Church History

Godfrey First UMC is a congregation with a long and storied history, dating back to 1825. We embrace our heritage while moving passionately and intentionally into the future, celebrating both tradition and emergent elements in worship. This is our history…

 Our church was founded in 1827 as a Methodist class in the home of pioneers Nathan and Latty Scarritt. Their house was on the edge of a small prairie, and neighbors were few and far between. Our first class was small, probably only nine or ten adults. We called ourselves the Bethany Society and met weekly in various member’s homes. We prayed, studied the Bible, sang hymns and inquired into each one’s spiritual state. Occasionally we had a “real sermon.” preached by our circuit rider. Regular schooling and Sunday school for the children, was conducted in the Scarritt’s barn. The Scarritts and their neighbors wanted better quarters for schooling their children, so they pooled their resources and built a one-room school house at what is now the northeast corner of Bethany Lane and Humbert Road. Bethany School was a small frame building with one room housing a long table with a bench on one side. We used this school house for our regular worship services for 18 years.
Scarritt Memorial Church

Scarritt Memorial Church

At the urging of Latty Scarritt and her son Jotham our small community of faithful pooled their resources and built Bethany Church in 1851. It was a frame church, right next to the little one-room school house. Unfortunately, Nathan Scarritt did not live to see this, having passed away in 1847. This little meeting-house served us well for 57 years, the longest life span of all of our meeting-houses. By the early 1900’s much of our congregation had moved away or died, and it was believed that moving into Godfrey would be “more prosperous than in the present location. Rev. Jotham Scarritt stepped forward and pledged $3,000 toward purchase of land and construction a new church. He laid the cornerstone of our new church building at our current location on Grace Street on 16th October 1907. Our second meeting-house was known as the Scarritt Memorial Church. It was dedicated on Sunday, 26 April 1908. On New Year’s Day 1933, the Scarritt Memorial Church, burned. It was a total loss and the nearby parsonage was badly damaged, but once again we stepped forward, and through more sacrificing, overcame adversity.

Little Brick Church

Little Brick Church

Our congregation sprang into action to restore the parsonage and build a new meeting-house. The “Little Brick Church” rose quickly and on Sunday 15 October 1933 we held our first worship service there. During the 11 month period of rebuilding, we worshipped in the Godfrey Congregational church.

Grace Street Church

Grace Street Church

As Godfrey grew after World War II, we soon outgrew the 120-seat church building, and we committed to building a new and bigger sanctuary. Construction started in June 1960, and our first worship service was held there on 7 May 1961. By then, our Sunday School was more than 200, and though classes met in the little brick church and in the fellowship hall below our new sanctuary, a new education facility was needed. Spencer B. Paddock donated $150,000 to build an education building. To provide space for this project, we purchased the property westward to Godfrey Road. In 1968 the new building was dedicated and the “Little Brick Church” was razed. The “Bodie house” on Godfrey Road was remodeled as our parsonage. In 1979 our prayer garden was established.

In 2005 we were joined by the folks from Alton First United Methodist Church. Together,_DSC1432 copy we faced another challenge to expand and improve our facility. With God’s help and our sacrifices, we voted to relocate and in 2007 we pledged over $1,000,000 in the Building Our Future capital campaign. God led us to the 12 acres on Airport Road. We were able to break ground in August 2008. In May 2009 we moved from our Grace Street location to our new worship center.

Since moving in, we have continued to grow. In June 2013, we dedicated our new Prayer Garden after 4 years of volunteer work. We have recently conducted a successful campaign to reduce our debt. We are still making history as we prepare for the next phase of building.