ABOUT OUR CHURCH
Our Rich History
College Park United Methodist Church is rich with history and remains a landmark in the College Park community serving the needs of many both physically and spiritually. On November 7, 1943, the first service of College Park United Methodist Church was held in the Red Cross Center on Edgewater Drive. Rev. Harris DeWese led nineteen adults and children in worship at that meeting.
A building was soon needed to house the growing congregation. The founding church, now First United Methodist Church of Orlando, donated five lots at the corner of Princeton and Edgewater, at a cost of $5,000. In order to finance the construction costs, “Block Sundays” began September 10, 1944. Concrete blocks could be purchased for thirty cents each. Even the children brought their dimes in to help. Ground breaking was on October 7, 1944, and the new building was dedicated on December 31, 1944.
In 1946 a continually growing congregation called for a larger facility, and thus our current chapel was built from red brick. Completely funded from church donations, the campaign slogan was “Finish the Job – Keep out of Debt”. The new sanctuary opened on September 14, 1947 to 277 members.
On September 12, 1948, a weekday kindergarten was started. Enrollment was open to church member’s children first. The cost was $12.50 per month. In 1966, with 1,900 members on the roll and three morning worship services, a new sanctuary was needed. December 1, 1966 saw the opening of the new sanctuary, and the building still used today.
The College Park United Methodist Men was organized in 1947, with 35 active members, and the Woman’s Society for Christian Service had been started the year prior. When the first sanctuary opened, it was greeted with a large choir & director, organist and pianist. In 1976, a hand bell choir was established.
WE STAND FOR LOVE
Our Mission is, quite simply, to
Create Loving Space
Where ALL Belong
The Word of God and the saving message of Jesus Christ is still changing lives. The Grace of God is ever moving our hearts into greater closeness with Him, as we strive to co-operate with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to fulfill the commandment to love God, love our neighbor as our self, and to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We are proud to say that though the methods have changed, the message of God’s grace and love still remains the same. It is our prayer that the saving and life changing message of the radical love and grace of God continue to be preached, and modeled in all of our lives, and that we reach out to the lost and hurting with the love of Christ, both in word and deed.
Who We Are
Our Team & Leadership
CPUMC has been blessed with an amazing group of indivuduals who all are human and messy and have felt the call to serve.
Our Pastor: Merrill Frailey
Native Floridian, Merrill Frailey is best known for her glowing smile, energy, deep faith and positive take on life. After 17 years of ministry at First United Methodist Church Winter Park, Florida she responded to a deeper call to become a licensed local pastor in 2015. Merrill was ordained as a licensed local pastor within the East-Central district of the FLUMC in 2016 and was appointed as lead Pastor at College Park United Methodist Church.
Over the last three years Merrill led CPUMC through a process of healing, reconciling and transforming itself back into a thriving, authentic, caring local church community. Merrill likes to refer to it as the 5 loaves and 2 fish miracle. A simple story about how when we hand over the little we have left with hope, faith, discernment, and a willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, God can do great things!
One thing she is most proud of is how the CPUMC community is what she believes to be a good representation of what the Kingdom of God looks like, diverse, loving, and inclusive. A loving space where all belong and can grow in the faith.
Merrill received her accreditation for Life Coaching from CTA, Coach Training Alliance, an ICF Accredited School in 2007 before being ordained, with her area of focus on effective communication and conflict resolution. She uses her ability to love and by sharing from her heart through her personal experiences to encourage and motivate others with faith and positive energy.
Besides being involved in the College Park community she loves spending time with her big “Tribe”, a mother of five, three daughter in laws and grandmother to five little girls.
Merrill has an open door so if you would like to schedule an appointment with her, please contact the church office firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-843-7197
Craig Willson joined the staff at CPUMC in August of 2015. His music ministry calling began in 1998 at Trinity United Methodist Church. While there, he also served in the role of Director of Compassionate Ministries. During that time he spent a lot of time serving and starting programs that ministered to the disadvantaged in the Orlando area. Craig also teaches music classes and helps lead chapel at the Child Development Center here at College Park United. He was ordained and placed as associate Pastor of CPUMC in July 2020. When not working on campus, Mr. Willson is a pianist at Corpus Christi Catholic church in Celebration, FL, providing music for weddings, funerals and special services and also provides musical direction and accompaniment for drama, choral and band students at Lyman High School in Longwood, FL. He is married to Janel Willson and they reside in Ocoee with their three children.
Mitch Herman is originally from the small town of 3000 people—Burlington, Colorado. Mitch moved to Orlando, Florida in 2008 where he attended Full Sail University and graduated with a bachelors degree in Music Business and Recording Arts. He has had a career as a professional musician for the past 10 years and performs almost 400 shows each year. Mitch became the Associate Worship Leader at College Park United Methodist two years ago. In this role he helps provide a warm and inviting atmosphere through music. He is drawn to how music reached so many on a deep level and unites people with varying backgrounds. With his passion for music and his search to become closer to God, he was fueled to create a space where people could deepen their faith and their spiritual relationship amongst community. Over the past year and a half Mitch has worked with a small team to create the church’s first contemporary service, known as Anthem. He is fueled each day at work knowing he helps impact many people and enjoys creating meaningful worship experiences. Mitch currently lives in Winter Garden with his best friend, Meredith, where they are raising (or being raised by) a 13 pound Persian cat named Henry.
Wendy Carr has been on staff at CPUMC since 2017 starting right in the midst of hurricane Irma and hit the ground running. Leaving a full time coporate job, she is happy to have found a place where she feels like she has a larger impact on the community. She is committed to CPUMC’s mission statement of Creating Loving Space where all belong and happy to be a part of it! Wendy and her husband, Philip, who is a co-leader of the men’s group, Journeymen, have three children.
Heather Claytor has been blessing us with her voice here at CPUMC since 2015. She and Mitch Herman concepted and launched our Sunday evening service, Anthem last year. Heather and her husband, Andrew, have two little girls.
Director of Family Ministries
Janel began attending church at CPUMC in August of 2015. Not long after coming here, she began serving as leader of the MOPS ministry (Mothers of Preschoolers,) and also started a women’s small group and bible study. She is excited about the opportunity to share bible stories and the love of GOD to the youngest members of our congregation as she steps into the Sunday School Coordinator Role. She and her husband, Craig, have three kids (Cameron, Makenzie, and Trent.)
Elizabeth is a lifelong resident of College Park and LOVES her membership at CPUMC. She and her wife, Stephanie, share their home with their puppy Max Saunders and can frequently be seen covering the neighborhood with Max in his all terrain buggy.
Rosemary has more than 15 years of diverse experience in childcare. Her passion for connecting with students, families and staff has allowed her to use her skills in early childhood education, while balancing compassionate and mission-driven guidance in faith-based programs. Rosemary holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Central Florida and a Florida director credential with VPK certification since 2014. Rosemary has been married to her husband John for 32 years and is a proud mom of 3 almost “grown” boys, Sean 27, Ryan 24, and Daniel 20. She is a member of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Chuch and loves to spend her free time traveling, reading, cooking, and spoiling her golden retreiver, Lily.
CDC Administrative Assistant
Dana begain working for CPUMC’s Child Development Center in 2013 as a classroom teacher. Her experience of owning her own childcare business in her home state of Rhode Island, led her to begin helping out in the front office. Two years later, Dana took over the front office. Dana is so loved by the students, they think she lives in the office and ask her often if she sleeps under the desk. Dana is a mother to 2 adult children and a grandmother.