WILLIAMSTOWN -After being part of the Williamstown community for 100 years, the First United Methodist Church has learned one big lesson - you have to be willing to adapt to the times.
While the church itself has been part of the community for much longer than 100 years, 2012 marks the 100-year celebration of the current building that houses First United Methodist, located at 304 West Fifth St.
And since the first brick was laid in 1912, the building and its congregation have gone through many changes from the physical appearance of the building to having two Sunday morning services, both a traditional and a more contemporary service to taking their mission work well beyond the borders of Williamstown and even the United States.
The sanctuary of First United Methodist Church as it is today.
"I think that the church is a lot more flexible now and more integrated into the community," said Jean Pickering, 79, life-long member of the church and church historian.
Pickering explained that the church has had to keep up with society and become more open to changes within the church.
Pickering has been in charge, along with a committee, of planning the centennial celebration for the church to be held Aug. 11-12. The weekend event, which is open to everyone, will kick off at 1 p.m. Aug. 11 with a rehearsal of the centennial choir who will perform during both the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services on Aug. 12.
History in Brief
1912: The church is built and called Methodist Episcopal Church.
1930s : Young couples in the church started a Sunday School class called the Homebuilders.
1950s: The church added a second floor to the Sunday School portion of the church and fireproof stairwells
1968: The Evangelical United Brethren and the Methodist Churches merged and became the First United Methodist Church.
The church has expanded its mission programs and is active not only in the Williamstown community and has an active presence in Haiti, making several trips there each year.
The choir is made up of past and present members of the church. At 7 p.m. Aug. 11 the Proclaimers will perform in the sanctuary of the church. Following the concert, there will be refreshments provided at 8 p.m. The Colten Settle Band will perform at 8:30 p.m..
Events will begin with the 9 a.m. worship service Aug. 12. Following this service will be a social hour with coffee and doughnuts. Another worship service will be held at 11 a.m. Ken Krimmel, superintendent for the church district, will be the guest speaker for both services. A luncheon will be provided after the 11 a.m. service.
Also during the celebration, members of the church will have a chance to put an item into a time capsule that will be opened in 50 years. The time capsule is especially unique for the church because it was made by the grandson of one of the original carpenters who built the church in 1912.
Bill Collins made the time capsule out of wood and incorporated some of the original wood from the church building. Instead of being buried, the capsule will be put on display in the sanctuary for everyone to see.
Pickering said she has enjoyed planning the celebration over the past year and said it has been very rewarding.
"It's been good to go through the history," she said.
Starting in January, Pickering has presented a "centennial moment" each Sunday that gives a little bit of history about the church and tries to connect current members with the history of the church. She hopes that those attending the celebration feel a personal connection with people from the past who made the church what it is today.
"We're a tapestry. We have these threads that run lengthwise all the way from the Reformation clear through to the future that we have no idea about. We are the woven threads going back and forth," she said. "And we're all different colors, we're all different patterns and all different shapes, but we all blend together and make this big tapestry. And that's what your life is in this church."