The Methodist Church in Fredericksburg dates back to 1849 when eight families (Bauer, Durst, Ellebracht, Houy, Kneese, Stiehl, Triebs and Winkel) led by Reverend Eduard Schneider seceded from the Vereins Kirche and founded the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The families first met in the open, then in a log cabin owned by Ludwig Kneese, and later in their first sanctuary that was built in 1853. By 1855, the white building became known as the First Methodist Church. The old First Methodist Church building is now the Exhibit Building for Fredericksburg’s Pioneer Museum.
Following the trauma of the Civil War, on May 5, 1871, a group of believers organized another Methodist Church in Fredericksburg which favored northern sympathizers and reflected German immigrants’ general disgust of slavery. This new church was first pastored by Anton Ulrich, and another eight families (Braterich, Feuge, Fischer, Kneese, Schluessler, Steihl, Treibs and Winkel) formed the nucleus of the congregation. With the land given by Felix Kneese, the Edison Street Church was formed. Until just after World War II, Edison Street was a German-speaking congregation with many families from the original settlers of the area, and even after that, German was occasionally heard in the worship services. The Greater Life Christian Center now meets at the Edison Street building.
The First Methodist Church held worship services in English, and of the two churches, it attracted more of the “newcomers” in the community. In 1970, it was decided by the Methodist Conference that the two congregations should be merged and should occupy the Edison Street property. By 1979, it became obvious that the old property was inadequate for the needs of the church, so a resolution to rebuild and relocate was passed.
November 30, 1980, marked the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the United Methodist Church in Fredericksburg. On that Sunday, the congregation held its first worship service in the new Fellowship Hall at the current site. The current sanctuary was completed in July of 1981. The children’s wing was completed in 2002, and the Family Life Center in 2006.
Today the FUMC congregation enjoys ties to our German history with many original families still a vital part of our work and worship. As we cherish our past and use our history to enrich our congregational life, we also look forward to the future and to our Lord for his leadership in our path ahead.