By Michael Reisig –
The Mena First United Methodist Church has a rich and long history. Its first meeting place consisted of a sawdust floor and rough-hewn walls and the first meeting took place in 1896. A corner lot on 7th and Church Streets was purchased and a frame church was built that same year. A new church was built in 1907, an educational building was completed in 1951. Once again, a new church building was built in 1965, and the educational building was once again refurbished.
Minister Gary Harrison says Mena First United Methodist Church is a “Christ Centered” community of believers, who have been serving God, and loving and caring for their neighbors since 1896. Harrison is in his eighth year with the church. He was in place as the minister when the 2009 tornado hit Mena. But his help with the recovery with his congregation and the community firmly embedded him, and he attributes that to his longevity with the church.
“The church has a strong history of evangelism and discipleship, reaching out to individuals through worship and music, Bible study and education, family and individual nurturing, and fellowship,” Harrison added, “We have a very diverse congregation, probably the most racially, economically, and socially diverse congregation I’ve ever worked with, and I like that. We blend a little contemporary and conventional together to find a happy medium that satisfies all that would come to worship with us.”
Mena First United Methodist Church believes, with God’s help, they share His love through active support of missions, locally and around the world, Continuing those programs that have been effective in the past, they seek growth by adding new ministries that are responsive to present and future needs. “
Our biggest event of the year is our Christmas Open House – a great place to celebrate after the parade and watch the fireworks,” Harrison explained. “We try to blend fun with message here. We try to provide an open atmosphere of worship to reach out to the community in the name of Jesus Christ. Those at Mena First United Methodist Church have “A Call to Care.”
“We care that you have chosen to be with us in worship and we care enough to extend our most sincere welcome,” he added. “You are invited to join us as we grow in faith and discipleship together by participating in all or any part of what we do here and around the world. We are involved, committed, diverse, and endeavor to be open. We are a people who try to be accepting, caring, hospitable and inclusive. We invite you to be a part of a group who are also concerned about those beyond our community, around the world, active in mission, and responsive.”
Harrison said the church also is a part of many ministries in the area.
“We’re a part of 9th Street Ministry feeding program and we have nurses that work with the 9th Street Ministry Free Clinic as well,” he said. “We work with the Polk County Family Mission, which provides aid for those with special needs, from help with utilities to medical prescriptions. And we also assist the area SMART Team, helping seniors with home repairs.”
Harrison added that the church works with the area Alcoholics Anonymous, AL-NON — for families who deal with alcohol-related problems, as well as assisting compulsive eaters and offering grief support.
“We try to be successful at being attuned to the community’s needs,” he explained. “We always welcome anyone to visit us – come to our services, or take advantage of our many programs.”
Services are held on Sunday: Sunday School: 9 a.m. Worship Service: 10:00 a.m.