Florence First United Methodist Church is one of the oldest Methodist Churches in the Shoals area, indeed in all of North Alabama. Our congregation began in 1822 and has been serving this area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ for almost two hundred years now. Some of the early founders of our church had connections to John Wesley’s societies in England. Though we are an old congregation, we maintain a fresh new vision for this new age in which we are living.
The Methodist church began in England in the 18th century under the leadership of an Anglican priest named John Wesley. Wesley had a heart for the Gospel and a concern for the poor and unchurched in his native land. He was one of the first preachers to preach outside the walls of a consecrated church and often spoke in the open fields to three or four thousand people. Wesley formed small societies of individuals who taught and supported each other and where persons could grow in faith and discipleship. Annually, Wesley visited these societies and carefully examined these individuals for evidence of spiritual growth. The Wesleyan revival swept through England and is credited with saving that country from the bloody revolution that occurred in France.
Methodism came to America in the late 18th century and grew rapidly throughout the colonies. As the country expanded westward, circuit riders moved west carrying the Gospel with them. Early settlers said they could hardly unload their wagons before a Methodist preacher appeared at their front door. In fact, the Methodist church was the fastest growing denomination in America from 1800 to 1850. We are very proud that our congregation contributed to that expanded growth.
Since our founding, First Methodist has taken its place as an active part of the Florence downtown community. We were early partners in forming Lagrange College, which later became the University of North Alabama. We have seen good times, such as the early growth and success of our congregation, as well as difficult times, such as the time when our church facility burned to the ground. Through all of that we have been able to continue in our work and prosper in our ministry.
Today, we have five distinct worship services: an 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. traditional service held in our sanctuary, an 11:00 a.m. contemporary service in McDowell Hall, a children’s service in our children’s department, and a Shepherd’s Table service following our Shepherd’s Table meal in the Fellowship Hall at noon. All services are on Sunday morning. We have active adult, youth, and children’s programs with Sunday school available for all ages. Our on site Day School serves over 150 preschool children each day.
First United Methodist Church welcomes everyone with the hope that they will join with us in our work to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.