About our church
Our church history
Over a century and a half of Christian dedication in the heart of Chelsea
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Chelsea was organized in 1853 and was served by traveling clergy from Ann Arbor. By 1859, the congregation had built a church on the current Park Street site. The first minister who served the church on a regular basis was B.I. Ives. Just after the Civil War, in 1866, a parsonage was constructed next to the church. The congregation grew to more than 50 members during this time.
In January, 1899, the wooden church building burned to the ground. The church was rebuilt as the current stone structure in thirteen months. The dedication of the stone edifice was in February, 1900, with the dedication sermon preached by Rev. I.B. Ives, who had led the congregation in 1859.
As the community of Chelsea grew and flourished, so did our congregation. By 1939, membership had grown to more than 300 persons. World War II was a huge disruption in the lives of the people of Chelsea and of the church. After the war, the congregation continued to grow. By the late 1950’s, the congregation numbered more than 500 and had clearly outgrown the stone church built in 1899. The solution was the current Educational Wing, begun in 1959 and dedicated in 1963.
During 1982, our congregation focused on the future ministry of the church. A decision was made to remain committed to the present site and serve as a vital witness in the downtown Chelsea community. In 1992, construction began on the main entrance, elevator, coatroom and restrooms. The growth and energy of the congregation gave momentum for the building of the Shairer Wing, including Grams Hall. Those facilities were opened in 1996.
In 2014 the Restore – Renew – Reach Out Campaign was started to gain pledges from the congregation to perform extensive remodel and repairs to our aging Sanctuary. And thanks to the generosity of members, these repairs were completed in 2015.
Now, in the 21st Century, Chelsea First United Methodist Church has a growing ministry of music, missional outreach, and spiritual growth opportunities for all ages. We have great hope as we look to the future!
Joy Barrett, Senior Pastor
Rodney Gasaway, Director of Missions and Outreach
Susan Adam-Rita, Director of Children’s Ministry
I have an undergraduate and professional degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Counseling, and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. I have lived with my husband and triplet boys in Chelsea since 2014.
My life is constantly being transformed by seeing the world through a child’s eyes. I have learned that you don’t have to bring God to children. Children already experience God. All children need is an environment that nurtures their spirituality.
Jeanne Franks, Director of Youth Ministries
Liza Gray, Office Manager
I have been on staff at Chelsea First for over 15 years. I enjoy the challenges and experiences of my job and feel very blessed to be a welcoming presence in the office. I have three grown children that I am extremely proud of and have two grandchildren. I love the outdoors, spending time on our boat, riding with my fiancé on our motorcycle, and spending time with family and friends.
Bill Ruddock, Finance Manager
I am pleased to be a part of the mission of Chelsea First United Methodist Church. My wife and I moved to Chelsea a little more than two years ago and we have grown to know and love this church. I have been involved in church leadership, mostly in the Presbyterian Church, since I was a teenager. I grew up in a small community similar to Chelsea in upstate New York but, I have lived my adult life in Michigan. My wife and I each have two adult children. I love to read, to sing, and to find ways to work towards a more just world. I look forward to serving this church to the best of my abilities.
Jody Croskey, Facilities Manager
I am so excited to be part of the staff at Chelsea First United Methodist Church as the facility manager. I have over twenty years of cleaning experience.
I met my husband, Robert, in 1984 and we married in 1993. We have two adult children, Kaila and Bret. I also have two cats, Cleveland and Pearl.
In my spare time, I love taking short trips, watching the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings, and being around family and friends.
Jon Van Hoek, Office Assistant
I am excited to join the fantastic staff at CFUMC as an Office Assistant. My wife Liz and I live in Chelsea with our three children, Catie, Ben, and Henry. We feel blessed to be a part of this community and this congregation.
In my spare time I run the Monitor Base Ball Club of Chelsea, an amateur, community-based team that plays our nation’s pastime by the rules of 1860. Huzzah!
Guillaume Coussement, Communications Specialist
Randy Umfleet, Director of Music Ministry
The Administrative Council is the congregation’s primary decision-making body. Meetings are open to all and are held on the second Thursdays of the month, as needed, in the evening. Please check with the church office to confirm the date, time, and place.
Members of the Administrative Council for 2022
Mike Vanderspool, Chair
Karen Woollams, Member-at-Large
Brenda Jo Beck, Finance Chair and Church Treasurer
Susan Wellman, Staff-Parish Relations Chair
Heather Hay, Member-at-Large
Nolan Peterson, Member-at-Large
Jim Alford III, Member-at-Large
Charles Schmunk, Member-at-Large
Dana Schmunk, Trustees chairperson
Janet Martin-Conners, Member-at-Large
Joy Barrett, Senior Pastor
Rodney Gasaway, Ordained Deacon, and Director of Missions and Outreach
Ways to give
The Church relies on support from its members. There are several ways to give your support such as serving with your time, enriching with your skills, and donating your resources.
To learn more about giving your time and wisdom click here.
Give with your Resources
Checks and Cash donations can be dropped off in person at the Church office.
Give by Paypal / Credit Card:
Click the PayPal button above to be taken to the secure PayPal website. You do not need a PayPal account to make a donation using your credit card. Donations are tax-deductible and you may set up a recurring donation should you prefer.
More financial ways to pledge:
Give by Check:
Please make checks out to Chelsea First United Methodist Church and mail to:
Chelsea First United Methodist Church
ATTN: Bill Ruddock
128 Park St
Chelsea, MI 48118
Other options for supporting the church financially:
- Automatic Payment
- Appreciated Securities
- IRA/401k Distributions
- Endowment Fund
- Donations of Property and Other Resources
Click here to learn more about these options.
If you have any questions or would like to set up an alternative way to give please contact Bill Ruddock, Finance Manager.
Our church culture
Chelsea First is a Christ-centered congregation with a positive, open, and engaging spirit. We are the church for everyone, at all seasons of life, and bring a grounded, engaged, and supportive approach to religious worship while working passionately toward making a positive impact in our community.
The church building is open during regular office hours and
Monday - Wednesday 8-4 pm
Thursday- Friday 8-3 pm