Our Story

First United Methodist Church is a church with ties to the larger United Methodist Church and a long history of service in our community. Today we seek to welcome and love all who come through our doors and also to be a church that is active out in the community, serving in many different ways. Our faith foundations rest upon the commands that Jesus gave: to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength; and, to love our neighbors as Jesus first loved us.
Our History – Our church has a rich history, that goes from the heights of God’s Love and the faith of His people to the depths of a devastating fire that tested the resolve of the church. The beginnings of this church were when Rev. Hugh M. Jones, a pioneer preacher, joined a few prayer warriors in 1877. They met weekly wherever they could to lift up the needs of God’s people. The church was born in April, 1881, with five charter members and a pastor, Rev. Ira Wakefield. The church met in Lewis Hall which stood near 614 Main Street. By August, 1882, there were twenty-three members. The lot for the first Methodist Church in Rapid City were purchased September 27, 1882 from William S. Fanshaw for $5,000, at the site of the present Masonic Temple. The initial building also cost $5,000, and was dedicated February 12, 1885.
As the congregation outgrew that building, plans were made to replace it. In 1919, the lots at the present church site were purchased, and construction began, only to be stopped for nearly two years because of on-going difficulties. The building was to cost them $81,325 to build. This building was dedicated Easter Sunday, 1922.
Then, on August 18, 1957, a devastating fire left the building all but destroyed, with only an auditorium floor and the brick shell remaining. The congregation was offered the use of State Theater by the A. J. Johnson family, where they would continue to meet for two years. The new building, built over the ruins of the 1920’s structure, was contracted in October, 1958, and finished by 1960. The structure in use today has recently been remodeled. It is a symbol of how God’s people have overcome difficulties to continue His work in Rapid City.
In 1972 a devastating flood swept through Rapid City. Our church was one of the founding members of “Church Response” – an organization founded to give aide and relief in the days and weeks after the flood. Although it moved out of the church basement many years ago, this organization continues to serve those in need. In 2008 our church purchased and renovated a building across the parking lot from the church. The church opened the HOPE Center, a day center for those dealing with homelessness and other issues related to poverty, in this location. In order to secure additional grants and funding to provide sustainability into the future, the HOPE Center became its own non-profit agency. The church continues to have strong ties to the center through our many volunteers, financial support, and great working relationship with the staff at the HOPE Center.