Messiah United Methodist Church has a rich history of missions and service work throughout its history. Following is a brief history of the founding and logistical growth and development that has permitted Messiah to continue our tradition of outreach.
Messiah United Methodist Church was founded in 1866 as the Evangelical United Brethren Church of Shippensburg. Initial services were held in the home of the Reverend John M. Smiley, who also owned a clothing store on East King Street. The first church building was constructed along North Penn Street and was dedicated on June 20, 1869. One year later, in 1870, a Sunday school was formed.
A new, larger church building was built on the same site in 1893 to make room for the growing congregation. The second church building was dedicated on January 24, 1894. It was at this juncture that the name “Messiah” was first incorporated into the Church’s name.
Messiah’s first parsonage was constructed in 1896 along what is now known as Prince Street. The Reverend A. R. Ayres moved into the residence in 1897. The church choir and a children’s Sunday school both began in the year 1899.
Construction of a movie theater adjacent to the church building in 1920 prompted the congregation to seek an alternate location for worship. As a result, the cornerstone of our present church building was laid along South Penn Street in 1923. Construction was completed the following year, with the dedication ceremony taking place on October 26, 1924. Subsequent renovations in 1940, and again in 1951, further served to enhance the functionality and aesthetics of the main building.
Our current parsonage was constructed in the mid-1960’s along Charles Street. An educational center, presently known as the “Evangel Center”, was completed adjacent to the Sanctuary in 1970 and houses various classrooms, meeting rooms, and office facilities.
The 1960’s are known by many to have been a decade of change, and such was the case with Messiah. In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches merged to form the United Methodist Church. Subsequently, our church name was established as “Messiah United Methodist Church”.
Various property improvements and acquisitions occurring over the past 30 years have positioned “Messiah” to be a leader in service to our community, our congregation, and most of all, our Creator. Through God’s guidance and grace, it is our prayer that Messiah United Methodist Church will continue to be an instrument of our Lord’s will.