Below is a timeline that was created by Ruth Seibert that I thought was really interesting and great fodder for our website. This is a large chunk of that original document that I am thinking seriously of using as source material for an official, bona fide History page!
1881 Fresno’s first Methodist Episcopal church established.
1922 After fires destroyed two other locations, First Methodist was built at Tuolumne and M.
1965 Five couples met to initiate formation of a new United Methodist church in Fresno’s northeast. Worship was held at the College Religious Center across from Fresno State.
1968 An agreement was entered into with the new University Presbyterian Church sharing facilities at the Barstow site as the United Church Center. Ground breaking held for construction of buildings at present location. Rev. Bill Antablin served as pastor for the Presbyterian congregation.
1969 First UMC had to make some critical decisions about bringing buildings to earthquake standards and perspectives about the future. After long and intensive conversations, it was determined to merge with Wesley. Both congregations voted and confirmed the merger.
1970 The official date of the merger was July 1. First UMC brought a legacy of strong social justice programs. Metro Ministry, an ecumenical organization, was created over the concern for involvement of the inner city community.
1976 The Presbyterian congregation decided to separate from the United Church Center and move to their own location.
1981 Bob Cary, ex Conference Director Youth Work and who had retired from Youth ministry at Burlingame UMC, came to Wesley as Administrator.
1982 Bridge of Respect started to help influx of Hmong, Lao and Cambodian refugees living in El Dorado Park community adapt to new ways of living in the U.S. This program helped with learning to cook with a stove, learning to sew, and learn English. It evolved into SE Asian Ministries, which was recognized in1985 as the outstanding refugee program in Fresno County. Stone Soup, now at their own location, grew from these programs and in 1996 received two Presidential awards. One of twenty in the entire United States, the President’s Service Award was earned for work in the refugee and El Dorado community.
1984 After a long period of discussions and education meetings led by Bob Cary, Wesley voted to become a Reconciling Congregations welcoming full participation of LGTBQ people in the life of the church. Wesley was the second congregation in the nation, by a few days, to make this decision.
1987 The Hmong-Lao Fellowship was formed and conducted worship services in Hmong for about 12 years, then moved to their own site. Rev. Kham Dy Yang was appointed to lead the congregation in 1987. His father, Rev. Ger Yang was appointed in 1989 sharing in Wesley’s ministry.
2000 – Wesley’s involvement in social justice issues continued. Headstart used our facilities for more than 20 years. Involvement in LGTBQ issues and events such as Pride Parade, Reel Pride and workshops.
2007 Basecamp, a open-invite dinner for neighborhood and all comers began.
2009 * Community Development Corporation initiated by Wesley to help with the revitalization of the Eldorado neighborhood.
* Boys &Girls Club took over the City Recreation site
* The City of Fresno contacted Wesley to help in the planning of neighborhood revitalization. Wesley was instrumental in the Building Neighborhood Capacity program with City of Fresno and the El Dorado Park Community Development Corporation. This resulted in the remodeling of some neighborhood apartments.
2011 Wesley, with co-sponsor PG&E, was chosen as one of eighteen national sites for a Kaboom playground. Members gathered with neighborhood and PG&E people at 8:30 in the morning and magically constructed the playground by 3:00 that afternoon.
2012 Connections with Fresno State in the Scholars in Service program. Students volunteer as interns in many ways at Wesley.