A bit of our History:
The following is transcribed from a framed, handwritten parchment currently hanging in the church office. It is not dated but appears to be written about 1973.
Historical sketch of Sonora United Methodist Church
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Sonora, is one of the true pioneer churches in California. It was erected in the spring of 1852, on land purchased from Mr I P Yaney, a Sonora businessman, who was also a member of the original city council.
The first pastor was the Rev, David Deal, who also assisted in the construction of the building, which was a completed in only 12 days at a cost of $3300.00. From its founding to the present this parish has been served by 52 different ministers. Before 1900 the church had 34 different ministers, three of whom were appointed to two separate terms each, while since that time there have been only 18 different ministers, underscoring the trend word longer pastorate since 1900.
During a considerable portion of its long history, Sonora Church has shared its minister with the Methodist parishes in Springfield, Columbia, Soulsbyville and currently is yoked to Jamestown.
In 1922 the old pioneer church was torn down and replaced by a new edifice, under the ministry of Rev. John Edgell. The dedication of the new building, which was held on June 2, 1923, was conducted by Bishop Adan W, Leonard, assisted by the presiding elder, The Rev. Dr. Channing Richardson. In spirit of “the Great Depression” which struck in 1928, the remaining indebtedness was liquidated in only 12 years.
Excavation for the new kitchen and social hall was begun under the ministry of the Rev B W Pearce, who served form 1928-1932. Construction was completed during the pastorate if the Rev. Porter Knudson, 1936-1940.
In 1950, during the pastorate of the Rev. Edgar Nelson, the need for additional space for both church and Sunday School became evident. Consequently, an education building was added to the church structure and the Sanctuary was lengthened. At the same time, new carpeting was contributed by The Woman’s Society of Christian Service. Present church membership is 150.
Update: Since this was written, 11 more Pastors have served our church.
Our Sesquicentennial (1852 - 2002) was celebrated on May 25, 2002 with a Worship service and luncheon. Bishop Beverley Shamana gave the sermon. Rev. Jim Garrison was also assisted in that service with the scripture reading by District Superintendent Dave Bennett and the benediction given by former pastor, the Rev. Edgar Nelson.
Pastor Tom Weathers and his wife Martha began our tradition of serving a Community Thanksgiving Dinner open to all about 2005. The entire congregation helps, and for many years we could count on the late Bill Dunlavy, Sr to be there each year carving the turkeys. We now serve the meal in his memory with Bill Dunlavy, Jr as the main chef.