Methodism had its start in Moline in 1834 when Rev. Thomas McMurtry, a Methodist circuit rider, helped organize what would later become the First Methodist Episcopal Church in the cabin of Joel Wells, which was located near the current Moline Water Works.
After initially meeting in the Wells cabin, the small congregation met in the nearby Moline House Hotel starting in 1843 and in Moline’s first schoolhouse starting in 1845. In 1848, the congregation erected its first house of worship at the northwest corner of 5th Avenue and 16th Street. This building was sold to the Swedish Methodist congregation when a new church was built in 1871 at the southeast corner of 7th Avenue and 16th Street. In 1922, the 1871 church was torn down and the present structure erected at the same location. In 1960, an educational wing was added on the south side of the 1922 church, including a new office, parlor, and chapel.
Aldersgate Methodist Church was formed on 41st Street in late 1955 through the purchase of five acres of land including a house, a machine shop, a garage and 100 apple trees. With the aid of furnishings donated by other churches, the machine shop was quickly transformed into a chapel. The apple trees were removed to provide for an athletic field and future expansion. A new church was built on the site in 1962 and was expanded in 1971.
Riverside United Methodist Church was formed in July 2000 through the merger of the former Moline First (nee First Methodist Episcopal) and Aldersgate United Methodist Churches.
Although the church buildings have been the outward symbol of Riverside, the lives of its members reflect the church’s outreach over the years. Many of the more recent lives are memorialized on Memorial Boards located inside the church (712 16th Street) and posted online on the Find a Grave website. Click the button below to find links to memorials for deceased past ministers of the church and for 550+ past members and loved ones of members.
A history of Riverside Church was compiled in 2009 for its 175th anniversary. Click the button below.