The United Methodist Church in Lander, Wyoming
Methodism came to Wyoming’s Lander Valley many years before it was formally established in October 1884 by the arrival of Christian C. Zebold, who had been appointed by the Colorado Conference of the Methodist Church to serve the settlers of Lander Valley. Rev. Zebold held services in a log cabin along the banks of the Popo Agie River and various temporary meeting places filled the needs of the citizens of Lander Valley until 1891 when a permanent Methodist church was completed. The building was made of local red brick and native stone, with leaded glass windows and a classic belfry tower – an edifice declared to be the finest in the State. The belfry tower housed a seven hundred pound bell, donated in 1896, which has remained part of the present church built in 1956. Electric chimes were added in 1980 when a Baldwin organ replaced the old Hammond pipe organ purchased in 1938.
Age declared a need for replacement of the 1891 building during the early 1940’s, so the members moved their services (and their Hammond organ) in 1946 a block west to a church purchased from the Congregationalists. When the congregation was in a position to begin building a new church on their initial site at Third and Washakie Streets, the original corner stone dated 1891 was laid beside the new stone dated 1954. In May 1967 the congregation participated in double ceremonies to observe the burning of the mortgage on their building begun in 1954, and to commemorate the ground breaking for a new educational building.
A new parsonage was acquired in 1961 to replace the 1906 parsonage next door to the church. The old parsonage was sold and then moved a block north to Amoretti Street, allowing plans to proceed for building the educational wing adjoining the church. This building was completed in 1974.
In its one hundred twenty-nine year history, there have been forty-three ministers and two associate ministers who have served the First United Methodist Church of Lander, Wyoming.
One pastor served only one day, and another served nineteen years. All have served the Lord to benefit the members of this church and the community of Lander Valley.