Margaret (Fullerton) Abney, born in Alabama in 1829, joined the Methodist church with her family at a camp meeting held at nearby McKendree campground in 1863. Because the nearest Methodist church was ten miles away, Mrs. Abney held bible study meetings in her home on Sunday afternoons.
This group of Abney family and friends formed the nucleus of the membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, when it organized a Lufkin congregation in 1882. One of eight churches in the Homer Circuit, the congregation met once a month in a local school building to hear the sermons of the Reverend H.H. Vaughn. In 1884 a 200-seat frame church building was erected in downtown Lufkin on land donated by the railroad. The building was shared with local Presbyterians and Baptists.
In 1891, membership had grown to 100 and the pastor held services twice a month. Ten years later, the membership numbered 286 and the pastor was serving full-time. Completed in 1905 at a cost of $14,750, a new sanctuary seated more than 800 people.
The church prospered, requiring an educational building by 1928. Despite the difficult times of the depression era and World War II, the congregation continued to grow, and the church was relocated to Denman Avenue in 1959. By 1978, when the congregation celebrated the 100 years since Mrs. Abney began her Sunday school, the church complex included six buildings.
The First United Methodist Church of Lufkin continues as active tradition of community and missionary service.