The Methodist Church came to Seward in 1905 with arrival of the Rev. Louis H. Pedersen. (Pedersen Glacier a few miles from Seward as the eagle flies is named for this pioneering pastor.) Seward was the bustling terminus of the new Alaska Railroad, bringing supplies to the interior. Pedersen arrived with a gospel tent which served as both church and parsonage for the first year.
The United Methodist Church had been doing ministry in Alaska since 1886, when John and Ethelda Carr were sent by the Women’s Home Missionary Society to teach and preach on the island of Unga on the Aleutian archipelago. Four years later, the Jesse Lee Home was established under the leadership of missionary Agnes Soule, providing care for Aleut orphans. The orphanage was moved to Seward in 1925 and several generations of children were cared for and introduced to the love of God in Jesus Christ by the extended faith community. The Seward Church grew along with the vital ministries associated with the Jesse Lee Home, ministries that included a hospital, nursing facility, and sanitarium for tuberculosis patients. The orphanage sustained major damage in the 1964 earthquake and was moved to Anchorage where the work continues to this day under the name of Alaska Children’s Services. Throughout the region the Methodist Church established medical facilities, nursing homes, and even a university here in the far north. The UMC has brought pastoral, medical, and educational ministries to Alaska for over a century, and that long tradition continues to this day through the churches and ministries of the Alaska Conference.
In 1994, on Christmas Eve, a fire destroyed the Seward Church building, but not the spirit of the people who make up the church. Within a year, volunteers from across the country had built a brand new building on our historic site.