Church History

Methodist Church History

The United Methodist Church is the oldest organized congregation in Emerson. It had its beginning with a small group of settlers who met for occasional religious meetings in the Burlington Railroad Depot to hear the itinerant Baptist Elder, Eli Loomis. The railroad company provided some seats and others sat on boxes or sacks of grain. In September of 1871, the Fourth Quarterly Conference organized and established a church known as the Methodist Episcopal Society. The Charter members were: Mr. and Mrs. John Little, Mr. and Mrs. William Applegate, Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Fancher, W.S. Douglas, and Maggie Barr. The minister was Francis Plumb.

The tiny congregation met without a building for almost 10 years, then in 1880, a brick structure was erected on the site of the present church. It was a narrow, tall, 2-story building with a spire and bell. The total cost was $4000. It was dedicated debt-free on June 2O, 1880. The main floor was 10-12 steps up and the basement, 2 steps down. Sunday school and the youth group known as Epworth League, met in the main room. W.J. Beck was the minister.

On June 24, 1913, the church was struck by lightning and was entirely destroyed by the fire that ensued. Church records show that the official board met the following day and began laying plans for a new structure. The new edifice was dedicated just 8 months later on February 22, 1914 and is the existing church building with some modernizations through the years. B.R. Van Dyke was the pastor during the construction of the new church and the congregation met in the old opera house in town until it was completed.

The women’s group has always been an integral part of the church. It was officially organized in September of 1912 as the Methodist Episcopal Ladies Aid Society. Through the years they have supported the church in many ways – from repairs and decorating to helping pay salaries, giving financial aid for mission work at home and abroad. The women were resourceful, earning money with thimble-bees, bazaars, dinners, ice cream socials, bake sales, rummage sales and banquets. On August 30, 1940, 132 members signed a charter changing the Ladies Aid to the WSCS (Women’s Society of Christian Service). It was to undergo another change in 1973, when 69 members signed a new charter becoming the present UMW (United Methodist Women).

Lack of space at the school necessitated the use of the Sunday School facilities for kindergarten classes in the 1950’s; in 1982, when a flood devastated the downtown area and several homes, the church, in cooperation with the American Red Cross, aided the victims by providing meals and shelter for several weeks; in 1984, the church again opened its doors to provide a place for a meal site for the Commission on Aging.

Pastors serving the Emerson Methodist Church: Francis Plumb, 1871-72; E.W. Sage, 1872-75; L.W. Archer, 1875-76; W.F. Mark, 1876-78; W.J. Beck, 1878-1880; Charles Leach, 1880-82; John Lewis, 1882-85; Cyrus Smith, 1885-87; A.C. Rowles, 1887-88; A.L. Hunt, 1888-89; W.M. Todd, 1889-92; A.R. Miller, 1892-94; R.E. Shaw, 1894-99; M.G. Rambo, 1899-1901; W.L. Cox, 1901-02; C.E. Trueblood, 1902-03; E.A. Moore, 1903-06; G.W. Maines, 1906-08; E.R. Kelley, 1908-10; W,A. Morgan, 1910-13; B.R. Van Dyke, 1913-14; H.M. Bettenhusen, 1914-15; E.S. McCartney, 1915-16; G.W. Palmer, 1916-18; W.H. Doyle, 1918-20; H.K. Marga, 1920-22; R.V. Felt, 1922-24; H.S. Mitchell, 1924-27; L.L. Smith, 1927-30; M.B. Wilson, 1930-32; L.E. Ripley, 1932-42; L.M. Grigsby, 1942-44; C.H. Boos, 1944-49; J.E. Englund, 1949-54; L.E. Smith, 1954-58; M.G. Ossman, 1958-60; Willis Grant, 1960-62; Ralph Russell, 1962-65; Henry Brown, 1965-66; Earl D. Kelley, 1966-69; Delbert Terry, 1969-73; David Nolte, 1973-75; James Campbell, 1975-77; John D. Crosswhite, 1977-1983; George Weitzel, 1983-

In 1969 the Church united with the Methodist churches in Hastings, Wesley Chapel and Henderson to form the Nishna Valley Parish. Rev. Delbert Terry was the 1st Minister to serve the four charges. The parsonage for the parish is in Emerson.