MILTON — First United Methodist Church of Milton will celebrate 150 years of ministry on Sunday, May 21.
The observance includes a 10 a.m. worship service where Bishop David Graves, the resident bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, will be the featured preacher. The Rev. Dr. Timothy Trent, district superintendent of the Pensacola District of The United Methodist Church, will also participate in leading worship.
The building that houses the church, located at the corner of Berryhill, Broad and Willing Streets, was constructed in 1939 after two other church buildings made of wood were destroyed by fire.
To raise funds to build the third building, the church sold bricks and its children began a “pennies for bricks” campaign. The congregation met in the Santa Rosa Courthouse for worship for three years while they raised funds; the choir occupied the jury box on Sunday mornings.
When the building holding the church’s sanctuary was dedicated to the glory of God in 1939, the building was free of debt.
Perhaps the sanctuary’s most striking feature is a stained glass window behind the altar that depicts a risen Christ standing outside a tomb.
“He bestows a blessing on the congregation by using a common hand gesture in Christian art,” an FUMC media release stated. “Christ’s first two fingers and his thumb are extended, and his third and fourth finger are closed. This sign emerged as one of benediction or blessing in early Christian art and is still used by pastors today as they bless their congregations at the conclusion of worship services.”
On the east side of Christ is a pelican feeding her young. Pelicans were believed to pierce their own breast with their beaks and feed young with their own blood. In early Christianity, pelicans became symbols of Christ sacrificing himself for humankind.
On the west side of Christ is a phoenix rising from flames. The phoenix was a mythical eagle-like bird with red and gold feathers. It was said to rise from a death of burning flames to live again. It became a symbol of Christ’s resurrection.
CARING FOR OTHERS
“First United Methodist Church of Milton’s mission is to connect people to God and people to people through Jesus Christ,” the media release states.
Its mission has included:
Hosting produce drops in conjunction with the Society of St. Andrew on the Santa Rosa Day of Service to feed the hungry
Supporting the United Methodist Committee on Relief by making cleaning, health and school kits to help victims of natural disasters
Producing nutritious meal kits for international food relief through Stop Hunger Now
Providing monthly worship services at the Santa Rosa Health and Rehabilitation Center and at NAS Whiting Field
Serving as a host site for the United Way Cram the Van campaign seeking school supplies for needy children
Providing a place for Bridges out of Poverty educational classes
Raising awareness in conjunction with the Santa Rosa Kids House for the need to report child abuse
Initiating food drives to help children who receive free lunches at East Milton Elementary School
Ministering to the United Methodist Children’s Home, a group home in Milton
Operating a weekly food pantry open to the public called “Feed My Sheep”
Planting and harvesting a community garden to feed the hungry
Raising monies to help feed starving Syrians who were the victims of war
Making reusable feminine hygiene products to empower girls in Africa to receive an education equal to that of their male counterparts by being able to attend school during their monthly periods.
“Over the years, the church has responded to the needs of the Milton community and the Santa Rosa community, as well as the needs of the ‘least of these’ regionally, nationally and internationally,” the release stated.