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Ormond Beach Observer Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 5 years ago

First United Methodist celebrates 60 years, looks back on its beginnings

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First United Methodist Church started in 1952, in a two-story house on Valencia Drive. Today, it has 1,300 members.

BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER

The impact First United Methodist Church has had on Ormond Beach the past 60 years can be seen in the actions of its members, many of whom were on hand Oct. 21, at the church's 60th-anniversary celebration..

The church began in a two-story house on Valencia Drive. Its first reverend lived on the second floor and held Sunday School in his bedroom.

“Sadie Bleekman had hung posters all over town asking if anyone was interested in starting a Methodist church,” Eleanor “Tommie” Shutt, one of the church's two remaining charter members, said in a speech Sunday. “Ormond Beach was a very small town.”

The church started with 52 members and, in 1953, purchased for $2,500 the land on which it currently sits. Members raised the money by selling church bonds.

Shutt said the church's founders were mostly local business people, so the idea to sell bonds, much like municipal bonds, came naturally.

Reverend Bill Owens said that he's glad the founding members “heard God’s words and acted.”

Since starting in 1952, with 10 members, First United has come a long way. By the end of its first year, Shutt said, it had grown to 52 members. Today, there are over 1,300, with about 6,000 tallied in the parish's history.

The church has gone through a name change and constructed several buildings and additions to its current location on Halifax Drive, as well.

For more, call 677-3581.

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