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UMC Community

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Historical Happenings

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”.

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building-renovationBuilding Renovation Project


FUMC Renovation Project Report #5

Friday, November 17, 2017


 FUMC Foundation – Dave Slote, Chair
On Sunday, Nov. 12th, the FUMC Foundation Board approved a gift to the Renovation Project. Our FUMC Foundation is fortunate to have assets of approximately $351,000 in endowment gifts and approximately $194,000 in earnings. The $351,000 endowment cannot be touched for gifts; only the earnings are available for distribution.

Theresa Cox’s Building Renovation Loan Finance Committee requested a gift to the FUMC Building Renovation Project of $150,000 and a pledge of $10,000 a year for 26 years. Both of these will come from the endowment earnings. This is part of last loan package submitted to UMDF (United Methodist Development Fund). In this version, the Symphony house is retained and the rent is diverted into the building fund.

 The Foundation Board approved this request. This will, of course, reduce the amount available for future charitable gifts, but the Foundation Board strongly believes that this contribution now will enable a positive, lasting impact on the current and future ministry of this church in Missoula.


Building Loan Component – Theresa Cox, Chair

In August, 2017, UMDF approved the renovation project in principle. The time since has been working out the financial terms of the loan and working out surprise glitches (like updating a 1901 property survey). We heard this week that the loan package has been approved and we should soon receive loan documents! We have requested a Letter of Intent to start the construction team. We don’t want to start without approval in writing.


 Construction Component – Steve Carlson, Project Manager

Steve is ready and waiting for the official approval to go!


FUMC Administrative Council Chair

Pat Mahoney



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:

  • Homeless Connect: The last Friday of each January, approximately 350 homeless people come to the church for free services, including clean clothes, dental work, haircuts, legal advice, medical check ups, tax consultation, and vision exams, provided by 75 service providers and 200
  • Missoula International Friendship Program meal: 150 people
  • Special Olympics dinner: 200 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 – Sanctuary


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


Music Director



Jason Triche

Handbell Choir Director

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