It is our 170th Anniversary! Our very first church meeting was held on June 4, 1853. This year, Gilroy United Methodist Church will celebrate our 170th Anniversary on Sunday, June 4, at 11am. Lunch will follow the worship celebration. If you are available, please come and enjoy our 170th anniversary celebration.
While looking back on our church history, I learned that there was a big fire on Sunday, Nov. 13, 1938. All of our church buildings were completely destroyed due to an explosion of the church boiler. I cannot imagine how helpless everyone felt to see the church burning down. Maybe some of your parents or grandparents watched this fire.
Amazingly, in less than a year, the current church building was dedicated in the same location on June 11, 1939.
What I am surprised by and what I am thankful for was that there was a lot of support from the community. For example, the Catholic Ladies Aid Society gave us a donation of $108.60 in early December 1938. For your understanding, accounting for inflation, this $108.60 in 1938 would be worth about $2,300 in 2023. Many other churches and organizations followed with their kindness and generosity.
Our former pastor at that time, Rev. Ezelle Cox, summarized it this way: “Practically all organizations and churches here have cooperated wholeheartedly in providing us with a new home.”
This new home still exists here and now. It is across from the Gilroy Post Office and next to the Habing Family Funeral Home. You might happen to see a pastor who waves his hands to you on Sunday mornings from the doors of this awesome church.
I believe that the church exists for the community, not for the church itself. However, what I learned from our church history is that our church has been loved by our community even more than our church has loved and served, especially when our church buildings were destroyed and when our church was in need.
As the current pastor of Gilroy United Methodist Church, I would like to express sincere gratitude for the support from all of the organizations and churches in the community that enabled us to rebuild our church buildings 84 years ago.
While celebrating our 170th Anniversary, I remember again when our church was in need. There is a saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Our church has many friends. And it is our turn to become your friends. When you are in trouble, we want to be your friends. When you are under threat, we want to be your friends. When you are in fear, we want to be your friends.
That’s because we learned this from our church history. That’s why our church is a part of the Interfaith CommUNITY of South County. That’s how to build our community together as friends.
Hwapyoung Kang is the Pastor of Gilroy United Methodist Church. An active participant in the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County, Pastor Kang can be reached through the Church Office email: [email protected].