The people called Methodists organized locally in 1854, almost a decade before Eugene was incorporated as a city. Beginning an active involvement in this community that continues today, they raised their first church building in 1857 at the southwest corner of 10th and Willamette Streets, the present site of the McDonald Theater. Eugene City had sold that site to the Methodists for $5.00 with the stipulation that it always be used for church purposes.
The congregation grew along with the city until it outgrew its modest first home. Lord Nelson Roney and Will Abrams submitted the low bid of $5,175 to build a second church on the same site. The first church, sold to a Catholic congregation and moved elsewhere, ultimately ended up as fuel for a freshman football rally bonfire.
Cynthia Humphrey had donated a substantial portion of the money needed to build the second church, so the congregation, on December 5, 1886, dedicated the Cynthia Humphrey Memorial Church. An article in the Portland Oregonian August 12, 1912) describing plans to build an electric rail line through the sites of two religious landmarks – the YMCA and Humphrey Memorial Church – reported that it was “believed to be the home of the first Protestant – perhaps the oldest of any denomination – organization in the city of Eugene.” That year, the expanding congregation built its third church building, a block away from the original site, and worshiped there at 1185 Willamette Street for more than 60 years.
In 1968, the congregation needed to build again to accommodate a growing membership and expanding community outreach. Once again, the congregation made the decision to stay downtown, moving only a few blocks to 1376 Olive, the present location. Today we are in the process of upgrading the current facility so that it can continue to be a center of welcome and outreach in the downtown area.
In 2008, the congregation decided that to truly live the United Methodist motto – open minds, open hearts, open doors – it would become a reconciling congregation, adopting this statement:
Eugene First United Methodist Church is a Reconciling Congregation. As followers of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, we affirm that all people are created in the image of God, are beloved children of God, and are worthy of God’s grace. In accord with the ministry of John Wesley, we hold to a vision of an inclusive church that welcomes people of diverse faith journeys, beliefs, and opinions in a loving and caring community. All persons of any sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status, age, race, ethnicity, mental or physical ability, and economic situation are welcome to attend, join, and participate fully in the life of our faith community as sisters and brothers in Christ.
Our mission: We are disciples of Jesus Christ, welcoming all, doing justice, transforming the world.