The FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF CLEVELAND was established in 1827 as the First Methodist Episcopal Society. The society was formed by 9 hearers on the Cleveland circuit, which included part or all of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, and Summit counties. Cleveland was made a permanent station in 1830. The church met in rented rooms and homes until 1841, when a building was dedicated, after 5 years of work, at the corner of St. Clair and Wood (E. 3rd) streets. The first resident minister was Rev. John Peat, called in 1860. In 1865 plans for a new church at EUCLID AVE. and Erie (E. 9th) St. never materialized because of the cost. A smaller chapel built on the site served until 1874, when a larger Gothic building was built. By 1901 the formerly residential neighborhood had become commercial. The church sold its property to the Cleveland Trust Co., and in Mar. 1905 relocated to 3000 Euclid Ave., to a new edifice whose sanctuary seats 1,200. Designed by J. MILTON DYER, the Indiana limestone structure resembles TRINITY CATHEDRAL but is primarily an adaptation of the Perpendicular Gothic style. The church has remained at this location, and in the 1980s the congregation included both inner city and suburban members. In 1990 the church opened its basement to the Health Care for the Homeless Project as a shelter.
Under Rev. Kenneth Chalker, the church began an advertising campaign in 1986 to attract new members. In 1994 membership was around 500 members, 90% of whom live in the suburbs. Since 1989 First Church has been the host agency for Home Base Cleveland (formerly known as the Downtown Project for Older Persons), serving hot meals and delivering meals to homebound seniors; since 1992, has run Project Heat; and 5 emergency homeless shelters in Cleveland, one of which was housed in the church basement.
See also METHODISTS, RELIGION.