East Lake United Methodist Church was founded in 1887 under the leadership of Dr. John H. Finch, a resident of the area who organized the Methodist families already living in the neighborhood. Through sales of ice cream, box suppers, and quilting parties, the people of the church raised money for the first building, which was a wooden plank building on the corner of Second Avenue South and 80th Street. The church was housed in two more buildings, each one larger than the previous one, before the current building was built in 1947. The first service was held in the new sanctuary in September, 1948.
Through the last 128 years, East Lake UMC has served the South East Lake neighborhood through its program and mission. Once boasting the largest Sunday School attendance east of the Mississippi River, the church has adapted as the surrounding area has developed and changed. Through the Great Depression, world wars, urban sprawl, and the socioeconomic decline of the East Lake area, East Lake United Methodist has survived, continues to serve its neighbors, and vows to stay “in the neighborhood for good.”