Church History

History of Our Church

Worship in the church reflects true worship from the heart.


In 1854 Reverend Adam Bland, a circuit rider, was the first Protestant to visit Santa Barbara. The predominantly Spanish Catholic residents were alarmed at this heretic preaching in a small adobe and they drove a herd of squealing pigs around the building in order to drown out Bland's words. resizedhistoricfumc


Thirteen years later, in September 1867, another circuit rider, Reverend Ralph Dunlap, was appointed to our area, and his successor, Revered Peter Cool, organized the first Methodist Church with 14 charter members and five probationers. In 1869 the first Methodist church was built of brick and wood. Membership increased over the next 20 years so that in 1889 a second Methodist Church was built. It was the largest Church in Santa Barbara at that time.


In 1917 this second church was damaged by fire and was rebuilt, only to be later severely damaged in the 1925 earthquake. Methodists, along with members of other denominations, worshipped outdoors in Alameda Park for many months. The Reverend Samuel Hughes made a cross-country trip on behalf of the United Protestant Appeal, a joint effort by Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Congregationalist, to rebuild the city's churches. He raised $47,000 as the Methodist share.


fumc todayFinally, in December 1927, our present church was dedicated. Designed in the Spanish-Renaissance style of post-earthquake Santa Barbara, it was built by the contractor Charles Urton, a long-time church member. Urton was responsible for the sturdy concrete construction which has survived subsequent earthquakes and has not required seismic retrofitting.


The depression of the 1930's brought another challenge to church members. Help from other churches and the Jewish community averted the sale of the church and the mortgage was burned in the 1940's. Overcoming these disasters, First United Methodist Church has survived and flourished, from saddlebags and adobe to the present!



FUMC Ministers and Dates of Appointment

1867 Ralph Dunlap

1868 Peter Cool

1871 Robert Bentley

1874 Stephen Bowers

1875 A. H. Tevis

1878 Charles Shelling

1879 E. D. Bovard

1880 J. A. VanAnda

1881 T. S. Urenn

1883 W. A. Knighten

1886 S. W. Brown

1887 I. F. Robinson

1888 F. W. Caswell

1890 S. W. Brown

1891 E. M. Larkin

1892 I. C. Miller

1895 C. A. Westenberg

1899 B. C. Cory

1901 S. J. Carroll

1903 A. Inwood

1905 R. L. Bruce

1908 P. P. Carroll

1910 H. W. White

1914 C. B. Dalton

1917 W. M. Jeffers

1918 A. I. Hughes

1922 J. W. Neeley

1923 Samuel Hughes

1928 L. A. Ferns

1931 D. S. Ford

1932 Ralph W. Lee

1937 I. W. Ashley

1943 R. K. Swenerton

1949 Will M. Hildebrand

1956 Frank Matthews

1965 Ralph Johnson

1971 Donald Locher

1977 Robert Weirbach

1984 George Walters

1989 Lloyd Saatjian

2004 Hillary Chrisley

2006 Alan Strout

2014 Mark Lloyd Richardson


Genuine worship flows from a heart that trusts God to uphold the universe.


© 2017 First United Methodist Church
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