Daily Archives: June 21, 2015

Father’s Day has Methodist ties


By Joey Butler*

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2010, the year often referenced as the centennial of the first celebration of Father’s Day. Information regarding the centennial has been updated to reflect this.

To all you dads out there: While you’re relaxing in your recliner and watching sports on June 21, and your kids are on their best behavior to honor Father’s Day, don’t forget to thank a United Methodist.

That’s right. Not one, but two United Methodist churches with the same name, oddly enough can lay claim to originating the celebration of all things paternal.

In 1909 in Spokane, Wash., Sonora Smart Dodd listened to a Mother’s Day sermon at Central Methodist Episcopal Church. Dodd’s own mother had died 11 years earlier, and her father had raised their six children alone. Dodd felt moved to honor her father, and fathers everywhere, with a special day as well.

She proposed her idea to local religious leaders, and gained wide acceptance. June 19, 1910, was designated as the first Father’s Day, and sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city.

When newspapers across the country carried the story about Spokane’s observance, the popularity of Father’s Day spread. Several presidents declared it a holiday, and in 1972, Richard Nixon established it as the third Sunday in June.

Dodd’s pivotal role in the creation of a national Father’s Day celebration was recognized in 1943 with a luncheon in her honor in New York City. Central Methodist Episcopal is now known as Central United Methodist, and holds a Father’s Day service every year.

On July 5, 1908, a Father's Day sermon was preached at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, now Central United Methodist Church, Fairmont, W.Va. Photo courtesy of the Rev. D.D. Meighen.

On July 5, 1908, a Father’s Day sermon was preached at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, now Central United Methodist Church, Fairmont, W.Va.
Photo courtesy of the Rev. D.D. Meighen.

There’s more to the story

If you thought you celebrated the centennial of Father’s Day in 2010, you were actually two years too late.

You see, the year Spokane was observing its first Father’s Day, almost 2,000 miles away in Fairmont, W.Va., another Methodist church was on its third.

On July 5, 1908, a Father’s Day sermon was preached at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, thanks to the efforts of Grace Golden Clayton.

In December 1907, a terrible mine explosion in nearby Monongah claimed the lives of more than 360 men. Most of them had families, and the tragedy left 1,000 children fatherless.

Clayton was distraught by the thought of all those children growing up without a father’s guidance, and wanted to do something to honor the importance of fatherhood. She asked her pastor to set aside a special day to commemorate fathers. She chose the Sunday closest to the birthday of her late father, also a Methodist preacher.

However, unlike the Spokane service, the Fairmont event drew little attention outside the area.

Fairmont historians concede that Sonora Dodd deserves credit for bringing the holiday to national prominence, but want it known that they did beat her to the idea.

“We don’t claim popularizing the day, but we have proof we were the first to have a church service,” said the Rev. D.D. Meighen, retired pastor of the Fairmont church, which is now also known as Central United Methodist. Seriously, what are the odds of that?

Meighen said two news-making events happened on July 4, 1908, that stole the thunder from their Father’s Day service.

Sonora Smart Dodd is known as the mother of Father's Day. Photo courtesy of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Sonora Smart Dodd is known as the mother of Father’s Day. Photo courtesy of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.

On that Saturday, Fairmont held its largest 4th of July celebration to date. A large crowd watched a “dare-devil” roll atop a ball to the top of the bank building on a spiral stairway. It made all the news. People talked about it for days.

Then, tragically, a beloved young woman in the church died of typhoid fever. Church members were shocked when they arrived at the Sunday service to hear of her death. Her funeral, which included 17 carriages lined up in front of the church, also made the headlines.

Coincidentally, the first Mother’s Day was observed on May 10, 1908, at Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, W.Va.

West Virginia Methodists clearly love their parents more than the rest of us.

So enjoy firing up that grill and napping in the hammock, dads everywhere. You’ve earned it, and the United Methodists have your back.

And when your kids give you yet another gruesomely ugly tie as a gift… well, we’re pretty sure the Lutherans are behind that.

*Butler is a media producer and editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. He’ll celebrate Father’s Day this year as he usually does: calling his dad and talking about the U.S Open golf tournament.

News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5105 or

Originally published June 18, 2010 at


Father’s Day Resources

Central United Methodist Church, Fairmont

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 21, 2015 in Father's Day, Holidays, Posts of Interest


Tags: , ,

Today’s Bible Verse ~ Proverbs 23:24


Today’s Bible Verse

“The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” –Proverbs 23:24


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Today at Pender UMC ~ Sunday, June 21st


Please join us this Sunday, June 21, in worship at the 8:15, 9:30 and 11:00 Services.

Sermon Series:  STORIES          

June 21 – Annual Conference Sunday. “Father Knows Best”

Using Romans 8:18-25 as a base, we will take a closer look at the significance of Father’s Day from a variety of perspectives – most importantly, God’s.  Thom Jones will be preaching at 8:15 and 11:00am

9:30 Contemporary Service: Our very own Angie Green will be preaching at our 9:30 service on Joshua 1:6-9:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

What is the Annual Conference?

An Annual Conference is a regional body that governs much of the life of the “Connectional Church.” Sound confusing? We agree. Chuck will try to make sense of “Annual Conferences” when he makes a conference call.

Listen to past sermons in the Pender Podcast.

What to expect at Pender UMC

Directions to Pender

Also Today:

  • June 21: Pender UMC Calendar Events
  • June 21: This Week at Pender email newsletter
  • June 21: Items of the week needed for Western Fairfax Christian Ministries to distribute to the needy in our area:
    • Salad Dressing & Condiments
    • 46 oz. bottles of oil, fruit juices, plastic bags and egg cartons are always needed and welcome too!

    Donations can be left in the blue grocery cart in the coat rack section.

  • June 21: The Pender Podcast is available in the iTunes Podcast series.  There is no charge to subscribe or listen to past sermons.  There are currently 221 sermons available.  More information
  • June 21-July 3: Music Camp Registration is open until we reach 60 campers. There is a waitlist available.  Music Camp will run from July 6-10, 2015 in the afternoon.
  • June 21: Philippi West Virginia mission trip permissions forms. More information
  • June 21: Traditional Service,  8:15 am. More information
  • June 21: Time Out for Parents,  9:15-10:30 am
  • June 21: Common Ground Service,  9:30 am. More information
  • June 21: Sunday School Classes.  9:30 am More information
  • June 21: New Directions Sunday School Class. Mark Batterson’s book entitled “The Circle Maker – Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears”. We meet in Rooms 218-220 at 9:30 AM. If any questions, feel free to contact Carol Wilson If any questions, feel free to contact Carol Wilson by email or at (703) 815-1744.
  • June 21: Sunday School Class: The Truth Project (began September 21) This Focus on the Family’s DVD series, with 26 one-half hour lessons taught by Dr. Del Tackett, is the starting point for looking at life from a Biblical perspective. lesson discusses the relevance and importance of living the Christian worldview in daily life.
  • June 21: Sunday School Class: The Good and Beautiful God (began September 21) (Room 205 – Library) A new Sunday School course immediately after the 9:30 am worship service led by Brian and Angie Green will be reading and discussing this book. To sign up or find out more information, please sign up on the Connection Card in the bulletin on Sunday.
  • June 21: Sunday School II for adults. New Study: The Good and Beautiful Community  10:45 am-noon
  • June 21: Traditional Service,  11:00 am. More information
  • June 21: Turning Point Youth Group, 6:30 pm, with dinner. More information

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: