The First United Methodist Church of Bastrop

is steeped in history...

WITH AN EYE TO THE FUTURE...

First United Methodist Church of Bastrop Circa 1851

The Methodist congregation had its beginnings in the mid 1830's when some of Stephen F. Austin's pioneers began settling the area of Bastrop just a decade earlier.  The Methodist Church was the first church to be organized in Bastrop. In the spring of 1835, Lay Preacher James Gilliland, visited the settlement of Bastrop, Texas and held the first recorded service of Methodism in the area. Texas was still under Mexican jurisdiction, and protestant worship was outlawed. He preached to a congregation of 11 persons who were seated in pews constructed with wooden planks laid across barrels.  His podium was a barrel with a bible and a hymnal upon it.  As the church grew, they bought a house in town on Main Street and held services there until the first church (shown to the left) was built in 1851.


The sancturary was adorned with Venitian-Style stained glass windows from Florence, Italy in 1895.  The windows reflect the early history of Bastrop and Texas. The only concert sized organ in the surrounding area was given to the church in 1922 by W.A. McCord in memory of his wife who was the choir director from 1880 to 1922.  Lightening struck the church belfry in 1923, damaging a portion of the structure.  A new brick structure was built to replace it in 1925. The interior was renovated in 1953 and our church is as it stands today on the corners of Main and Farm Streets.

Sanctuary, First United Methodist Church of Bastrop, Circa 1851


The bell holds its own history apart from the church and, at the same time, is woven with it.  It originally was the bell on the steamboat Water Moccasin in 1851.  The boat was built and christened in Bastrop, successfully steamed to Matagorda Bay, on the return trip run aground down river from Bastrop and had to be dismantled.  The Bastrop Military Academy, operated by the Methodist church, fell heir to the bell. In 1892, the academy closed. The bell was no longer used to summon school classes, so, it was placed in a cupola in 1928 on the current church grounds.

 

Currently, both the bell tower and the church have formally been recognized by the city of Bastrop with historical markers.  it is an honor to be considered an important part of Bastrop's history.

Memorial Bell Tower behind the church, dedicated February 1928