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Little White Church

Winchester Community UMC will be closed, effective June 30, 2024. 

The California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church will carefully and prayerfully evaluate how to re-envision this historic campus for future use, to meet the needs of the surrounding community, and to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

Effective July 1 2024, for questions, please email: 
southdistrict@calpacumc.org 

Email us here to inquire about the use of our facility. 

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We are located at 33005 Taylor St. in historic Winchester, CA.

Please see map below.

AboutThePastor
AboutTheChurch

Our History 

Nestled in the center of a quaint area once called Pleasant Valley the Winchester Community United Methodist Church stands proudly since the first service in April, 1887. Built with fine redwood among other woods with square nails this historic building had strength enough withstand severe earthquakes in 1899 and 1918. The foundation contains bricks made from a local brick yard. Most everyone chipped in giving $.50 to $50 with donations as well as funds from the Methodist Mission Board to cover the expense of the $2000 building - that's $49,787.03 in 2017 dollars! The seven charter members include; Mr. and Mrs. William McKuen, Mrs. Elizabeth Haslam, Mr. and Mrs. James Rice and their sons, Fred and George. The Methodist heritage in the founding of the town of Winchester is apparent with the names of bishops, missionaries and (John) Wesley, the founder of Methodism, as street names.

The church pre-dates the town of Winchester by months. Seeing to the survey and map of Winchester were the Rev. J.G. Miller, Amy Winchester, Dennis O'Leary and Elizabeth Rice.  Settlers of many nationalities brought the town a newspaper, hotel, doctor, blacksmith shop, hardware store, tin shop, meat market general store and by 1890 a small railroad station and depot. However, the end of the Southern California Boom as well as a failed irrigation project caused the town to dwindle. Many buildings not destroyed by the 1899 earthquake were moved to Hemet and the hotel was cut in-half moved to the Domenigoni Ranch south of the town. With water from a few hearty families and an economy existing primarily from dry-land farming and livestock from the surrounding area. The church being the mainstay of the community had many hard years.

In 1906 the Methodist Board of Missions had members wanting to sell the property for lack of use but it did not because of Elizabeth Haslam and her daughter, Amanda Thomas. These two women with a heavy brass lantern in hand walked to the church every Wednesday night for a prayer meeting with their dog tagging along until a pastor was appointed. It was these dedicated ladies that kept the doors from being closed like so many throughout the area at the time. Converted to electricity in 1950, the lantern still shines out above these front doors.

During WWII, soldiers from Camp Haan enjoyed attending. Thanks to Ila Haslam Connell and Connie Johnson Westlake great changes occurred during this time. Among other things the front of the Church was remodeled and a new roof put on and 'new' upholstered pews seating 80 were purchased. The Church nearly burned down in the 1950's but the wind changed direction and by the Grace of God it was saved. The Native Daughters of the Golden West, Tahquitz Parlor 333 awarded the Church an historic granite marker in 1984 hailing it as one of the oldest, continuously attended churches in Riverside County. In 1996 an English couple heard about 'the little white church with a heart' and brought the whole wedding party over to attend their marriage. A beautiful stained glass window designed by Marie Terheimer, a local resident, remains mounted behind the altar in honor of Lelia McCall, a church member for 71 years. Because of her and her family remained open the Church remained open during another lean spell. They bought the reed organ sitting at the back of the Church; she played it for 25 years.

Over the years many Godly men and women have in the pulpit. The size of the Church congregation has ebbed and flowed through the years and has seen a need for repairs and additions. A small room added onto the back of the Church was dedicated to Elizabeth Haslam. The Parsonage built in 1890 became the Sunday School and Youth Facility and renamed 'Sutherland Hall' in honor of the Rev. Sutherland and his wife, Grace, who brought new life into the Church in the 1950's. In the 1970's a larger custom built mobile unit and the Winchester Women's Club (built in 1929) were purchased and installed on the Church grounds. The mobile unit was decommissioned around 2010 and removed for safety reasons. The Women's Club building received a remodel, became the Annex and now called the 'Howard Brown Fellowship Hall.' This building has been a blessing for all around including children in an after-school program, Outlaw AA meetings, special occasions for all, MYF, and Bible Study. Every Sunday, after service, it truly is a Fellowship Hall with coffee and snacks and a potluck on the last Sunday of the month. There is also a Spanish speaking service that follows fellowship that is held in the Sanctuary.

The Church Fellowship latest project makes everyone proud! Because the Church structure predates indoor plumbing restrooms were in other buildings but now they are at last available by walking through a doorway near the back of the Church. Many donated so much to the project; time, energy, ability and more than $60,000.

 

The Church continues to reach out to the community including Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets. More and more people are finding WCUMC, 'The Little White Church with a Heart,' just what they are looking for. The slogan, "Open mind, open heart and open doors," continues to ring true. The love of the Lord Jesus Christ shines out like a lantern did on those cold winter nights through its people.

 

All are Welcome, come and enjoy with us.

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