Columbus First continues its work of being the heart of Christ in the heart of our community through our Early Learning Center, our mission partnership with franklin academy, our two worship services, and our ministries to children, students, and families. Our history makes this possible.
In January of 2019, a Spiritual Leadership Team formed to set the vision for the future of Columbus First United Methodist Church. Their work gave us our mission statement, our values, our strategy, and our marks that we live by. Find out more about the present and future Columbus First by visiting our About Us page.
History of First Methodist Church, Columbus
Compiled by Peggy Cantelou, Church Historian
First Methodist Church, Columbus, Mississippi, has a unique historical background. Organized in 1823, it is the oldest church organization in Columbus.
"Organized in 1823, it is the oldest church organization in Columbus."
From 1821-1831, Methodists and other denominations used the historic Franklin Academy as a place of worship.
First Methodist has owned three church buildings. The first structure was erected at the corner of 2nd Avenue North and 8th Street in 1831 and was the first church building in Columbus. In 1844, a brick church was built in the center of the same block. The present building was begun in 1860 for a projected cost of $30,000 when the church had a membership of 334; the building was finished in 1866.
our partnership with franklin academy began with our founding.
The Civil War interrupted completion of the facility. During this period, portions of the tin roof were removed to make canteens for the Confederate soldiers, and the building was used as a hospital for the sick and wounded.
our current building was a hospital during the
Due to the impact of the Civil War and reconstruction, the church faced enormous problems in the 1860’s and 70’s. Minutes from the Board of Trustees indicate concern over financial matters and lack of Sunday School teachers because so many had gone to serve in the army. As a means of raising funds, a system of pew rentals was instigated in 1871 and continued until the church debt was paid off in 1877.
Several revivals were held in the latter part of the nineteenth century and included evangelists, such as Sam P. Jones. Within six weeks, there were 105 additions to the church.
The church began to grow exponentially, creating a need for new buildings
to the existing building.
A pipe organ was added to the Sanctuary in 1878, and the pipes for this organ remain in place, serving as a focal point of the Sanctuary. A new custom-built organ was installed in 1960.
The church had an addition built in 1912, designed for Sunday School classes. It now houses the Chapel, kitchen, and choir rooms. The next addition was the Caffey Educational Building in 1950. This two-story facility more than doubled the existing space for the educational program of the church, providing space for all children and youth Sunday School classes, as well as some adult classes.
In 1953, it was decided that the original building needed extensive repairs. This led to a two-year renovation program, which included providing a new roof, new Sanctuary floor and ceiling, new steeple, and structural repairs. During this period, worship services were held in the auditorium of Franklin Academy.
Franklin continues to be our steady partner in ministry, from 1823 to 1953 to 2020.
The current structure possesses unusual architecture because the main Sanctuary is on the second floor, with twin staircases leading to it from a foyer floored with the original ceramic tile. The exterior of the building exhibits an imposing façade of old handmade brick with a towering spire that is a local landmark.
The $1 million Marguerite Tennille Family Life Center was completed in 1988, featuring a large multi-purpose room. 2001 saw the completion of the Fletcher-Jones Educational Building which provided a beautiful Artz Fellowship Hall, as well as large children and youth classrooms and kitchen facilities. The building also houses the Early Learning Center with state-of-the-art classroom facilities and a playground.
On July 1, 2023, First Methodist Church of Columbus became a member of the Global Methodist Church.