In 1939, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church merged to become The Methodist Church. The Methodist Protestant Church had separated in 1828 over a desire for more congregational driven governance. The MEC and the MEC, South had divided in 1844 over the issue of slavery. This merger would last until 1968 when the United Methodist Church is formed. The 1939 merger, while dissolving the denomination that endorsed slavery outright, also created the Central Jurisdiction.
“The Southern church only agreed to union after a compromise created a jurisdiction based exclusively on race — not geography. Nineteen black annual conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church were placed in the Central Jurisdiction and the white conferences were placed in five regional jurisdictions. Seventeen of the 19 black conferences voted against the 1939 Plan of Union.”¹
The Central Jurisdiction formalized segregation in the church. In Methodist church structure, jurisdictions are responsible for electing bishops as well as electing members to general boards and agencies. In designing a system in which all black Methodists, regardless of geographical location, had to meet and vote separately ensured the separation of races, especially in the highest leadership roles in the church.² The Central Jurisdiction existed until 1968.
In 1940, the Sanford Methodist Church hosted the Florida Methodist Conference. Conference meetings were held in the auditorium of Seminole High School on French Avenue and members of other local churches opened their homes to the delegates. Bishop Moore delivered an outstanding sermon at the Methodist Church to an overflowing congregation.
In 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States was once again thrust into war. And once again, many brave men and women from this church answered the call to serve their country. The church has documented the service of these men and women by creating and keeping a Roll of Honor as they did for those who served during World War I.
The first major expansion of the facilities occurred under the ministry of Rev. J.E. McKinley (1946-1954). In 1944 the V.A. Speer property, adjacent to the sanctuary on the north, facing Park Avenue was purchased. The building was used for classrooms until 1948 when it was sold and moved elsewhere by the new owner so construction of the new building to house classrooms, offices, and an assembly room could begin.
The new building was named McKinley Hall in 1952. The beauty and soundness of McKinley Hall is due in large part to the ability of J.T. Pope, church member and contractor. In 1957 the church purchased the home of Mrs. M.E. Moye, on Fifth Street, directly across from the sanctuary. In 1963 the Moye property was sold to the First Baptist Church for a parking lot.
The church purchased five acres on Onora Road (now Airport Blvd.) and French Drive in 1958 for a new church. The First Methodist Church helped organize Grace Methodist Church and the property later deeded to Grace Methodist Church.
Happening in Sanford
“The Great Depression impacted Florida several years earlier than the rest of the country, and Sanford was nearly crippled. The city was revitalized in 1942 when the Navy built an air station in Sanford.”³
According to the historic marker placed at the airport, a large portion of fighter pilots who fought in the Pacific trained in Sanford. After it was decommissioned in 1947, the New York Giants used some of the space for their spring farm teams. The airbase was recommissioned in 1951 for the Korean War until it was ultimately closed by Congress in 1968. 4
“From 1942 to 1968, the Sanford U.S. Naval Air Station drew many residents away from agriculture and brought new people to the city. Today the old station is Sanford’s International Airport.”5
Happening in the World
1932– Walt Disney’s Flowers and Trees, the first animated cartoon to be presented in full Technicolor, premieres in Los Angeles. Flowers and Trees goes on to win the first Academy Award for Best Animated Short.
1934- American outlaws Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed and killed by police in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
1937- the German airship Hindenburg bursts into flame when mooring to a mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 36 passengers and 61 crew on board, 13 passengers and 22 crew die, as well as one member of the ground crew.
1941- The breakfast cereal Cheerios is introduced as CheeriOats by General Mills.
1943- Duke Ellington plays at New York City’s Carnegie Hall for the first time.
1945- September 2 – World War II ends
- An incredible insight on the Central Jurisdiction and its implications found in “Methodism’s Racial Dilemma: The Story of the Central Jurisdiction” by James S. Thomas.
*Pilot photo accessed at https://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/usa/aircrafts-2-3/f4f-wildcat/pilots-at-nas-sanford-in-front-of-an-fm-wildcat-10-september-1944/