Canton First United Methodist’s 180th anniversary was commemorated by a gathering of the faithful in November. Attended by more than 400 celebrants, one of the special guests was 95-year-old Dot Patterson, whose grandfather was the music director in 1842, the year the church began.
The day was described as festive, unifying, sentimental and glorifying to God. Julie Little, the church’s director of administration, said the event exceeded expectations as everyone celebrated “What He’s Done” in the church and community.
Just a year earlier, in November 2021, members celebrated retiring all debt on the facilities during a special Reconsecration and Dedication Service.
It All Started Downtown
The church originally was located in downtown Canton, at 94 North St., now home to the Cherokee Arts Center. For years, the church also served as a school in an area that was small and rural.
As church membership grew, along with the vision to add new ministries and services, church leaders realized they had no room to expand facilities or parking in the downtown location. The decision was made to relocate the congregation.
In 1992, the old building was deconsecrated, and members of the congregation walked across town to their new home on 10 acres at 930 Lower Scott Mill Road, just east of downtown. Each person carried something from the former building to the new church (Bible, hymnal, flags).
The new facility was consecrated on the same day, with office space, classrooms and a fellowship hall, which served as the temporary worship space. Subsequently, the chapel, sanctuary and additional classrooms and office space were added to provide the facility the resources needed to serve a growing church and community.
A History of Caring
Throughout the years, Canton First members have supported and helped ministries expand their services for individuals and families in Cherokee County. As a result of this advocacy work, the Cherokee Family Violence Center was formed, Methodists United in Service and Training (MUST Ministries, Cherokee location) began as a food closet in the basement of the church building in downtown Canton, and Cherokee Thanksgiving was created.
A long-awaited dream of opening a weekday preschool came true in the new location. The Canton First Preschool has expanded over the years, and currently serves more than 160 children and their families.
Members partner with service organizations, international missions helping children, and provide a community fund that gives financial assistance with utilities, food and gas to those in need. An active care ministry includes grief support and bereavement services, prayer and Stephen Ministries, a one-to-one lay caring ministry. Two new Stephen Ministers were consecrated during the 180th celebration.
“Since 1842, Canton First Methodist has ministered to the needs of the Canton and Cherokee County community,” said the Rev. Kenny Ott, lead pastor. “They started the first school in the area and launched organizations like MUST Ministries and the Homeless Coalition of Cherokee County. Even more exciting is our new vision to reach 100 next-generation families by 2026.”
That five-year vision is to connect with families with school-age children (cradle to college) and young people. Work is underway to upgrade the children’s and youth areas with a new playground (which will be open to the community) and covered entryway, along with other improvements to family-oriented ministries. www.cantonumc.org.