By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – The cornerstone of the current First United Methodist Church (FUMC) on Felton Street in Hudson was set in October 1912. The building was dedicated in June 1913 as the Methodist Episcopal Church. The 100-year anniversary of its dedication was celebrated with an open house June 29.
Among those greeting guests to the open house was the Rev. Michelle Grube, the pastor for two years.
“They wanted people to come see the building and to appreciate its history,” she said of the congregants” invitation. “They'se very proud of their building and their heritage.”
The celebration started last year when Bishop Peter Weaver visited for a service. Three concerts were presented throughout the year.
The roots of Methodism in Hudson began over a
century earlier than the construction of this building. In the early 1800s, mill owner Phineas Sawyer opened his home on Washington Street for Methodist meetings.
A church was built on Gospel Hill in 1828, which was destroyed by fire in 1852. Another church was constructed on Main Street in 1865, which burned down in 1911. The current pastor recognizes lessons to be learned with a sense of humor.
“The lesson is to have fire extinguishers and fire alarms,” she said with a laugh. “Besides that, there's a lesson that you can rise again. Even from the ashes, new life can come – and it does come and it's sustainable.”
Deb Kauffman was appointed church historian two years ago. She has been attending FUMC for over 40 years.
“I'se got a long history there,” she said. “I think it's important for people to have a sense of history and to know what the people who attended that church before them were thinking. It's important to feel a connection with the people who invested in that building.”
Her research has revealed that not all congregants agreed on the construction of the Felton Street building 100 years ago.
“From what I'se read, there were some rifts in the congregation when the current church was built,” she noted. “Some of the controversies were about the English Tudor style, some were about the cost, and some were about the location.”
The FUMC website provides visitors directions: “Our church is easy to find from the center of Hudson, at the rotary where Route 85 (Washington Street) and Route 62 (Main and Central Streets) converge.”
Apparently, the concept of distance was measured differently a century ago.
“Some people at that time felt being up on Felton Street was too far away from downtown,” Kaufman said. “As far as I's concerned, it's right off Main Street.”
Countless residents have found their way to the church's basement known as Lamson Hall, where activities are held frequently. It's the ongoing meeting place for scouts and 12-step programs. Each week for several years, Agape Café has been welcoming guests to go there for a complimentary meal and to stay for fellowship. (http://communityadvocate.com/2013/05/20/544/). The hall hosts a monthly friendship dinner for anyone in the community to meet and break bread together. From 2003 through 2011, the church offered the hall for the weekly Open Door Free Medical Program for uninsured people in need of health care.
Kaufman has kept active at FUMC, where she got married and taught Sunday school.
“The Open Door was one of the most rewarding things I'se done at the church,” she said. “Despite the ups and downs of attendance and finances over the years, there's always something going on at our church. We have people who work hard. We'se known for being an active church.”
For more information about FUMC, visithudsonfumc.org.
Photos/Ed Karvoski Jr.