In 1951, Iona Salter and Sara Freiwald, who were members of the First United Methodist Church of Fort Walton Beach, wanted to have a Methodist church in Shalimar. They approached Reverend John H. Lane, pastor of the First Methodist Church of Fort Walton Beach, to discuss establishing a Methodist church in Shalimar. After taking a survey and finding that a number of families living in or near Shalimar were willing to support founding a church, Mrs. Freiwald persuaded Mr. Clifford Meigs to donate a lot for the church. Rev. Lane then obtained consent for the establishment of the church from Reverend Dr. George W. Kerlin, superintendent of the Marianna District, which at the time had jurisdiction over the Shalimar area. Mr. James Tringas, friend of the Freiwalds, agreed to allow the use of the concession room of his drive-in theater as the meeting place until a church could be built. On June 17, 1951, Rev. Lane and several laymen from his church met with some eighteen to twenty people from Shalimar for an organizational service. Rev. Lane opened the service with a call to worship, followed by a hymn and prayer. Announcements were made concerning plans for services each subsequent Sunday. The following Sunday, June 24, 1951, was set as Charter Member Sunday. Reverend Dr. A.E. Middlebrook, who had succeeded Dr. George W. Kerlin as Superintendent of the Marianna District, delivered the message at this service. At the conclusion of the service, the following persons joined the church and were designated as charter members: Leonard B. Brock Jr., Gloria Harrell Brock, Iona Dare Salter, Oscar Franklin Salter, Evelyn Freiwald Meigs, Sara Ferdon Freiwald (Meigs, Tras) and Jean Freiwald. The church was established as a mission church of the Fort Walton Beach Methodist Church.
During the next twelve months, Rev. Lane conducted services each Sunday at 9:30 am in the concession room. In June 1952, Reverend William D. Bruner became the first full-time pastor of the church. Construction of the church Sanctuary began during March of 1952. Services were held in the still unfinished Sanctuary beginning on July 20, 1952. The Shalimar United Methodist Church retained its mission status until it was officially dedicated as a standing church on January 15, 1961, with the dedication service led by Dr. C.E. Barns, District Superintendent.
During the intervening years until the present, major construction projects have given the church a new Sanctuary, Chapel, an expanded number of Sunday School classrooms and a Family Life Center.
On January 15, 2010, SUMC purchased the adjacent property currently occupied by Havertys Furniture. The building is 45,000 square feet, located on 2.33 acres and currently has 89 parking spaces. The vision for the building is to establish a Disciple Training Center to facilitate our mission of Reach, Teach and Send.
Recent church attendance averages around 965.
Original Sanctuary was first used on July 20, 1952 (now Music Suite).
A one-story building was constructed to the rear of the original Sanctuary, containing the Fellowship Hall, rest rooms and kitchen. This building now contains the Library and Computer Lab. Partitions were used in the Fellowship Hall to divide it into Sunday School rooms with each room having its own entrance. Sunday School met for the first time in this extension on May 26, 1956, per a note in the May 20, 1956 issue of the Steeple Echo. Shortly thereafter, the other one-story building to the west, now containing Rooms 1-8, was constructed to provide additional Sunday School rooms.
May 1965 - Original Sanctuary was air conditioned.
1967 - A two-story building with a covered walk way was constructed and occupied to contain the church offices and classrooms.
1972 - The existing Sanctuary was constructed. The first service titled the “Service of Thanksgiving Peace” was held on Saturday, January 27, 1973. This is the date the Vietnam War ended. The first Sunday service was held on January 28, 1973.
1975 - The kitchen was relocated to the choir loft area of the original Sanctuary.
1983 - A two-story classroom building extension containing the church offices and classroom was constructed. The current chapel and restrooms were also constructed.
1996 - The cornerstone was laid for the Family Life Center.
During the Fall of 2008, the Sanctuary altar was redesigned and the pews were replaced.
2018 - We purchased Cross Corner, previously Shalimar Presbyterian Church.