A Brief History of Cullman’s First Five Churches

Greg Burden

CULLMAN – Cullman is filled with wonderful, God-fearing people and as a result, there are lots of fantastic churches around town. With a variety of denominations represented, there seems to be something for just about everyone, according to their beliefs. Take a walk through early Cullman and watch how the churches began to spring up and blossom nothing but faith, hope and love.     

The first church to form in Cullman was St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church. It was organized on May 1, 1874, and located in West Cullman between Fourth and Fifth Avenue. The church’s first pastor was Reverend J. Schmaltzer. Several years later the church's current site on Second Avenue was purchased, and a new building was erected. The second church building was used until 1923 when the present building was constructed.  

Sacred Heart Church was the second church to come to Cullman. It blossomed into existence in 1877 under the leadership of Fr. James Meurer, a German-speaking priest. Benedictine priests began their tradition of service as parish pastors in 1888, three years prior to the founding of St. Bernard Abbey.

The present stone church with its two massive steeples was dedicated in 1916. The matching stone school located next to the church was built in the years following World War II. The current rectory was constructed in 1961.

The third church in Cullman was First Baptist Church, which was organized August 26, 1877. Reverend P. M. Musgrove was the church’s first pastor with only seven members at the time.

The first church building, only 30 x 40 feet, was located on the corner of Second Avenue West and First Street. A new church was built and replaced the small one in 1893. That building was then replaced by a beautiful brick structure in 1914. The current church was dedicated on April 13, 1952. The church had the same organist, Mrs. F. E. St. John, for over 60 years; from 1893 until 1953. 

Cullman’s fourth church was St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, organized in 1879. At the time, it was called the German-English Methodist Episcopal and in 1884 the church was renamed West Cullman Methodist Episcopal Church. It was located in a wooden building that was built on Main Street. The church changed its name again in 1954 to West Methodist Church and at the time had a new education building added. The current place of worship was used for the first time on December 27, 1959, and a couple years later, its name changed to St. Andrews United Methodist Church. 

Cullman’s fifth church to make its appearance was First United Methodist Church. It was organized by Reverend Sam P. West in 1881 at the Cullman Courthouse with 10 charter members. It was a result of the outgrowth of a Sunday school class for Methodists which had been taught by George W. Hardin a few years prior. The first church was constructed in 1883. It was located on First Avenue West, between First and Second Streets. Unfortunately, in 1893 the building was destroyed by fire.

For two years after the fire, church was held in the courthouse. In 1905, a frame building was completed on the church’s present site. The current stone edifice was completed in 1924, which is now First Methodist Church. 

The churches did not stop cropping up after these first five were completed. Since then there have been hundreds of churches added to our town. Each church is like a beautiful flower, and together they help to create a truly lovely place to be.