The History of Dalton First United Methodist Church

The First United Methodist Church of Dalton had its beginning in 1847, the year of Dalton’s founding. Services were held in a meeting house shared by three congregations: Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians. Dalton’s founder, Captain Edward White appointed a Methodist Minister, Rev. Levi Brotherton, to preach each Sunday or get someone to fill the pulpit. In 1850, Captain White gave a parcel of land to the Methodists on the corner of King Street and Selvedge Street and by 1851 a small church building stood on the site and the Methodist congregation began meeting there. 
Following the Civil War, the old building was torn down and a new brick building was constructed on the site. Through the years renovations and enlargements were made and in 1950, because of the growing congregation, ground was broken on the present site and, by 1951, a beautiful new church building was occupied. In 1967, an education wing was added and later another addition including a new parlor, a chapel, an enlarged fellowship hall, a kitchen and a beautiful atrium.  Since its beginning, our church has had three names: Methodist Episcopal Church South, First Methodist Church and with the merging of three Protestant denominations, became Dalton First United Methodist Church, our present name.
We have some great history documented in our printed copy of 
Flagship in the Forest, History of Dalton First United Methodist Church book researched and compiled by church member, Horton Hassell Herrin. Copies are available in the church office for $10.

The History of our Organ

One of the most exciting parts of the Sanctuary Renovation at Dalton First is the relocation and expansion of our magnificent pipe organ. Organs have played an integral part in Christian worship for approximately 1300 years, calling Christ’s followers to prayer and praise and supporting the singing of our voices. This has certainly been true in the worship life of the Dalton First United Methodist Church.


In 1982, Austin Organs Opus 2668, an instrument with three manuals and 43 ranks of pipes was installed. It was dedicated on May 9 with a recital by Robert MacDonald of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey. This fine instrument has faithfully served our congregation for over three decades. In 2008, the church contracted with Parkey Organ Builders of Duluth, GA, longtime curators of the instrument, to replace the aging console. It was carefully designed with enough space to accommodate future stop additions that would complete the original specification.


Our new instrument, Parkey Organ Builders Opus 16, will have a total of 50 ranks and 2842 windblown pipes. Seven additional ranks (427 pipes) are being added to the original 43 that will produce beautiful Flute, Oboe and Violin Diapason tones. A new Mixture stop (Plein Jeu) of four ranks is included in the Swell division to add brilliance and clarity to the ensemble without overpowering the choir.   All of the pipes will sit atop newly constructed windchests, necessary due to the reconfiguration of the instrument. A larger blower will supply wind to the expanded instrument. The old Austin “fan tremulants” are being replaced with standard box tremulants to add a pleasing vibrato to the sound of certain stops when desired. Many of the bass pipes of the Austin were mounted horizontally on the back wall of the Pedal chamber and “Haskelled” – literally turned in on themselves. This was necessary due to the space limitations of the old side organ chambers. Unfortunately, this weakened the bass frequencies that the organ produced. These notes are being replaced with 48 full-length pipes, some of which will be over 16 feet long. Many of these new bass pipes will be visible in the beautiful new facades to the right and left of the central pediment. The pipes are arranged in such a way to lead one’s eyes to the chancel cross, the focal point of the entire room. The centrality of the cross makes an important statement of our faith in Jesus Christ.


In addition, the 2008 console will now be equipped with the most advanced technology available, including full MIDI capability and 300 levels of memory. MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, will allow the organist to record and play back live performances. For example, the accompaniment to an anthem can be pre-recorded, freeing the organist to conduct the choir. Digital voices can easily be added and played from the console alongside the organ’s real pipe voices. The many levels of memory will allow the organist to save and recall combinations of stops for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, special holiday services, etc. Also, guest organists will also be able to save their own settings.


All of the pipes, old and new, will be custom voiced for proper tone, blend and balance in the new configuration. With the chambers now located on the central axis of the room, the organ will speak directly into the nave, allowing it to better lead congregational singing. The new chamber design will also prevent the organ from overpowering the choir and soloists. It will be beautiful to see and hear!


We certainly give thanks for the many generous contributions of time, talent and treasure that have enabled this fantastic instrument to be commissioned. It will lead our congregation in prayer and praise for generations to come. Soli Deo Gloria – to God alone be the glory!


Jeff Harbin

Director of Music Ministries and Organist