First Church is currently a 500 member church with two full time and 1 part-time pastors, Sunday School for all ages, First United Day Care which serves 100 children, children’s and youth ministry, diverse music ministry with vocal choirs, handbell choirs, and praise band.
First Church partners with Shalom Center and the Salvation Army to serve the needy in our community as well as projects for schools and missions throughout the world. First Church gives away over $75,000.00 per year to the mission. First Church started a new congregation in the 1960s in Kenosha that became Wesley United Methodist Church and continues expanding ministry with other United Methodists throughout the city and state, as well as nationally and worldwide.
Who We Are
We are a part of the United Methodist Church, which is a Protestant denomination founded by John and Charles Wesley, Philip Otterbein, Jacob Albright, and others. Theologically, we are aligned with orthodox Christianity as it has come to us through the ages. We view our faith through the quadrilateral of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. We practice a generous orthodoxy, allowing for a variety of interpretations of our beliefs.
As United Methodists, we are Trinitarian in belief. We believe that God the Father is revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ and that the Holy Spirit continues to work in the church and in the world.
The Bible, both in the Hebrew scripture and the Second Testament, is the record of God’s people living out their faith. God is revealed to us in Holy Scripture.
As United Methodists, we depend upon God’s grace. Grace is God’s love freely offered to us. That grace prepares us for a new life in Christ (prevenient grace), calls us into that new life (justifying grace), and moves us toward perfection in love (sustaining grace).
One of the marks of United Methodism is our emphasis on the love of God and neighbor. Social holiness is as important as personal holiness. As such, we are a mission and justice-oriented people seeking to transform the world.
As United Methodists, our table is open to all. All are welcome to join us in worship. The communion table is open to everyone. Here at First United Methodist Church, all means all.
First United Methodist Church of Kenosha Wisconsin began in 1835 when Jonathan Pierce and Austin Kellogg landed in, what was then, Pike and asked where the nearest church was. When they were informed there wasn't one, Jonathan replied, "Well there is now." They organized the first class meeting in a log cabin on the shore of Lake Michigan and the First Church of Kenosha was born Methodist. Initially served by itinerant ministers, the mission point grew and evolved.
In 1840 a church was erected on the corner of Main Street and Park Avenue at the cost of $5000. Since its foundation, First Church outgrew 6 buildings and is currently in the 7th, begun just before the stock market crash of 1929. At the time it was built it was the largest sanctuary in the State of Wisconsin. When the economic crisis threatened to derail the completion of the building, 5 members mortgaged their homes to see the project through. It was a member of this church, Earl Merlatt, who wrote a hymn destined to be cherished throughout the world, "Are Ye Able Said the Master" and the Methodists of Kenosha answered, "Yes, we are able!"
The History of First Church
Convinced that ALL people are created in the image of the loving God, and that “in Christ there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one…,” First Church believes that having “open hearts, open minds, open doors” means we are called to share God’s welcome with ALL.
We embrace diversity and believe every person is of sacred worth and a beloved child of God. We commit ourselves to the hospitality Jesus taught by creating a place of safety and spiritual sanctuary for ALL people.
We welcome into full participation in the life of this church people of every race, ethnicity, age, ability, physical or mental condition, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, gender identity, sexual orientation, family structure or marital status.
We invite ALL people into the way of Jesus Christ to grow together in Christain faith, love, and to go out into the world to serve. We invite ALL people into the way of Jesus Christ to grow together in Christian faith and go forth into the world to serve
We have two Sunday morning services at 8:00 and 10:30 am. We have Sunday School for children through adults at 9:15. After each worship service, we gather in our Great Room for a time of fellowship with coffee and cookies.
Our primary aim on Sunday mornings is to have a communal experience of God. Our traditional worship style is filled with music. We have vocal choirs and handbell choirs for children, youth and adults. They are accompanied by a variety of instruments including our restored 1929 Aeolian pipe organ and Bösendorfer concert grand piano. The message is both biblical and contemporary. We have a strong emphasis on teaching the Bible in a way that helps us better know God. We believe the truths expressed in it, though we do not necessarily interpret it from a literal standpoint.
There are two parking lots located on the Sheridan Road side of the church to the east and on 10th Avenue to the west. There is no dress code. You will see people dressed casually as well as those wearing suits. Please come and join us for worship.