First United Methodist Church
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Share the Joy of Knowing Christ: Reach, Teach, Serve
Click the church photo to view the book "150 Years of Methodism in Seguin."
     On Sunday morning, September 16, 1951 the cornerstone for the First Methodist Church was put into its place at our current campus. The first worship service was held in the Sanctuary on February 3, 1952, with Pastor Elmer J. Hierholzer presiding [1]. However, the roots for the church go back much further and we date the beginnings of the church to 1841 when the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Seguin was organized. The church began to grow quite rapidly and in 1849 the congregation built its first church house at the northwest corner of Austin and Market Streets. The name was changed to The First Methodist Episcopal Church, South 1845 to reflect the realignment of the church responsive to the issues that led to the Civil War. To accommodate its ever growing congregation, a new church was built at the corner of Mountain and River Streets. This “modern” church was built of concrete and was completed in 1873. Rev. Homer S. Thrall served as its pastor and the new facility hosted annual conference gatherings in 1876, 1882 and 1898. An even newer brick church was completed on the site in 1909, complete with beautiful stained glass windows. As a result of a unification movement between the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and the Methodist Protestant Church that began in 1916, the three churches came together as The Methodist Church in April, 1939 [2].

Seguin is known for its German heritage and the First German Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1874. By 1875, they had completed a church building on East Gonzales Street. By 1900, the congregation had outgrown the building, and replaced it with a red brick church building on the corner of Austin and College Street. The church prospered in its ministry. Worship was conducted in both English and German. The church had a vibrant youth program, a large Sunday School program, and extensive women’s and men’s community ministry. In 1918, the church changed its name to the Austin Street Methodist Episcopal Church. As a part of the unification process, the Austin Street Methodist Episcopal Church and the First United Methodist Church became one unified congregation in 1945.

Meantime, Methodism was thriving in the rural parts of Guadalupe County. The Mill Creek Methodist Church was organized in 1856 at a revival meeting held in an elm grove east of Seguin. It occupied several church buildings and a few rural school buildings in the Mill Creek area until around 1930, when the congregation informally merged with the Methodist Church. Guadalupe Valley Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1872 west of Seguin in the McQueeney-Schumansville area. It was affiliated with the northern Methodist Episcopal Church, and was  predominantly a German speaking congregation. This Methodist ministry steadfastly served that area until 1918, when the congregation joined the Austin Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The Elm Creek Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1873 southwest of Seguin. It was affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and was also a German heritage congregation. The congregation united with the Austin Street Methodist Episcopal Church in 1920. Finally, the Eden Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1874 east of Seguin and south of Highway 90-A. The history notes that this church produced three Methodist pastors and one medical missionary to India. This was also a mostly German heritage congregation and it merged with the Austin Street Methodist Church in 1924.

In 1968, The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church united into the United Methodist Church. By this time, the First United Methodist Church at the corner of Austin and College Street was well along in its ministry to the community, with the heritage of six Methodist congregations in its DNA. When we go through the church membership rolls today, we still see the surnames of those pioneering families of faith that formed those six congregations. Steeped in German heritage, with the fortitude that rural living requires, along with a deep abiding faith in God, First United Methodist Church of Seguin continues to faithfully write its history.

[1]  I am indebted completely to “150 Years of Methodism in Seguin: 1841-1991” written by Anne Brawner for this church history.

[2] 2008 United Methodist Book of Discipline, p. 17-18.

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