Where We Began…Where We Are
Not long after the turn of the nineteenth century, a small seed was planted in the west San Fernando Valley. In 1912, Rev. T.A. Hull, a retired Methodist minister from Nebraska, purchased a lot at 7452 Remmet Avenue in the town of Owensmouth (now Canoga Park) for his home and brought his family here to live. He then gathered a few of the residents of the community who were interested in forming a church.
His small group met in the Southern Pacific Station at the comer of Sherman Way and Canoga Avenue on September 10th of that year and organized the First Methodist Church of Owensmouth. They found a school building at 7221 Owensmouth Avenue to use temporarily for services and began using various vacant storerooms on the south side of Sherman Way as well.
In 1920 a new church was completed at a cost of approximately $20,000, but in little over a year that structure went up in flames. A rebuilding program began, and a new church was dedicated in 1923. By 1955, it became necessary to expand the church plant. A study showed that Canoga Park, a small town of about 16,000 inhabitants, was on the verge of a boom. As it turned out, this boom was far greater than anyone dreamed of at that time.
By December 1959 a five-acre site at the comer of Maynard Avenue and Sherman Way had been purchased at a cost of about $90,000. Soon the chapel (now the sanctuary) and part of the educational facilities were completed. Consecration services were held in 1963 coinciding with the year of the Canoga Park Golden Anniversary. The education building was soon enlarged and was able to provide a place for a Head Start program, presently in operation in the same rooms.
The Canoga Park Methodist Nursery School (now First United Methodist Preschool) began in 1970. The school quickly became well known for its nurturing and education of preschoolers in the west valley. The school continues to enhance its reputation as one of the finest in the area. The Fellowship Hall was built in 1986 through the work of many congregational volunteers. The First United Methodist Church of Canoga Park celebrated its 75th year of ministry in 1987. Two mergers have taken place over the years: Wesley UMC merged with First Church in 1975 and St. John in the Valley UMC in 2008. Wesley UMC brought a beautiful stained glass window now in the church narthex. St. John members brought gifts for our sanctuary including large woodcarvings of the Twelve Disciples and the Rodgers organ. A Van Ministry for people needing transportation to church and the refurbishing of the sanctuary were made possible through funds they provided. First United Methodist Church of Canoga Park, now located in West Hills due to boundary changes, will celebrate its 100th year of ministry to western San Fernando Valley in 2012. From the tiny seed of 1912 the church has endured and grown. It has been and continues to be known for its welcoming friendly members who sincerely desire to become the church family to all who seek a better life through Jesus Christ.