The Early Years......
During the winter of 1838, the Rev. William S. Chrissey, a Methodist Circuit Rider, organized the first group of Methodist worshippers and working with the Rev. Stephen Beggs of Plainfield added another station to his circuit in Lockport. The first group consisted of 13 members; by June of 1843 there were 30 Methodists gathered for meetings.
In July 1849 at a meeting of the members the decision was made to call themselves the Methodist Episcopal Church of Lockport. Trustees were elected and authorized to exchange a lot that had been granted to them by the I&M Canal Commissioners for a lot located at the northwest corner of 11th & Washington (a block south of our present property). In 1850 a building was constructed and still stands today modified for use as a residence.
The cornerstone of a second church building was laid on July 4, 1855 at 10th & Washington. The limestone for the building came from local quarries and the wood was hand-hewn from Lockport forests. The building was dedicated on July 13, 1856. Around the turn of the century electricity would replace the kerosene fixtures, and by 1927 furnaces replaced stoves in providing heat.
In September 1860, the church purchased its first organ, which was replaced in 1865 with one that had been built by the William Evans Organ factory of Lockport. Handmade, it stayed in use for over 90 years.
In 1867 a parsonage was built across the street on Washington. This property was sold in 1919 when property south of the church was purchased on which to build a parsonage.
A New Building....
By 1924 the church facilities were no longer adequate for the congregation’s needs and a 2-story cement block addition was added at the rear of the church building. This provided space for classrooms, a kitchen and washrooms.
Then on October 28, 1956 with Rev. Kenneth C. Yeoman officiating, the cornerstone for the present church building was laid. The original limestone church was renovated into an educational building that today houses the Sunday School, church offices, as well as a kitchen, washrooms, and facilities for our Circle of Love diaper ministry. The parsonage was demolished to provide for off street parking and one was purchased at 321 E. Second Street. That was in turn sold for the present day parsonage on Milne Drive.
In 1988 the church celebrated its 150th anniversary. Leading the sesquicentennial celebration was Pastor Martha J. Lewis.
Moving into the 1990’s, First United Methodist of Lockport showed itself to be a strong and progressive congregation. Throughout the winter of 1992 discussions were held and it was decided to hold a Miracle Sunday to raise funds to pay for the construction costs of making our church handicapped accessible. On Mother’s Day, May 12, 1993, we prayed, and then as the announcement of funds and pledges were made we gave thanks and rejoiced! Construction was started in the summer of ’93 and completed by that winter. The building housing the sanctuary is fully handicapped accessible, including an elevator to the lower level and handicapped accessible restrooms.
Worshiping in Comfort .....
As the year 2000 approached, we enhanced our worship and fellowship time by installing air conditioning in both the sanctuary and Yeoman Hall. This enables us to worship in comfort all year around.