First United Methodist Church of Germantown

Status: Active, Methodist

Also Known As: FUMCOG

Founded: 1796
Construction: 1896

6203 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Visit its website

Original visit: July 20, 2008

Where Is It?

Germantown Avenue and High Street, in...yep, Germantown.

The Skinny

First United Methodist Church of Germantown doesn’t quite match up to some of our past Germantown successes, but it has some pretty cool things going on its own right. First United — hereafter abbreviated as FUMCOG (fōōm kôg), and yes, that’s actually what these people call their church — is notable for its nice gothic exterior, including a quite prominent and lovely tower. It even has gargoyles!

The interior, however, suffers from an unfortunate reliance on white plaster and wood, which never, ever works. That said, it’s structurally pretty cool, and there’s quite a bit of nice stained glass. What’s interesting here is that the glass was done by different companies; the main sanctuary windows were done by Tiffany, while the clerestory windows up top were done by a local company, Willets.

The weird thing is that the color scheme doesn’t match. The main windows are oddly skewed toward dark golds and browns, which is quite a clash with the bright reds and blues of the clerestory set. Even though two different companies were involved, you’d think they’d have them work in concert, or at least try to sync up their approaches. Ah, well.

Oh, and the whole thing is thrown off even more by the use of tacky, salmon-colored wall-to-wall carpet. Blech.

How the $#%@ do I get in here?: Ah yes, of course. FUMCOG does what most Protestant churches do, and that’s eschew a prominent and dominating façade. Still, they make it easier than most to find the entrance, as the part facing out is actually the back of the church, and there are actually two doors in the front. Not once did I have to wander around in circles!

In the end, it’s ok. Not spectacular, but interesting enough to warrant some attention. The exterior is really the main attraction; certainly, the St. Cyprian Effect at work.

How's It Doing?

Pretty well, methinks. This is a surprisingly diverse and strong congregation that has a lot of stuff going on: concerts, recitals, actives, groups, social work, etc. The turnout wasn’t spectacular, but it is summer, after all. Given everything else they have going on, I don’t think that’s really an accurate reflection.

The people themselves are friendly and passionate, and greet each other with a surprising amount of zeal. Not really Love-O-Meter worthy, but better than a lot of places.

The Fat Girl Principle: Yes, I was picked out, but not because of my lily-white complexion. The older gentlemen in front of me noticed that I was a visitor because he couldn’t recall seeing me before.

If members can pick visitors out that easily, this is one tight-knit group of people.

Travel Tidbits

Like almost any area not-named South Philadelphia, Germantown is pretty easy to get to and navigate. Plus, it has the aforementioned excellent architecture and history, so there are some neat things to see while you’re there.

Sure, things are a little run-down in places, but it’s nothing that should make you worry. If some people are to be believed, Germantown is headed for a revitalization, so it should only get better and better.

Still, park as close to the church as possible, just to be safe.

Interesting Note

The church is shaped normally, but the pews are slightly curved and arranged almost semi-circularly. That’s usually the sort of wacky thing you only see in modern monstrosities.

Image Gallery

The Final Word

No match for other G-Town heavyweights, but still decent.