First Methodist Episcopal (as the church was called at the beginning) was part of Mattoon before the town was incorporated. In 1855 Rev W. R. Howard, a circuit rider, gathered eight people to form the first Methodist Episcopal society of Mattoon. Our first building was erected in 1859 at the corner of 14th Street and Champaign Avenue.
In 1871 the congregation decided to build a large, brick house of worship at the corner of what is now Charleston Avenue and 17th Street to be closer to the new railroad crossing. On June 15, 1901, this building was destroyed by fire.
The cornerstone of the present building was laid on April 10, 1902. The church was renovated or expanded many times since to keep up with the needs of the congregation and the community. Our most recent renovations have included updating our audio-visual systems for worship, purchasing a new digital organ, and redecorating the interior of the building. During this long history we have maintained a presence for Christianity and Methodism in the very heart of Mattoon.
At its core, First United Methodist Church is not about buildings or institutions. The church is the gathering of the people of God to worship, serve, fellowship, grow, witness and be good stewards through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our heritage includes maintaining a witness to the transforming power of Christ, providing a community of support and care, and ministering to the needy of our community in a multitude of ways over our history of nearly 160 years. As Methodists we believe strongly in working with others in our community in the cause of Christ.