A 150-YEAR TIMELINE 1869 - 2019
February, 6, 1969
The First meeting
A Methodist prayer meeting with 17 participants was held on the second floor in the U.S. Army barracks located near present day Seaport Village. The meeting was arranged by an elderly lady, Mrs. Case, who had recently moved to San Diego.
1869 - A FEW MONTHS LATER...
The new congregation bought two lots for $200 on the northeast corner of Broadway and Fourth Ave, across from what is now Horton Plaza. The first church was a white wooden church that could seat 300 worshipers.
1887 -88 THE METHODIST BLOCK
Northeast corner of D street (broadway) and 4th ave.
By 1887, the church membership had grown to 395. The small wooden church became too small and was moved to India St, and a large three-story building, the First Methodist Episcopal Block was built in its place to a cost of $50,000, including a pipe organ. The structure was a combination of church office on the second and third floors and income-producing commercial space on the street level.
1907 - Ninth and C
A new church, designed in "Gothic-Revival" style by Irving Gill and dedicated on May 5, 1907. The auditorium could seat 1500 people. The bell tower contained 11 Hartupee cast bells which were eventually installed in our current bell tower. The stone cross positioned on top of the main entrance to the church, was recovered at the move to Mission Valley and can now be seen at the entrance to the Children's Growing Center.
1916 - Social Services headquarters
The Social Service Department, one of many ministries, had its headquarters located in a large home and had a sign above the porch indicating that the site offered a free reading room. The exact location of this building is unknown; however, it was most likely nearby the Ninth and C Street church.
1916 - Thanksgiving Meal
In this photo from November 1916, the Social Service Department workers and residents are gathered to share a Thanksgiving meal. The First M.E. Church of San Diego provided social services for those in need with beds, meals, clothing and medical care. In addition to dorm-style sleeping quarters for men and women, private bedrooms, a clinic, a reading room, a dining room, a reception room, and a clothing room.
During the WWII, the downtown church was opened every day and night, providing fellowship and worship for members and the armed forces.
Moving to Mission Valley
In the 1950's the congregation was again outgrowing its facilities downtown, where needed repairs to accommodate new earthquake safety regulations and lack of adequate parking had become issues. A location to build a new church was found in the heart of Mission Valley, among nearby dairy farms and corn fields. Ten and half acres was purchased for $60.000 and it took six years (1958 - 1964) to build the new church.
1958 view looking east toward Texas Street.
Nov. 22, 1964 - The Mission Valley Church concecrated
The new contemporary, Spanish cathedral-style church, was designed by Reginald Inwood and completed in 1964. The actual move from Ninth Street to the new site was completed by the congregation in two days in an endless caravan of cars and trucks.
The construction of the Sanctuary
The unique construction of the church used large pieces made of "pre-stressed" concrete which were lifted and assembled like giant Lego blocks.
The first service in the sanctuary was held on Nov. 8, 1964. The sanctuary that seats over a 1000, was later renovated inside and out 1987-88.
1970 -72 | Gallery Pipe Organ installed
Every Sunday worshipers get to enjoy music played on the largest pipe organ in San Diego County. In 1988, the sanctuary pipe organ was completely rebuilt and enlarged by Lyle Blackinton & Assoc. More organ history
1979 | The Memorial Bell Tower
The Memorial Bell Tower was renovated and dedicated in 1979, now with the restored Hartupee bells from 1907.
1983 | Linder Hall
Linder Hall is the main fellowship hall that can seat 400 people.
1985 | Children's Growing Center (CGC)
On Sept. 16, 1985, the Children's Growing Center (CGC) opened (with 10 children, ages two to five) in one classroom. The response to this new program was so great that an additional classroom was added in September 1986. The Children’s Growing Center expansion made it possible to serve 108 children, from infant through kindergarten.
More CGC history
1988 | The Memorial Stained Glass Window
"The Tree of Life" stained glass window was installed 1988. It is Located in the back of the sanctuary and measures 42 feet tall. At the same time the sanctuary pipe organ was completely rebuilt.
1994 - 98 | The Krause UMC Center
The Krause United Methodist Center, now housing First Church print shop, church offices, youth ministries, the New Life Counseling Center, Warner Walker Middle school, and the UMC CalPac District office.
1998 | The Memorial Garden
The Memorial Garden, dedicated as a memorial site includes a columbarium with 1,080 niches, a memorial wall and a place for prayer and meditation, was dedicated 1998. It is located immediately beyond the “Mount of Olives” – the landscaped hill behind the altar window.
2006 | TRotter Chapel
The Trotter Chapel with seating for 100, and the Sutherland Family Music Center were consecrated 2006. A two-manual, 14-rank, 849-pipe L. W. Blackinton and Associates Pipe Organ was installed in the Trotter Chapel and dedicated on September 12, 2010.
2012 | Marquee
A new digitized marquee was installed in June of 2012. A brightly lit United Methodist "flame" and events can now be easily seen from 1-8.
2017 | One church - two campuses
Point Loma UMC located on 1984 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. in Ocean Beach merged with First Church in 2017. The Water's Edge Faith Community, that worshiped in the "Cove" on the Mission Valley campus as a contemporary service since 2002, moved to Ocean Beach to continue as a congregation of the First United Methodist Church of San Diego - One church - Two campuses.