The history of Methodism in Olathe stretches all the way back to 1858, when the Reverend William Hubert was appointed by L.B. Dennis, Presiding Elder of the Lawrence District, to organize a class in Olathe. This group, which eventually became the First Methodist Church of Olathe, has consistently retained its identity for 160 years, dissolving only for a short period during the Civil War.
Although attempts were made to build a church from the beginning, the Methodists were only able to erect the building frame before funds ran out, and the frame was leveled by a storm a few months later. The congregation was finally able to build 10 years later, when they raised a small white church building on the corner of Cherry and Loula at a cost of $5,000. The structure was 36 x 65 ft with 18 ft ceilings and housed about 60 members for weekly worship. Pieces of its stained glass windows, saved by a longtime member from this original white church building, were used to as a pattern to create the stained glass windows in the Harrison street chapel, which now hang in one of our meeting rooms at Ridgeview.
As growth continued into the 20th century, the church was remodeled twice, but was still not large enough to accommodate the congregation’s growth. The decision was made to build a new, red brick church on the same site, and in 1917 the building was finished at a cost of $30,000.
By the 1940s, however, it was clear that the red brick building also could not accommodate the church’s growth. The establishment of the Olathe Naval Air Station and the Delco-Remy plant, along with other industrial facilities, had brought rapid growth to the city, roughly doubling the population. On January 1, 1958, a groundbreaking ceremony took place for the building on Harrison Street, which was the home of First United Methodist Church until 1999. During this time, the church merged with Hope UMC and adopted the name we know today in 1988.
In 1999, Grace moved to our current building at Ridgeview, and the Center of Grace was founded at the Harrison Street campus shortly thereafter. Just before our 160th anniversary, we launched our third campus, Common Grace, at 153rd and Lone Elm. We are prayerfully and anxiously anticipating all that God will do at Grace UMC in the 160 years to come!