First United Methodist Church of Lincoln traces our roots to pioneer Methodist circuit riders who came to the area even before the organization of Logan County. Early church meetings were held in homes. The first formal Methodist Society was established in 1839, meeting in the Postville Courthouse and schoolhouse. Famous Central Illinois preacher Peter Cartwright, who once ran for the Legislature against Abraham Lincoln, often preached at Postville, and was the first Presiding Elder of the district.
When Postville became part of the new city of Lincoln, the Society members became involved in the 1856 organization of the Lincoln Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Services were held in the Chicago & Alton Railroad Depot and then in the First Ward School on Clinton Street. In 1858, the first Methodist Church was built on the corner of Pekin and McLean Streets, where Lincoln Public Library stands today. The small, one-story wood frame building cost $1600.
By the end of the Civil War, the church membership had increased to the point that larger quarters were needed. The old property was sold to the newly- formed Presbyterian society and, in 1868, an impressive gray brick church was built at the corner of Broadway and Logan Streets. The total cost this time, including lots, building and furnishings, was $22,000. The following year, the church hosted a session of the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church which included the September 24 Jubilee celebration for Peter Cartwright, honoring his 50 years as a Presiding Elder.
In 1873, the church name was legally changed to the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Lincoln.
The congregation continued to grow, and in 1925, the church voted to purchase property nearby on the corner of Broadway and Kankakee streets. The old building was sold to the Masonic Lodge and served as the Lodge Temple until it was razed in 1961.
The present church building was built at a cost of $215, 000. It was dedicated on June 20, 1926. The tower bell which rang the original call to worship that day was moved from the previous buildings. It is a 1000 pound steamboat bell, originally brought from St. Louis.
In 1939, the church name became the First Methodist Church of Lincoln, due to the combining of three national Methodist denominations.
In 1968, the Methodist Church and the United Brethren Church came together to create The United Methodist Church, and our church became known as the First United Methodist Church of Lincoln.
Our church building was extensively damaged by fire on September 24, 1970. The interior was gutted, but the outside shell stood firm and the church was rebuilt within the original walls. While the renovations were being completed, Sunday School and worship services were held at Lincoln Community High School.