Celebrating More Than 160 Years of Ministry
First United Methodist Church was served by circuit riders in the early 1800s before the church was officially organized and founded as a Methodist Church in 1856. Our church is also known as the ‘Lighthouse on the Ridge,’ and is reported to be the oldest church structure in Park Ridge. The original sanctuary was built in 1857, and part of it remains in use today, as our parlor. Today’s sanctuary was built in 1924, and contains six beautiful stained glass windows, which were dedicated in 1940. A spacious educational wing was added in 1950, and has hosted generations of young Methodists studying their faith, including former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was raised in our church.
For over 160 years, First United Methodist Church has striven to live out its core values of love, compassion and spiritual growth and is the home of many distinguished past and present Park Ridge residents. Boy Scout Troop #1, the first troop for the Boy Scout organization, was founded in the Church and still uses our facilities today. Avenues To Independence, a local non-profit which assists the developmentally disabled, began in our church in 1953. The Park Ridge Teen Center offered a safe place for the youth of our community for more than 25 years; staffed by volunteers, it was located at the Church.
First UMC Today
Our church is active in social issues through hands-on projects in Chicago neighborhoods and work camps throughout the Midwest, on native American reservations and in Appalachia. We support Volunteers in Mission, and for more than 100 years, the current unit of the United Methodist Women and its predecessor groups have joined women throughout the world to advocate for the rights of women and children through participation in the largest women’s mission-giving effort in the world. More recently our church members have been helping support full inclusion of the LGBT community in the life and ministry of the UMC, as well as helping support African missions to Burkina Faso, Tanzania, and Senegal.