Livingston UMC to Celebrate 100 Years This Month

September 09, 2010

By The Rev. Robert L. Kuyper

The United Methodist Church of Livingston, California will celebrate its 100th birthday on Sunday, September 19. Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., resident bishop for the California-Nevada Annual Conference, will be the guest preacher that morning.
A luncheon will follow. (Please call the church office at 209.394.2264 immediately if you would like to attend the luncheon, as tickets are almost sold out.)
A short program on the history of the church, along with introductions of former pastors and other guests, will follow the luncheon.
The church began in the town of Livingston in 1910, with the pioneer efforts of Pastor J. S. Walton – who at one time lived in a tent next to the church so that he could physically build the church! Although that church had significant numbers of Japanese-American members, in 1917 another church was started on the Yamato Colony to minister in the Japanese language. The town church became First church and the country church became Grace church. There was much cooperation and contact between the two Methodist churches.
In 1966 the Rev. Harper Sakaue, pastor of Grace, was tragically killed when his car was hit by a train. That tragedy brought the two churches together as the Rev. William Thompson of First became pastor of both churches. A merger was completed in 1968, and the church became the United Methodist Church of Livingston. This occurred at the same time as a denominational merger changed the Methodist Church into the United Methodist Church.
For ten years after that, offices were in town at Eiland Hall. A fire struck the building in early 1978, heavily damaging what had been a popular meeting place in town for the church, Lions and Rotary Clubs, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and many other organizations. That site is now the police station. Additions were added to the present building in 1981, and Pioneer Hall was built in 1991.
A new church history is being completed and it is hoped that it will be available at the celebration, or soon after. The church remains a multi-cultural church which has many Anglo members while maintaining a number of Japanese traditions. The two groups work together and witness to racial reconciliation. In these divided times, that is worth celebrating!
Join us for our 100th anniversary celebration on September 19. We remember the past as we plan for the future.

[Editor's Note: The church is located at 11695 Olive Ave., Livingston, CA 95334. Visit its
web page and use the Google Maps feature to plan your route.]