Founded in 1796 just a few miles from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the First United Methodist Church of Germantown was among the first Methodist churches in America.
Originating in a small meetinghouse with only eleven members, the congregation continued to build and prosper. One hundred years later in 1896 the church laid the cornerstone of the present sanctuary and created a gothic-style monument to the history of their church. By the end of World War II, the church had reached its height with a community of 2,000 strong.
During the 1950s Philadelphias middle class moved to the suburbs and the church lost half of its members. The congregation made a commitment to stay in the changing urban neighborhood and to remain involved in the life of their community. In the early 1960s the pastoral leader who met this challenge was The Reverend Dr. Ted Loder. Rev. Loder redefined the church for the modern era by a commitment to social justice. Rev. Loder led his congregation to a ministry of faith in action through involvement in civil rights causes and opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1984 the congregation defied federal immigration law and declared itself a Public Sanctuary for Guatemalan refugees.
Under the leadership of Rev. Loder the congregation became a Reconciling Church in 1990, affirming the full participation of gays, bisexuals, lesbians and transgendered persons in the life of the United Methodist Church. In 1999 the congregation welcomed the appointment of a young minister named Beth Stroud to the position of associate pastor.
After 37 years of service to his church, Rev. Ted Loder retired in January of 2000. In July of 2001 FUMCOG received the newly appointed Reverend Fred Day, formerly Pastor of the Mount Pocono United Methodist Church. Rev. Days new ministry created a division among the congregation. Many left the church believing the new pastor was too traditional for their style of worship. Rev. Day nevertheless accepted the challenge of leading the congregation into yet another new era in its long history.
The Reverend Dr. Theodore Loder
Reverend Dr. Theodore W. Loder led the First United Methodist Church of Germantown from 1962 to 2000 in acts of social justice through a ministry that challenged the mainstream. The politically active Rev. Loder has a long history of involvement in social causes, including marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and protesting the Vietnam War. During Rev. Loders tenure FUMCOG became a Public Sanctuary Church for Guatemalan refugees denied asylum by the U.S. Government, a founding church of the Covenant Against Apartheid and a Reconciling Congregation that works for full inclusion of homosexual persons in the Methodist community.
Rev. Loder incorporated dramatic reenactments and interfaith services in the regular church activities. It was through Rev. Loders ministry that FUMCOG earned its reputation as an ethnically mixed and progressive church. Rev. Loder is retired but remains a prolific author and poet.