Rev. J.B. Cox
n 1889 a young minister, Jackson B. Cox, was assigned to the newly developing Eddy (later Carlsbad) area by the West Texas Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church south. In true Methodist circuit riding tradition, Reverend Cox preached on outlying farms and ranches, as well as in the one-room schoolhouse located at south Main and Bronson Streets. Time for use of this building had to be shared with ministers of other denominations.
From early newspaper accounts it appears that the Methodists, under the leadership of Rev. Cox,
were the first denomination to organize a congregation in Eddy. This occurred in April of 1890. The earliest available roll shows twenty members. At first, the little group met in the school building, in a tent, tabernacle, or in members’ homes. When the townsite was laid out, the developers designated lots to be given to several denominations for future church construction. The Methodist church site was at the corner of Shaw and Halagueno Streets as it has remained now for more than one hundred years. Rev. Cox was very active in soliciting funds, but construction of the church building, at a cost of $7,000, went slowly. According to the weekly newspaper, the Eddy Argus, the first service in thenewly completed Methodist Church was held on Sunday, September 10, 1892. By this time, Rev. Cox had returned to Texas for further schooling and had been followed by Rev. Robert Hodgson. When the New Mexico Annual Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church south, was organized in late August of 1890 the Eddy church became a part of that conference.
In 1899 the citizens voted to change the name of the town to “Carlsbad”. The community continued to grow, as did the Methodist congregation. By 1916 church membership totaled 445 with Sunday School enrollment at 200. There were classes in every nook and cranny of the little one-room church and in the two small frame buildings which had been added behind it. By 1925 the space had become so inadequate that the decision was made to build a new church. The little building was torn down that year and church services moved to the high school auditorium, located at the present school administration site. Much of the construction on the new church was done by the pastor, W.G. Gaston, and the Methodist Men with the women and young people doing all they could to raise money. By 1927 the church basement was completed. Services were held there until the upper part of the building was completed in 1931. The depression years came and funds were scarce. It was 1942 when payment on the debt was finally completed.
In 1950 a new parsonage was built on Shaw Street, directly across the street north of the church. It replaced the small frame parsonage that had stood just south of the church on Halagueno Street. A new educational building, south of the sanctuary, was completed in 1951. In 1960 the sanctuary was remodeled and air-conditioned. The present parsonage on W. Riverside Drive was purchased in 1974.
With the growth in membership and attendance and the weakened condition of the sanctuary by the late 1970’s, there was a feasibility study on remodeling versus rebuilding a new sanctuary. The congregation voted on September 10, 1977 to approve construction of a new sanctuary, narthex, and office wing on the south end of the block. On Christmas Eve of 1978 the first service was held in the beautiful new sanctuary just completed on the south end of the church block. Soon thereafter, the old sanctuary was demolished and the space converted to a parking lot.
In 1990 First United Methodist Church-Carlsbad celebrated its centennial with several special events through the year. One hundred years for Christ and Carlsbad.
On January 12, 1992 a disastrous fire destroyed the sanctuary and damaged the narthex. Members and friends rose to the situation admirably. Church services continued without interruption in the fellowship hall, other activities continued as normally as possible, while work on rebuilding began promptly. The rebuilt sanctuary, with a few changes and improvements, was consecrated on February 28, 1993. The beautiful pipe organ was consecrated on October 10, 1993.
In 1996 the education wing and fellowship hall were renovated and modernized. First United Methodist Church entered 1997 with property evaluation just over three million dollars. In 1999 the church, with 716 members on the roll, acquired the remainder of the city block on which the church sits today. In 2014, after several years of discussing and planning, FUMC embarked on a ministry facility expansion which will greatly enlarge the capacity for ministry to families, children and youth.