“In the Heart of Germantown” for over 170 years.
In the beginning...
Germantown United Methodist Church began as a small group of Methodists who gathered for worship in each others’ homes in the 1830s. These families had come to live on the west Tennessee frontier, establishing a little settlement eventually named Germantown. The settlement prospered modestly and the Methodist congregation grew. The congregation, numbering 45, decided to build. The trustees purchased a lot on the west side of a newly opened street west of Germantown and divided the property for church yard and grave yard. After a small frame building was erected, the street became known as Church Street, now McVay.
The Civil War: 1870
Having faithfully served its members for some twenty years, the Germantown Methodist’s first frame building became a hospital for wounded Federal soldiers during the occupation of Germantown in the Civil War. The structure suffered considerable wartime damage.
A second frame church replaced the original building.
The First Parsonage: 1916
Church trustees purchased the adjoining lot to the north in order to build a parsonage. There had been no resident minister until then because it was, and still is, common practice for small Methodist congregations to be served by traveling clergy ministering to two or more churches.
Upgrading the Church: 1921
The need for a better church had been recognized. The trustees secured financing by mortgaging the church lot and borrowing $800 from the Board of Church Extension of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The second frame structure was razed and a new one erected.
Temporary Lodging: 1929
Lightning struck the church, which burned to the ground. The trustees decided to move. Retaining the cemetery, they sold the Church Street property and bought a lot on Bridge Street, now Germantown Road. The adjoining lot was purchased to provide space for a new parsonage.
For the next several years Germantown’s Methodists met for worship in the only portion of the new church they could afford to finish: a concrete basement, which had been temporarily roofed.
A Fresh Start: 1947
The 324 member congregation finally completed its new church plant; a sanctuary, which is now the chapel; a Sunday School room, the present hallway behind the chapel; a pastor’s office; and a parsonage.
Church members numbered 355. A home to the south of church was purchased for a new parsonage, and the old parsonage to the north was converted into Sunday School Rooms.
Classrooms Added: 1976
Membership had increased to 432. A two-story building for classrooms was added to the west of the structure housing what is now the chapel.
Moving Day: 1976
The membership of the church had increased rapidly, reflecting a dramatic population explosion in the Germantown community. By 1976, 867 members were listed on the church rolls; within two years the figure reached 1300.
In November, the congregation, choir, and pastors walked in joyous procession from the present chapel to a spacious, newly built sanctuary. Two years later the new Schantz pipe organ was dedicated.
Following the completion of the sanctuary, the fellowship hall, the new kitchen, and the choir room, the church offices were remodeled.
Education Building Erected: 1983
The education building on the south end of the Germantown Road property was completed.
OLEC Added: 1989
The church, with a membership of 1,958, dedicated the Owings Life Enrichment Center on West Street across from the sanctuary. The OLEC included a gym with stage and walking track, new classrooms and kitchen facilities.
Back to McVay: 2000s
To further serve its 2,400+ members, GUMC bought back the old parsonage and church property on McVay along with five acres surrounding the original Methodist cemetery. The old house was remodeled for use by the Boy Scouts and other groups; the land was converted into beautiful McVay Park.
Further Rennovations: 2002 - Present
Starting in 2002, the campus started undergoing major upgrades. In 2004, The Hamilton Ministry Center was erected, providing additional room for offices, bible studies, and small group meetings. In 2008 The Cottage was added, providing a place for ministry and mission work just across the street. And the most recent addition came in 2013 with a new Youth Ministry house across from McVay park.
Today, the GUMC campus spans three city blocks in the heart of Old Germantown, with plenty of room for its 3000+ members to love, grow, and serve in Christ every day.