Below you will find a little bit about the history of Garden Street United Methodist Church. A church is much more than its past. Garden Street is a vibrant community of faith reaching out to the students of Western Washington University, with a renowned music program and an active social justice ministry. To learn a little more about us, make sure and look at what we believe. In 2009 we proudly became a reconciling congregation, the latest step in our long faith history of welcoming and working for justice for all God's children.
Garden Street United Methodist Church (GSUMC) has grown with the community. It started out with camp meetings in nearby Ferndale in 1877.
On Sunday morning in May 1883, seven Methodists walked on a trail winding through the tall trees to gather at the Sehome School, (a rough-hewn, one room 14' x 22' building) and the First Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) in Whatcom was organized.
By August, an appointed pastor was covering a circuit from LaConner to Sumas, often traveling by Indian canoe. Washington was still a territory when the Whatcom Methodists built their first building in 1884 at I street and Clinton. It measured 20'x 32'.
In 1890, the Whatcom Methodists organized Trinity Church at Garden and Magnolia streets in Sehome (New Whatcom). They started construction of the red brick building in 1909, laying the cornerstone in 1910.
Garden Street UMC was the first church in Bellingham to be wired for lighting and to have a telephone installed in the pastor's study.
In February 1917, the congregations of Trinity and First joined to form the Garden Street congregation. You can still see the cornerstone which says "Trinity" on it.
In 1962 Eureka Methodist Episcopal Church (located at foot of Alabama Hill since 1915) joined the Garden Street congregation.
In April 1968 the current United Methodist Church was created when the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist Episcopal Church combined.
In 1974 Fairhaven sold its building and joined Garden Street.
The mission history is rich and complex, reaching through World War I to the present. Flood victims have been sheltered in the basement. A neighboring congregation, losing its building to fire, was housed for its worship during their rebuilding. Refugees from Europe, Asia, and Central America have been a concern and helped through the many decades. Sponsorship and shelter have been offered to many of these refugees through this congregation. Many creative ministries have been developed to meet community needs.
Today, in addition to the ministries carried out by members, Garden Street United Methodist Church houses programs for the community such as: Literacy Council, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, the Mount Baker Children's Choir, Headstart, Boy Scouts and many others. The Tiffany-Heimberger House, owned by Garden Street United Methodist Church, is used in partnership with Opportunity Council to provide transitional housing for families.
Garden Street has always and will always be an active part of the community.