published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Methodists to build a church in a day ... again
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- George E. Sebring, the city's founder, was a Methodist. In 1911, while he created a city out of mosquito-filled woods, one of the first things he did was organize for church services.
For a year the congregation met at Sebring's Arrowhead Hotel on Lakeview Drive, but the Methodists, naturally, wanted a church of their own, so they set about creating one.
The congregation, like all others in Sebring, was given property on which to build. It is the same site where the First Methodist Church stands now.
The construction began with music. At 4 a.m. on Dec. 12, 1912, a volunteer band awakened the town, calling out it was time to build a church.
By 6 a.m., 60 men were measuring, sawing and hammering -- the goal was to finish the 60-by-25-foot building in one day. School was dismissed, and stores, offices and businesses were closed.
The women cooked two meals for the workers.
By 5:20 p.m., the church building was finished, including electric lights, a coat of paint and the furniture and organ moved in.
At 7:30 p.m., more than 100 people gathered inside for a prayer service.
On Saturday, that same church's current Methodist congregation is building a miniature replica of the first building. The work starts at 8 a.m. in the parking lot behind the church. Supporters are most welcome.
The goal is to also complete the work in one day. The replica will be the centerpiece on the First Methodist Church float in the Centennial Parade on Monday.
Everyone is invited to tour a display of Sebring memorabilia at the church's Family Life Center. It includes items recovered from the church's cornerstone and provides a walk through history. It is open to the public.
In addition to the church raising, the congregation prepared a cookbook for the Centennial called "100 Years of Tasting Heaven." It is available for $12.
The recipes may be tasted on Oct. 28 when the church holds a "Tasting Party" to show them off.
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