The United Methodist Church: A Brief History
The United Methodist Church originated as a reform movement in the Church of England during the 18th century. Brothers John and Charles Wesley believed the good news of Jesus Christ should be presented to working class people in a way that they could both understand and accept. Those who responded to their message were invited to form “societies” and “classes.” The title “Methodist” comes from “methodical” and was used as a term of derision by those who thought the early Methodists were too serious about their faith.
Young men called “circuit riders” took the message of the Methodists across the ocean and to the settlements all along the American frontier. The Mount Horeb congregation was started by one such circuit rider, J.T. Pryor, in 1854. We moved to our current location in 1987, with the construction of our present facility.
Today, the United Methodist Church is one of the largest Protestant churches in the world with almost 8 million members. With a core belief and a rich history of putting love into action, the United Methodist Church today has 700 people in the mission field and a major commitment to colleges, hospitals, camps, retirement homes, disaster relief and other social ministries. Through the larger church, our local efforts touch people all around the world.
The United Methodist Church in Mount Horeb
The roots of the United Methodist Church in the Mount Horeb area grow deep and wide. According to the 1880 History of Dane County entry titled, “The First Methodist Episcopal Church in Mount Horeb," the first Methodist Episcopal class was organized Nov. 7, 1854, by the Rev. J. T. Pryor and was attached to the Black Earth circuit.
The first Methodist church building in Mount Horeb was constructed in 1866. This building no longer stands but was located on land that is now Union Cemetery. The second Methodist church building was dedicated in 1904. It served the congregation and the community for more than 80 years and still stands at the corners of Oak and Third Streets. It has since been converted for residential living.
Our current church building was dedicated in the summer of 1987. Out of respect to our heritage and the old building, every effort was made to take as much as possible from the old building to the new one. Today, several stained glass windows from the previous church preside over the altar and adorn the back wall of the sanctuary. Additional items that moved to our current location include the altar, the pulpit, the lectern, the baptismal font and the wooden cross that hangs on the back side wall of the sanctuary – this was the altar cross in the former building.
In 2004 we celebrated our Sesquicentennial. Today, our congregation is blessed to continue the work of many faithful people who have kept the vision and mission of the United Methodist Church alive in Mount Horeb for more than 150 years.