Methodist Inroads to Santa Fe

Santa Fe’s old Methodist church on Santa Francisco street in 1935.

In October of 1850, Methodist minister Rev. E.G. Nicholson arrived in Santa Fe from Independence, Mo.. He preached his first sermon to a small congregation that consisted of military personnel and their families. It was a short-lived ministry because the headquarters of the army soon relocated. Three years later Nicholson returned, accompanied by Rev. Walter Hansen of New York and Rev. Benigno Cardenas, a former Catholic priest. By 1865, the Colorado Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church had sent Rev. John L. Dryer to New Mexico. A local Presbyterian minister allowed him to assist at the pulpit, where he delivered Methodist-Episcopal sermons. Dyer conveyed his support for establishing a church to the district superintendent.

Methodist Mission of New Mexico

In 1872, Rev. Thomas Harwood was appointed as the superintendent of the Methodist Mission in New Mexico, and Rev. H.H. Hall became the pastor in 1880. A small adobe church was built on West San Francisco Street, which was dedicated on April 17, 1881, by the Rev. David H. Moore. As the congregation grew, it moved to a building on Johnson Street. On June 24, 1906, a new church opened on Don Gaspar Avenue. That church was home to the Methodists for the next 48 years. In 1963 they moved to their current location on Cordova Road, adding more buildings as the congregation grew to include 2,000 members. In 1968 the church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church and became St. John’s Methodist Church.

Health and Education

As with other Protestant missions that first came to Santa Fe, the Methodist Mission of New Mexico disseminated its message through education. The Rev. Thomas Harwood and his wife, Emily, began schools in northern New Mexico and Albuquerque. The McCurdy Ministries was founded in Española in 1912 by the Millie Perkins, a United Brethren deaconess. They started the first medical clinic, nursing program, and hospital. A century later, in 2012, they began the McCurdy Charter School, which serves kindergarten through 12th grade. The ministries also set up a preschool, after-school camps, and a mental health program.

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