History of McAlester First United Methodist Church

McAlester First United Methodist Church has a strong tradition of meeting people where they are, both geographically and spiritually.

Methodists were in McAlester as early as 1874, just five years after J.J. McAlester started a trading post along the Shawnee Road of Indian Territory in 1869. The earliest Methodists met in brush arbors in the summer and unused box cars in the winter. In 1889, Methodists began to worship in a white frame church at Stonewall and Ash.


Several churches are a part of the history of McAlester First UMC:

  • Christ United Methodist (formerly Barnett Memorial) – 1912-2013
  • First Methodist Episcopal Church (M.E.C.) – 1894-1925
  • Mary Phillips Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church (M.E.C., South) – 1895-1925
  • Grand Avenue United Methodist Church (a merger of First M.E.C. & Mary Phillips Memorial M.E.C) 1925-2009
  • Wesley United Methodist – 1960-2009


Wesley UMC & Grand Avenue UMC merged officially on January 1, 2009 to become McAlester First United Methodist Church. Members of Christ UMC also united with McAlester First UMC after its closing in 2013.

McAlester First United Methodist Church boldly chose to construct a new campus at 13th and MacArthur, the former location of Wesley UMC. With the construction on the new facility complete, the final service at Grand Avenue was held on the morning of December 16, 2012. Later that afternoon, McAlester First UMC held its first worship service in its new location, where we’ve been worshiping ever since.

Methodists in McAlester have followed Christ in many different buildings and in several locations. However, we have not wavered from our call to invite people to experience the life-changing love of God. This has been true from our earliest members meeting in a boxcar to our current members making the bold decision to relocate from a beloved building to reach new people for Christ!


For a detailed history of First United Methodist Church, download A Brief History of Methodists in McAlester.