The church in Paris is 100 years old

The wooden benches rest comfortably on the green carpet, which covers the entire floor of the sanctuary. The walls are lined with stained glass, and the sun shines through the windows, dazzling the purples, blues, and yellows that make up the glass.

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The sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church of Paris

The First United Methodist Church of Paris celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Alex Gladden, Fort Smith Times record

The building of the first United Methodist Church in Paris turns 100 this year. The building, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, guarded the city through the Great Depression, World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The church is being restored, using $57,455 the church received from the Arkansas Historical Society in July. The church must match the money with $28,728, said Donna Flanagan, who serves on the church’s board of trustees and is the president of the restoration project.

Church members are still raising funds for the renovation, and the Reverend Judy Hall is appealing to the people of Paris to donate to the cause.

“We would appreciate the support and help,” Hall said.

People can donate online by going to Parisumc.org. They can also send their donations by post to BP 506 Paris, AR 72855.

First United Methodist is a cornerstone of the community. Blood collections take place there; Alcoholics Anonymous meets there; people use the church for weddings and other events, said Jewell White, a representative for the congregation, which includes about 100 people.

“So we are a vital part of the community. We want to keep that,” Hall said.

The restoration fixed the steps of the church. Workers are realigning the bricks of the entrance. The work includes laying new mortar around the bricks. The fix will stop a leak in the basement.

Part of the job is to bring the area up to code and put handrails around the porch.

Flanagan said construction should be completed in the coming weeks. Clements & Associates of North Little Rock are the architects of the project. The group specializes in restoration work.

Clements & Associates will also create a plan for future work that needs to be done on the building.

Hall would like to see the church add a modern elevator and a wheelchair-accessible bathroom to the sanctuary level.

Flanagan added that some of the exterior windows need to be replaced. She would also like to replace the flooring in the living room.

The church formed in 1874. Church members constructed the first building in 1878. It burned down in 1881. The second building burned down in 1896 and the third in 1918.

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