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First Methodist turns 225: Choir will sing entire hymnal as part of anniversary celebration

By Katie Scarvey
kscarvey@salisburypost.com
First United Methodist Church will celebrate 225 years of history this fall with various events, including an anniversary celebration next Sunday, Sept. 28.
The church began in 1783, with meetings in private homes, says Steve Haines, who has been the church’s pastor since the summer of 2007.
In its long history, the church has had 175 different ministers, Haines says.
The weekend of festivities will kick off Saturday at 9:30 a.m. with a Hymn-a-thon.
The goal, says Matthew Brown, the church’s new director of music ministries, is to sing the entire United Methodist hymnal ó 678 hymns in all. The choir will start with “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” and end with “We’re Marching to Zion.”
People can make pledges by reserving a hymn in someone’s honor. Hymns chosen in this way will be sung in their entirety. Otherwise, only a hymn’s first stanza will be sung.
The event, which is a fundraiser for the church’s organ fund, will be “very casual,” says Brown, who hopes that people from the community will come to enjoy the event. He expects that the hymn-a-thon will wrap up around mid-afternoon.
Choir members will rotate in and out, he says. Some may manage to participate for only 30 minutes, while others could be there all day.
When Brown first proposed the idea, choir members found the prospect daunting. Then, he says, “they realized it was a unique opportunity to do something they love that can benefit the church.” The congregation and public are invited to attend.
At the 8:45 and 10:55 a.m. services on September 28, Dr. Jody Seymour, current pastor of the 3,600-member Davidson United Methodist Church, will preach. A Salisbury native, Seymour served as an associate pastor at FUMC Salisbury early in his ministry.
Former pastors and staff members have been invited back for the anniversary celebration. Following the service will be an old-fashioned covered dish homecoming meal outside.
At 6 p.m. Sept. 28, Seymour will return for a lecture, which is open to the public. E-mail april@fumcsalisbury.org to register to attend the lecture. A light meal will be served.
Beginning Sept. 28, and continuing for the next three Sunday worship services, brief history vignettes focusing on highlights of FUMC history will be presented.
Those have been written by Mary Kay Forbes, the mother of member Mary Heather Steinman.
Barbara Senter and Betty Dan Spencer have been sifting through historical artifacts that will be exhibited as part of the celebration. Libby Summersett has also been a big part of documenting the history of the church.
On Friday, Oct. 10, FirstARTS, the church’s newly established concert series, will kick off its inaugural year with “An Evening of Chamber Music,” featuring music by Barber, Brahms, Sibelius and others for tenor, viola and piano.The concert is free and begins at 7:30 p.m.
From 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, the day of OctoberTour, the church lawn will be filled with sample goodies for the community from the 225 year cookbook ó which will include recipes from a church cookbook published in 1923. Free water bottles will be provided for visitors who stop by the church’s downtown festivities.
Since the church’s roots are with a circuit rider, Dr. Gordon Senter will play the role of an 18th century preacher riding from community to community on a horse.
For more information about FUMC’s 225th anniversary, call the church at 704-636-3121.

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