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First United Methodist Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2020 Cohort

First United Methodist Church

Lawrence, Kansas

First United Methodist Church was founded shortly after the establishment of the city of Lawrence, Kansas, in 1854 by two circuit riding Methodist ministers.

First United Methodist Church by Don McMican

First United Methodist Church by Don McMican

2020 Cohort

First United Methodist Church

Lawrence, Kansas

First United Methodist Church was founded shortly after the establishment of the city of Lawrence, Kansas, in 1854 by two circuit riding Methodist ministers.

The congregation grew into a community of political leaders, storekeepers, tradesmen, and farmers who met in a wood-frame church completed in 1848. The church doubled as a morgue and a triage center after Quantrill’s Raid of 1863, a significant attack on civilians by Confederate guerillas in the Civil War. The congregation subsequently moved to a new brick church in 1865 and to its present church in 1891. John G. Haskell designed the present church in the Romanesque Revival style, inspired by his time in New England, but constructed it from local limestone and sandstone.

First United Methodist Church has prioritized inclusivity throughout time, and the church now welcomes all people regardless of gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. The church was home to Kansas’ first female senior pastor, Sharon Howell, from 1999 to 2005. According to the congregation, First United Methodist Church has served as a consistent “anchor [of] the community during social and civil unrest” and today promotes social justice activism and provides robust social services to community members in need. These services include operating a nighttime shelter in the church building for unsheltered neighbors during the winter months.

First United Methodist Church is undergoing masonry restoration of the oldest portion of the building. Through a National Fund grant of $166,000, with $349,213 in matching funds raised by the congregation, deteriorated limestone was replaced in-kind and repointed with historically accurate burnt sand mortar to prevent additional masonry falling and to ensure safe use of the building. 

First United Methodist Church courtesy First United Methodist Church of Lawrence

First United Methodist Church by Aileen Ball

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez