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Free Methodist celebrate 100 years in Turlock
centennial pic 1
Free Methodist Church parishioners Laura Raley, Audrey Thorsen and Louis Doerksen, along with Senior Pastor Chris Hemberry, look over some old photographs of the church. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

It will be a day and night of memories recalled and memories made. It will be a momentous event that spans 100 years of its roots in local history. The congregation of the Free Methodist Church is adding the final touches for its centennial celebration, set for Oct. 5-6.

“It’s a testimony of the Lord that our congregation has been here 100 years,” said Senior Pastor Chris Hemberry. “Through all the ups and downs, we are still here standing tall.”

This year’s “Continuing Journey” centennial celebration will kick off at 6:30 p.m.  Oct. 5 with an evening of remembrance where current and past members of the church will have the opportunity to share their experiences with the rest of the community.

“Many former pastors and members from out of state will celebrate our centennial and share their experiences,” said centennial committee chairperson Audrey Thorsen. “We are also going to have a historical slideshow of the beginnings of the church. We will also have on display the minutes of the first meeting our church had.”

On Oct. 6, Turlock Mayor John Lazar with present the church with a centennial proclamation during a special service that will feature three styles of music.

“We have a special treat at the end of the service,” said Thorsen. “We will be closing our service with members of the choir that our church had in past years.”

The Turlock Society of the Free Methodist Church was first organized in 1907. The church originally met in Keyes, then in June 1913, the church moved to Turlock and held services in a house on East Main Street before establishing itself in a frame and stucco building at North Center Street and Mitchell Avenue.

In 1961, the congregation bought 10 acres of agricultural land on East Tuolumne Road between Berkeley Avenue and Quincy Road. Ground was broken and the new church was built on Oct. 4, 1970. The new church complex was completely restored with an on-site parsonage on Oct. 17, 1971.

“Free Methodist has been providing preschool services for Turlock Christian since 1989,” said Thorsen. “We’ve transitioned nicely over the years.”

The entire community is invited to attend the Free Methodist centennial events. The church is located at 2006 E. Tuolumne Rd. Sunday services begin at 10:45 a.m. For more information, call 634-5535.