First United Methodist Church of Arroyo Grande

The First United Methodist Church of Arroyo Grande Celebrates 125 Years of Ministry

Rock founded, Christ centered, Faith sustained

The tabernacle flourished during this time. One can hear the call: "Everyone out to have your picture taken". Rev. Nelson and the elder Whitlocks can be identified by their white hair. The small girl in the foreground is Virginia Sampson, daughter of S. S. Sampson. Also in the pictures are Olivia Butterfield, Rev. Burnham, Paul Lomax and Dr. E. J. Inwood. In another view, Virginia found something more interesting.

In an interview, Mrs. F. S. Whitlock (Nettie Nelson) and Miss Fanny Hodges said: "whole families came in wagons and buggies and the association put up tent frames for the campers." An early flyer offered meals at 25 cents or by the week at 19 cents. However, some families preferred to do their own cooking. Hay could be purchased for the horses.

Several families from the Long Beach District built cabins as did Rev. Sampson and Mr. and Mrs. Black because she was in a wheel chair. These were near the dining hall, down where the swimming pool is today. The Association erected a permanent tent frame that a canvas cover could be slipped over. In this postal mailed in 1911 some can he seen on the left of the stairs.

The driveway to the camp was along side the church and than up along the side of the canyon. But there was a secluded path at the bottom of the ravine - Lovers Lane.

Dr. George Warmer, who was Superintendent, poses with the kiddies. Arroyo was very proud of the VIPs the Tabernacle attracted.

Dr. E. J. Inwood was District Superintendent when this picture was taken at an Epworth League Institute.

The basketball court was a favorite place. Here Dr. Warmer joins the young people. Clair Gibson and Loren Ballagh remember this area being one of their annual spring cleaning jobs in preparation for the Camp season.

At the Tabernacle, other campground activities included foot racing.

This is Mrs. Butterfield's 1919 Class in Epworth League Methods.

The meetings always provided special music and drama in the old chautauqua spirit. There was always preaching in the old fashion way.

As part of the Nation's Bicentennial Celebration, a special day was held July 4, 1975 at the Campgrounds. From left: Pastor Al Gorsline and son, Dave, join some oldtimers who remember their childhood spent enjoying the Campgrounds. Leland Ballagh, Ann Schultz Marguis, Enid Doty Keeler, Edith Halett Bishop, Ruth Dixon Loomis, Wilma Cook Dixon, and Gladyce Jones Truesdale.

Back then, getting to church on time or anywhere for that matter was an exercise in patience and sometimes futility. The horse and buggy would get you there sometime.

Then came the car.

This is the Women's Bible Class, about 1912 to 1915. Front row: Mrs's Schulenberg, Gibson, the minister's wife, Mrs Gortner, Smith Thompson. Second Row: Burgan, Harden, Finley, ?, Howell, Keeler, Ganoung, Stevenson. Back Row: Parish, Ahlf, Meacham, Beeson, Hodges, Withrow, Brown, Ross. Going back to our lineup of ministers, there was no picture available of J. W. Gortner who came here in 1912 and was asked to leave in 1915. Mrs. Gortner, the third lady in the front row, was a shouter. They held meetings in the tabernacle that disturbed people clear down in the village. Evelyn Dirkes remembered her. She'd lean up against one of the pillars in the tabernacle and really howl. Evelyn and sister Enid would dive under their grandmother's shawl and stay there until she quit. Finally a group of citizens asked that something be done. The Bishop came and told them to quiet down. So they left here and went down to Hollywood or at least Los Angeles and started their own church. They all seemed to be involved in tent meetings. When the Gortner's son Gordon had a son Marjoe, they had him preaching at 6 & 7 years old. At 8 he was performing marriages. In recent years he has been on TV talk shows denouncing the exploitation of children by religious groups. He is in films and once in a while I notice he is in a film on television.

1900 - 1919

Text by Jean Hubbard

This scrap of trivia, perhaps, is a lovely piece of memorabilia in which in his own hand writing Edwin Whitlock declines for reasons of age and health to accept the fulltime charge.

In 1902 came S. S. Sampson, he stayed eight years. When he left he said he had "reached the bottom of the sermon barrel". In his earlier years he had been the regional circuit preacher in the Creston area.

During Rev. Sampson's pastorate the side room of the original church was added and the parsonage remodeled. A loan for the parsonage was supplied by Edward T. Hughs, a retired Welch miner. Hughs fell ill and called the pastor to his home where he gave him the note, on the back of which was written, "In the event of my death this note is not to be collected". In the words of the church historian, "God took him Home" and the debt was cancelled.

Special trains brought people from out of town, as far north as Shandon and south to Lompoc.

The minister appointed to Arroyo Grande in 1910 was Vincent Hunter Brink, pictured here. He was followed in 1911 by C. H. M. Sutherland.

Here Ency Bakeman experiences frustration. According to church records, Ency Bakeman married Queenie C. Kelly on June 19, 1912, with the Rev Sutherland officiating. That was a few years after this 1908 picture.

This charming Christmas Greeting of 1904 pictures Mrs. L. H. Campbell, teacher, and the class roll (below) listing names of many of the early members of the church.

In 1917, De Kalb Burnham was pastor. Meetings were held in Huasna for a time. Mrs. Burnham and two children are buried here. Paul 12 — Scarlet Fever 1917, Mary 17 - 1921, Mrs. Burnham 1926. He had a model T he painted red. When someone asked why red? he said, "I go out visiting my people all the time and I want them to be able to see me far enough away so they can put the chicken on in plenty of time."

Another family who contributed greatly to the church work and its cause was the Gibsons. This is a picture of the elder Gibsons on their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1919. Their son, Joseph, was the second generation banker.

The church and church school meant a great deal to Joseph and Blanche Gibson. When an additional class room was needed, he gave the money and helped build the room. Joseph, with his son, Clair, and the Ballagh boys, Loren and Clarence laid the sewer line from the campgrounds to Branch Street. They also built the amphitheatre and the cross. And we could go on and on.