Fourth Street building. Already a station, the Murray Church was taken from the Murray Circuit in 1901 and made a full station. There were 166 members and a Sunday School enrollment of 208 pupils.
A new building was erected on the corner of Fifth and Maple Streets in 1903 at a cost of three thousand dollars. The late J. D. Sexton was a steward in 1903 and served continually until his death in 1961. By 1915 the need for more Sunday School rooms was apparent and an annex of two stories and a basement was added to this building. By this time the membership had grown to 556.
Murray Church was host to the Memphis Annual Conference November 10-12, 1943, during the pastorship of the Rev. T. H. Mullins, Jr. Construction of the Methodist Student Center, now the Wesley Foundation at Murray State University was the first project of its kind in the history of the Memphis Conference and was started in 1948. The local Church raised $5,000.00 to add to the $10,000.00 appropriated by the Memphis Conference.
Planning for a new building program began in 1950 during the ministry of the Rev. George W. Bell. In the spring of 1953, the modern $200,000.00 Educational Building was begun and completed during the summer of 1954. This building was constructed while Rev. Paul T. Lyles was pastor with the following members composing the Building Committee: H. T. Waldrop, Chairman; Mrs. G. B. Scott, Sr.; A. W. Simmons, Sr.; Mrs. A. F. Doran and Nat Ryan Hughes. This committee served throughout the building of the Educational Building and the new Sanctuary.
In June 1959, construction began on the sanctuary and it was completed in February, 1961 at a cost of $305,000.00. A farewell service was held in the old building on Sunday morning, February 12, 1961. Bishop Marvin A. Franklin presided at the formal opening on Sunday, March 5, 1961. The Rev. Paul T. Lyles was Paris District Superintendent at this time and the Rev. Walter E. Mischke was pastor.
The 1950 building plan contained a Christian Life Center to be built on the land where the Sanctuary at Fifth and Maple stood. A successful fund raising campaign was undertaken while Rev. Larry Daniel was pastor. The CLC was completed and dedicated in 1997. The building contains a gymnasium, executive offices, meeting space, Sunday school classroom space and a full commercial kitchen.
Senior Pastors First United Methodist of Murray KY (1839-Present):
The year 2014 marked the 175th year of service for Murray First UMC. In celebration of the 175th year of service, Linda Scott, church historian, wrote an article for the Memphis Conference. You can check it out on the Memphis Conference website.
(If you have documents to share, contact Linda at 270-753-7944 or firstname.lastname@example.org)