In February of 1916, a charter from the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Church was granted to start a new church in Hopewell. Services began in the old "B" village school with 89 members. By Fall, a wood frame structure covered with tarpaper was built at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Broadway. This "Tarpaper Church" was used for fourteen years until being demolished in 1930. The church met for worship in the Hopewell City Courtroom while a new church was being constructed. In April 1931, the cornerstone of the sanctuary building was laid.
From that beginning, the sanctuary was completed, followed by the 1950’s addition of the Education wing. In 1937, the Trinity Methodist Church of City Point was destroyed by fire, so the decision was made that members would unite with First Methodist. Their approving petition with 87 original signatures is on display in the Church History Room.
In the mid-1960’s, the Sanctuary underwent major renovation, expanding the Choir Loft, and including a Lectern and Pulpit. In 1983, after a tremendous fund-raising effort, a new Muller pipe organ was installed in the Sanctuary.
In the mid 1980’s, an A-roof and steeple were added to the Sanctuary building, and a tower constructed with elevator to provide access to the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall levels. The tower would also house the bell from the former Trinity Methodist Church of City Point.
An ongoing “Major Needs” Program began in the mid 1990’s to remodel various areas of the church. In the late nineties, adjacent properties were purchased to provide additional parking space. Major renovation of the Fellowship Hall and kitchen was completed in December 2015.
For 100 years, First United Methodist Church has been served by inspiring pastors and, with the dedicated service of its faithful members and friends, has contributed greatly to enrich the lives of the citizens of Hopewell and the surrounding community. It has sponsored two additional United Methodist churches in its 100 years – Bermuda United Methodist in Enon and Wesley United Methodist in Hopewell’s West End.
2016 is a year of celebration at First United Methodist Church as it celebrates 100 years of sharing God's love, “Bringing Hope to Hopewell” – and the 85th anniversary of the current sanctuary building. First United Methodist Church has been greatly blessed. Its prayer is that God will continue to bless the church and everyone it serves as they continue to, “Connect in Christ, grow in Faith, and serve in Love, making Disciples of Jesus Christ.” Everyone is welcome at First United Methodist Church!
If you're interested in doing some research on our church - and have some time on your hands - you can do that in the archives of the Hopewell News, which is available on the Appomattox Regional Library website. You can narrow down your search to specific time periods by clicking the dropdown box with the word "All" in it. Have fun!
If you want to search older records, prior to the Sixties, change the search string to "Hopewell Methodist" or "First Methodist" (in quotes).