2019 marks First United Methodist Church of Boulder’s 160th birthday! We will be celebrating throughout the year with special events; check back to this page often for details about anniversary year happenings!
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 Reconciling Congregation. 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.