On October 19th, 1856, Rev. William Black preached the first
sermon of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Crawford County at the
home of Rufus Richardson. That same day, a society was organized
with seven members. A Sunday school was organized on June 7th, 1857,
at Mason's Grove. The Crawford County Methodist congregation began
meeting in a log school house in 1858. But, a formal building was
not constructed until the coming of the Northwestern Railroad, who
donated the building materials, in 1868. One of the original stained
glass windows hangs in the narthex of the current building.
The current United Methodist complex was initiated in 1957 when the previous wooden frame edifice, built in 1868, was found to be unsafe and a committee formed to establish guidelines, formulate possibilities and establish a building program. By 1961 plans were under consideration, and architects consulted and employed. The Presbyterian Church property on the northeast corner of the block and another property were purchased giving us the whole eastern half of the present block.
After financing was arranged through personal gifts, memorials, and a loan of $199,000 was secured, building began. The Educational Unit and Fellowship Hall were completed and consecrated June 5, 1966. The twenty year loan was paid in full in ten years, and the building was dedicated on March 28, 1976. (Methodist properties cannot be dedicated until indebtedness is retired.)
Committees were then appointed to proceed with plans for construction of a new sanctuary. Selection of the architectural design was difficult since it had to please the majority of the members and be compatible with the design of the Educational Unit and Fellowship Hall. Many visits to area churches of all denominations were made in search of a satisfactory design. Congregational meetings were held in which any person could express an opinion. The design which was finally chosen was overwhelmingly approved by congregational vote.
On September 25, 1977, the cornerstone was placed for the new sanctuary. The first formal service to be held in the new sanctuary was on Christmas Eve, 1977, a beautiful candlelight communion service. The Consecration Service was held on April 9, 1978. Total cost of the sanctuary, connecting hallway, furnishings, bell tower and organ was $475,000. Final payment was made on the sanctuary loan in July, 1988, and the Dedication Service was held on September 11, 1988.
Our sanctuary is unique in that the pews are moveable so that seating can be arranged as the people desire, even "in the round" and the organ console can also be moved to any location in the sanctuary. Several ranks of pipes from the original church pipe organ were incorporated into the new organ. The windows were specially designed from ideas given by members of our church. They are made of faceted glass, cast in epoxy, against a background of crosses in various sizes and designs. The large cast bronze bell from the old church belfry hangs in the bell tower.
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