Buford prides itself on having a rich history that celebrates its historic homes, commercial buildings and churches. One only has to drive down Buford’s Main Street in the heart of “Old Town” to find prime examples of each. At the corner of Main Street and Hill Street sits a church built in the Greek revival style, Buford First United Methodist Church. This year, the church is celebrating 150 years of worship and service to the Buford community.
Established even before the city of Buford was founded, Buford First UMC has a rich history that dates back to August 1871, six years after the American Civil War, when church-goers began meeting under an arbor before moving into a log cabin that was also used as the town’s first school. The church was chartered by 26 members, who went on to construct a new building on the corner of Church and Jackson streets in 1875, a building that also served as a town hall. In 1894, a brick building was constructed on Scott Street facing the town square, and in 1926, the current sanctuary at Main and Hill streets was built.
In about 2015, the church began planning additions to the sanctuary structure, and in 2017, the Christian Life Center was dedicated. The buildings now include the sanctuary, where services are held at 9 and 11 a.m. Sundays, a full-size gym, a stage and two floors that serve as spaces for preschool and Sunday school classes.
Mary Alice Beard, a local historian, was christened at Buford First United Methodist Church in 1953. With the exception of a 20-year career in the Air Force, when she would attend church as often as possible, Beard has been a lifetime member of the church.
“I never pulled my letter, because I knew I’d come back home,” Beard said of her church membership.
Beard will lead an hour-long heritage walk beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 14. Guests will be able to park at the church and take a shuttle to the location of the first frame church where parishioners met. The walk will continue along Main Street to the next church location on Scott Street and then return to the current church building.
At 7 p.m. that same day, the church will hold a concert and hymn sing-along in the sanctuary.
Rev. Jim Buckman will give sermons at 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 15. A potluck will be held after the 11 a.m. service.
“We often say at the church that we are here to ‘Bless Buford,’” Buckman said. “That has been true in our past and we are trying to still hold true to that.”