After nearly a year of planning, the First United Methodist Church of Riverside celebrated 150 years of service on Sunday, October 16. The special guest preacher that morning was East District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Saia Tu’itahi.
Former pastors, youth leaders and staff members were among the nearly 200 people at the event. Special guests included Rev. John Yoon and his spouse, Mina; Rev. Jan Ritzau Wiley and her spouse Rev. Mark Wiley; Rev. Sue Ritzau Farley and her spouse Tim Farley; Rev. Brian Kent; former youth leader Perry Wiggins; former choir director Richard Steffen and former organist David Christensen. Also welcomed was Barbara Ruth, the granddaughter of the church’s first organist in 1908, Manta Love North. Immediately after church, David Fraser and Sarah Overton Fraser took the attendees on a brief tour of the church’s history, telling the story of the church’s founding, a tragic fire in 1947 that destroyed our sanctuary, and the move and rebuilding on Brockton Avenue, where the church is today.
The participants ate lunch together and toured the stained glass windows and the church’s preschool classrooms; looked at photo albums and slideshows; read letters of congratulations from Gov. Newsom, President Jimmy Carter, and local officials; watched a video greeting from our Bishop Grant Hagiya. “Thanks to all the 150th Celebration Committee members who worked hard to make sure our celebration was a joyful opportunity to glorify God’s name,” said Pastor J. T. Kim.
First UMC Riverside was founded in 1872 and turned out to be an important community resource. The church planted other United Methodist churches, including Arlington, Wesley, Rubidoux, and Grace UMC. The church also has an active preschool, music programs, youth programs, and Bible Study. They are building the beloved community, a congregation of diverse and loving individuals who are working to end spiritual and physical hunger.
original story submitted by Kris Lovekin