The History of First United Methodist Church of Fredonia
In 1811, "circuit rider" Elijah Metcalf rode into town on horseback and met with three couples. This is how we started. This group met in homes and continued to reach more people. The first meeting house was built in 1822 near the present Saint Joseph's Church on Main Street. As the congregation continued to flourish, a more imposing structure was built at the corner of Center and Barker Streets in 1839. This was torn down in the 1940's. We have an interesting display of artifacts located in the present office area of our church.
Membership continued to increase and a more desirable location was sought. During 1868-1869, the present property at 25 Church Street was purchased and a red brick church was erected by our 140 members for a cost of $30,000. On December 21, 1922, the church was destroyed by fire and work began the following Spring to construct the current English Neo-Gothic-style edifice for $121,000 (its value today is over two million dollars).
In 1956, a campaign was held to raise $165,000 and resulted in our building a modern education wing. The mortgage-burning and dedication of this addition took place during our sesquicentennial celebration in 1961. A major renovation of the sanctuary, office, heating system, and kitchen occurred and was topped off by the dedication of our new Schlicker pipe organ in 1970-1971.
More recently, in 2006, we enjoyed an ecumenical worship service as we joined with our Baptist neighbors next door as we replaced the the sanctuary roof. Work continued in 2008 with the completion of the new windows for the education building and the start of the refurbishment of the stained glass windows. This is a four year project.
Today, we are a church with an emphasis on being connected to our community. Numerous groups call our building home. Our mission team sends groups as far as Biloxi, Mississippi, but also works on homes in the Fredonia and Dunkirk area, and has put in well over a thousand person-hours in Silver Creek and Gowanda, NY, and the surrounding communities following the 2009 flooding. Our blended style worship has a little something for everyone, with the lively sound of our Praise Team, the soaring sounds of our Chancel Choir, and the majestic Schilcker organ. Worship incorporates sight and sound, and aids the visually and hearing impaired, through the use of multimedia.
The roots of our vision take us back to the Old Testament, the foundational document of our faith. The prophet Zechariah saw a man with a measuring line. He planned to measure the size of the restored city of
God has always called His people to overflow, not to be contained. The vision for ministry for First United Methodist Church of Fredonia is a vision of overflowing ministry — to the lives of people within our walls and to those still on the outside. Overflowing ministry begins when we make the right connections. We must be connected to God…to each other…and to our world. Then and only then will our lives and our ministry overflow as God intended.
We begin this vision document by affirming the purpose statement under which this church has lived for the past several years:
"Our purpose is helping people to
Form a relationship with Jesus within the
Fellowship of the Church in order to
Focus on God
Find a ministry in the church, and
Fulfill a mission in the world."
We believe that statement is aligned with the Scriptures, historic Christianity, the Wesleyan spirit of our heritage and the history of
We might put it in a phrase this way:
Connected to God…to each other…and to our world.
But what does that mean in the specifics of our life and ministry together?
“…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
– John 4:23b-24
Bridges toward the Vision to…
Help people to understand the meaning of worship:
For believers, it is our heartfelt response to the greatness of God.
For guests, it is an opportunity to develop a connection with God.
Provide resources to help people to worship during the week.
Be sensitive to the presence of unchurched people in worship.
Use variety in our worship experience, including:
Encourage vitality in our worship experience by:
We envision a church warm and welcoming in its fellowship.
Hospitality is more than a function of a ministry team; it is the responsibility of all God’s people.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
– Romans 15:7
Bridges toward the Vision to…
Begin relationship-building at our various points of entry:
Provide immediate introductions and invitations to come in, join and sit.
Invite newcomers to sit with someone familiar with the building and activities of the church. Informal “get to know you” activities should take place in all small groups and throughout the church.
Share meals in both large and small groups of people.
Periodically offer large group and/or intergenerational activities.
We envision a church growing in Christian faith through interaction with Scripture and fellowship with persons of like mind and heart. There will always be people in our church all along the faith spectrum—from seekers to fully devoted followers of Christ. In our journey together, we seek to grow toward maturity in Christ.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
– Peter 3:18
Bridges toward the Vision to…
Assume Christian growth as the expectation, not the exception. We fully expect each of us to grow. We expect that in growing, our faith will make a difference.
We recognize the need for a process to encourage growth. At the beginning and throughout that process we will befriend and mentor people to help them connect to an appropriate small group (examples: Bible study, mission or support group).
We also need an intentional process for people to follow in becoming effective disciples for Jesus. That will include, but not be limited to, the following:
+Emphasizing and modeling the basic skills of the Christian life:
-Prayer, Bible Study, Worship, Obedience.
-Memorizing Scripture for internal use.
-Stewardship of all our resources.
-Witnessing by personal testimony.
-Walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
-Healthy interpersonal relationships.
-Ministry beyond ourselves.
+Offering public acts of faith for faithful living—Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, Marriage etc.
+Teaching through class offerings both Sunday mornings and through the week, including topics for different levels of spiritual growth:
-Basics of Christian Faith (Alpha and Confirmation, e.g.).
-Living a purpose-driven life (text: Purpose-Driven Life).
-Discovering and using spiritual gifts.
-Bible studies— topical and book studies.
+Life application studies and/or discussions, including youth, young adults, marriage, parenting, midlife, seniors.
+Support and education for various crises from a Biblical perspective:
-Mental illness, depression/suicide, grief, conflict resolution ect.
+Offer "big growth" events periodically and ministry opportunities.
We envision a church expanding its care for one another.
At any point in time, there will be persons who are facing serious spiritual and physical needs. Others may struggle to meet the basics of food, clothing and shelter. We will relate to each other like members of a loving family. No one will face a need without the full support of the church.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
– Galatians 6:2
Bridges toward the Vision to…
Support the continuation of ministries of care currently in place in the church: visitation to the homebound and persons in various homes or the hospital, prayer chains and prayer groups.
Develop a “clearing house” for identifying needs in our congregation and a streamlined process for addressing those needs.
Teach people to share their needs with one another in the church family.
Expand our prayer ministry by praying for people in need in our Team Meetings.
Challenge all of our groups (Ministry Teams, Sunday school classes and other small groups) to minister to their own teammates in times of need.
Offer anointing with oil and prayer periodically following worship and at other times.
Seek to provide transportation and child care for worship and other church-related events.
The good news of Jesus is for everyone. We will be an inviting church, employing a variety of means to help people form a vital relationship with Jesus.
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
– Romans 1:16
Bridges toward the Vision to…
Watch for people who are facing “Windows of Opportunity” in their lives—times when they might be especially open to an invitation to church or to receive Christ—times such as birth, a move, a crisis in their lives, a health issue, job or other major transition.
Help people develop an “invitational” lifestyle, in which they feel free to invite people to worship and/or other church-related events. Train them to ask, “Do you regularly attend a local church?” If not, “we’d be glad to welcome you here.” If so, “tell me what exciting things are going on there?”
Ask people to write on a 3X5 card the name of persons they know who do not attend any church. Pray for them daily and then invite them to worship and/or another church-related event.
Teach people to understand, express and share their testimony of faith in Christ. Give them a simple outline as “pegs” on which to hang their experience to increase their comfort level.
Strongly recommend the continuation of our Alpha ministry.
We envision a church serving our community and the world.
Because we have experienced the love of God in Christ, we serve by sharing our time, energy and resources with others.
“Whatever you did unto one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
– Matthew 25:40
Bridges to the Vision to…
Understand our role in the world beyond the church building. We are to be salt and light, influencing other people for Christ and taking the good news of the gospel wherever we go.
Encourage efforts that are already underway to support our service beyond the church, such as the use of the “matching funds” principle for raising mission dollars through our church.
Increase incrementally the direct involvement of the congregation in mission efforts. By 2010, the participation of the congregation in monetary giving and donated time/gifts in kind will equal the Mission Team budget.
In 2006, do a one-day
In 2007, have a church-sponsored mission trip to a site to be determined. Seek the broad participation of persons in the church through such means as prayer partners, financial support, “materials” support, communication etc. Make use of any creative ideas to involve as many people as possible. Afterward, assess the trip’s effectiveness and determine goals for planning the next mission trip.
We are encouraged by the wonderful ways our Gifts of Love and Grief Support ministries have created a reputation for good in the community and surrounding area. We could add one or more additional local outreaches, perhaps helping to bridge the gap between Fredonia and
Invite persons we support in missions to visit and speak at our church to increase awareness among our people. Also, make use of “Minutes for Missions” and multi-media presentations to keep people apprised of what we are doing.
OUR RESOURCES FOR MINISTRY
We believe that God provides the church with the necessary resources for the ministry to which He calls us. In particular, we note these resources…
God has given us the Scriptures. In the Scripture, God reveals Himself to us. He shows His purpose for our lives individually and as a church. In the Bible we find strength and encouragement for doing the ministry God calls us to do.
Prayer connects us with the power of the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ. When Jesus gave the Great Commission, He promised that He would be with us to the very end of the age. We believe that we can rely on the presence of the risen Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit as we follow the vision. Prayer is essential. It enables us to focus on our purpose and releases the power of God for our ministry.
We recommend that we establish a Prayer Ministry Team to help coordinate all our prayer ministries.
We urge our Ministry Teams and leaders to practice prayer in their own lives and in their ministries.
Prayer at our Team meetings is essential to seeking God’s best for this church.
We call upon all our people to make prayer a daily habit in their lives.
The people of this church are valued as resources God has given us. We encourage each of us to find a ministry in the church and fulfill a mission in the world, using our God-given spiritual gifts.
We will continue to teach, preach and model the ministry of all God’s people, from the pulpit and in all classes. We will make opportunities for service known to our congregation through our various means of communication.
We strongly urge our Ministry Teams to find ways to invite uninvolved persons to experience their ministry and determine if God is calling them to that ministry. We recommend a continued inclusion of children and youth in all aspects of fellowship, worship, ministry and mission in the church.
God has entrusted our building and facilities to us. We will exercise good stewardship in the best use and care of that trust.
We reaffirm the importance of an annual walk-through of the building to determine present and future needs of repair, painting or upgrading.
We suggest an annual “building audit” from the perspective of our total ministry. Are there changes we need to make the use of our facilities to better support our ministry needs?
We recommend that persons unfamiliar with our building periodically tour it and give us their impressions and suggestions.
We need additional and updated signage that coincides with current ministry usage. Also, we should assign names to the rooms.
Finances...Provide a further resource for ministry. It has been said that “God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack for God’s resources.” Funds for the ministries of the church are provided both through regular giving and through special gifts used for ministry.
We recommend ongoing teaching and preaching about the stewardship of financial resources.
We recommend that financial decisions be made on the basis of the call of God upon us for ministry. We must be sure finances are the servant of ministry and not the other way around. We ask our Finance Ministry Team to regularly report to the congregation the financial state of the church.
Staffing…In our church, most of our ministry is performed by lay persons. We believe this is the New Testament pattern for the church. Paid staff positions provide ministries that are not being done by the laity. They come alongside to support the overall ministry of the church.
We recommend a regular review of our current and future ministries to determine whether or not new staff is needed. We should ask before we hire or re-hire for a position, “Can this ministry best be addressed through lay ministries or through a staffing position?”
Communication…We commend the use of various forms of communication to promote our mission to our members, friends and the community at large. The bulletin, newsletter, newspaper, website and multimedia are all tools to get the word out. But we believe word of mouth is the best form of communication.
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS AND RECOMMENDATION
We recommend that a group of persons be named as “keepers of the vision,” to bear the responsibility of keeping us on track toward the vision we believe God has given us for
However, the implementation of this vision will come through the ongoing work of our Ministry Teams.
It is the strong belief of the Strategic Planning Task Force that the best days of this church are still in the future. We hear God’s word to Jeremiah and take it as our own word of encouragement: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”(Jeremiah 29:11). May the future find First United Methodist Church of Fredonia still about the business of helping to connect people to God, to each other and to our world!!!
God has always called his people to overflow…
“I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
God wants us to...
“have power together with all the saints, to grasp how
wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…”
We must be connected to God…to each other…and to our world.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can
bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.”
We envision worship that truly connects us to God…
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
“A time is coming and has now come when the
true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and
truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father
seeks. God is spirit and his worshipers must worship
in spirit and in truth.”
We envision a church that is warm and welcoming in its fellowship…
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.”
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those
We envision a church growing in Christian faith, God desires that …
“the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity
in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of
the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
“…speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow
up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in
Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and
overflowing with thankfulness.”
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now
and forever! Amen.”
[2 Peter 3:18]
We envision a church expanding its care for one another…
“But God has combined the members of the body and
has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so
that there should be no division in the body, but that
its parts should have equal concern for each other. If
one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one
part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
[I Corinthians 12:24b-26]
“I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie
down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the
lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured
and strengthen the weak…”
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of
hard work we must help the weak, remembering the
words the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘It is more blessed
to give than to receive.’”
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will
fulfill the law of Christ.”
We envision a church extending its reach in evangelism…
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent
curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your
cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to
the right and to the left; your descendents will
dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.”
“Go into all the world and preach the good news to
all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be
saved, but whoever does not believe will
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from
God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and
gave us the ministry of reconciliation…We are
therefore Christ’s ambassadors…”
[2 Corinthians 5:17, 20a]
“That which was from the beginning, which we have
heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which
we have looked at and our hands have touched—this
we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life
appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and
we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the
Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what
we have seen and heard, so that you also may
have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with
the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
[I John 1:1-3]
We envision a church serving our community and the world…
“You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the
world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden…let your
light shine before others, that they may see your
good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
[Matthew 5:13, 14, 16]
“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I
was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was
a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and
you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was
in prison and you came to visit me…whatever you did
unto one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did
[Matthew 25:35, 36 and 40]
“…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I
have commanded you.”
“But a Samaritan…came where the man was; and when
he saw him, he had compassion on him. He went to him
and bandaged his wounds…and took care of him.”
“This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise
from the dead on the third day, and repentance
and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to
all nations, beginning at
of these things.”