Father’s Day has its origins rooted in tragedy.
All present day fathers should thank a United Methodist for the creation of Father's Day. The reason is straightforward: the origin of the day can be traced back to two United Methodist churches bearing the same name. The celebration's religious history is mired in tragedy, an event serving as a kind of reminder to love fathers in our lives.
The first person recorded to give a petition to hold Father's Day is Grace Golden Clayton. It was after 360 men were killed by a mine explosion in December 1907. A significant proportion of the people killed were fathers. More than 1,000 children suddenly lost their fathers, an event which troubled Clayton.
The result: she asked her Methodist church pastor to dedicate one day to honor fathers and she selected July 5, 1908 as the day. It was the Sunday closest to her late father's birthday. Her father was himself a Methodist preacher.
According to Reverend Donald Meighen, who is a retired pastor of Central United Methodist Church, previously known as the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the first remembrance event was held there. The state concurred and declared Fairmont as the birthplace of Father's Day. The congregation of the Church is reminded of the origin's events through a special service held every Father's Day.
This celebration, however, did not spread beyond the community for various reasons, including the death of a teenage parishioner in 1908 during the same weekend. One of the church floors collapsed soon after. The original sermon was subsequently lost and no one at that time put much thought into it.
Things, however, panned out differently in the town of Spokane, Washington. Another woman, Sonora Smart Dodd, fought to begin the tradition of Father's Day. Dodd was listening to the Mother's Day sermon at her local Central Methodist Episcopal Church. Her mother had passed away 11 years before and her father had brought up six children all by himself.
Dodd wanted to honor her own father and also fathers everywhere, with a particular special day. The idea was proposed by her to local religious leaders, who quickly accepted her proposal. The first Father's Day fell on June 19, 1910. Sermons honoring the fathers were offered all over the city.
When newspapers all over the United States carried this story about Spokane, the popularity of Father's Day spread. A number of presidents declared the day as a holiday. It was up to Richard Nixon to set it as June's third Sunday, which he did in 1972.