Church celebrates 100 years of worship with special services

The Rev. Danny Sanders has been at the First United Methodist Church in Melrose for six years. CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

Kathryn Viggers fondly recalls watching her daughter recite her wedding vows at the First United Methodist Church in Melrose.

A member of the church since 1938, the 84-year-old Viggers said she also particularly enjoys Easter services and social events.

“We (congregation) have a sand hill picnic,” Viggers said, “and the kids bury each other up to their necks.”

“We are here because of our Lord,” Viggers said, “but we enjoy the interaction with each other.”

The church will celebrate its 100th anniversary beginning Sunday with three weekends of special services.

Since it was formed Sept. 3, 1906, the church has had more than 1,500 members, according to church records, including 230 current members.

As part of the celebration, the church is also planning to bury a time capsule full of photographs, Sunday School attendance rolls, sermon tapes and letters to future members. The capsule is to be opened in 2050, church members.

There will also be a hospitality room with photographs of the church throughout its history.

Visitors also can see some of the church’s unique features, such as its cross-covered wall and stained glass windows.

The crosses represent members of the church and the windows are the original ones from the old building, according to members.

The Rev. Danny Sanders, who has led the church for six years, said the annual church chicken fry is among his favorite events.

“It is the best chicken you have ever tasted,” he said.

Although he enjoys the socializing, the pastor said the church was built on the belief of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Hank Jordan was married in the church and his wife has called the church home for 60 years. “We (First United Methodist Church) have several families who have four generations of church members,” Jordan said.

The church members are also proud of their congregation and the community services they provide.

“We hold fund-raisers for local families in need,” Sanders said. “It is one of the things that has touched me the most.”

The pastor said the church is known for always being unlocked.

“Our doors are always open,” Sanders said. “So, anyone can come to seek shelter or pray.”

“If they take something,” Viggers said, “then they need it more than we did.”