By Lindsay Starr Platt
First United Methodist Church (FUMC) Belton is a Bell County landmark and the oldest congregation in Belton.
“I’ve been coming here for five years. I enjoy the fellowship, “ said Jeff Kelley, church member
“We have been members here for 31 years. We teach Sunday school. And all of our kids were baptized here. We taught Vacation Bible School and my sister works for mothers day out a twice a week program,” commented Jim and Laurie Kiniry, church members.
FUMC Belton started the charity, Helping Hands Mistry. Earon Hood, a church member started the food pantry in her house. Hood later moved it to the basement of the church. The food pantry grew bigger and now is located in its own building on Holland Road.
Every Wednesday, during the college terms in both fall and spring, is the student lunch program. FUMC Belton feeds any college student that shows up for lunch a hot homemade meal.
The church was built in 1850 before electricity. The organ was once powered by an underground spring. The spring ran under the alter and powered the bellows by turning a wheel. The water wheel was under the staircase. One is able to still see where it once was. The spring that ran under the church no longer runs anymore.
“The oldtimers used to say you know when the Methodists were at church because the street is wet,” commented, Reverend Darren Walker, pastor, FUMC Belton. “The spring pumped the bellows until the 1960’s.”
“We have a Sunday school for all ages. They are really good classes and we teach about the bible and history of the church. We have a good discussion in the group about contemporary things.” Sandy Horn, church member, “We have a long time scout program and there is a scout room below the sanctuary.”
This is a special place for me because we have been here so long. My favorite thing is “Laundry Love”. We go about once a month and put quarters in the machines at Smith brothers laundry. We put the quarters in the machines to show God’s love. And sometimes people ask us to pray with them. Sometimes we bring cookies and coloring sheets for the kids that come with their folks to do laundry,” commented Sheryl White, church member.
Ann Messer, church member, said, “We moved here in 1976 and we joined this church. My husband Bill teaches adult Sunday school and is on the finance committee. I teach children’s Sunday school. I am also on the children’s council and the parsonage committee. I also help with the college lunch. Often as many as 500 plus students show up. We serve home cooked meals on real plates. We have the best salad bar in Belton. A one dollar donation is suggested, but not required. It has gotten to be a big deal at UMHB. Everything is homemade, even the pizza. My job is washing dishes. We love this church and this church family. They have been through us for our highs and lows, and we have had plenty.”
“They support their members very well. That is why we joined. We have been members for four years.” said Tammy Thompson.
Belton FUMC’s Vacation Bible School will be June 20-24 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The public is invited to bring their children ages three to fifth grade to the program.
Reverend Walker said, “We were the first building in Belton. The Sanctified Sisters were broke off from our church. We invite the public to our chili and spaghetti fundraisers. We are going to try and have a picnic dinner like this quarterly. We also have a Seder Meal and the Master Singers come in during Holy Week. We have over 400 members. We have a Polka Sunday once a year, Dr. Mike Middleton plays the accordion, he was once a Texas Polka champion. We have incredible musical talent, our trumpet player is an Army band member. What ever we can do to reach out to our members and the community to share Christ’s love with them.”
Reverend Walker said “Our purpose is to: Know, grow and share. Know God, grow in faith and share Christ’s love. And our mission statement is: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.