Our congregation is friendly and welcoming. We have a heart for the underserved and forgotten in our community
We are actively involved in helping people in need, in Sarasota and around the globe.
We partner with other churches and agencies to help make a difference in our community, our country, and our world.
We seek to be the people God has called us to be in order to fulfill the mission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Love God. Love People. Make Disciples of Jesus Christ.
To be a church that makes a positive difference in the lives of people by welcoming all, by
reaching out to those in need, and by loving all people.
What We Believe
The First United Methodist Church is also known as First Church because we were the first church organized in Sarasota and built the first church building in 1891.
Our worship services are known for excellent and uplifting music.
The sermons are refreshing, often humorous, and always relevant.
Methodism in the United States dates back to 1736 when John and Charles Wesley came to the New World to spread the movement they began as students in England.The United Methodist Church was created on April 23, 1968, when the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church united to form a new denomination.
United Methodists share a historic connection to other Methodist and Wesleyan bodies. United Methodist leaders often speak of the denomination as “the connection.” This concept has been central to Methodism from its beginning.
The “First Church” in the Village of Sarasota, Florida, was organized as the Methodist Episcopal Church South in October 1891. Today First United Methodist Church is the only Sarasota organization still in existence since 1891. First United Methodist Church parallels the history of the City of Sarasota.
The first services were held in a little school building on Main Street with Rev. E. F. Gates, a circuit rider on horseback, serving as the first pastor. The Reverend Will Tresca was sent to formally organize the church, gathering 12 members in a Main Street storeroom for the signing of the Church Charter. Property on the southeast corner of Pineapple Avenue and Main Street at Five Points was purchased for the price of $40. The first church building was erected at Five Points in “the heart of the city” in 1893.
In 1914 an impressive brick Greek temple-style church was built at the present Pineapple Avenue location. First United Methodist Church grew through both the prosperity of the Florida real estate boom and then the bust of the Great Depression. Through many trials the congregation thrived in worship, ministry, and mission.
First United Methodist Church grew rapidly during the years following World War II. Soon there was a need for a new sanctuary. In 1953 and 1954, services began at the city’s Municipal Auditorium due to overcrowding in the small sanctuary. On Christmas Day, 1955, services were held in the new, beautiful colonial-style sanctuary. The mortgage was burned in a mere 5 years. A new education building, with its fellowship hall, was built in 1970. A new office complex with youth hall and chapel was completed in 1983.
In the fall of 2010 First United Methodist Church (now called First Church) embarked on the Build on This Rock campaign for the renovation of its sanctuary, points of entry, and gathering spaces for the congregation and community outreach in preparation for another century of ministry.
Thanksgiving Sunday, November 27, 2011, First Church held its first services in the newly renovated historic sanctuary accentuated with modern-day attributes for reverent worship and relevant outreach. A prayer garden courtyard with columbarium was added to connect our sacred spaces, congregation and community, and provides a lovely setting for memorial services and outdoor gatherings.
Today, in addition to offerings of vibrant worship expressions and Christian life enrichment, First Church Open Doors encourages the greater Sarasota community through inspiring Music Fine Arts performances and engaging civic, cultural, and communal conversations. When the church celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 2016, First Church dedicated itself to a future of ministry in worship and in outreach to the community we seek to serve as we fulfill our mission.
The United Methodist structure and organization began as a means of accomplishing the mission of spreading scriptural holiness. Methodism’s founder John Wesley recognized the need for an organized system of communication and accountability and developed what he called the “connexion,” a network of classes, societies, and annual conferences.
Within the connectional structure of The United Methodist Church, conferences provide the primary groupings of people and churches for discernment and decision-making.
Wesley described Christian conferencing as “spiritual discipline through which God’s grace may be revealed.”
At every level of the connection, church leaders and members come together in conversation, or conferencing, to discuss important issues and discover God’s will for the church. The word “conference” thus refers to both the assembly and organization of people as well as the process of discerning God’s call together.
First Church belongs to the South West District of the Florida Conference.
The South West District of the Florida Conference is made up of approximately 80 churches on the southwest coast of Florida, from Bradenton to Naples, and extends eastward to include Frostproof, Sebring, Lake Placid, and Clewiston.
Rev. Debbie Allen serves as the District Superintendent. For additional information on the South West District of the Florida Conference, visit www.flumc.org/southwest
The Florida Conference
First Church belongs to the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.
The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church stretches more than 700 miles from just west of Tallahassee to the Florida Keys. There are about 700 churches with approximately 280,000 members from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
The Florida Conference works in partnership with the Eastern Angola Annual Conference and the Methodist Churches of Cuba and Haiti in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Kenneth Carter serves as the bishop of The Florida Conference. For additional information on the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, visit www.flumc.o