Information on the History Page is taken from a history compiled by the late Wade Hadley to commemorate the Centennial Anniversary of the church, which was celebrated on Sunday, November 2, 1986.
Origin of First Methodist and the Early Years: 1885 – 1920
The town of Siler City began to develop at Matthew’s Crossroads when the railroad between Sanford and Greensboro started operating there in the spring of 1884. Families started to move in, build homes, and establish business enterprises. Early in 1885, a local union Sunday School was started with J. B. Guthrie as superintendent. This group first met under a brush arbor adjacent to the building now standing at 125 West Beaver Street. It was originally the Guthrie House, the town’s first hotel. With the coming of cold weather, the Sunday School meetings were held in a tobacco warehouse, located at the corner which is now 144 North Chatham Avenue. Visiting ministers of various denominations preached there occasionally. This type of meeting was the predecessor for the first formally organized local church.
The local Methodist congregation was formally organized on November 1st of 1886 as the First Methodist Episcopal Church. On that date the first entry was made in the Church Register. It recorded the reception of twenty-nine members, one by profession of faith and twenty-eight by certificate. They were received by Rev. R. T. N. Stephenson then acting as a temporary minister. It had been his earlier leadership that brought about the organization of this church.
Immediately after organizing, D. G. Fox was appointed as a representative of this new church to attend the annual Methodist Conference at Reidsville, N.C. in November 1886. This resulted in Rev. Oliver Ryder being appointed as pastor on December 7th of that year.. At the same time, the Siler circuit was formed. It was made up of the following five churches: Concord, Mount Vernon, Providence, Rehobeth, and Siler City, with Rev. Ryder in charge. This new circuit was first placed within Trinity College District of the North Carolina Conference.
In the meantime, the church building at Siler City was under construction. By December of 1886, it was in usable condition with the walls raised, the building covered and rough slab seats installed. The entire town celebrated that year with a community Christmas tree at this new church. This was the only church within the village at that time. The church building was completed and dedicated on the first Sunday of April in 1887 by Rev. V. A. Sharpe, District Presiding Elder.
Growth of the congregation during the early years is shown by the following notes, based on the Church Register:
- November 1, 1886 (Charter Members) 29 members
- December 25, 1887 (1 year after organization) 41 members
- November 22, 1896 (10 years after organization) 126 members
- October 7, 1900 (14 years after organization) 200 members
A Period of Growth: 1920-1961
The original wooden church building was used for the last time on July 11, 1920. It was then torn down in August of that year in preparation for a new building on the site. Church services were held on the second floor of the Riddle Building at 109 North Chatham Avenue until the new church building was ready for occupancy in August of 1922. The building was used for the weddings and the basement was used for weddings until its dedication on June 7, 1925 by Bishop Horace M. DuBose. The basic cost of this new building, without furnishings, was around 35 thousand dollars and was mainly debt-free at the time of completion. This pay-as-you-go policy was mainly responsible for the long period of time during which the building was under construction. At the time the new building was dedicated, church membership was approximately 300.
In 1939, The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church merged to form what was known as The Methodist Church. The Methodist Protestant church in Siler City was organized in 1894. The two churches were consolidated over a transition period of about six months. On March 29, 1940, both congregations met as one body, and all activities at the Methodist Protestant Church ended. The physical properties of the Methodist Protestant Church were sold. The church building which had been the Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated to the service of the united congregations under the name of First Methodist Church of Siler City.