In 1863, Margaret Fullerton Abney, joined the Methodist Church with her family during a camp meeting at nearby McKendree Campground. Because the nearest Methodist church was ten miles away, Mrs. Abney, age 34, held Bible study meetings in her home on Sunday afternoons. This group of Abney family and friends formed the nucleus of the membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, when it organized a Lufkin congregation in 1882. One of eight churches in the Homer circuit, the congregation met once a month in a local school building to hear the sermons of the Reverend H. H. Vaughan. In 1884 a 200-seat frame church building was erected in downtown Lufkin on land donated by the railroad. The building was shared with local Presbyterians and Baptists. By 1891, membership had grown to 100 and the pastor held services twice a month. Ten years later, the membership numbered 286 and the pastor was serving full-time. A new sanctuary seating more than 800 people was completed in 1905 at a cost of $14,750. The church propsered, requiring an educational building by 1928.
Despite the difficult times of the Depression era and World War II, the congregation continued to grow. In April 1955, 8.6 acres of land was purchased at 805 East Denman Avenue. On Easter Sunday, 1959, the congregation marched from the old downtown location to the Denman Avenue site. The following Sunday, April 5, the first service was held at the new location in the fellowship hall. By 1978, when the congregation celebrated the 100 years since Mrs. Abney began her Sunday School, the church complex included six buildings.
Over more than 150 years, Lufkin’s First United Methodist Church has impacted almost five full generations of not just Methodists, but the entire area. Today, we pursue a mission and vision that will influence generations into the next century.