In May 1876, a group of German settlers felt they couldn’t live in the “Wild West” without a church. A small, dedicated group joined the West German Conference and began meeting as the Wichita Mission in a school at Emporia and Third Street.
By 1878, membership had grown to 78 and a church building was started at Emporia and First Street. The First German Methodist Church was dedicated in January 1879. The one-room building had stained glass windows, red upholstery, and a carved, walnut pulpit. A center aisle divided the pews where men sat on one side, women on the other.
Children of those years remember the annual Christmas program with its songs and recitations—all in German, and the annual summer picnic at Linwood Park. Both became strong traditions for over 100 years.
By 1910, they had outgrown the one-room building and built a new church at the corner of Prince (English) and Lulu. Its dome was painted with clasped hands of friendship and rose trees, symbolizing the fellowship of the church.
During WW I, it was hard to interest people in the “German” church. They joined the S. W. Kansas Conference and the church was renamed Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church. For the first time, all services were conducted in English instead of German.
The church bell, weighing 1700 lbs., was purchased from Grace Methodist Church and hung in Calvary’s belfry in 1922. Over the next 30 years, membership grew to 800, and Calvary added many building additions to provide space for its active Sunday school and fellowship groups.
During the 1960’s, Wichita’s downtown grew and Calvary’s residential neighborhood began to disappear. By 1979, weekly attendance was down to 72, and the church was faced with a decision about its future.
In 1979, the members chose to serve God in a new location. They sold the church building and began meeting at Coleman Junior High School on Governeour Road. After 100 years, Calvary was starting over.
In 1981, God gave the descendants of those pioneers a new future in northeast Wichita. In January 1983, they moved into the one-room fellowship hall here on Rock Road. As the northeast part of Wichita grew, so did Calvary. By July 1983, they had added a sanctuary.
Over the next few years, Calvary grew rapidly, receiving the Kansas West Conference Evangelism Award for growth in both 1985 and 1987. With the growth came new children and the return of memorable Christmas programs and annual summer picnics.
By the close of 1988, weekly attendance had grown to 337, the church had added an education wing for its active Sunday school program, and enlarged the narthex; the bell, which had called so many to worship over the years, was once again hung at Calvary.
Now known as Calvary United Methodist, we are called to continue the willing and inviting "can-do" spirit that empowered a few faithful servants to follow God's lead to this new place.
By God's grace, Calvary has become a happy and spiritually dynamic church. Calvary thrives on participation of its ministers: members and friends who give themselves enthusiastically and tirelessly in service to our Lord Jesus Christ.