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First UMC Gonzales

Church History

First known as the B.T. Gallaher Memorial Church, Gonzales Methodist Church began in 1948. Motivated chiefly by a strong need to worship and serve the Lord, its founders also sought a place to raise their children in Christ.

The 25 adult signatures needed to officially begin a church were acquired and presented to the Louisiana Conference on October 11, 1949. Members of the conference accepted the petition for a new church and even  donated the old Gilead Methodist Church building in East Feliciana Parish for their use. Volunteers from  the church membership tore down and moved the building to the corner of Pine and Magnolia in Gonzales,
thus providing the town with its first Methodist Church.

The pulpit in the old church, which had been made by slaves in 1853, was also torn apart, refinished, and reassembled. The first worship service began in June of 1950 when six men reverently carried that altar into the sanctuary and placed it up front as the center of worship. Today, it stands against the north wall of the sanctuary's foyer as an important reminder of the church's history.

Over the years, Gonzales Methodist Church developed a pattern of growth that is still seen today. In 1961, a parsonage was bought and in 1962, an education building added. Two large rooms were added to this building in 1966 to accommodate the growing number of youth in attendance. As new chemical plants began opening in town, membership grew even more, and in 1967, the church purchased four acres (its present site) to build a new sanctuary and education building. For a short period during the building process, services were held at Gonzales Elementary School, and on November 15, 1970, the first worship service in the new sanctuary was held.

Over the next decade, church members began to expand their involvement in community outreach, leading to even more growth in membership. In 1981, plans were discussed again to expand the church's facilities, and in March 1985, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the construction of a new sanctuary and conversion of the present one into a Fellowship Hall. By December of the same year, the building/conversion was complete, and the first worship service in the present sanctuary was held.

A significant change came in September 2003, when the first contemporary worship service was held. Since then, this "First Light" service has become an important part of the church's identity. History was also made in 2003 when the church hired its first associate pastor, Veronica Pritchard, who also served as youth director from 1990-2006. Today, as a church with a strong spirit and a history of growth, First United Methodist Church of Gonzales has come full circle. Construction of a new Administration/Nursery Building and Multi-Purpose facility was completed in the fall of 2004. Members were once again challenged to use their expanded facilities to serve the Lord by serving their membership, their community, and even the world. Since its completion, they have indeed met this challenge, as they have utilized these new facilities in a wide variety of both local and global missions. History suggests that with this current "bricks and mortar" advantage, First United Methodist Church of Gonzales will continue to be a spiritual beacon, attracting many to become disciples of Christ through service, outreach, and mission.