Our Heritage: Historical Overview of Our Church

Methodist movement originated from the ways of John Wesley(1703 – 1791), an Anglican theologian from London, England. It embodies the helping of people in need and betterment of missionary spirit. Methodists believe in spreading love and care relationship to the community by giving unrelenting service as the way of God’s love. And we, the methodists, believe that Jesus Christ ‘died for all of us’ and not just for selected few. Our worship is filled with rich musical praises that glorify Lord Jesus and God the Creator.

John Wesley

John Wesley, 1703-1791
Founder of Methodism

Frank Kimball

Frank Kimball, 1832-1913
Founder of National City

Late 1880’s – National City, California and the establishment of Methodist Church
The history of National City can be traced back when it used to be named as Rancho de la Nación under the Mexican government in 1810. After the 1850’s admission to the union of the State of California, President Andrew Johnson listed its name as The National Ranch. In 1868, Frank Kimball, a young builder from San Francisco, purchased the entire ranch and gave inception to its current name – National City. He introduced many modern ways of living in this city: ranging from a house’s bathtub with hot running water; and up to community’s roadway and railroad as means for transportation. National City will be hosting many businesses and religious congregations – including the Methodist – in the coming years.

Rev. Elwood arrived in National City around 1881 and made an effort to establish a (methodist) church, but he has been turn-down due to three churches namely Congregational, Baptist and Episcopal were already building around the area. It was also been known that methodist has affiliation to Episcopal community. He was able to have a house on a cliff-side overseeing Paradise Valley Road and got some local people interested into Methodism.

Around September 1885, a renewed effort by Bishop Fowler was made to build a methodist church through the aid of the Methodist Conference in Santa Barbara. On October 1, 1886, a church was organized in Dranga Hall located in 7th Avenue(presently Mckinley Avenue) and 18th Street. The church’s file papers were signed under the name of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Through Frank Kimball’s recommendation, four(4) lots were granted for the church located by 1st Avenue(now Roosevelt Avenue) and 13th Street. Although it was booming years then and there was heavy demand to have worshiping halls, the church found it difficult to provide services with seem to have no proper or permanent location. On February 15, 1887 – someone quoted “We are holding our church services in our unfinished building.”

Frank Kimball was quite supportive in the establishment of the Methodist Church. A dedication ceremony was held on July 31, 1887 and attended by Bishop Fowler. A 600 pound bell was ordered from Baltimore and purchased for the church; it was later on fully paid by Frank Kimball.

The 1893 depression proved to be financially difficult for the Methodist Church; but in 1898, the church made a recovery with 170 attendance in the roll. An improvement with added carpet on the floor was made in the church on January 14, 1905.


First Methodist Church
in Dranga Hall
First meeting: Oct 1, 1886

The second church built in 1915 located at current
location by the corner of 8th Street & C Avenue.
The facade and entry is facing north.

The present Sanctuary built in 1957(southside/left in picture),
and the old church built in 1915(utmost corner & center in the picture).
Educational building in 1952(far-right).

Remodeled ‘fellowship hall’ building(northside/right in picture) and prayer chapel(farther-right)
was consecrated on April 21, 1974.

The entry of 20th Century (1900s)
On September 27, 1907, electric lights and a Vocalin organ was installed and paid during the ministry leadership of Rev. McCarthy; however, the pastor stayed only for a short duration of his ministry and transferred to another church.

A series of fire events hit the church in December 1914 – first on the 14th(Monday), the pulpit was discovered on fire but then quickly extinguished without further damage; then the following Friday, a fierce blaze destroyed the church – excluding the tower bell. During those period, there were fires in other establishments in National City including the Congregational Church and the Boyd Block. These fire occurrences were associated to an arson who move along with the Volunteer Fire Department in every fire presence during that time.

A new church was to be build at 8th Street and C Avenue after release of plans on February 6, 1915. Because of the prior catastrophic fire events, this new church was to be the first fireproof hall in National City. On July 11, 1915, a box containing relevant church documents and newspaper was placed and buried under a cornerstone. A dedication was announced on October 31, 1915. Beautiful memorial windows were placed in the new church. And the historic bell was installed and rang again for invitation of towns people.

A branch of Red Cross was formed by a group of National City women on April 21, 1917 and used to be operated in the basement of the Methodist Church.

In 1957, four decades after the building of what would be then the old church, a newer sanctuary was built to accommodate large capacities of attendees. Five years before, an educational building was added to the west of the church built in 1915. A dedication service for the new church was held on February 16, 1958 by Bishop Gerald Kennedy and assisted by Rev. Harold P. Wayman who served as pastor from 1946 to 1960.

The Diversity Growth of Our Church and Beyond the Millenium
Our church is proud to have served members of diversified and multicultural background. In 1920s, during the establishment of the Naval Base San Diego, the National City Methodist Church provided spiritual services to few military service-members who became worshiping members to our Lord and God. In addition, active-duty Filipino-Americans sailors, along with their families, were mainly the first Asian minority members of our church.

It was recorded that church membership were among the highest during 1960 to 1961. However, the following decades didn’t result the same favorable attendance; and in early 1990’s, the Church felt a financial strain because of low membership. Simultaneously, the FAUMM( Filipino-American United Methodist Ministry) – formed by the Filipino-American Chartered Congregation – was in similar situation of financial difficulty due to loss of some of members.

Then a unification was developed between the Church and FAUMM under the established Resolution of Union as a guideline to recognize the dynamics of the local church in National City. This eventful unity of two congregation provided a more structured foundation in solidifying the church ministry for God and allowed more new members who mainly came from Methodist congregations in the Philippines. The Church had an opportune learning of great amount about the Philippine culture from its Filipino-American members.

Furthermore, the Church’s diversity growth continues with remarkable milestone that include having pastors from around the world. Originally from the Philippines, Rev. Adiel DePano served as our first Filipino-American pastor from 1993-2000. He was replaced by Pastor Rev. John Riingen, another Filipino-American, who served from 2000 to 2008. Then from 2008-2016, Rev. Ji Tai Kim served as our church’s first Korean-American pastor, who is media-talented and musically-gifted with amazing ability in playing guitar.

And a fresher milestone has yet to come when Rev. Lily M. Villamin stepped-in as our new beloved first lady-pastor of our congregation on July 1, 2016.

We will continue to Praise and Glorify God
Many of our church staff, members, friends, guests and visitors  came from different cultures.  The strong foundation of this church is built by these individuals who came and gone through our open doorway – leaving a remarkable endearing footprints. For that reason, we cannot conclude our history but rather continue our expression of love and worship to God. To anybody – regardless of origins whether they are from American, Asian, European and African ethnicity – our door is always open to whoever is willing to glorify and worship in the name of the Lord Jesus and God the Father. Come and join us!, then become part of our beautiful history serving the Creator.

Jim and Marilyn Doyle, history contributor. “First United Methodist Church of National City: Honoring 125 Years”(2000): 10-13.
Marilyn Carnes & Matthew Nye.” Early National City”(2008): 78.
Irene Phillips.”National City: Pioneer Town”(1961): 43-48.
Leslie Trook.”National City: Kimball’s Dream”(1992).
Online References:
Freestyle style writing without conforming to APA/MLA format
The gathering of materials and documents that brought to this history-page was quite a challenge and complicated. Few books that were referenced seem to give conflicting details in the church’s historical dates. Therefore, to maintain a good flow of readability, the inclusion of referenced books’ authors in insets were not added in the main-body contents.


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