history of the sterling city first united methodist church

In 1890, Rev. M.J. Allen was appointed pastor of the Sterling City and Garden City charge by the West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South (now the Rio Texas Conference, previously the Southwest Texas Conference). This was one year before Sterling County was formed from a portion of Tom Green County. During that year a second pioneer pastor followed Rev. Allen, Rev. J.F. Webb. He walked back and forth to Garden City and other points on the circuit. 


A.J. Potter, noted Indian fighter, horseman, and grogshop entertainer, became the most well-known preacher of his day among the pioneers of sparsely settled West Texas. Rev. Potter tells of his conversion in The First One Hundred Years of the Southwest Texas Conference written by Olin W. Nail. Rev. Potter was pastor in 1891-92, and this was the first time Sterling City appears as a separate charge in the Journal of the West Texas Conference. The charge reported 90 members, 14 of whom joined that year and 20 pupils in Sunday School. Some of the leading families were the R.W. and W.L. Fosters, the L.C. Hodges, Dr. P.D. Coulson, physician and first county judge, his wife, who was organist and a Sunday School teacher, the C.L. Allens, and others. A parsonage valued at $250 was reported in the journal for that year. 


The first church building in Sterling City was built in 1896 by the Methodist Church. It was located where the La Hermosa Baptist Mission Church stands today. Many local people helped in its building-Methodists, Baptists, and others. The lumber was hauled in wagons from San Angelo and it required three days to make the trip. The building was 30x60 feet and cost $100. One old-timer called it a "cathedral." It served the congregation and community for 33 years. This cost seems unbelievable, but records further show that the minister and presiding Elder were paid a total of $112.50 a year!


At this time there were six country school houses in the county. The ministers of the city alternated holding services on Sunday afternoons in them. Sometimes an all-day service with dinner on the grounds was held. This practice was continued until 1919 when the county schools were consolidated and all pupils came into Sterling City. Some of the divide Methodists organized Moon's Chapel named for the Rev. R.D. Moon, pastor in Sterling City in 1906-07. Principal families were the Bynums, Muns, Raddes, and Welchs. The church was active until many of these pioneers passed away. It was said that the elder Mr. Bynum harvested his crop and put aside each tenth row for the Lord. From the Welch family came the Rev. Ross Welch a pastor that continued to serve in the Southwest Texas Conference.


The second parsonage was built in 1926 when Rev. J.D. McWhorter was pastor. In 1961 a much needed addition was added through the benevolence of Miss Ethel Foster who passed away shortly before its completion. She had been a devout Sunday School teacher, organist, and soloist. In 1928, under the second four years of J.D. McWhorter, a second church building was erected. At that time the Official Board consisted of: W.L. Foster, Chairman; R.L. Lowe, Recordig Steward; Rufus Foster, Lay Leader; H.M. Pearce, Sunday School Superintenden; Mrs. J.B. Atkinson, President of the Women's Society; and Stewards, R.W. Foster, J.B. Atkinson, E.B. Butler, L.H. Mims, R.T. Foster, R.P. Brown, Judge B.F. Brown, J.R. Welch, S.T. Walraven, L.F. Hodges, T.F. Foster, L.C. Hodges, and J.C. Helms. Construction cost on the building amounted to $21,000 and was paid in full thanks to numerous gifts by members and friends of the church. The lots for the building were given by Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Foster and the pipe organ donated by Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Foster, in memory of their daughter, Mrs. Jessie Price.


In 1979, the present beautiful church building was built on land donated by the Hildebrand and Horwood families. The pipe organ, pews, and stained glass windows from the old church were incorporated into the new building. The current parsonage was built in 1982. 


The Family Life Center was constructed and opened for service in the spring of 1995, as we had a need for more Sunday School classrooms. The building has a basketball gym, kitchen, and houses the FUMC Preschool during the school year. 


Our church remains vibrant and energetic and, with the Lord's help, will for many more years!

Pastoral history

M.J. Allen - 1890

J.F. Webb - 1891

A.J. Potter - 1891

H. Graham - 1892

G.M. Gardner - 1894

C.H. Maloy - 1897

S.J. Drake - 1898

A.H. Bezzo - 1902

S.L. Burke - 1904

R.D. Moon - 1906

S.J. Franks - 1907

W.A. Dunn - 1909

J.T. Redmon - 1910

Shan Hull - 1913

J.D. McWhorter - 1914

George E. Kem - 1918

O.M. Cole - 1920

C.R. Brewster - 1923

J.H. Estes - 1925

J.D. McWhorter - 1926

W.S. Ezell - 1930

S.O. Hammonds - 1933

O.M. Cole - 1934

Walter W. Lipps - 1935

Olin W. Nail - 1937

Bruce M. Cox - 1938

Lovell O. Ryan - 1940

Ed. H. Lovelace - 1944

W.J. Weimer - 1949

Bruce Medford - 1952

L.S. Dubberly - 1955

Ralph G. Hasten - 1958

Asa Avant - 1959

John Gibbs - 1960

Leo F. Ross - 1963

Bill Wiemers - 1965

Phillip Robberson - 1967

Harold Orr - 1969

Roy Wold - 1974

Edwin Wilder - 1978

Larry Howard - 1980

Charles Allen Camp - 1984

Richard Young - 1986

Bill Harris - 1990

Shane Barnes - 1995

Victoria Bailey - 2000

Everette Boyce - 2002

Kenneth (Kent) Kinard - 2003

Richard (Dick) West - 2008

Claus Rohlfs - 2012

Jim Noble - 2014