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

Pictured here: Fanny Hodges, Leland Bellagh, and Kenneth Criswell.

In this photo, Fanny Hodges and Douglas Ballagh representing three generations of families who attend the church and Roberta Francher ring the bell.

"We present these buildings which shall be known as the Fellowship Hall and Church School Building of The First Methodist Church of Arroyo Grande to be consecrated to the glory of God," declared Dr. Stanley McKee.

February 1962, the Board voted to build the two story Sunday School building and work is begun.

July 15, 1966, the Trustees authorized the beginning of construction of the new Sanctuary. It was estimated to cost $75,000. A pay off of the building debt was made possible by the bequeath of the late Eunice Rucklidge.

February 20, 1967, proposal drawings of the new Sanctury describe it as a beautiful modified A-frame with a touch of the traditional and a touch of the modern. That a "Church may rise here" shows architectural drawings in the foreground.

We build this church where youth shall come to worship, pause to pray, and rise to worship.

We build this church where the weary and heavy-laden shall find that inner peace which the world can neither give nor take away.

We build this church where the word of God shall be read and preached so that it shall become the living word.

We build this church where the Grace of God may be made manifest - making our human loves constant, our homes Christian, and our families creative centers of Christian witness. We build this Church where all these who bow in sorrow shall rise in faith in Him to believe in life eternal.

In 1968 we became the United Methodist Church. Also that year, June 5th, the new Sanctuary was consecrated.

Bill Paulsen works on the front facade of the new church building in 1968.

This was Pastor Criswell's last service. Dr. Thatcher Jordan looks on as Ken Criswell says goodbye. He later returned when Criswell Hall was named for him.

The Chancel Choir through the years has added beauty and enjoyment to our worship service.

Here are also two of the Trinity Choirs who have contributed much to our enjoyment.

1960 - 1969

Text by Jean Hubbard

Sunday, September 1, 1960 was the last service at 124 West Branch.

Over the years the Sunday School had a large part in the growth of the church. Leland Ballagh, who with his wife, Bernice, were active in all phases of the church, served for twenty-two years as Sunday School Superintendent. A special party honored him May 6, 1956.

Another long-time Sunday School teacher, Wilma Dixon, cuts her cake after eighteen years as Primary Superintendent, as husband Gordon looks on. Her lovely corsage is surrounded by crisp $5 bills.

This little girl had changed her name from Pierce to Cannon when she was honored in September 1968 for her long years. She was later Jessie Wickham, after whom the church library is named.

Jessie Wickham

Soon after coming to the new church, an unusual Christmas program was staged. Below are some pictures from that beautiful production.

Rev. Laird came back for this special service. We break this ground today... Jack Johnson, Board of Trustees, guides the plow as members of the congregation share in the breaking of the ground for the new Sanctuary.

In 1967 the "Town and Country Church of the Year Award" was given to the Arroyo Grande church by the California-Arizona Conference.

William M. Black served for five years beginning in 1968. His years were to see the forming and and the strengthening of the ecumenical ties with other churches. He was honored for his work in the chaplaincy program at the Arroyo Grande Hospital.

The Christmas music of 1965 was recorded and our choir had their own record jacket.