First United Methodist Church
The people called Methodist have been making history by serving God and humankind in the New Braunfels area since 1853. First United Methodist Church, the first home of the Methodist in New Braunfels, is the fourth oldest congregation in the city. Methodist believe God was incarnate in human form so that He could communicate with human beings, so the church must bring the gospel of Christ to humans in their language and in their community.
The people called Methodist began their work in New Braunfels in the German language. The church formally began when Rev. Henry P. Young (Heinrich Jung) was appointed to serve the New Braunfels mission circuit consisting of five churches (1853). By 1858 a frame church building was erected in Comaltown on Union Street (now part of New Braunfels) for worship and Sunday School. In the early history of the church one minister and one layperson’s contributions stood out: Revered John Wesley DeVilbiss and Johann Friedrich David Karbach. Rev. DeVilbiss was appointed Presiding Elder (District Superintendent) for all the German speaking congregations in the Rio Grande Conference (Southwest Texas) of the Methodist Church (1856-60). He felt it necessary to learn German and to center his work in New Braunfels. He shared the ministry of the German speaking pastors whom he supervised, met with Methodist Societies, conducted prayer meetings in people’s homes, and preached at camp meetings. It was in that setting that David Karbach was converted to Methodism.
Over the years David, the name he preferred, along with his family, especially his sons Fritz and John, became the backbone of the Methodist movement in the area. Karbach Settlement on the Karbach ranch was the center of worship and Sunday School activity in the area well into the 1900s. The congregation so revered the contributions of the Karbach family that in 1914 when a new brick church building was erected at 572 W. San Antonio Street, it was named Karbach Memorial Methodist Church. At this new location the church would gradually change from the German language to the English language to better meet the spiritual needs of the community