One River, Two Streams: The New First United Methodist Church

1869: First Methodist Episcopal Church, later First Methodist, and then First United Methodist Church is formed. This downtown church seeks to minister to the community as well as its members.

1893: First Evangelical Church is formed, later to become Hope Evangelical, then Chester Park Evangelical, then Chester Park Evangelical United Brethren, then Chester Park United Methodist Church.


1925: First Methodist builds and operates a community house incorporating educational and recreational space for the church and neighborhood.

1928: The church of many names moves to its Chester Park area location, where it becomes an anchor for the neighborhood.

1940s: The long-standing tradition of serving a roast beef dinner begins at Chester Park.

1954: An education wing is added at Chester Park to accommodate growing numbers of Baby Boom children.

1966: First Methodist Church “coppertop” building completed. From this location on the Skyline, the congregation seeks to minister to the entire Duluth community, providing space for a worshipping congregation and opening the doors for a number of important community events.

2012: Through a thoughtful and prayerful process the congregations of Chester Park United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church agree to merge – One River, Two Streams – to become the new First United Methodist Church. Combined, the congregations can claim more than 265 years of service to Jesus Christ in the Duluth community and beyond.

2013: Chester Park building is sold, with 90% of proceeds reserved for improvements to the Coppertop building. Two years later, these funds provided a nice beginning for a capital campaign.

2016: The new First UMC celebrates 50 years of ministry, 50 years of providing hope and healing from the Skyline. The Coppertop Church is a local landmark and a significant architectural structure, recognized nationally and internationally. More importantly, it continues to provide our congregation with unique opportunities to minister to the community as well as to our members.