Welcome to the Missoula First
UMC Community

We are glad you are here to check us out.
We hope that you will get involved and meet lots of
nice people that will help make you feel at home.

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Learn More About Our Church

Historical Happenings

Time Capsule Contents:

History of the early church and United Methodist Women History updated 2015

Bits of History from FUMC  -Nancy Heyer

churchdrawingImagine, when old Sunday School photos were passed around for identification of kids, spotting yourself, a brother and a cousin sitting in those tiny chairs in curtained maze called Sunday School. Where are those albums?  I’d love to write about what’s in them.

It has only been recently that I discovered my own Methodist history. It began in the ‘1700’s, when both sets of my maternal and paternal grandparents’ families left England for America in order to seek different religious expression.   Both families found Methodism at a tiny wooden church which still stands (Pine Summit Church, Millville, PA).   When my grandparents arrived in Missoula in 1920, they bought a home close enough to walk to the Methodist Church on Main Street.  Both babies were baptized there; one was my mother.  The 2 children were raised in this church and were members all their lives. Both raised in this church, Doug and I took a hiatus to live in Germany and Idaho before returning to our home church in 1986.  We were both baptized (1947 and 1948) and married (1968) in this church. (Hugh Herbert officiated).

The building project we have before us makes it important to remember that we are doing these things to enhance the future for our own community. Our history can guide us. The elders wrote in Tower Tidings, describing the urgency to construct a new building and Sunday School because the church was 46 years old!  This church is 60 years old. They did not mince words. Things were getting cramped and unsafe.   Sunday School was located in the basement, with combined age groups and thin curtains to separate the classes.  I remember it vividly. There were two chapels, the main sanctuary had slanted floor leading to the pulpit area.  The carpet was a deep maroon with a design. The benches creaked with age.   Bill Reynolds and I share memories of our Dads as key players in the funding and construction of the current building.  This will be expensive and not easy.  It is going to take the same dedication and faith of our ancestors to make this change happen in 2016.  All of their work was done after they’d completed their day jobs. The financing was like an impossible dream. It happened though.

My ancestors perilously traveled as to America in order to practice their faith, free from control of the Church of England.  Dating back to Charlemagne, our grandfather’s ancestors, three brothers crossed the North Atlantic from Holland in exchange for work on a fishing boat.   Maternal ancestors emigrated from England to Pennsylvania, where, on faith alone, they believed they could (and did) find religious practice that better suited them.  It is that kind of historical perspective which we must reflect upon.  We are making history whatever we do.  We are motivated to improve our space for the use of all who come.  Next time, look for how the hierarchy pleaded the cause for the project in 1956.

Did you know?  Tower Tidings was paid subscription-only.  In 1940 the Finance Committee sent out 600 pledge envelope boxes to those who’d made pledges.  The Tower Tidings was published every week and included the upcoming bulletin/agenda for the next Sunday.  Announcements covered positive comments about events that had already happened.   Church service began at 10:30 a.m. and continued until 11:40 a.m.  Youth and Adult Bible classes would start on time and end at 12:05.  “This gives one hour and thirty minutes of religious instruction”.

Learn More About Our Church


FUMC Renovation Project Report

If you would like to receive the weekly renovation report and photos just email Pat Mahoney at  <jpatmahoney@gmail.com>

We are asked not to post photos by the contractor.

Finding the Church OFFICE: One major result of this massive demolition is that the Church Office is now in the middle of the new construction activity.  Therefore, access to the Office is tricky and ever-changing.  The contractor has been very good about accommodating our needs for access, but we must do our part also.  Please know that access paths to the main floor Church Office, and downstairs Fellowship Hall/Smith Room, and Herbert Parlor will be constantly changing, may change at a moment’s notice, and are not easily predictable. If you can, call the Church Office (549-6118) before coming to the church so you can find out the current access routes.\

NOTE:  Sunday Worship

Our 10:30 a.m. Worship Service will now take place downstairs in the Fellowship Hall until the church renovation is completed in the fall (mid-September).  At this time, there are two entrances and pathways available Sunday mornings (below).
Please enter via:
1) either the Moore Room door entrance and taking the stairs immediately to the right
2) or the Southeast elevator door entrance and taking the elevator down to the Fellowship Hall in the lower level.


Construction Update – Steve Carlson, Project Manager

The finishing work continues.  The drywallers are hitting it hard this week and hope to have all of the drywall hung and finished by the end of next week.

Plumbers have begun hanging the new heat registers throughout the building and, as you can see, handrails are being installed.  We hit a snag with the installation of the glass framing in the front and rear entrances.  Some of the aluminum pieces were manufactured incorrectly and do not fit like they should.  We are working on solutions to the problem.

Photo 1:  New handrails are installed after painting.

Photo 2:  Newly hung drywall in the hall area near the main office.

Photo 3:  New drywall in the new library area.

Photo 4:  Decking for the new altar.  If you look carefully below the stained glass window, you can see some of the hangers for the new heat registers.


Paying for the remodel is going to be a stretch for us. With what has been collected by the church (balance from sale of parsonage some years ago, balance from old capital campaign, and your payments on pledges), and the amount remaining in the loan line from the United Methodist Development Fund (UMDF), we are on track to be able to pay all expected building construction invoices by the end of the construction period. This includes over $50,000 of improvements that were not part of what was originally presented to UMDF.

There is a total of approximately $458,000 remaining to be collected from pledges in this initial capital campaign. Another campaign, to run from 1/1/21 through 12/31/23, will help bring down our balance with UMDF. This will leave around $1M to be paid on the loan through the general fund for the twenty year period beginning 1/1/2024. During the two capital campaigns, we are paying interest only to UMDF.

It is essential that we continue to collect on pledges and that we conduct the second capital campaign in order to reduce the amount remaining on the loan when we begin paying principal + interest in 2024. Please continue to pay your pledges as you are able.


We will move all church activities into the basement the end of June.   The 2nd and 3rd floors will be closed for construction from June to early September. The target is a September opening!

The office has been moved next to the new elevator on the 2nd floor.

Pastor John’s office will be in the basement for the time being.


Our beloved church facility has served us well for as much as 107 years in the oldest portion of the building.  Structurally, it is in remarkably good shape but its internal functions (electrical, heating and ventilation, and plumbing) are badly deteriorated and must be fixed if the building is to remain viable.  Consequently, the church family decided in early 2015 to do the work necessary to make the building last another 100 years or so.  As it turned out, the costs were much higher than anticipated but we have stepped out in faith to complete the $3.1M Renovation for Renewal remodeling effort.
We have raised over $1.1M of the funds necessary to pay for the project and we have taken out a $2.1M, 26-yr loan to complete the funding package.  In the coming months and years, we will need additional significant major gifts to service the loan and/or significantly reduce the principal.  To date, the largest single donation has been $375,000.

We encourage you to support the building campaign by making a gift of money, stocks, houses, IRAs, and other financial resources you might have and be willing to donate.

The project has finally entered the construction phases.  The following abridged timeline describes the activities that have led up to the work today:
May 2015       Building Project Committee formed
Sept 2015       CTA Architects/Engineers selected as our architect for the project
Nov 2015       Jackson Contracting Group chosen as General Contractor for a Design-Build process
Apr 2016        Began capital campaign
July 2016       Final Design Development (DD) architectural drawings completed
Oct 2016        Began conversation with Yellowstone Conf. about project
Dec 2016        Selected Abatement Contractor of Montana (ACM) for asbestos and lead-based paint (LBP) abatement
May 2017       Architectural Construction Drawings (CD) completed
Jun  2017       Plans submitted to City for Building Permit
Jun  2017       Tacit approval from YAC for project to proceed
Jun  2017       Church work day to move out of the basement in preparation for ACM work
Jul   2017       ACM begins asbestos and LBP abatement in the basement
Aug  2017      Church work day to move out of the main floor in preparation for ACM work
Aug 2017       Notified of approval for $2.1M loan from UMDF
Aug  2017      Paid for Building Permit at city offices
Aug  2017      ACM begins asbestos and LBP abatement on the main floor
Sep  2017       Signed Jackson construction contract for $2,630,162
Sep  2017       Church work day to move out of the second floor in preparation for ACM work
Sep  2017       ACM begins asbestos and LBP abatement on the second floor
Nov 2017       Jackson begins setting up construction office in old library room
Dec 2017        Loan papers from UMDF received and signed

The project timeline is approximately 11 months and will be completed in two major phases.  Phase 1 encompasses the entire basement and the west ends of the main and second floors.  At the completion of Phase 1, which will be around May 1st the basement will be finished and available for use.  All church activities will be moved to the basement.  Phase 2 will encompass all of the church area not included in Phase 1, i.e., most of the main and second floors.  The completion date is estimated to be around September 1, 2018.

The Building Project Committee meets with the architect and contractor(s) weekly to discuss the progress and any issues that may arise.


Read Missoulian article

In addition to our worship service, serving approximately 150 members and guests each week, and regular meetings by the 38 committees that help with the work of the church, our historical church is heavily used by, and for the benefit of, outside groups. Throughout its 110-year history, the church has provided space for many non-church groups for everything from weekly meetings to annual events.

Each week, over 500 people attend 14 meetings in First United Methodist Church for groups otherwise unrelated to the church:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous: Five meetings with a total of 250 to 350 people
  • Al-Anon: Three groups with 20 to 40 people each
  • Lewis & Clark Cub Scout Pack #4911: 25 people
  • Treasure State Chorale rehearsal: 50 people

Each quarter, we host up to 14 people through Family Promise, which provides housing in local churches to families who have recently become homeless. We dedicate four rooms to housing Family Promise families, and provide activities and meals for them. Our facility is not strictly adequate to house these families overnight, so extraordinary measures much be taken each visit to provide meals, and to ensure everyone’s safety with the use of temporary fire alarms and fire suppression devices.

Annually, we provide a venue for:

  • Missoula International Friendship Program meal: 150 people
  • Thanksgiving & Christmas dinners: The Union Gospel Mission provides meals in our facility for around 200 people for each holiday dinner
  • Thanksgiving dinner for refugees: Soft Landing recently used our facility to treat refugees and local supporters to their First Thanksgiving in the church

Other groups and events include:

  • Missoula Cultural Council meetings
  • Partners for Reintegration/Healing Communities meetings and trainings

The first church building was constructed in 1872. The three parts of the iconic current building were constructed in 1911-12, 1955-56 and 1961-62.

The church structure and its systems are old, yet usage by outside groups continues to grow. In addition to updating antiquated electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, we must:

  • Address overall accessibility barriers
  • Configure a system to secure portions of the church so different groups can safely hold simultaneous activities, without risking vulnerabilities or compromising confidentiality
  • Install an elevator that reaches the third floor
  • Provide working fire alarm and suppression systems
  • Remodel the kitchen so we can legally prepare food for outside groups
  • Remove asbestos and lead-based paints throughout the building
  • Replace heating pipes
  • Upgrade bathroom facilities to include modern fixtures and showers
  • Weatherize doors and windows.

We have recently completed an exhaustive study to determine how to bring the church to code and make it adequate to serve our congregation and the diverse populations who use it. The final plans remediate all issues relating to accessibility, efficiency, safety and sustainability, and make the church a more effective, efficient and welcoming facility. All changes prioritize function over decoration.

We currently have nearly $1M of the $3M needed to realize all aspects of the plans. Nearly half of the congregation has pledged or donated to the project, and many others have expressed disappointment that they are unable to do so.

The $3M budget for the project can be roughly broken into the following categories:

  • Abatement of asbestos and lead-based paint: $350K
  • Commercial kitchen: $197K
  • Construction company profit: ~$150K
  • Design costs: $212K
  • Mitigation of past damage, bringing the building up to code, and other necessary work on electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems: $1.051M
  • Modernizing bathrooms and adding showers to some : $255K
  • New elevator: $275K
  • Refurbishing the organ: $200K
  • Remodeling rooms to make them safe, comfortable and welcoming for Family Promise: $78K
  • Security and fire systems: $150K
  • Soft costs (permits, etc.) and contingency: $82K

For more specific information about renovation plans for First United Methodist Church, please send an email to fumcmissoula@gmail.com or call 549-6118.

To donate to the project, please send your check to First United Methodist Church, PO Box 7646, Missoula, MT  59807.

Learn More About Our Church


Our church is handicap accessible through the street level door on the southeast corner of the building. There is an elevator there that will bring you up to the sanctuary or take you down to fellowship hall. We have large-print bulletins with hymns, large print hymnals, and hearing assistance devices for those that are hard of hearing. We also have video screens for hymns and scripture. Ask the ushers for help when you arrive and they will find what you need.

Office phone and E-mail contact information on the CONTACT PAGE.


300 E. Main Street.
Missoula, MT 59802


Sundays at 10:30 – Downstairs in Fellowship Hall.  Will return to Sanctuary sometime in September, 2018.


First United Methodist Church welcomes all people of any age, gender, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status, or physical ability into the full life and membership of this congregation.


John Daniels



Administrative Assistant


Administrative Assistant, Joyful Noise Director


Administrative Assistant



Kay Duffield

Financial Secretary




Child Care Director


Nursery Attendant


Nursery Attendant


Chancel Choir Director



Jason Triche

Handbell Choir Director

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