Our History

Lake Helen United Methodist Church is centrally located in the heart of the historic district of Lake Helen, Florida. The church was organized on June 12, 1922, with 49 charter members. In 1922, the Reverend Oscar E. Rice pastored The First Methodist Episcopal Church South of DeLand (which was later renamed Trinity UMC). During his appointment, he secured the services of Reverend Irvin Whitworth, an evangelist who worked for the Florida Conference of the Methodist Church. For several weeks, Reverend Whitworth conducted evangelistic services under a tent in Blake Park in Lake Helen. The next meeting place was Lake Helen's school house. Reverend Rice came from DeLand every Thursday night to preach.

On July 9, 1923, the small congregation purchased two lots on the corner of Lakeview and Delaware Avenue for the sum of ten dollars from H. C. & Marie Tillson. Construction of the church building soon followed. Donations of both money and labor were generously given by members of nearby congregations: the Baptists, Methodists and Congregationalists. The young congregation moved hastily into its wood-frame building -- even before the windows were completed!

In 1926, our church received its first full-time pastor, B. M. Montgomery, who began holding regular Sunday services both in the morning and evening. During its first years of existence, the church members were vigorous and optimistic about the future. The church soon equaled the older, well-established Lake Helen churches with regard to attendance and overall ministry. Evangelist Whitworth returned periodically to encourage "his" church.

The closing of the bank in 1929 and of the sawmill in 1930 sent the Lake Helen community into a long period of decline. The years between 1929-1950 were difficult, but our little church survived and later revived. Things began to turn around and the church began to prosper in the 1950s. In 1954, a parsonage was constructed. Several pastors served the church during the period of growth and renewal that followed.

Many pastors have served in our church and all have left an indelible mark on the church, church family and Lake Helen community. There is great hope for the future as we continue to seek God's presence and direction in the community and in the world that we serve.