In New York, the cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty had just been put into place. In the nation's capital, the Washington Monument was finally completed, and President Chester Arthur would become the last sitting president to date to lose his party's nomination for reelection. The year was 1884, and here in Burbank, near the site of what is now the Empire Center, the Burbank First United Methodist Church was dedicated.
Four years after that dedication, the church moved to San Fernando Road where it remained until moving to Third Street and Olive Avenue in 1922. Continuing to grow, the congregants entered into an aggressive fundraising drive in the late 1940s, and in 1952 completed the building of their present Glenoaks Boulevard home.
This past Saturday, the Burbank First United Methodist Church celebrated its 125th anniversary with a ceremony that featured comments and proclamations from local dignitaries followed by a daylong showcase of entertainment accompanied by food, games and a presentation of historical photos and artifacts pertaining to the church.
Among the special guests who were welcomed by the church's senior pastor, the Rev. Wayne Walters and associate pastor, the Rev. Heather Blackstone, were former senior pastor, the Rev. Greg Baston and his wife, Tania, Burbank Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes and his wife, Sandy, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, William Syms, who represented U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, school board member Ted Bunch, First Presbyterian Church of Burbank pastor, the Rev. Ross Purdy, and the Rev. Phillips Wang of the Magnolia Park United Methodist Church.
Chaired by Jon Huntley, the quasquicentennial celebration committee of Connie Trimble, Mark Krailo, Roger Lamb, Carol Campbell, Donna Michel, Helen Von Seggern, Lauren Campbell and Riley Kolus staged a day of continuous live entertainment that featured local dance ensembles and vocalists including Juliette Dube, Wendy Stackhouse, Angela Akmakjian, Ann, Brooks, Zak and Taryn Gardner, Julian Mracky, Robert Wells, Hannah and Riley Kolus, Katie Trimble, Jeremy Herzig, Marilyn Strong, Jennie Lamb and Burbank High School's Bucco di Burbank choir.
Among those who enjoyed the day by volunteering, perusing a room filled with church memorabilia, and having their photos taken in costumes of the mid-1880s, were Bob and Lois Russo, Richard and Nancy White, Gary Trimble, Pat and Laurie Patterson, Jim and Jane Casey, Forrest Mitchell, Jenny Fiscus, Leslie Lily, Marsha Jackson, Nancy Johnson, Ken and Bea Wainwright, Marc Dube, Jerry and Tammy Yakes, Jim Lloyd, Helen Moyer, Ken and Diane Reyes-Pawlek, Ron Rothacher, Tom Barber, Sunny Chung, Edsel Curry, Joan Chandler, Chris Gargaro, Kathryn Glass, Jean Voght, Michael and Beth Trosper, Beecher and Frances Scott, Jack and Patty Reardon, Suzy Jacobs, Reason Meyer and Stacey Brenner.
Along with being a day of reflection and celebration, the event also served as a fundraiser. Church members and guests had the opportunity to buy tickets for food and games and take part in a silent auction with all proceeds going to benefit local charities and mission programs that have been embraced by the church.