First Protestant Church on Reservation

The Flathead Reservation was opened to settlement in 1910. The Rev. O. A. White, Superintendent of the Kalispell District, visited the little town of Polson on April 1, 1909, to discuss the possibility of establishing a church. Rev. White found that there were more Methodists in town than all the other Protestants combined. A Sunday School was organized immediately and met in the old Mansur Building
on Main Street.

The first pastor, the Rev. H. H. Twyford, arrived on September 1, 1909, and lived in a tent as did many of
the townspeople of that day. Two lots on which the church and parsonage now stand were purchased costing $600. The church was incorporated on October 16, 1909, and the official name would be “The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Polson.” Thus, our church became the first, and now the oldest, Protestant church on the Reservation.

The church was dedicated on July 5, 1910. The total cost of the building and furnishings was $3,500, $2,200 of which was pledged at the Dedication service, a remarkable sum for those days. The original church still stands, as it now forms the south part of today’s building where the sanctuary is located.

In 1911, the little church undertook to host the North Montana Annual Conference. The more than 75 delegates were housed in local homes and Conference headquarters were in the church and the Lake Hotel. The Sunday morning speaker was William Wesley Van Orsdel, known and loved throughout Montana as “Brother Van.”

By the middle of 1912, after three struggling but thrilling years, the Methodist Episcopal Church of Polson was on solid footing. The books indicate 84 members pioneered as Methodists in Polson.

In 1946, the name of the church was changed to “The First Methodist Church of Polson” when all Methodists of North America merged into one. In 1947, the Annex was finished and the sanctuary remodeled. In 1968, the name was changed again to “The First United Methodist Church” with the merger of the Methodist and the Evangelical United Brethren. The sanctuary was remodeled again in 1978.

Our congregation is moving ahead with renewed vigor and Christian commitment. We are a loving and caring congregation. Years ahead look bright and promising and with our Lord aiding us as in the past, we will continue to be an example of Christian love in our community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *