The First United Methodist Church has stood for 100 years as a spiritual home to many residents of the City of Bunnell and the surrounding county. We continue to be a church overflowing with God’s love. We are passionate about our love for Jesus and our desire make disciples of Christ with radical acts of service and compassion.
The first church in Flagler County, First Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of Bunnell was established in 1909. J.F. Lambert and the Moody brothers, I.I. and George, collectively known as the Bunnell Development Company, built the first sanctuary, complete with bell tower. The building and parsonage were offered to the Florida Conference of the Methodist Church. According to a 1944 church history by F.L. Byrd, The Rev. S.I. Hendricks of the Hastings Charge accepted it for the Methodists. The Rev. W.A. Myres was appointed by the Methodist Conference as the first pastor. The first worship service in the new church was held on February 27, 1910. Charter members of the were Mr. & Mrs. I.I. Moody, Mr. & Mrs. George Moody, Mr. & Mrs. G.C. McArn, Mr. & Mrs. W.C. Heath, E.P. Edgerton, and Bessie Goodsley. By the end of 1910 there were 22 members.
A women’s group, first known as the Willing Workers, was established in 1929, and the group’s first president was Mrs. George Biddle. Within a few years the group had become the Ladies Aid Society. The women did the janitorial work in the church while their husbands took care of the grounds. They furnished flowers for the altar and wood for the stove.
Around 1935 The Rev. W.T. Brantley’s wife Elsie began a women’s Sunday School class. This group became known as the Friendly Circle, and worked alongside of the Ladies Aid Society. The Rev. Robert Carr, appointed to Bunnell in 1949, suggested the Ladies Aid Society become a unit of the Women’s Society for Christian Service, the conference women’s organization. Both groups have been active over the years, raising funds for all sorts of church projects such as new pews, an organ, dishes, parsonage furnishings, etc.
A new sanctuary was built in 1958. A new parsonage on Magnolia Street was completed in 1965. In 1971, the old sanctuary was demolished and the church bell was put in storage. Classrooms and a fellowship hall were built in 1972. In 1978, Freda Deen and her children Billy and Delores, wanted to build a bell tower in memory of their husband and father, Bill Deen. The bell tower stands on the church lawn, and contains both the old bell and a church sign. A second phase of the classrooms, completed in 1984, enclosed the courtyard.
Over the years persons and groups have donated many lovely memorials. The Friendly Circle, a long active group in the church, spearheaded the drive to purchase an organ for the sanctuary in 1976. The stained-glass windows in the narthex are a gift of the family of Jeptha & Minnie Barber. The stained glass above the altar was given by the Buckles family, in memory of Daisy Buckles. In 2002, a prayer garden was planted in the courtyard and was dedicated in loving memory of Elfreda Bell and Pearl Forsythe Blakely.
The pastor and laity began a refocusing process in 2006 that gave them eyes to see what had been there all along: the poor, homeless and disenfranchised people of the town. Members re-committed their walk with Jesus, and were renewed as a community as they worked together to discern God’s vision for their future.
The church’s mission is to make God's love real in our community, and our vision is for everyone to know the transforming power of God's love. Following its first successful year operating the only cold weather shelter in Flagler County, a vision team formed a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, The Sheltering Tree.
In 2009 the Church transformed a small Wednesday night dinner program into Soul Café, a community supper. Again, with the help of volunteers and donations from the community and other congregations, we are building relationships with our neighbors and at the same time offering food and Christian fellowship. We are moving toward the vision God gave us and improving the lives for the poor and homeless – our neighbors – in Flagler County.
Our food pantry, one of the longest-term outreach ministries of this congregation, was renamed and revamped in 2009. The C.A.R.E. (Christian Aid Response for Everyone) Cupboard is open every Wednesday and provides an assortment food to neighbors in need; food items are donated by several grocery stores, other congregations, and church members. We are grateful to the numerous volunteers who pick up the bread and grocery donations, and who staff the food pantry and welcome all who come.
At the 100th Anniversary of the church, the following members were recognized as having more than 50 years of church membership:
Gordon Buckles Wanda Mercer
Maxine Buckles Edyth Robertson
Kathy Anderson Clegg Doris Tucker
Ria Allen Johnston Leslie Tucker
Audrey Barber McKnight Martin Tucker
Ray Mercer Marsha Zeller