Our church traces is roots back to 1831, when Rev. James Slavens came to the Ozarks from southeast Missouri. Once here, he not only pastored churches, he also practiced medicine. Over time, through the Civil War and move down the street, our current sanctuary became the home of St. Paul United Methodist Church at the corner of Walnut and Jefferson in 1903.
It was a large and vibrant church in its early years, all the way through the 1970s. But the church began aging and the suburban sprawl looked to claim another victim in downtown Springfield. The church clung to life, even temporarily joining with another downtown Methodist Church in 2005. In 2013, the aging and dwindlling congregation joined in talks with Wesley UMC on the southwest side of town about adoption.
On January 1, 2014, St. Paul ceased to be and turned over the church and assets to Wesley. Pastor Lori was hired in August 2014, and since then, what became known as The Downtown Church grew from 30 people to 200 on any given Sunday. What was once an aging congregation is now one full of life, from newborns to ninety year olds. And so, we seek to be a church following the call of Isaiah 58:10-12:
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10 if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
There's always more to the story than what we can write here. So come on in. Get to know us. We'd love to have you along for the journey.