Our History

The United Methodist Church has a long history in Manhattan. You might recognize some of the names of early influential Methodists: Denison, Goodnow, Marlatt. These early Manhattan pioneers were active Methodists in the mid-1800s and their high values for education, justice, and philanthropy live on through our history, and right up to today.

Founded in 1855, First UMC is committed to serving downtown, in the heart of Manhattan, where we interact both with local businesses and people in need of social services. At First UMC you are likely to share a pew with your child’s elementary school teacher or their pediatrician, an elected official, a Kansas State University student from halfway around the world, a member of the US Army from across the continent, or a local business owner. With all these gifted and talented people, we come together as the Body of Christ to experience and spread God’s kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Our Mission

“Connecting to Christ, Growing in Community, Serving the World”

is a simple way to describe the way we live out God’s call at First UMC Manhattan. The three are intimately bound and we hope that in everything we do, all three are happening. When we say these things, here is what we mean:

Connecting to Christ:

As a faithful and committed body of believers, we are a part of the local, national, and global Body of Christ which offers both comfort and challenge to our life. If you join us for a worship service you’ll often hear the phrase “A safe place to hear a dangerous message.” As a congregation we covenant through our baptismal and membership vows to serve one another and help each other grow in community no matter where we are along our discipleship journeys. It is a place of both affirmation and a place where we can be steered gently back on the path together.

Growing in Community:

At FUMC it is more than just increasing weekly worship attendance, though we do enjoy the regular visits and inquiries about membership! Growing in community is about identifying and equipping those who connect and serve with us to be participants in the Body of Christ that is transforming the world. This growth happens most in our Sunday school classes and small group ministries which meet outside of Sunday worship for learning and service.

Serving the World:

At FUMC we are active in shifting the paradigm from doing service for people to participating in service with people. We offer charity through regular community service, community meals, and supporting local agencies with their work and with the work that goes beyond their ability to help. We strive to form mutually transformative relationships by offering empathy while seeking understanding. By working together we are all empowered to change the world, one relationship at a time, so it functions justly for all of God’s beloved children.

What We Believe

For a full description of what we believe, you can visit www.umc.org/what-we-believe.

In the United Methodist Church, you will find a wide range of living out those beliefs. Central to them all though is our belief that we are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

We are known as the church of George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton. We are not only politically diverse but you are likely to find people at First UMC who are different races and ethnicities, sexual orientation, gender and age; our diversity can’t possibly be laid out in a simple “What we believe” section. With that said, we invite you to bring your beliefs to the table and live into community with us where “How?” is just as important as “What?”.

In making an appeal to a tolerance of diversity of theological opinion, John Wesley, our founder, said, "Though we may not think alike, may we not all love alike?" The phrase "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity," has also become a maxim among Methodists, who have always maintained a great diversity of opinion on many matters within the Church. Former Bishop of the Great Plains United Methodist Church, Scott Jones, says it another way in his book “The Wesleyan Way”: “If there is any chance I am wrong in the slightest way, I should proceed with humility.”