Church History

Methodist churches have a long history in Washington Township of Alameda County, beginning in the early 1850’s. A Methodist-Episcopal (now known as the UMC denomination) church was organized in nearby Alvarado (now part of Union City), meeting for a time in the building in Union City used by Mormon church at the invitation of John Horner a Mormon church elder and an early pioneer. The Methodist Sanctuary building was built and commissioned in Alvarado in 1859 or 1860 The women of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches established a Sabbath School which met in the Alvarado school house. At the time of the Great Earthquake in 1868 the Alvarado Methodist church housed the Centerville Presbyterian Church for a year until a new building could be built in Centerville. The town of Alvarado was initially the Alameda County seat because of its boat harbor at the mouth of Alameda Creek, but later the seat was moved to the more recently established town of Oakland. This move contributed to decline and loss of population such that in the Methodist Church closed and the building was sold (ironically to house a saloon) sometime in the late 1870’s or 80’s. It would be almost 3/4 of a century before the a Methodist church was built again in the Washington Township area.

New Beginnings

The beginnings of our church date back over 50 years ago, when the city of Fremont was only two years old. A small group of people, led largely by the efforts of retired minister Alfred E. Cole, actively pursued their dream of a Methodist Church in the new city. They were successful in finding our beautiful, historic, five-acre parcel of property. Working closely with The Extension Society of the East Bay, we were able to arrange the financing. The church was organized June 1, 1958 with 62 Charter members joining that day.

Services under the Palms

Services under the palms

Services under the palms

A nine-room, two story farmhouse provided the space for the first services, led by Rev. Francis Mitchison. When the congregation outgrew the farm house, services were conducted outdoors under the cluster of landmark palms near the front of the property. A cross was fastened to one of the trees as a focal point. As the rainy season approached, Sunday services were moved first to Centerville’s Center Theater, then the old, Irvington Community Church, and finally to the Odd Fellows Hall. In January 1962, we were able to move into our first building, Cole Hall.

In the early part of 1964, twenty of our families left with our blessing to form our sister church, St. Paul UMC in north Fremont. In the fall of 1964, the old farm house, which had continued to be used for classrooms, offices, and storage, was deemed a hazard and was burned down for us by the fire department. Fortunately, work had begun on the Ockerman Building which was completed by June of 1964.

Building the new sanctuary

Building the new sanctuary

Building the New Sanctuary

An arson fire in 1978 gutted our 650 book library in Cole Hall, destroyed all our choir music and robes, and caused extensive damage to several other rooms. That same year saw a decision to build a new sanctuary, which we occupied on Easter Sunday 1980.

Our mission outreach has led to the sharing of our facilities with a Chinese speaking Methodist congregation, The Creative Living Center, drug rehabilitation programs, the Korean Methodist Fellowship, the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalists, and the Classic Math School. We are actively involved with local, national, and international projects to assist those in need. In support of Abode Services we cook dinner and provide backpacks for children at their homeless shelter and also assisted them in annually providing all the needed dollars and supplies for a homeless family to move into an apartment. We assemble health and school kits to be sent wherever needed, provide programs for local convalescent hospitals, and collect food for Tri-City Volunteers.

Most of all, we strive to do God’s will here in this growing community.