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

In 1920 the schools became so crowded at it became necessary to hire another teacher and use the Methodist church until the Cienega School could he moved and readied for the purpose. At their April 5th, 1920 meeting the School Board graciously voted to give the old Cienega School bell to the church in return for use of the room.

Here a group of Methodists enjoy an outing during that time (1927).

In 1931, E. J. Bradner was all for better cooperation among the churches. He started the Sunrise service. Cora Wright did chalk pictures (pictured above) while he was giving his sermon. With the depression causing so many transients, Bradners ran a wood yard. Wood donated by the ranchers was chopped by these men for a ticket good for a meal at a local restaurant. The sale of the wood financed the project.

In 1933 Joseph S. Gibson erected the cement cross whose lights (20) have shown over the valley at Easter and Christmas from the hill above the tabernacle (until the wiring succumbed to the weather). He made the forms at home but Clair Gibson and Loren Ballagh remember carrying the water, etc. up the hill from the swimming pool area, while their fathers mixed and poured the concrete. They are listed as "slaves" on the back of the photo. The minister is E. J. Bradner. This is the dedication.

The congregation in front of the church may be the 1934 50th Anniversary. Many of the old timers can be found in this picture.

In 1939, the Methodist Church South and the Methodist Episcopal Church united and formed the Methodist Church.

1920 - 1939

Text by Jean Hubbard

Since then the bell has had a cherished place in the church life. It is rung on special occasions. For a while it reposed in a lovely setting in the church gardens on Halcyon, but was moved to the top of the new bell tower when it was erected in 1999-2000. The cross is the original from the old church at 120 Branch. Bill Paulsen rescued it as the church was being renovated by Amanda and Clem Lambert.

H. B. McFarland came here as minister in 1926. He had unusual sermon titles. Mother's Day - "Bringing Up Mother." Another time he announced that free information would be given all boys who desire to find a wife.

For Paul Lomax, coming here in 1929 was coming home. He had been raised in Oak Park and San Luis Obispo. He had a small son, and in 1930 a daughter, Helen, put in her appearance in the SLO hospital while her father conducted a board meeting at home, thinking he had plenty of time.

1934, Horace B. Sellers was pastor here.

1955 Zenos K. Bancroft was appointed to Arroyo Grande. One old timer remembers them as an ideal couple, well loved, a good friend and wonderful Christian but rather outspoken - he stepped on toes - more's the pity. He was a crippled man. 1935 was the depth of the depression. Leo Brisco, the Chevrolet car dealer, and Joseph Gibson, the banker, along with others perhaps presented them with a car.

1938 C. J. Oleson, an older man, was the minister. He retired from here. Made many church improvements, including enclosing the balcony (no more airplanes!).

1940 John M. Barnhart came here. His wife died the first year. He also worked for the camp. The Youth Fellowship group formed, having hay rides and beach picnics, and skating in the tabernacle, but no dancing.