Our History

Avondale United Methodist Church was founded as Avondale Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1887 out of an interdenominational community Sunday school group.

The Reverend W. T. Andrews, fresh out of seminary, organized the church with 18 members and held services regularly in a community store. The congregation completed its first building in 1888 at a location on 5th Avenue across from the present site of the Avondale Park ball fields.

By 1917, the growing congregation, now 250 strong, was outgrowing its small wooden building. The congregation purchased new land that was, according to minutes of the church meeting, “really wonderful in its aptness and its beauty—at the center of the population to be served.” A new education building and sanctuary were completed in 1931, and by the congregation’s semicentennial in 1937, the church had grown to 950 members.

In the late twentieth century, with the economic and racial landscape of Birmingham undergoing seismic shifts, the South Avondale community experienced many changes that challenged the once growing congregation. Church leaders began to reassess the mission and ministries of the church in light of its changing environment, but they remained committed to the congregation’s original vision to be at the center of the community.

New opportunities for connecting with the neighborhood, such as the Parents’ Day Out preschool, a tutoring partnership with the local school, food ministries that serve the area’s underprivileged residents, and new learning opportunities for those new to the church have given new expression to the core vision of the congregation.

Sketch of the Sanctuary and Education Building, completed in 1931

Sketch of the Sanctuary and Education Building, completed in 1931

Urban blight in the avondale area

The urban communities of Birmingham were slow to adapt to the social and economic changes of the late 20th century. Many businesses in Avondale closed and residents moved to the suburbs.

Avondale UMC today

Avondale UMC remains a vital part of the South Avondale neighborhood.