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First United Methodist Church of Vinita was founded as the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Vinita, Indian Territory in 1874; however, the actions leading up to this began over fifty years before in North Carolina when a gathering of Cherokees in the Great Smokey Mountains heard the message of Methodist missionary, Rev. Richard Neeley of the Tennessee conference, who in 1822 preached in the home of a native named Richard Riley. Thus a ministry to the Cherokee Indians was begun. During this time, many Cherokee heard the gospel proclaimed.  When the Cherokees were relocated to the west, Methodist missionaries came with them to continue the work which had been begun in the east. Therefore, the first ministers to work with the Methodist Church in Oklahoma were those who migrated with them west and lived and worked with them and among them.

Joseph Franklin Thompson, born in the Cherokee Nation, was the first appointed minister to the newly chartered church. Rev. Thompson held the “Grand River” circuit of the Oklahoma Indian Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The church was then unofficially called “Thompson’s Church” after Rev. Thompson. It is said by pioneer Oklahoma historian, Dr. Joseph B. Thoburn that the term “trail of tears” was coined by Rev. Thompson.

The Methodist Church was the first church in the community of Vinita, originally named Downingville, and it was the first city in the state with electricity. The name was later changed to Vinita after Vinnie Ream, the first and youngest female artist to receive a commission from the U.S. Government to sculpt the statue of Abraham Lincoln which now sits in the U.S. Capitol rotunda.  Ream, who never came to Oklahoma, was a

love interest of Elias C. Boudinot, one of the early leaders in Indian Territory, and not even his naming a city after her swayed her affections toward him.
 
Vinita was a bustling community early on as it was where the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway intersected with the Frisco. The cattlemen would drive their cattle to this point to load them on train cars bound for market. While never really considered a boom town, Vinita continued to grow as the area around it expanded and grew. The State Legislature located the Eastern Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane there in 1909, which was later closed in 1990. The facility reopened under the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in 1994 as a minimum security facility.
 

The current church building, located on Canadian Avenue and completed in 1922 (then the First Methodist-Episcopal Church, South), was added to the national register of historic places in 1999.

In 1956 they built the educational wing which was attached to the main building with a glass atrium.
 
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