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Abilene, First UMC

 Collection — Container: all
Identifier: KUMA-01-309

Scope and Contents

This collection contains photographs, church histories, news stories, administrative documents and, correspondence from the First UMC, Abilene, Kansas. The correspondence series in Folder 3 includes detailed correspondence and reports involving the 1979 pastor, the pastor-parish relations committee, other church members, and district officials. Folder 1. (Photographs and church histories, 1906-1984) Picture postcard, black and white, of 1923 church, labeled “Methodist Church, Abilene, Kansas” (1951) (plus one copy) Picture postcard, color, of 1906 church, labeled “Methodist Church, Abilene, Kans.” Program for dedication of Rogers Hall, Camp Mary Dell (1990) Program for Methodist Bicentennial (1984) Program for Dedication Sunday (1984) Booklet on memorial windows in new church (1971) Program for Consecration Sunday, February 14, 1971 Booklet, “First United Methodist Church, Abilene, Kansas: A Centennial of Progress, 1870-1970” (4 copies) Booklet, "Pages of Progress" (1969) Booklet for 75th anniversary (November 18, 1945) Local Church Historical Reports (1984; undated) Folder 2. (Lists and clippings 1899-2002, directory 1993) List of those entering ordained ministers from Abilene First UMC (undated) List and biographies of pastors (1870-1995) List of presiding elders and D.S. of the Abilene UMC (1870-1995) Newspaper clippings (1899-2002) Church member directory (1993) Folder 3. (Admin and Correspondence) Charge conference and administrative reports (1972-1994) Correspondence (1955-1994)


  • Created: 1899-1994


Biographical or Historical Information

The earliest mentions of Methodist services in Abilene by traveling preachers date back to 1861. The first organization of Methodists in Abilene was 1870 when Rev. S. J. Kahler began services in August of that year. His report at the close of 1870 indicated 13 members in the church. First known as the Methodist Episcopal Church, becoming the Methodist Church in 1939 and the United Methodist Church in 1968, this Abilene church has provided continuous services since that time. As of this writing (2018) there is no complete list of the charter members. A Sunday School was organized in the 1870s. As was typical in the early days of Kansas Methodism, each of the first seven preachers stayed only one year. During its first 100 years, the church was served by a total of 35 ministers. The Methodist community worshipped in the Baptist church in the south part of town in 1870, then in the old court house in 1871. From 1876 to 1878, the Methodists and the Lutherans shared use of the Metropolitan Hall. Finally, on April 20, 1879, the Methodists dedicated their first church building, a new structure on the corner of Sixth and Cedar which the Abilene Chronicle of April 25, 1879, described as a “fine brick building, well proportioned, substantially built, and handsomely furnished…. [with] a tower 11x11 feet surmounted with a spire 85 feet high.” A windstorm in 1895 damaged the building badly enough that the spire needed to be removed. Services continued to be held in the church until 1906 when it was deemed necessary to remodel. The work was so extensive that the building had the appearance of an entirely new church. The structure was dedicated on November 26, 1906. In 1918 members recognized the need for a complete rebuilding of the church. After several years of planning, the new brick structure was dedicated on December 23, 1923. Beginning in 1960, additional lots on the block were purchased, until the entire block was owned by the church. After removal of the old parsonage at 609 North Cedar, groundbreaking took place on February 2, 1970. (A new parsonage at 1505 North Campbell was used beginning in 1970.) The new church was consecrated on February 14, 1971. The dedication took place on March 25, 1984. At various times in its history, the Abilene church has been a member of the Kansas conference in the Manhattan, Junction City, and Salina districts. Later it was a member of the Central Kansas conference, and today (2018) it is part of the Great Plains conference. The church celebrated its 75th anniversary on November 18, 1945, and its Centennial on November 29, 1970. Records indicate that history booklets were published in 1943, 1970, and 1984.

Note written by Sarah St. John


3.00 folders

Language of Materials



This collection contains documents from the First United Methodist Church of Abilene, formerly known as the Methodist Episcopal Church of Abilene. The church is still active as of this writing (2018).

Arrangement Note

The three folders are arranged: Folder 1 -- Historical documents Folder 2 -- Lists and newspaper clippings and other stories Folder 3 -- Administrative and correspondence Within each folder, the documents are arranged in reverse chronological order.

Jen McCollough
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Baker University and Kansas United Methodist Archives Repository

518 8th Street
PO Box 65
Baldwin City KS 66006 US