In 1835, Jacob Matthews, a visiting circuit rider of the Methodist Episcopal church, held the the first methodist service in this area under a grove of sweet gum trees near a spring which the Choctaws called Hic A Sha Ba Ha.
Matthews' pulpit was a stump, and those who gathered sat on a few wooden rails.
This picture is of a women's Sunday School class, circa 1900.
The church on the corner
The first building of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Starkville, erected in 1839, was a two story brick building with an open fire place. By the 1850s the walls had become so badly cracked it was propped up with heavy timbers. Soon deemed unsafe, the building was torn down.
The second church was a larger frame building erected on the old foundation. It had columns around three sides. In 1885, the third building was built as a large gothic style with vaulted ceilings. After much debate, it was decided the church would face south, a tradition that carries on today.
The present building was built on the site of the previous 3 in 1926. With growing membership and activities, the education building was built in 1964 and dedicated after its final payment in 1973. The Christian Life Center was added in 1996.
A Church by many names
In 1845, the dividing date of the Methodists of the north and south, the official name of the denomination was changed to Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
The name, Methodist Episcopal South, of Starkville, remained until 1939 when national unification took place and the church was renamed First Methodist Church.
In 1968, with the mergers of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the church name became Starkville First United Methodist Church
This picture shows attendees of the 1888 North Mississippi annual conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South,
hosted in Starkville
With the construction of the Education building in the 1960s, Sunday School classes had more room to grow. Some Sunday School classes created in the expansion still meet today!
The bottom floor is now home to Weekday Ministries, a full service day care.
One room in the education building is painted like a town in Jesus' time. It helps bring the children right into the stories, especially during VBS in the summer!
For many years, contemporary worship services at Starkville FUMC were held in the Christian Life Center. Prior to becoming church property, the Connection building served as different local businesses, including a car dealership, a furniture store, and a clothing store. The location was purchased by the church in 2013, and Starkville FUMC members rallied together to renovate the building. Services at Connection began in 2014, and since then, the building has been used for church events, meals, Exam Slam, and even concerts!