Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.
— Jeremiah 17:7-8
Near the Amite River beneath a tall oak tree, Christians called Methodists began meeting in a humble open-sided, tin-roofed tabernacle back in 1898. They were led by a circuit rider by the name of Rev. J. Martin Alford. He saw enough potential in the small group to obtain permission to organize a Methodist Church in Denham Springs. The church was founded the following year, in 1899, with 19 charter members.
In 1902, the members worked together to construct a church house and parsonage near the tabernacle. Around 1917, the church building was rolled to Main Street at the edge of a canal on land now crossed by Magnolia Street. Ice cream was sold at lawn parties to help finance the church, which had a pump organ that squeaked and was lighted with coal oil lamps. Children and young people gathered on Sunday evenings for worship and fellowship.
We are a resilient people.
In 1925, the Amite River overflowed and the church building was heavily damaged by its flood waters. Higher ground was sought, and in 1927, a new church was built on Mattie Street across from the present building. The white-framed building had a steeple with a church bell which summoned the faithful to worship. Sunday School rooms, including one upstairs known as the Upper Room, a kitchen and pastor’s study were later added.
As the church continued to grow, more room was needed, and a new sanctuary went up across the street from the old church, which continued to serve as a Sunday School building. On March 30, 1952, the first service was held in the new sanctuary. An educational building was added in 1957.
On January 13, 1973, the sanctuary was destroyed by fire. Services continued in the Denham Springs High School gymnasium and the fellowship hall of the educational building while the new sanctuary was built following the same architecture of the 1952 building.
On the night of October 29, 2007, another fire broke out in the educational complex. We are ever grateful to the Denham Springs Fire Department for helping to save both the sanctuary and gym. We are also thankful to so many in our community who came to our aid as we repaired the extensive smoke and water damage and rebuilt our education and administrative facilities.
During Eastertime in 2011, we opened our new building complex which features areas of gathering for youth, children, and adults. There are many opportunities for worship that speak to all styles and creating authentic community.
In 2014, with the help of our members, we added signage to the Casual Worship Center to welcome anyone to come to church as they are — whether in their Sunday best or their favorite pair of blue jeans!
In 2015, we consecrated a Prayer Garden in loving memory of Kelton Whitehead, Bo Garrison, and Danny and Marguerite Cameron. The “Three Vases” center our campus and remind us of the overflowing love of God and the communion of the Saints.
First United Methodist Church of Denham Springs continues to meet the spiritual needs of the people and sends them out to engage in mission work as our members have done for more than 100 years.