Where We Worship: Williamstown Methodist

WILLIAMSTOWN-After frequent floods and a desire to move to higher ground, a new Methodist church building was built in 1912 for Williamstown residents at the corner of Fifth and Louisa streets (now Williams Avenue).

The cornerstone of the First United Methodist Church, 304 West Fifth St., is the cornerstone of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was finished in 1871. It was the first Methodist church built in the city.

The land at the corner of Fifth Street and Williams Avenue was donated by Will Plumley and the building was constructed at a cost of $25,000. The building committee included Frank L. Fenton, W. P. Beeson and George Hoover.

Kianna Anderson, 45, of Williamstown, has been attending the church for 14 years. She said in 2012, many celebrations were had for the congregation.

“We celebrated our centennial in 2012; it was year-long,” she said. “Our historian put together a wonderful history, and showed us (parts of it) throughout the year. We all learned it.”

Emma Jean Dobbins, 85, of Williamstown, said the church has gone through many changes in her 60 years of attendance.

“In looks, it’s changed enormously,” she said. “To see the before and after is amazing.”

Anderson said there have been many additions.

“New classrooms were added, and the multipurpose room and a nice, big kitchen,” she said.

Anderson added that a big renovation started in the early 2000s.

“In 2000 or 2001, we were in the process of or had started renovations of the sanctuary,” said Anderson. “It added a new organ and new carpeting.”

Dobbins said the stained glass at the back of the sanctuary used to be a little closer, but after an addition to the space, it was pushed back to stay on the outside wall.

Pastor Steven Gedon said there are many activities in which the church is active, but there is one near and dear to his heart that started in 2010.

“There’s an orphanage (in Haiti) outside Port au Prince,” he said. “There are 17 boys there that we support. We’ve gone down to help build the orphanage…We help support them medically. We take down soccer balls, send down Christmas gifts and go down to do birthday parties.”

In all the changes the church has seen, Dobbins said there is one thing that has remained the same.

“(My husband Bob and I) moved here in 1954 and joined (the church) then,” she said. “We’ve both been active in the church…The people are still just as friendly as they used to be.”