The history of the Winchester United Methodist Church closely parallels that of the community. The first settlers in this valley came from Switzerland and took up large tracts of government land.
They were an industrious people and soon were raising dairy cattle and goats and shipping their products to Los Angeles. Mail was brought to the valley by stage from San Diego. The Post Office was located three miles south of the present post office and was called "The Rock House."
In the early eighties', a J. C. Miller of Rochester, N.Y., with a Mrs. Winchester, purchased land from one of the early settlers and laid out lots for a settlement. The deeds for these lots had a strict temperance clause stating no intoxicating beverages could be sold on the premises, and if said laws were violated, the lots would revert to the original owners. This provision has either been ignored or set aside
by the law.
Although there is no record of Mrs. Winchester's later life, she made sufficient impact on the community that it was named Winchester. We are justified in believing that she was a Methodist since our main streets
are named after the founder of Methodism, Wesley, and three of the early bishops: Asbury, Taylor and Simpson. This area was originally
called Pleasant Valley.
The first religious gathering in the valley was a Sunday School which was held in the first school house located close to the hills north of town. This was in the early 80's, and about the same time a strong temperance society, known as the Good Templar Society, was formed. Interest was rising to build a community center, but since sufficient funds for the project were not raised, and since there was a movement to build a church, the community center idea was dropped.
In 1886 the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized, and a building program was launched in November of that year. Through gifts,
volunteer labor, and a loan from the Methodist Mission Board, the building was completed in 1887. Square nails were used along with the
best of lumber. How well they built is attested by the fact that church has stood up under all the storms and earthquakes of these ninety years. Without doubt the church building is among the oldest, if not the oldest church still standing in the county.