The Methodist congregation in Watsonville was established in 1852, when Rev. D.A. Dryden preached in a grove of cottonwoods and conducted a marriage ceremony on the banks of the Pajaro River. This was believed to be the first American wedding in the Pajaro Valley. The following year, Rev. Elihu Anthony of Santa Cruz was appointed to organize the area Methodists and serve as the first pastor. He was a Circuit Rider and preached once every 2 weeks. In those days, church members were divided into classes with lay leaders, and they met weekly to promote spiritual and welfare concerns. Meetings were also held outside of Watsonville, including Oak Grove, Springfield, the Salinas River and Green Valley.
The first Methodist sanctuary was built on Main Street, not far from the town plaza. A separate Methodist Church South was also constructed. The two congregations combined after the Civil War. In 1873, a new church, costing $6,000, was dedicated at the corner of Third and Rodriguez Streets. The Sabbath School Aid Society, run by the ladies, hosted regular Thanksgiving dinners at the town skating rink to raise funds. With hundreds of worshipers through the years, the church provided such opportunities as choirs and orchestra, Sunday classes and potlucks, the Epworth League for high schoolers, and camping at Monte Toyon Methodist Camp in Aptos.
The Freedom Community Methodist Church was organized in 1948. The buildings of the former Freedom School were purchased by the Monterey Bay Missionary and Church Extension Society for $30,000 to serve as the church. The first worship service was held on February 1st of that year. The Freedom congregation was active until 1998 when declining enrollment prompted closure. Interested members joined the Watsonville congregation.
In 1948, the location of our current church property at 229 Stanford Street became available, and a building fund was begun. Local members and their friends volunteered to help construct the church, thus reducing the cost. Our congregation officially moved