United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians. According to our foundational statement of beliefs in The Book of Discipline, we share the following basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities:
We describe God in three persons. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are commonly used to refer to the threefold nature of God. Sometimes we use other terms, such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. God
- We believe in one God, who created the world and all that is in it.
- We believe that God is sovereign; that is, God is the ruler of the universe.
- We believe that God is loving. We can experience God’s love and grace.
- We believe that Jesus was human. He lived as a man and died when he was crucified.
- We believe that Jesus is divine. He is the Son of God.
- We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and that the risen Christ lives today. (Christ and messiah mean the same thing—God’s anointed.)
- We believe that Jesus is our Savior. In Christ we receive abundant life and forgiveness of sins.
- We believe that Jesus is our Lord and that we are called to pattern our lives after his.
The Holy Spirit
- We believe that the Holy Spirit is God with us.
- We believe that the Holy Spirit comforts us when we are in need and convicts us when we stray from God.
- We believe that the Holy Spirit awakens us to God’s will and empowers us to live obediently.
- We believe that God created human beings in God’s image.
- We believe that humans can choose to accept or reject a relationship with God.
- We believe that all humans need to be in relationship with God in order to be fully human.
- We believe that the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ’s life and ministry in the world today.
- We believe that the mission of the churchis to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
- We believe that the church is “the communion of saints,” a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ.
- We believe that the church is called to worship God and to support those who participate in its life as they grow in faith.
- We believe that the Bible is God’s Word.
- We believe that the Bible is the primary authority for our faith and practice.
- We believe that Christians need to know and study the Old Testament and the New Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures).
The Reign of God
- We believe that the kingdom or reign of God is both a present reality and future hope.
- We believe that wherever God’s will is done, the kingdom or reign of God is present. It was present in Jesus’ ministry, and it is also present in our world whenever persons and communities experience reconciliation, restoration, and healing.
- We believe that although the fulfillment of God’s kingdom–the complete restoration of creation–is still to come.
- We believe that the church is called to be both witness to the vision of what God’s kingdom will be like and a participant in helping to bring it to completion.
- We believe that the reign of God is both personal and social. Personally, we display the kingdom of God as our hearts and minds are transformed and we become more Christ-like. Socially, God’s vision for the kingdom includes the restoration and transformation of all of creation.
With many other Protestants, we recognize the two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
- Through baptism we are joined with the church and with Christians everywhere.
- Baptism is a symbol of new life and a sign of God’s love and forgiveness of our sins.
- Persons of any age can be baptized.
- We baptize by sprinkling, immersion or pouring.
- A person receives the sacrament of baptism only once in his or her life.
The Lord’s Supper (Communion, Eucharist)
- The Lord’s Supper is a holy meal of bread and wine that symbolizes the body and blood of Christ.
- The Lord’s Supper recalls the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and celebrates the unity of all the members of God’s family.
- By sharing this meal, we give thanks for Christ’s sacrifice and are nourished and empowered to go into the world in mission and ministry.
- We practice “open Communion,” welcoming all who love Christ, repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another.
The history of First United Methodist Church Pensacola, FL dates back to 1821, when a mission was established by the Mississippi Conference and the Reverend Alexander Talley was appointed as missionary to Pensacola. The mission began by holding meetings in the courthouse and the old theater of Pensacola. However, in 1827, a lot was purchased on the northeast corner of Intendencia and Tarragona Streets and a church was built. The first services were held on June 2, 1828. These early years, 1870 – 1880, were crucial years for the church, which suffered two fires, in which the church was completely destroyed, and an epidemic of yellow fever.
In 1881, the first site was sold and property purchased at the northwest corner of Palafox and Garden Streets and a new building was started. In the fall of the next year, 1882, an epidemic of yellow fever struck again and took the lives of many of the people, including the pastor, the Reverend C. B. DuBose. The Palafox Street Church was completed in 1890, in time to host the Annual Conference. In 1898 a large fire engulfed most of Palafox Street, but fortunately First UMC was spared any damage. In 1901 several preaching missions were held, later becoming independent churches – Gadsden Street, Richards Memorial and Warrington. It was at this time that the mother church became known as First Church.
In 1906, the Palafox Street property was sold and a new site was purchased on Wright Street. On October 14, 1908, the cornerstone was laid for the new sanctuary. Services were held in Hannah Hall on Romana Street, and later in the basement of the church until it was completed in 1910. The first services were held on October 30, 1910. The pastor, the Reverend C. W. Gavin, supervised the construction of the church. On September 14, 1919 all indebtedness was removed and the church, with a membership of 709, was dedicated by Bishop W. F. McMurry.
Methodism continued to grow in Pensacola, and our church was instrumental in starting other churches — Cokesbury, St. Andrews and St. Paul’s at Midway, FL. In 1951, the Education Building was constructed. In 1959, the Chapel of the Good Shepherd was built in memory of W. C. Mackey and E. R. Malone. To give more room for youth activities, the Ark was opened in 1970. The Wright Place, the property adjacent to the church, was acquired on March 10, 1983 for use as an activity center. On April 15, 1983, the Education Building was badly damaged by fire. It reopened in 1984, after renovation.
A new administrative/classroom building was constructed during 1988-89 linking the Sanctuary to The Wright Place. In the early 90′s, the church acquired property from a bankrupt car dealership and transformed it into a seventy car parking lot for its members. This property will serve future expansion needs as outlined by long range planning. In 1997, the church bought a vacant building adjacent to the parking lot.
Also, in 1997, the church added a Columbarium unit and renovated the area surrounding it. Powers McLeod, who came to First Church in 1970 as the Senior Minister, was the first to be inurned here.
In May, 2000 Pensacola First Church acquired the building formerly owned by an independent church. This Outreach Ministry Center is home to adult Sunday School classes, a non-profit recovery organization, and church sponsored Boy Scout Troop.
First United Methodist Church Pensacola, FL purchased the building opposite the Sanctuary in May 2000; this facility, First Church’s Youth Ministry Center, was dedicated on November 18, 2001.
The expanded choir loft was dedicated in early 2002. The Sanctuary construction, to house FUMC’s new organ, was completed in May. The organ, built by Tom Helms, was dedicated August 2002 organ in our area with 73 ranks of pipes and weighing some 50,000 pounds. This organ consists of a four-manual and pedal ebony console, a solid white oak case plus 4,153 pipes all strategically voiced for Pensacola First United Methodist Church.
The Build on the Dream capital project was completed in 2004 with the dedication of the new 3 story church lobby with connections to the Sanctuary, Library, Henry Roberts Activity Center, Wright Place and Education Building and also the new elevator in the Henry Roberts Activity Center with access to the 2nd floor of the Education building, Wright Place and Sanctuary.
In October of 2008, exactly 100 years after the cornerstone was laid for the Wright Street sanctuary, First UMC continued preparing for the future by purchasing the Gov. Edward Perry Home and the attached building, previously owned by the Scottish Rite Masons. The Gov. Perry Home has been restored and is open to the public as a part of Pensacola history, while the attached building (known as Wesley Abbey) was remodeled to house ICON, First UMC’s fourth Sunday morning service. With a membership of more that 3000 in 2008 , First Methodist has always believed that it is essential to preserve the past while embracing the future.