HISTORY:

The first Methodist society was formed in 1839, led by the Rev. Jesse Stone in ”Point Village” (Willard Square), then part of Cape Elizabeth. In the late 1840s, this church split to become two congregations, one on Route 77 and the other in Ferry Village, which was named the Peoples Methodist Church in 1888.

One of the first ”Sabbath Schools” in Maine was established at Peoples under the leadership of Steven Hubbard in 1853. By 1863, there were 260 children and young adults involved in the program. A century later, Ellis Hall was built to provide extra space for religious education..

The first welfare program in South Portland was sponsored by a Peoples member, Etta Robinson, beginning in the 1930s. When a large number of houses in the neighborhood were demolished to build a shipyard during World War II, the church moved just out of Ferry Village to its current location on Broadway. Some may remember the ”New Again” shop at Peoples in the 1970s, a clothing ministry to the community.

More than 30 members of Peoples have entered the ministry since the 1950s. In 2005, Peoples received its first husband-and-wife pastoral team, and they continue to serve as the church’s co-pastors.

In recent years, Peoples has focused on outreach, offering opportunities such as summer beach worship services, blessing of the pets at Bug Light, giving out bottled water at the Memorial Day Parade, Christmas caroling in the neighborhood and at elderly housing, and hosting an annual community carnival in the fall with free food, games and pony rides.

A few years ago, the church developed a relationship with Southern Maine Community College to help the college start its first Christian student group, and continues to be involved in local missions such as the Wayside Soup Kitchen, Root Cellar and South Portland Food Cupboard.

The church hosts bean suppers on third Saturdays to provide a place for community fellowship.

The church has a vibrant Sunday School with more than 30 children and several leaders who are certified elementary school teachers. Kids learn and experience God through cooking, games, crafts, science and music.

Junior high youth from Peoples have joined with other local Methodists to form a regional youth group for a mix of mission and fun events. The church has also recently started a mom’s group for those at home with babies and toddlers.

WORSHIP: 10:30 a.m. Sundays, with coffee fellowship at 10 a.m. in Ellis Hall (Mussey Street entrance). Children go to Sunday School or nursery from worship, and the church follows a Safe Sanctuaries policy. The church is handicapped accessible, and there is abundant parking on Mussey and Harriet streets.

FUTURE PLANS: Peoples United Methodist Church is a drop-off site for health kits for Haiti. Peoples is hosting its first mission trip outside Maine this July, to Baltimore, through Experience Mission. Plans are already underway for a 2011 mission to Appalachia and an international mission in 2012.

The church will be hosting Vacation Bible Camp in August and a ballroom dance-marriage enrichment class series next winter.

CONTACT: 799-1413; e-mail: [email protected]; Web site: www.peoplesumc.com.