Historic Wesley UMC
Rev. O.P Light came to El Reno in the land run and was the first El Reno minister
of any denomination, preaching the first Christian service here. Rev. Light, a circuit
preacher, participated in establishing the First Methodist Episcopal Church in 1889.
Rev. O.P. Light
In 1891, St. John's Methodist Episcopal Church, South began as El Reno's second Methodist Church, starting with eight members. In 1921, construction began on the current sanctuary and was completed in 1922.
St. John's MEC
In 1928, the El Reno churches of St. John's and the Protestant Methodist Church merged and became Central Methodist Church. In November 1939, a joint conference in Oklahoma City completed the consolidation of the north and south branches of the Methodists, creating the Methodist Church. This then created the First Methodist Church of El Reno and the Central Methodist Church of El Reno.
On Thursday, March 4, 1948, the First Methodist Church (founded in 1889) and the Central Methodist Church (founded in 1891) merged and became one congregation under the name First Methodist Church of El Reno.
This merger was deemed the largest church merger in Oklahoma, impacting approximately 1,600 members, or about 15% of the town's population.
The new unified church worshiped as one church for the first time on March 14, 1948. Bishop W. Angie Smith gave the sermon entitled "Build for the Future and Forget What is Behind." More than 700 people gathered to march from the former First Methodist building to the new unified First Methodist Church at the current location.
Two months later, the congregation decided to change the name to Wesley Methodist Church.
In 1952 the education building (now the middle part of the building) was begun, adding two floors of classrooms and meeting space. The education building opened on January 4, 1953.
Wesley after 1953 with the Education Building
Then in 1968, when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged to form the new United Methodist Church, Wesley became Wesley United Methodist Church.
In 1975, the members of Wesley created a time capsule from an original cornerstone of the First M.E. Church. Included in the time capsule were items saved from the fire of the M.E. Church building that occurred a few months earlier. The time capsule was opened at the Historic Site Dedication Event in 2022. In October 2022, new items will be placed in the time capsule for resealing and opening on October 2, 2072, the Sunday of the 150th Anniversary of Wesley’s sanctuary.
In 1994, the ground was broken on the new Family Life Center, housing the church offices, a gym, a new kitchen, a library, a youth floor, a multimedia room, and additional meeting spaces. The Family Life Center was dedicated in March of 1995.
Thanks largely to the tireless work of Carolyn Barker, Tommy and Amy Neathery, and others, Wesley United Methodist Church was designated United Methodist Historic Site Number 568 on May 12, 2021. A dedication event was held on April 24, 2022.
On October 2, 2022, Wesley will celebrate Homecoming Sunday in honor of the 100th Anniversary of our historic and beautiful sanctuary, first constructed in 1922. A full weekend of activities is planned.