The earliest organized Protestant society in Muskegon became our present Central United Methodist Church. The first religious service was held in the Martin Ryerson boarding house in 1843, led by itinerant Methodist preacher, M. Warring. Until formal organization, many services were conducted by a former slave, Abner Bennett, who walked to Muskegon along the shore of Lake Michigan from his home in White River Township.
The first resident minister, J. M. Pratt, was appointed in 1856. In 1859, at the corner of Jefferson and Clay, the first building of the Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated. This building served the church and the community: the Methodists worshiped in the auditorium; the basement housed the Congregationalists on the weekends and the County Court during the week. In 1888, a new structure was built on the site of the old.
The current building on Second Street between Webster and Muskegon Aves. was dedicated in 1930. It is Gothic style and is built of random-ashlar cut Indiana limestone. The sanctuary seats 600 people, and is blessed with a Moller pipe organ with 2,202 pipes, as well as magnificent stained-glass windows. In 1984, a columbarium was added beneath the chancel area for the burial of the cremated remains of members of Central Church and those of their immediate family. Today, Central United Methodist Church continues in its commitment to be a light along the shore from the center of the City of Muskegon. The building is a registered historic site.