EL DORADO — One of the oldest churches in the region is still going strong.
First United Methodist Church of El Dorado will celebrate its 150th anniversary in December. A combined service with a Christmas Cantata is set for 10 a.m. Dec. 8 with a potluck and time capsule burial to follow.
The day marks the significant rich heritage of the church in the Butler County Community. Based on research by RoJean (Erwin) Holem presented 125th anniversary in 1994, as well as information provided by the church’s history committee, First United Methodist is considered the first church of any denomination within the bounds of Butler County.
“Very deep history runs in that church,” Kristina Traina, member of the history committee, said. “I think our oldest member is 94 or 95. He still goes every Sunday. He is always shaking hands with my one-year-old. He is still there. It is so cool.”
The roots of its history begin in 1869 when Rev. L.S. Friend and 12 original members organized the First Methodist Episcopal Church of El Dorado. Without a church building, services originally took place in the old courthouse, and then later in a stone schoolhouse at northeast corner of the intersection of South Washington Street and Locust Avenue, according to Holem’s account.
It wasn’t until 1873, during the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. John Fox, that the first church building was erected at 204 W. First Avenue at a cost of $1600. That building still stands today.
Construction for the current building, 421 W. Central Ave., began in 1885, and it was dedicated Jan. 9, 1887.
Over its more than 100-year history, the current building has gone through a plethora of remodels. One of the biggest took place in 1921 under Rev. Charles A. Kitch. The church was torn down and rebuilt to accommodate a growing population in the oil boom. The new structure was dedicated in 1927 at a cost of about $140,000.
Another important milestone came in 1964 when the church board passed an open membership resolution, marking the first church in Butler County to break the color barrier, Traina noted.
Today, the church continues to be a staple of the community with major events, including this year’s 44th annual Lord’s Acre. This year $8,400 were raised, Traina said.