Sunday, May 20, 2012

180 Years for Broadway UMC Today

Broadway United Methodist celebrates heritage


Sunday is an important day for all Methodists, but Broadway United Methodist Church congregants have a special reason to rejoice.

The picturesque downtown church celebrates 180 years of faith and fellowship Sunday on the annual Methodist Heritage Sunday. Much of the heritage they’ll celebrate surrounds the history of collaboration at Broadway UMC, Sara Penry said. Penry, church historian and chairwoman of anniversary activities, has been with Broadway UMC since 1951. Along with a steadfast building and growing new membership, the church will honor members who have been with the church for 50 years or longer.

Penry recalls the ecumenical efforts over the years. Come Lent and Advent, Broadway UMC members are easily spotted with other downtown churchgoers of differing denominations, she said. Many of the churches originally located downtown have moved to more suburban areas. Twice congregants voted to stay in the original location, rather than following the relocation trend, Penry said.

As the oldest church in Paducah, founded in 1832, Broadway United Methodist Church is intrinsically linked to the history of the city itself, according to Penry. In 1929, lightning hit the church, and the pastor had to hold services in the McCracken County Courthouse. The pastor sat at the judge’s bench and the choir was in the jury box, she said.

Rev. Joe Beal has been senior pastor at Broadway UCM since June 2010. He came in as associate minister in April 2009, when Northside United Methodist Church merged with the downtown location. Beal has enjoyed his time at Broadway UMC largely in part to the community service opportunities. The church also has a strong musical heritage with a choir and hand bell group that continually gives strong performances.

As the church moves closer to its bicentennial, Beal’s hope is bolstered by the growing number of young couples bringing children to services. He hopes the church can continue to honor those with long-time commitments to Broadway United Methodist Church.

Call Rebecca Feldhaus, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651.

© 2012

(Stained glass window dedicated in memory of Rodney Ritchie. Church staff say Ritchie sold his pet canary for $100 to make a contribution to the church building fund in 1895.)

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