A history of the First United Methodist Church
Our church history originates with the birth of Ardmore itself when a horseback riding circuit preacher, Rev. J.C. Scivally, organized the Ardmore Methodist Church on September 16, 1888 in borrowed space at the corner of North Washington and West Broadway. Ardmore had been founded only a year earlier, in 1887, when the Santa Fe Railroad built north from Texas into Indian Territory. The original church register lists twelve charter members. Growth in the church was steady and the new congregation soon acquired property at the southeast corner of “B” SW and West Broadway. A white frame church was constructed. In October of 1888, at the very first service in the new building, two young girls were baptized. Now owning the building in which they worshipped, the congregation took the name, “The Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church South”. A spurt of growth in the community in the mid-1890’s caused the congregation to erect a new, red brick structure on the same site. The cornerstone was laid in 1902. The discovery of oil fields in Carter County beginning in 1913 brought a surge in population and church growth. Before long, the church outgrew the red brick building. By 1920, our current site had been purchased and plans were being made for yet another new building. Work progressed slowly, with members doing much of the work themselves. Supplies and materials were purchased as money became available. Services were held in the basement of the unfinished structure. The church officially became “The First Methodist Church”. The first service in the new sanctuary was held on October 25, 1925. Then, came the Great Depression and the congregation struggled to pay for the new building. But, by 1937, all debt was finally removed. During World War II the church initiated care, friendship and nurture for the airmen at Ardmore Air Field.
The church has seen many changes through the years. In the late 50’s, the church purchased the Stin-Tex Dry Cleaning building which adjoined our property on the west. In the early 1960’s McClure Chapel was added as a memorial to Rev. J. T. McClure who served as the pastor of the church during the construction of the original church. Vaud Burton, member and church historian (until his death in 1998) recorded that in renovations in the 1960’s, then again in the 1970’s “nothing stayed the same as in the original sanctuary. The interior of the church changed considerably.” In the 1980’s, adjacent properties, including the Morris Plan Loan Company and the Dickinson Building, were acquired for classrooms and parking. Our most recent building initiative resulted in the Colvert Ministry Center, which opened in late 2007. The building was motivated by the growing need to offer both contemporary and traditional worship services. During 125 years of our history, countless lives have been touched by the redeeming love of Christ through the people of First United Methodist Church of Ardmore, Oklahoma. How many lives will be touched in the 125 years ahead of us?