AUGUSTA — The Augusta First United Methodist Church has waited a century and a half for the party that was to be this fall.
Current members have decided to wait one more year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of a congregation that first met in the first building constructed in Augusta because of coronavirus concerns.
"In support of all that is necessary to safely open and operate this fall, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel all large congregational activities," the church said in a news release. "We are simply postponing the celebration until Fall 2021 when we celebrate 150th PLUS ONE on October 9 and 10."
The Augusta Methodist Episcopal Church, as it was originally known, had its beginning in the autumn of 1870 with O.S. Snow of the New England Conference preaching. In October 1870, the circuit was organized with Rev. C.A. Stine, a former member of the Minnesota Conference appointed to the charge and serving the Augusta and Douglass charges because they were united in one circuit. Classes were also formed at Center, Rock Creek and Muddy Creek. The owner of the first structure to be built in Augusta — a general store constructed in 1868 — offered the upper story of his log store as a meeting place. The C.N. James Trading post still stands at 305 State, now a part of the Augusta Historical Society.
In 1875, under the pastorate of the Rev. George W. Harrison, a stone structure was built at Sixth and School Streets. The building, however, was without either heat or light. When the needed funding was secured two years later the church was finished inside and out, complete with heating and lighting. In addition a spire and a bell were added. Incidentally, the bell is still in use today at 2420 Ohio.
The frame church was built in 1905 after the stone church had been torn down to make room for the newer building on the same site. The George W. Brown family, early day bankers in Augusta, generously gave one-third of the cost of the church and a pipe organ.
Eighteen years later, due to oil drilling operations in the area, the population of Augusta grew from 1,200 to 5,000. The congregation under the pastorate of Rev. J.C. Fisher voted to tear down the previous church and build a new one on the site. Worship was held at various locations and Sunday School classes took place at the parsonage. When the church was finished in 1924, there was a week devoted to its dedication. The church served as a gathering place for people engaged in church and community-related activities.
The year was 1986 when Aline (Mrs. Dave) Bisagno gave the church land at 2420 Ohio. This gift followed a gift from the Fred Spencer Estate and a gift of concrete for the structure and parking by the Ramon D. Criss family. This led the Methodist Congregation under the pastorate of the Rev. Harold Kieler to begin building a church in two phases. Groundbreaking took place in 1988 for the first phase, which included the large kitchen, Fellowship Hall, the gathering area, kitchenette and education wing. The first worship service in the new facility was held in 1989. The final phase included the sanctuary, large classrooms and meeting spaces, choir room, sound room, additional restrooms and storage, which was completed in 1996. The sanctuary was consecrated on Sunday, Feb. 23, 1997.
Today, under the pastorate of the Rev. Lynn Lamberty, the Augusta United Methodist church offers two worship services, Sunday school and youth group meetings, as well as various children, youth and adult programs. The church continues to open its doors to the community through various organizations.