A hand-crafted wooden lectern is among relics of the early days in the sanctuary of First UMC, Dover.
In 1845, when Central Florida was primarily a frontier, a Methodist congregation began in what is now Dover, an area noted for strawberry farms that is seven miles west of Plant City.
Local lore from longtime members has it that many years ago the sanctuary was moved on rolling logs to its current location at Methodist Church and Moores Lake roads from a previous site.
This congregation is still active today, although tiny in membership, as the First United Methodist Church of Dover. It is located at 3310 Moores Lake Road.
This tiny country church is really a historic landmark for Methodism in Florida. It is one of the oldest active United Methodist congregations in Hillsborough County.
On Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, the congregation celebrated its 170th anniversary. About 30 people normally attend the Sunday morning service, but about twice that many filled the small sanctuary for the homecoming. The crowd also celebrated with a covered dish meal in the fellowship hall.
– Rev. P. Rodney Body is pastor of First UMC, Dover. Florida Conference managing editor Susan Green contributed to this story.