In 2019, First United Methodist Church of Boulder is turning 160 years old! We will celebrate this milestone on Sunday, November 24, with an anniversary Forum program, a celebratory worship service, and a luncheon after church.
We’ll begin with a special Forum program at 9:00 AM in the church parlor, a conversation with beloved former pastor (1982-89), the Rev. Charles Schuster. During our 10:30 AM worship service, Rev. Schuster will be our guest preacher as we celebrate 160 years! After church, we’ll enjoy a Homecoming Harvest Luncheon with turkey, gravy and anniversary cake (we’ll also provide a vegetarian option); please bring a favorite Thanksgiving side-dish to share. Please email the Church Office to RSVP for lunch.
Also: consider making a special gift in honor of the 160th: give 160 pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters or dollars. The proceeds will go to further restoration of our historic Bell Tower. You can place your gift in one of the collection containers at church; look for them in the narthex, and in the parlor during coffee hour on Sundays.
Mark your calendars! VISIT THE 160th EVENT PAGE for more information about this special day.
As First Church prepares to celebrate the 160th anniversary of its founding this year, 2019, a weekly Fun Fact about the church will be shared (new facts added on Fridays). We hope you enjoy getting to know a few things about our church’s fascinating history.
FUMC Fun Facts
1/11: The Boulder Methodist Church was organized with six members on November 27, 1859 by Jacob Adriance, a Methodist preacher sent to the Colorado Territory by the Nebraska Conference of the Methodist Church. Rev. Adriance first arrived in the Territory in the summer of 1859. Walking or riding a pony, he visited Boulder City, Golden City, Gold Hill and other mining camps to preach and lead prayer meetings. He rode this circuit for two years.
1/18: According to Rev. Jacob Adriance’s diary, he preached his first sermon in Boulder on August 14, 1859, at the home of Mr. Moore, using John 3:16 as his text. Also, according to Rev. Adriance’s diary, in September 1859, he again preached in Boulder, and this time, he preached in “the upper room of a saloon.”
1/25: In November 1871, The Boulder Methodist Church acquired two lots at 14th and Spruce at a cost of $200. The first “real” church building was erected on this corner with worship services being held there from 1872-1891.
2/1: In 1892, the Boulder Methodist Church built a new church on the same site as the original church (corner of 14th and Spruce). It cost $22,500.00 and was made of native stone from nearby Green Mountain Quarry. The new church boasted a novel feature: central heating! A portion of this church forms the western-most part of our current structure (the chapel, bell tower and choir room areas). The beautiful stained glass windows of the chapel and choir room are treasured remembrances of the 1892 sanctuary.
2/8: In 1903, construction of a brick parsonage began. This structure is the current home of BCAP (the Boulder County AIDS Project). In 1914, an addition was made to the 1892 church building (currently the parlor area), and in 1953 the “educational wing” was completed. In the church’s Centennial year, 1959, construction of the “new” sanctuary began (the current sanctuary). It was dedicated in 1960. Since then, it has undergone several remodels, the most recent being in 2009.
2/15: In 1891, when the congregation was building the “new” church (now the “old” church), two stone masons who had recently moved to Colorado got the contract for the stone work. One of the stone masons had lost a young daughter, Lula, before moving to Colorado. As part of the stone work he did on the church, he carved an “angel face” as a memorial to Lula. You can still see it today. It is on the north side of the doors that are the on west side of the new/old church.
2/22: Over the years, a number of “famous” people have spoken at FUMC. Appropriately, on February 23, 1914, Helen Keller gave her Heart and Hand lecture in our sanctuary. According to reports of the day, the church was packed to the rafters, with over 785 people paying 50-75 cents to hear her speech.
3/1: In 1891, when it was decided that the original church should be torn down and a new Methodist church should be erected, the plans included a 75 foot tower that could house a very large bell. Mr. H.N. Bradley, who has been described as “a very civic minded citizen,” donated the bell as an expression of his gratefulness for his son’s recovery from a very grave illness. It arrived in Boulder in January 1892 and was hoisted to the tower in June of that year. The bell weighs 2,300(!) pounds and is 44 inches at the mouth.
3/8: What is this angel’s name? In the 1970’s a local artist painted several murals of Noah and his ark (one is now located in the stairwell that leads from the first floor – just outside the Parlor on the west side – to the second floor – near the choir room). She also created a very large soft-sculpture angel. For a while, the angel floated above the pulpit, and eventually she made her way to hanging in the narthex. Apparently, a visiting youth group found her and hung her on the bell tower rope! The angel probably made her way to the Wesley Center at some point in the 1980’s, but her whereabouts today is unknown. Oh, she was named Gabriella!
3/15: Each March for the past 22 years, FUMC has celebrated the anniversary of the church becoming a member church of the Reconciling Ministries Network. What does that mean? In the fall of 1996, while Mark Heiss was the Senior Pastor, a series of meetings were held to discuss a proposal from the Reconciling Congregation Program Committee that FUMC should become a Reconciling Congregation. The goal of these meetings was to thoughtfully discuss this proposal and reach a decision by consensus. Following the Administrative Council’s decision that it supported FUMC becoming a Reconciling Congregation, an all-church gathering was held on March 2, 1997, to put the question to the congregation as a whole. Those present at that gathering affirmed the conclusion reached by the Administrative Council and adopted the following statement: “Because we, First United Methodist Church of Boulder, believe God intends the church to be a community which embodies love, grace and justice for all people, we welcome all persons without regard to age, gender, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social or economic condition, disability or any other real or perceived separating condition.” The adoption of this statement confirmed that FUMC is, and has been since March 2, 1997, a Reconciling Congregation. At this time, there are nearly 1,000 Reconciling Congregations within the world-wide United Methodist Church, with over 30 of those being in Colorado. Today, FUMC continues to work for justice and to love kindness as we seek equality for all of God’s people.
3/22: On Sunday, March 24, we’ll celebrate the 150th anniversary of what has become known as United Methodist Women (UMW). UMW inherits the vision and toil of women’s missionary societies that have existed since 1869. Its legacy began when the Methodist Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society first organized in Boston in response to the lack of health care and education for women and children in India. By November 1869, the WFMS had raised funds and sent Isabella Thoburn, an educator, and Dr. Clara Swain, a doctor, to India. Over time, strong women’s mission societies were formed and became powerful, independent women’s organizations, sending hundreds of missionaries all over the world. The Ladies Aid Societies, which had existed for many years, were incorporated into the missionary societies in the 1940s. Through reorganization and denominational mergers, these various groups were brought together. In 1973, United Methodist Women became the women’s mission organization of the United Methodist Church. FUMC’s Ladies’ Aid Society (later the Woman’s Society for Christian Service and still later United Methodist Women) was organized shortly after 1869. It has remained steadfast in its mission work both close to home and far away since that time.
3/29: On December 21, 1891, the 200-member congregation of the Boulder Methodist Church laid the cornerstone for the new church building. Of interest is the revelation (from a contemporaneous newspaper account) that a box of artifacts was deposited underneath the stone. Church officials had deposited various pieces of memorabilia in a tin box. A clerk of the Board of Trustees read off a list of the books, newspapers and artifacts, including “old relics and coins” that had been placed in the box. More particularly, the box contained a Bible, the first hymnal used in Boulder, current issues of the Rocky Mountain Christian Advocate, Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder Herald, Boulder Weekly Tribune, and the Boulder Weekly News. Additional items in the collection were the Denver University and State University (University of Colorado) catalogs, church catechisms, and even literature on prohibition. The tin box under the cornerstone has not been opened since it was carefully set in place in 1891! Who knows what “relics” remain in that box. (Excerpted from an article by Sylvia Pettem that appeared in The Daily Camera on December 2, 2004.)
4/5: Members of FUMC have been passionate about social justice throughout its nearly 160 years. Highlights of the church’s activism will be reported from time to time. Let us begin with a newspaper article, the headline of which was “Methodist Group Protests Negro Discrimination.” It reported that “a recommendation to boycott all Boulder eating-houses which discriminate against Negroes was passed by acclamation by the National Council of Methodist Youth Thursday night” (this Council was apparently holding its conference in Boulder). Additionally, the resolution “recommended that the conference hold its future conventions in cities ‘where no delegate whatever be excluded on any basis’.” The investigation committee visited 25 eating-houses in Boulder, found only “four willing to serve Negroes unconditionally, and obtained consent of a few others to serve Negroes who were in a group of white delegates.” Conference officials were assured by the University of Colorado that “Negro delegates would find no discrimination on the campus,” and they were “allowed” to eat in most of the Greek-letter and private boarding houses. However, they did not have “rooms on the Hill.” It is believes this article was published in September 1938, and probably came from the Boulder Daily Camera. However, the newspaper and date are not noted in the source from which this “Fact” was taken.
4/26: In 1989, FUMC received a very generous donation from the Madge Aden Estate. Madge Aden and her husband, Fred, who was an early director of the Wesley Foundation, were interested in and involved with young people and made many contributions to youth activities during their lifetimes. In 1990 the Scholarship Endowment Fund and Committee were established, and in 1991, the first scholarship of $500 was awarded to Jayne Strauss. In 1993, the Church Council approved an annual Mothers’ Day collection to help fund this scholarship. FUMC’s United Methodist Women’s organization transferred its scholarship funds to the FUMC Scholarship Fund in 1994. Thousands of dollars have been awarded since then. While interest from this endowment is meant to fund the scholarship, the interest is not really sufficient to award multiple scholarships. Although the Scholarship Fund has been designated as the special offering during the entire month of May, a special collection will be taken again this Mothers’ Day (May 12) in FUMC’s ongoing effort to help our young people further their educations. Please consider a generous contribution.
5/3: The Roosevelt Organ has graced FUMC’s sanctuary since 1960, when the “new” church was completed (more about this organ in a later Fun Fact). Prior to that time, the church was blessed with another pipe organ, known as the Hope-Jones Organ. According to the Official Register and Directory of 1912 (published by the Methodist Brotherhood of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Boulder), in the very early years of the 1900s, “various schemes for securing a new pipe organ were considered”, but it wasn’t until 1908 that the electric-action Hope-Jones pipe organ was installed and dedicated. Part of the funding to purchase the organ was secured by the pledge of Andrew Carnegie to give $1,250.00 (the total amount raised was $3,900.00 which was apparently sufficient to pay for the instrument). On January 21, 1908, an opening concert was performed by Prof. George M. Chadwick of the “State University”, who was “one of the most cultured organ players in this country” and who was the organ’s “chief designer”. A photograph of the “old” sanctuary can be found in the Chapel, with the Hope-Jones organ being the centerpiece of the photo.
5/10: The organ that has graced FUMC’s sanctuary since 1960 is a grand old instrument with a great deal of history. In 1888, Grace Methodist Episcopal Church and Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, both in Denver, placed orders for organs from the Roosevelt Organ Company in New York City. Grace Church used the organ for many decades. After World War II, with changing demographics, Grace Church relocated, and its downtown church building was sold to the First Assembly of God church. That congregation took it upon itself to “redecorate” the organ faÃ§ade by repainting the display pipes, which had been trimmed in gold leaf with dark blue-green banding at the top, with gold radiator paint and by applying several coats of floor varnish to the hand-oiled console. When the Assembly of God congregation also moved on, the building and contents were sold, with the organ being put into storage in 1958. At that time, FUMC was in the process of building a new sanctuary with plans to install a new organ. The availability of this organ was brought to the attention of the Board of Trustees and the choir director, Berton Coffin. A deal was struck to buy the organ for $3,000 plus $9,500 for moving, storage, cleaning and re-installation. Next week’s Fun Fact will relate this organ’s more recent history. Stay tuned.
5/17: Last week’s Fun Fact provided a history of our Roosevelt organ up to the time it was acquired by FUMC in 1959 at a cost of $3,000 for the organ and $9,500 for moving, storage, cleaning, and reinstallation. Moving, cleaning and reinstalling the organ in the new sanctuary was not easy. Electric hoists were used to lift the heavy pipes and windchests. The largest, center pipe required four strong people to set it in place. A volunteer crew of church members arrived with buckets and sponges to wipe away the coal dust, smoke, grime and grease. After reinstallation, tonal finishing and retuning needed to be undertaken. Since that time, the console itself has been refinished to bring back the beauty of the quarter-sawn oak case. In 2013, a full restoration of the organ was undertaken by Morel Pipe Organs. This 18-month piece-by-piece, pipe-by-pipe restoration was done in memory of Virginia Nesler Anderson and was made possible by a generous gift from Suzanne and David Hoover. Rededication of the organ took place in a musical worship service on October 12, 2014. Today, this magnificent instrument is valued at over $2,000,000.00.
5/24: Today’s Fun Fact focuses not on the organs that have been part of FUMC for over 100 years, but instead on a letter found in our Archives from one Junius Henderson which was addressed to the Official Board of the Boulder Methodist Episcopal Church, probably from the 1940s. The letter began “I wish, as a member of this church, and of the music committee, and of the official board, to make, in the kindest spirit, a very emphatic protest against an occurrence of Sunday, December 5, and most earnestly regret my inability to be present and make the protest in person.” Apparently, one of the “excellent, well-meaning brethren” abruptly stopped the organist in the midst of the recessional voluntary (postlude). Mr. Henderson wrote that, even if it was not intended, this action was a “direct insult to the organist,” for which an apology was owed. After noting that the voluntary is as much a part of the regular service as other elements, for anyone to stop the organist in this way “is in as bad taste as to attempt to stop the pastor when someone concludes he has said enough, or to stop the choir before it finishes the anthem.” Finally, he wrote that “some of us believe that we bought that organ and employ an artist as organist, not merely for the playing of accompaniments to the hymns and anthems, for which a much cheaper organ would have answered admirably, but rather for the purpose of furnishing fine instrumental music” to attract people to the church.
5/31: Rufus Baker served as the pastor of FUMC from 1937 until 1945. During a portion of his tenure, World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific. The Governor of Colorado during a part of that time was Ralph Carr. Governor Carr was a staunch believer that civil liberties meant the U.S. Bill of Rights and for him, that meant fighting for those principles at any cost. In Adam Schrager’s 2008 book The Principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story (Fulcrum Publishing), the author relates that Carr was convinced any talk of internment, confinement, imprisonment- whatever word was used to describe what was being suggested for American citizens of Japanese descent-was simply wrong. Schrager reports that “[f]rom the First Methodist Church in Boulder, Rufus Baker complimented the governor on his ‘reasoned sanity and good sense,’ which he felt ‘should appeal to every lover of America.’” This is just a small example of FUMC’s commitment to social justice. As a side note, Rufus Baker’s “preaching suit” was donated to FUMC by Jean Hodges (given to her by Rev. Baker) several years ago and is safely kept in the church archives.
The Fun Facts took a one-week vacation on Friday, 6/7.
6/14: Founded at Cleveland’s Central Methodist Church in May 1889, the Epworth League was a young adult association for people aged 18-35. It took its name from the village of Epworth in Lincolnshire, England, the birthplace of John and Charles Wesley.The Epworth League of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Boulder (now FUMC) was established on November 13, 1889. In May 1912, Jacob Adriance (first pastor of what is now FUMC) sent a letter to the church that said “[i]t has occurred to me that your Epworth league might like my photo. So I mail one to you for it. May each member of it richly enjoy in daily life communion with the Infinite One.” The purpose of the Epworth League was the “promotion of intelligent and virtual piety among the young people of the church” and was meant to encourage and cultivate Christ-centered character in young adults around the world through community building, missions, and spiritual growth. By the turn of the century (1900), the League claimed over 1.75 million members internationally. The original Epworth League continued until 1939. In recent years the League has been revived in some Methodist congregations. FUMC’s archives has the original Minutes of its Epworth League from November 13, 1889 – November 4, 1901.
6/21: The house that we know as The Heritage House has also been known as the Allen-Faus House and the Rachofsky-Faus House. Located on the corner of 15th and Spruce, it is currently home to the Attention Homes offices. It was originally constructed by Gay Allen in about 1874, probably as a rental house. Records vary as to whether this house was demolished and rebuilt or added on to by J. Levi Rachofsky, a pioneer merchant in Boulder who became its owner in 1885. In 1905, the house was sold to Jacob Faus and his family for $5,000.00. After several additional families owned the house, FUMC became the owner of the house in 1960. The original intention was to have the lot on which the house is located landscaped into a park.
6/28: The Heritage House (brick house east of the church) was purchased by FUMC in 1959 or 1960 depending on the source of information. For a number of years, the house hosted UMW’s Bargain Days/Rummage Sales and became known as the “Rummage Sale House.” In 1974, the City of Boulder determined that the house did not meet building code requirements for wiring and heating and could not be occupied until the requirements were met. That year, a six-year struggle over whether the house should be restored, sold and moved or demolished to make way for a park or parking lot began. This involved the congregation, the City Planning Board, the City Council, the Landmark Board and Historic Boulder. Long-time members Phyllis Olson and Ken Schmohe led the charge to save and restore the house in order to lease it as commercial office space.
7/5: The name “Heritage House” was coined in 1976, the year of Colorado’s centennial and the country’s bi-centennial. In 1979, another long-time member, Marshall Coon, offered the funds from the Edith Coon Memorial Fund as seed money for restoration purposes. Funds from the Esselstyn Estate Monies (another memorial fund) were also provided to jump-start the project. Finally, in January 1980, after years of controversy, during which time the building remained vacant, the congregation finally voted to restore the Heritage House. An open house of the fully restored and renovated Heritage House was held in December 1980. It has been fully occupied ever since. Phyllis Olson and Ken Schmohe co-authored a fascinating account of the history of the Heritage House, a copy of which is kept in FUMC’s archives.
7/26: Billy Sunday played professional baseball in the National League in the 1880’s. However, after he became a Christian, he left baseball and began a career as an evangelist. On July 19, 1909, Sunday made his first visit to Boulder and was so well-received, he agreed to return. And return he did! Beginning at the end of August 1909, he led five weeks of revival meetings. In order to accommodate the large crowds that were expected, the Boulder Evangelical Association, of which the Methodist Church was a part, used volunteer labor to build a 100,000 square foot wooden venue that seated 4,000 on the site of a former brick yard at High and 13th Streets. This site is now occupied by Casey Middle School. Local church choirs led the audiences in revival hymns that must have rocked the packed house. Sunday, who focused on sin and evil, called Boulder “a sinkhole of iniquity, crying out for redemption” (even the City residents had already outlawed liquor, one of his chief complaints). This was publicly disputed by one Boulder citizen who wrote “there is not a cleaner community on the face of the Earth than the city of Boulder” in a letter to the editor of the Camera. According to the Camera, a total of 1,560 Boulder residents were “converted” during these revival meetings, with the Methodist Church gaining 170 new members. Source: Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder County History: The Rev. Billy Sunday’s Rhetoric Polarized Boulder, by Silvia Pettem, 04/06/2018; updated 05/06/2019; and from FUMC’s archives.
8/2: Through the efforts of members of FUMC, the Wesley Foundation at the University of Colorado was established in 1919 under the directorship of Dr. Fred Aden. The first Student Center, located at 12th and Broadway, was purchased at the price of $10,500.00 in 1923. Its mission was to provide a “church home away from home” for Methodist and “Methodist preference” students. The program expanded and a new church home away from home was purchased in 1944. Costing $11,500.00, it was located at 1313 University Ave. As enrollment increased, even larger and more suitable facilities were needed. The new facility, located at 2400 University Heights Ave. (now 1290 Folsom), was consecrated in the spring of 1958 and houses the Wesley Foundation to this day. With the second floor housing the chapel, and the first floor consisting of an informal lounge, a kitchen, and offices, it has been used for worship and recreational/outreach purposes ever since. Our own Wally Finley served as the pastor/director for a number of years. Until recently, Roger Wolsey served as the pastor/director. During his tenure, the Center became home to many ventures, such as the Mosaic Gospel Choir, jazz and performing arts performances, yoga classes, and community outreach opportunities.
8/9: Adult Education has always been a hallmark of First United Methodist Church. In fact, although it is not documented, the church probably started as an adult education gathering in one of the saloons in early Boulder. This was also in keeping with John Wesley’s Class gatherings. Those who attend the adult education offerings do more than just expand their minds; they also put their faith into action. It was one of these classes nearly 64 years ago that birthed the idea of “Attention Not Detention” and led to the formation of Attention Homes. In the early 1980s when Chuck Schuster was the senior pastor, Dave and Suzanne Hoover developed a new format for adult education, and it was the precursor of today’s Forum. Forum covers a wide range of topics and is the primary venue for interaction with our theologians-in-residence. Forum not only deals with spiritual growth issues, but also with current events in both society and the church at large, and how they relate to our church. Forum is one of many adult education opportunities today, and adult education is not just on Sundays. A group called Sacred Bites meets for lunch at The Lazy Dog Saloon on Tuesdays, carrying on the tradition established 160 years ago. Come expand your mind and put your faith into action.
8/16: “First Church Library-A Short History” by Julie Powers.
The library opened in 1952, overseen by Elsie Teets who wrote that “she was grateful for the opportunity – it was a chance to maintain her sanity after the birth of twin boys in October, 1950!” She was chairman for 46 years in addition to doing library work for the Boulder Valley Schools. In its 67 years the library has had 5 locations. From Elsie’s notes:
1. A space off the second floor hallway, shared with Frances Bigelow, First Church’s first woman minister; later torn down for present sanctuary;
2. A small, cold vestibule at the southeast corner of the original stone building; also later torn down for sanctuary construction;
3. Second floor across from location #1; room also used for choir practice and Sunday school;
4. What is now the chapel, west of the sanctuary; shared space with a Scripture Center which sold Bibles;
5. Since 1998 in its current location – it switched spaces with the chapel – and with much appreciated custom built bookshelves.
As Elsie wrote in 2004, “The present location, #5, is the best one yet.” Fifteen years later the small but mighty library committee agrees!
8/30: For many years, the United Methodist Women of FUMC earned much of their annual budget from rummage sales, which became known as Bargain Days. The women spent many hours sorting, pricing, and selling the goods. The sale would last 2-3 weeks, twice a year. While this writer doesn’t know where all of the sales took place, I recall the basement being jam-packed with tables of items, racks of clothing, and all types of furniture. At one point in time, items were stored in the Heritage House (house east of the church), where the sales also took place. One of the houses on Pine Street was also used as a Bargain Days site. Here’s a quick Bargain Days story taken from the “Memoirs” that was published in 1984 for the 125th church anniversary:
The sister of one of the sales ladies was convinced that there was a “really good buy” for her. It was plugged in, tested and given an overall look to make sure the buyer was getting a bargain. The purchase was completed and the contraption was lugged out to the sister’s car. When the sales lady got home, her phone was ringing. It was her sister, “How could you? How could you sell me that floor-waxing machine when you know I don’t have bare floors?” Only then did the sales lady remember that her sister’s new home was completely carpeted!
9/6: As reported in an earlier Fun Fact, Rev. Jacob Adriance preached his first sermon in Boulder on August 14, 1859 at the home of Mr. Moore, using John 3:16 as his text. According to Rev. Adriance’s diary, in September 1859 he again preached in Boulder, and this time he preached in “the upper room of a saloon.” That means that it has now been 160 years since Methodism first came to Boulder!! After organizing the Methodist Church in Boulder in November 1859, Rev. Adriance remained as its pastor until 1861. In May of 1912, writing from Fremont, Nebraska, Rev. Adriance recalled that in 1859, “[a]s cold weather came on, our services were held in Brother McLeod’s cabin….As there was no window and the crevices not admitting sufficient light with the door a little ajar, I was able to see to read my scripture lesson and line the hymns two lines at a time for the singing.”
9/13: Here is another recollection from Rev. Jacob Adriance’s May 1912 letter to the then-pastor of the Boulder Methodist Church. He was likely recalling the winter of 1859-60, when he reported that “[a]s winter came on pony and cow must have hay but 35 dollars per ton and nothing to put it with was not very encouraging. At Boulder the brethren raised 10 dollars for me. I gathered 3 yoke of oxen and wagon and drove to a brother Butlers on south Boulder. He gave me a half ton and I paid him 12 dollars. That night after dark I stayed at a cabin on Cole creek. The only one on the trail. It was full but a brother and sister Reynolds let me bunk with them o the floor as there was just room enough. Nine oclock next night found the hay in the pen, and the same hour the following night the rig was distributed, safe-and-sound. So the week’s experiences on Saturday night found me at home with my loved one resting up for the duties of the Sabbath, and rejoicing in the Master’s work.” Maybe you will see one more recollection from Rev. Jacob Adriance next week!
9/20: Continuing with recollections from letters authored by Jacob Adriance (FUMC’s first pastor), the following comes from an April 14, 1904 letter now located in the files of the Western History Collection, Norlin Library, University of Colorado: Following services in Boulder, on September 27, 1859, Rev. Adriance was “at the 12 Mile and held services at the store.” Late on the following day, he started for Denver, “via the Cherokee Trail. Camped by a haystack in Clear Creek bottom for a while, renewing my journey, was lost in the darkness. A snow storm setting in, with one blanket on my pony, wrapped in the other, I patiently waited for dawn, which came with three inches of snow. This was the first time and only one, in which I was lost on the prairie, although I had traveled hundreds of miles in storms, and darkness.” Probably in an even later letter, Rev. Adriance recalled that upon his arriving at his destination on this cold and snowy morning, he was “feeling thankful that I had a place that I could call home. Though it had no floor, it protected me from the storm, and with my little sheetiron stove, seated on my stool, I could keep warm, and sing, and pray, and thank God for His goodness to me. Praise the good Lord! You make me live over those days. O, how I wish I was young again!”
9/27: Theatre in the FUMC Sanctuary: The Methodist Youth Footlighters
Perform, Part 1, by Jean Hodges
Theatre is the most compelling art form to reveal our human condition, both our dark and our redemptive stories. In the l960’s, another young couple, Dalene and Orion Beaver, worked with my husband Jack and me to engage some 50 high school youth every Sunday morning and evening in study, challenging discussions, and fun. Dalene was a middle school drama teacher who decided to direct Our Town in l964 as our first Methodist Youth Footlighters production. (William Arndt was in that cast.) In 1965 she and I co-directed and-produced The Diary of Anne Frank while our spouses built the set that transformed the chancel into the Frank’s attic hideout. I remember visiting all the church groups to assure them that we would not harm the new sanctuary. “No nails anywhere in the chancel” was our promise. We found costumes in the UMW Rummage House on Pine Street. The Sunday morning of our one performance, the cast was bleary eyed from having secretly slept overnight on the set. They hated to let go of their attic hideaway. We sat as a group in the front row and wept as Rev. Bill Byrd preached from the old kitchen table from a big Bible about The Secret Attics Where We Hide. We performed that night to a SRO audience. Those young actors, now in their sixties, still reminisce on Facebook about that sacred experience of celebrating Hanukkah under our enormous cross–one night only!
10/4: Theatre in the FUMC Sanctuary, Part 2, by Jean Hodges
The third play performed in l967 by the Methodist Youth Footlighters was JB. A biblical study of the Book of Job on Sunday morning led to choosing the modern poetic version, JB by Archibald MacLeish for our most challenging production. This dark drama of a man, who lost everything in a contest between God and Satan to see how strong JB’s faith really was. We studied the Book of Job in Sunday School and rehearsed JB all afternoon. I even wrote to Harvard professor and poet laureate MacLeish with questions we couldn’t answer.
Barb Olson, now a fabric artist who coordinates our art displays in the sanctuary, remembers her experience of playing Job’s wife when she was a Boulder High School youth. “What I remember most is the line at the end of the play, ‘look JB, the forsythia. The forsythia is blooming.’ It struck me as a symbol of hope and life in the midst of destruction and chaos. I’ve thought of that throughout my life and forsythia holds a special place in my heart.”
Not everyone found it as meaningful as the actors did. The Church membership secretary walked into the sanctuary, saw the huge cardboard fat lady where the pulpit usually was and the entire chancel looking like a 3-ring circus and she burst into tears and ran out. I’m sure that preaching from that circus set provided a challenge for Rev. Henard, but he handled it well.
The final Footlighter’s play, In White America, was presented in 1968, two weeks after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
10/11: Over the years, members of FUMC have sponsored families from other countries so they can start new lives in a free country. In the mid-1950’s, through FUMC’s efforts, a Dutch family arrived in Boulder and began their American adventure. After celebrating their first Christmas in the U.S., in a January 1956 letter to the congregation, they expressed their thanks to FUMC, writing
we did not suppose that we should be welcomed in such a marvelous way….Most of all, we have enjoyed the spirit of Love [that] was so tangibly present when we entered the house on 10th Street, which you want us to call ‘our home.
In 1963, through the efforts of FUMC’s Commission on Social Concerns, a Cuban family came to Colorado. Having been prosperous in Cuba before its Revolution, this family was able to leave Cuba, but at the price of leaving all of their possessions there. Upon arrival, they located in a tenant house on a farm near Henderson. FUMC decorated and furnished this home, and provided several months of food. Most recently, FUMC sponsored the Mohammad family, legal refugees who started their new life away from the oppressive military regime in Burma (Myanmar). Abdullah, Wahida, and their one-year-old son arrived in 2012. Shortly thereafter, another son was born, and later a daughter. Members of FUMC spent countless hours helping this family adjust to life in Boulder, as well as helping Abdullah find suitable employment. Now the family lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Abdullah and his brother own a busy restaurant. Click HERE to read a recent update about the Mohammad family’s journey from refugees to American citizenship.
10/18: Smorgasborgs at FUMC by Beth Hayward
In the late 1950s, our UMW (United Methodist Women) began serving elaborate Smorgasbord dinners. Half the people in Boulder flocked to FUMC for this occasion since at that time Boulder only had one restaurant serving a family style, sit-down dinner. Remember? Fancy eating was an occasion. There were homemade pickles, deviled eggs and pickled beets, mounds of cottage cheese, applesauce, spiced pears, and delectable fruit salads. Every home-grown vegetable available was served with baked potatoes and yams. The women cooked for weeks, and baked six different kinds of breads and rolls for the big day. Baked and fried chicken, with macaroni and cheese for the children, provided the main course, while dozens of yummy pies, all homemade, created the sweet finale. The appetizers and salads were served in the parlor on long tables. People filled their plates, then went downstairs to get the hot dishes served from the steam tables in the kitchen. Pies were served from the Sunday School rooms in the basement, with the young people acting as runners who delivered your choice of pie. (If there was any traditional pickled fish or tongue served, I don’t remember.) People had to eat in shifts, 5:00 – 6:00 or 6:00-7:00 pm, filling Mead Hall to overflowing because our sanctuary and Tippett Hall (the current site of FUMC’s labyrinth) had not yet been built. According to a newspaper clipping from 1958, The Smorgasbord at First Church became a highlight of the year.
10/25: From Writings of Kay Strauss and Articles from The Daily Camera
As you will recall, the “new” church (where we worship today) was dedicated in 1960. While some of the following names may not ring a bell with many in our current congregation, most of these individuals were members of FUMC at the time of the “new” church’s construction. Central to the sanctuary is the 12-foot-x-18-foot cross. Amy Hamouda, an extension instructor at CU, created and constructed it by welding thin pieces of copper, bronze and brass together. It is suspended from the ceiling and is held in place by strong wires. A plaque honoring Amy Hamouda hangs in the narthex. Another piece of art work that became part of the chancel of the “new” church was the altar that depicted the four gospel writers. It was sculpted by John Wilson, Professor of Fine Arts at CU. Although this altar was replaced during the 2009 sanctuary remodel, it is still stored in the church. M. G. Barr and R. Repogle designed and made the light fixtures. The stained glass windows were designed by Calvin A. Briggs, Associate Professor of Architecture at CU, and his wife, Olivia. The large brass candlesticks that grace the Communion table were given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Briggs. The second set of candlesticks on the Communion table was presented to FUMC by Bethel UMC upon its closure several years ago. At that time, Bethel also presented FUMC with its lovely Communion chalices. These are used, along with FUMC’s own chalices, during each Communion service.
11/1: Several weeks ago, Fun Facts featured notes from Jean Hodges about theater in the FUMC sanctuary (maybe we’ll hear more from Jean soon; her 2009 play, Rolling Back–Growing Forward: A Living History of FUMC Boulder’s First 150 Years, will be the highlight of this Sunday’s Forum program at 9:00 AM in the church parlor on November 3). However, today’s focus is on an earlier “pageant” that depicted the history of FUMC and was presented in October 1942 during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the “old” church building. The pageant was written by F. A. Boggess, the principal of University Hill School, who had previously written a number of other successful pageants including The Pageant of Liberty, which was widely produced during World War I. Boggess was the “able secretary-manager of the Colorado Chautauqua and an active worker in the Methodist Church.” Theodore Skinner, the director of dramatics at Boulder High School (much later, Jean Hodges was also the theater director at BHS), coached the cast. The pageant was presented in six episodes: “The Church on the March” (the Bishop’s hotel room in Omaha, Nebraska), “Christian Pioneers” (a campfire on the plains), “The Beginnings” (a pioneer’s home in Boulder in 1859), “The First Church Building” (the pastor’s study in Boulder in 1851), “Fifty Years Ago” (meeting of the building committee), and “The Church Marches On” (symbolic scene).
11/8: What a wonderful day in it will be in 2019 when Attention Homes welcomes 40 young adults, ages 18-24, into the Attention Homes Apartments! Attention Homes was founded in September 1966 through the efforts of an FUMC Sunday School class and other members of the Boulder community whose concern was at-risk youth and the manner in which they were dealt with through the juvenile court system. This group’s cry was “Attention, Not Detention!” Among the group’s members were FUMC members Phyllis and Roger Olson, Beth and Dick Hayward, the Rev. Ralph Henard, as well as Judge Horace Holmes, and Chief Juvenile Officer George P. Taylor (please forgive this writer for any unintentional omissions). In its first newsletter (Winter, 1968), it was noted that “[t]he former Methodist Parsonage at 2118 14th St., opened its doors as an Attention Home in October, 1966. The first resident was a 17-year old boy who left home due to a conflict with his mother and turned himself in to the local Neighborhood Corps. He has committed no crime but was without food or shelter and had no funds to provide for himself. During the first year, 65 children passed through the Attention Home…. During September, 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Frasier gave the house at 3682 Chase Ct. to Attention, Inc., establishing Attention Home #2.” Stay tuned for more about FUMC’s lasting relationship with Attention Homes.
11/15: Through the efforts of a group of dedicated members of FUMC, the Theological Residence Center was established in 1987. Its Mission Statement indicated that it “seeks to help persons achieve spiritual and social growth by providing a forum for the exposure of creative thought regarding the development and application of theological practices.” A group of people from the church restored the first floor apartment of one of the houses owned by FUMC to its natural finish in order to provide accommodations for the visiting theologians, the first of whom came to Boulder in 1988. Since that time, the name of this endeavor has morphed into the Theologian-In-Residence (TIR) Program, with the visiting theologians now receiving accommodations at FUMC’s Mountain Haven Retreat House, located near Rollinsville. Many well-known theologians have enriched the Boulder community with their thoughtful and thought-provoking knowledge and talents throughout the years that have followed, and this program continues to play an important part in the life of FUMC and our wider community. Click HERE to visit the TIR page on our website.
11/22: Happy 160th Anniversary to FUMC! The Methodist Church of Boulder was organized with six members on November 27, 1859 by Jacob Adriance, a circuit-riding minister. Just think of all the things that have happened in the life of that church since then. Here are just a few:
–Through the efforts of members of FUMC, the Wesley Foundation at the University of Colorado was established in 1919 under the directorship of Dr. Fred Aden.
–Attention Homes was founded in September 1966 through the efforts of an FUMC Sunday School class and other members of the Boulder community who were concerned about at-risk youth. Now, over 50 years later, FUMC and Attention Homes remain in partnership as the Attention Homes Apartments are nearly completed and will eventually provide homes and services for 40 18-24-year-old at-risk young adults.
–In early 1980, the congregation voted to restore the Heritage House (east of the church at 15th and Spruce), with an open house of the fully restored and renovated Heritage House being held in December 1980.
–Through the efforts of a group of dedicated lay people, FUMC’s Theological Residence Center was established in 1987 (now the Theologian-in-Residence (TIR) program.
–In 1990 the Scholarship Endowment Fund was established. An annual collection to help fund this scholarship is held on Mothers’ Day.
–Following the Administrative Council’s decision that it supported FUMC becoming a Reconciling Congregation, an all-church gathering was held on March 2, 1997, with those present affirming the Council’s recommendation. The anniversary of this important event has been celebrated every March since that time.
–The FUMC Labyrinth was born in 2001 and has served the community on an ongoing basis since then.
For many years, FUMC has been home to the Heartfelt Café, a third-Sunday-of-the-month free lunch for anyone seeking a warm meal. FUMC has also offered space for the Community Table dinners; a cold-weather day center; numerous support groups; and a rehearsal and performance space for numerous musical groups, including the Resonance Women’s Choir. It continues to provide BCAP, Out Boulder and Attention Homes with space, both within the church itself as well as in the properties that FUMC owns around our square block.
Each year, the Christmas tree in our sanctuary is adorned with white and gold (the liturgical colors of Christmas) “ornaments” known as Chrismons. The word “Chrismon” comes from the Latin phrase Christi monogramma meaning monogram of Christ. Each Chrismon signifies an aspect of the life and ministry of Jesus, including such things as stars, crosses, fish, crowns, doves, shells, ships and Greek letters of chi-rho ad alpha-omega. While early Christians used this term to refer to symbols that reminded them of Jesus, more recently the word has come to mean the Christmas decorations that are hung on trees such as ours during Advent and Christmas. Chrismons as we know them were introduced in 1957 in a Lutheran Church in Virginia. From that beginning the idea became a song of praise and thanksgiving to Jesus and has spread to Christians all over the world. The Chrismon tradition at FUMC began in 1975 when a group of women lead by Evelyn Balch created the first Chrismons to be hung on our sanctuary tree. Many Chrismons have been added over the years, and FUMC is blessed to now include Chrismons from Bethel UMC. After the 2013 flood, some of FUMC’s Chrismons were given to Mountain View UMC as its collection was destroyed in that devastation. One of our Chrismons even hangs in the lobby of the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C. along with other Chrismons from UMC churches across the country.
12/6: The Labyrinth from writings by Barbara Middleton
The FUMC Labyrinth was dedicated on December 8, 2001, almost exactly 18 years ago, under the pastoral guidance of the Rev. Carolyn Waters and the Rev. Trevor Potter. Located in what was known as Tippett Hall in the lower level of the church, the Labyrinth was inspired by the writings of the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress (Walking the Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, 1995) whose labyrinth creations are centered around the twelfth century mystical tool at Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France. Initially, nearly 85 gallons of paint were used to cover the ceiling, walls and floor of Tippett Hall. Then, taking over 14 hours, Rev. Potter and Labyrinth Facilitators Jo Ann Mast and Carlos Smith drew the 11 concentric circles with an additional 10 hours being spent to finish the pattern before it was painted. One gallon of purple paint and 7 volunteers took about 14 hours to paint the sacred pattern on the floor. Before the final painting was done, prayers, thoughts and meditations were written on the floor by parishioners and the community to “season” the Labyrinth and give the room a sacred presence. Later additions to this space include the hanging fabric panels that were designed by Barb Olson, and the Weeping Wall that was created by Cheryl Bort and Les Brighton. The floor cushions add a universal meditation design. Experience the Labyrinth for yourself, either by walking it or simply by sitting and embracing the sacredness of the space.
12/13: Christmas at FUMC! It’s been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same! Our congregation has some long-standing traditions like hanging the Chrismons on the first Sunday of Advent, presenting a seasonal choir oratorio, and lighting candles while singing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve. But it mixes things up now and then. The large nativity scene that once graced the Courthouse lawn was given to FUMC by the City of Boulder when it was determined that such religious symbols could not be displayed on publicly-owned property. This writer has been told that over the following years, this nativity scene was instead displayed on the church lawn – with the Baby Jesus being kidnapped only to be returned on Christmas Eve! During another Advent season, FUMC staged a living nativity scene on the lawn. Despite the particularly chilly weather, all participants did their part to make it a success. There has been a variety of children’s Christmas pageants, everything from the traditional retelling of the story of Jesus’ birth to the time machine version. And those animal costumes that were made at least 25 years ago have gotten a lot of use! What a treat it will be this Sunday when the children once again tell the wondrous story of Jesus’ birth.
12/20: The Chrismons
Each year, FUMC adorns its sanctuary Christmas tree with white and gold ornaments known as Chrismons. While the idea of Chrismons originated in a Lutheran church in Virginia in 1957, FUMC’s collection of these ornaments were first made and used in 1975. A Chrismon may be a monogram, a sign, a symbol, or a type or combinations of such figures. The white and gold call to mind the purity of the newborn Christ, and to our light and joy in him. Some common symbols are the cross (in many forms), Greek letters (such as HIS which are the first three letters of Jesus in Greek), the butterfly (representing resurrection), and the stars (in many forms). The original FUMC Chrismons represent the dedicated artistry of many women in the church. Over the years, the collection has grown and now contains not only Chrismons made by FUMC women, but also those made by Bethel UMC women. One of our Chrismons hangs on the Christmas tree in the lobby of the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C., along with other Chrismons from United Methodist Churches across the country. Following the 2013 flood, FUMC gifted some of our Chrismons to Mountain View UMC as its collection was destroyed by that catastrophic event. If you have a chance, take a closer look at our Chrismons and see the intricate work that has gone into making them!