Methodist Episcopal Church of Grundy Center

Rev. Bethuel Holcomb preached the first sermon in Grundy Center August 5, 1857. The First Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1862 with a membership of seven persons, viz.: Freeman Wass and wife, and son Albert, Lucius Clark and wife, L. D. Tracy and wife. Rev. Van Anda was pastor and Rev. Ayers presiding elder. The circuit had as appointments Grundy Center, Hudson, Pratts, and Hickory Grove. The first quarterly meeting was held in Grundy Center February 28, 1863, with Wm. Fawcett as minister who remained one year. The conference then sent O. D. Bowles. In 1865, Rev. Barber took charge for one year and was succeeded by Rev. Dove in 1866. In the fall of 1867, Rev. Haymond took charge and a great revival followed in the winter. Rev. Haymond was returned for another year and a parsonage was built that year. Rev. Hall was appointed minister in 1868. A church was then being erected in Grundy Center which was completed under the pastorate of Rev. Thomas Moore who came in 1869 and remained one year. This church building was sold when the new church was built. The articles of incorporation of the old building were taken April 12, 1868, with Lyman Cole, Gardner Churtleff, Wm. Elliott, E. H. Beckman, John Wardel, W. C. Williams, and Lucius Clark as incorporators. The corner stone of this church was laid in November, 1869, and the house was dedicated in the winter of 1870. Rev. Baker became pastor for two years in 1871 and 1872. He was followed by Rev. Skinner who had charge in 1873 and 1874. The next year Grundy Center became a station and J. C. Magee was pastor of this church for three years. Nine hundred dollars was paid on the debt. E. G. Waite was then pastor for three years. One hundred and ten probationers were secured. Rev. Barnes was then pastor for one year and this year the new parsonage was built. B. C. Cory was then pastor for two years. Then R. N. Earhart two years, then W. A. Pottle was pastor for three years and made possible the new church. G. B. Shoemaker came for three years and during the last year of his ministry the fine new church, worth $12,000.00, costing $10,300.00, was built. H. S. Church was pastor for two years; B. D. Smith pastor two years and completed the basement. S. T. McKim then became pastor and was followed in 1898 by S. N. Fellows who served the charge for two years. J. B. Jones then became pastor of the church and two years later was followed by Nathaniel Pye. George H. Kenneday served the charge the next two years. He was followed by J. F. Black who was pastor for five years, the longest pastorate in the history of the church. During these five years several helpful revivals added to the membership of the church, a new cement barn was built to take the place of the old one, destroyed by fire, and a handsome new pipe organ was installed, beside a thorough and complete renovating of the interior of the church.

In the fall of 1910, Reverend Black was transferred to Manchester by Bishop Hamilton and Dr. W. C. Keeler, of Dubuque, was stationed at Grundy Center in his place. The church has a membership approximating 250, a property worth about $16,000.00, and is free from debt. Among the flourishing organizations in connection with the church, are the Sunday School, the Epworth League, the Ladies' Aid Society, the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, the Woman's Home Missionary Society. The Queen Esther Circle, the Home Guards, the "Diggers," and adult Bible Class, and the Men's Methodist Brotherhood.

by Dr. W. C. Keeler

--Atlas of Grundy County, Iowa, 1911, pg 92


Sixty-Fifth Anniversary Of Methodist Church

Organization Of This Church To Be Celebrated On New Year's Day

Interesting Event To Everyone

Brief Chronological History of One of the Oldest Organizations in County

Final arrangements have been made for the Sixty-Fifth Anniversary of the beginnings of Grundy Center Methodism on New Year's Day. The celebration begins with a picnic lunch at noon. Each family brings a basket with lunch for their own family. This basket will be received by a committee from the Ladies Aid. No food assignments are to be made. Each family brings anything they want to bring. All the baskets will be emptied of their contents and the food will be placed on a long table. When all is ready everybody will help themselves "Cafeteria Style." Guests will come first in the line, next the older members, then all other adults, then the children. Each family will be requested to see that their little ones are properly served. Coffee will be served free by the Ladies Aid Society.

The committee wish it to be understood that not only members of the church, but friends and well-wishers, in fact anybody interested is invited to attend the celebration. This includes the lunch as well as other parts of the program. "Just bring your family and a basket and join us in celebrating" is the invitation sent out by those in charge.

News of the anniversary has gone abroad and many have asked whether they may be privileged to come and the committee request that this invitation be broadcasted.

Every Methodist preacher in the county has been invited to be present and to bring his family and friends. It will be a big day for Methodism and no member or friend of the church should miss the opportunity.

A social hour will follow the lunch after which the audience will assemble in the auditorium and the roll of the membership will be called and every member will be asked to respond to their name. Some of the older members will be called on for a few remarks and incidents and experiences of the early days will be told.

Then will follow addresses by the Rev. Geo. B. Shoemaker and Rev. Dilman Smith, former pastors, both of whom have indicated their intention to be present.

During this period the little folks will be entertained in another part of the church with games and story telling. Then later some of the old time hymns will be thrown on the screen and the entire audience will have a good sing. Following the congregational singing the children will be entertained with a stereopticon lecture on "Children of Missionary Lands" illustrated with colored slides.

Great preparations are being made to make this the greatest day the Methodist church has had in all its history. And the invitation to be present includes every member of the church; every relative of every member of the church; every friend of every member of the church; everybody that is interested in the Methodist church; to everybody, everywhere, who wants to come.

Historical Sketch
Rev. Bethuel Holcomb preached in Grundy Center on the evening of August 5th, 1857. The congregation consisted of about a half dozen people. Rev. Holcomb spent the night with Father Cole. He came and preached again four weeks later. The record states, "These were the first sermons ever delivered in Grundy Center."

In the year 1860-1861, Rev. Coe, a local preacher was sent to Grundy Center by D. N. Holmes who was at that time the Presiding Elder of the Fort Dodge District of which Grundy Center was a part. Rev. John Connell served as pastor in 1861-1862.

In the fall of 1862 Rev. J. A. VanAnda was appointed to serve the Grundy Center Charge which had become a part of the Vinton district under the direction of the Rev. J. C. Ayers, Presiding Elder. The first permanent organization of the church was effected under the administration of the Rev. VanAnda. It was officially known as the Grundy Center Circuit and was made up of four preaching places as follows: Grundy Center, Hudson, Pratts, and Hickory Grove. The first Quarterly Meeting was held in Grundy Center Feb. 28th, 1863. The following persons were present at this first Quarterly meeting: Rev. J. C. Ayers, Presiding Elder; Rev. J. A. VanAnda, preacher-in-charge; L. D. Tracy, Sec'y; G. W. Warner, H. Chaffee, and R. L. Wass.

In 1863 Rev. Wm. Fawcett came as minister. The Rev. O. D. Bowles followed in 1864 and the year of 1865 brought the Rev. Barber who was succeeded in 1866 by Rev. W. S. Dove.

The Rev. J. Haymond took charge in 1867 and remained two years, which was something unusual in Methodism in those times. During his first year the church held a great revival which may have had something to do with bringing him back for a second year. A parsonage was built during Rev. Haymond's second year.

Rev. G. E. Hall followed in 1869 and the record states "reports a church in process of erection at Grundy Center." The church was completed, however, under the administration of his successor, the Rev. Thomas Moore who became pastor in 1870. This church building was sold when the present church was built.

Articles of Incorporation were taken April 12, 1868 with Lyman Cole, Gardner A. Shutleff, Wm. A. Elliott, E. H. Beckman, John Wardle, W. C. Williams, and Lucius Clark, Sr., as incorporators. The corner stone of the old church was laid in Nov. 1869 and the church was dedicated sometime during the winter of 1870.

Rev. J. E. Baker was pastor from 1871 to 1873 and was followed by the Rev. W. S. Skinner who served from 1873 to 1875.

In 1875 the "out-appointments" were taken off the "Grundy Center Circuit" and Grundy Center was made a "station" which in Methodist terminology means a one-church appointment. The Rev. J. C. Magee was appointed pastor and remained until 1878.

The Rev. E. G. Wait followed as pastor from 1878 to 1881. During this period 110 new names were added to the church membership roll. Rev. B. C. Barnes succeeded Rev. Wait and was pastor for the year 1882.

New Parsonage Built
A new parsonage was built on the coming of the Rev. Barnes and thereby hangs a story. It is told that a committee was sent to the conference session instructed to select an unmarried preacher on account of the unsuitability of the old parsonage for a family. Evidently the committee forgot their instructions, or perhaps were without sufficient persuasion to induce the conference to yield to their request, for instead of an unmarried preacher, Rev. Barnes was sent and with him came his wife and six children, all daughters, with the result that the building of a new parsonage was begun almost at once.

The house that now stands just west of the First Presbyterian church is the first Methodist parsonage that was built in Grundy Center.

Rev. B. C. Cory came as pastor for two years, 1882-1884 and was followed by Rev. R. N. Earheart who also remained two years, or 1884-1886. The Rev. W. A. Pottle followed and remained as pastor for the three years 1886-1889. The record credits Rev. Pottle for making possible the building of a new church, the present building, which was actually built during the administration of Geo. B. Shoemaker who was pastor from 1889 to 1892. The present church was dedicated on Sunday, April 3rd, 1892, the last year of Rev. Shoemaker's stay. As an appreciation of Rev. Shoemaker's work in Grundy Center, one of the stained-glass windows bears his name.

Rev. H. S. Church succeeded Rev. Shoemaker and was pastor from 1892 to 1894. He in turn was succeeded by Rev. Bourland Smith who was pastor from 1894 to 1896. Rev. Smith is credited with completing the church basement during his pastorate.

Succeeding Rev. Smith came the Rev. S. T. McKim who served the church as pastor for two years, 1896-1898. It was during the pastorate of Rev. McKim that the Billy Sunday revival was held in Grundy Center. As a result of this revival 85 members were added to the membership of the church.

The Rev. S. N. Fellows was pastor from 1898 to 1900.

The Rev. J. B. Jones was pastor from 1900 to 1902.

The Rev. N. Pye was pastor from 1902 to 1903.

The Rev. G. H. Kennedy was pastor from 1903 to 1905.

The Rev. T. F. Black was pastor from 1905 to 1910.

The Rev. W. C. Keeler was pastor from 1910 to 1913.

Rev. W. C. Keeler is entitled to the credit for the construction of the splendid present parsonage for it was built during his administration. The record shows this to be the third parsonage built since the organization of the charge. It is evident that Grundy Center Methodists intend that their pastors shall be well housed. It is said of the Grundy Center Methodist parsonage that "it is one of the best parsonages in the Upper Iowa Conference." And that is saying a lot for Methodism as a general rule provides good parsonages.

Rev. Keeler has another Grundy Center achievement to his credit. Tho he came here single he married just before he left and took with him as his bride Miss Batt, who had been a teacher in the Grundy Center High School.

Rev. Dilman Smith followed Rev. Keeler as pastor and remained from 1913 to 1918. It is said of him that "he knew everybody and everybody knew Dilman Smith and loved him."

The Rev. Fred P. Fisher succeeded Rev. Dilman Smith from 1918 to 1922 and was succeeded by the present pastor, the Rev. George Woodall.

Chronological Roll of Ministers of the Grundy Center Methodist Episcopal Church:
1860-1861--Rev. Coe
1861-1862--Rev. John Connell
1862-1863--Rev. J. A. VanAnda
1863-1864--Rev. Wm. Fawcett
1864-1865--Rev. O. D. Bowles
1865-1866--Rev. Barber
1866-1867--Rev. W. S. Dove
1867-1869--Rev. J. Haymond
1869-1870--Rev. G. E. Hall
1870-1871--Rev. Thomas Moore
1871-1873--Rev. J. E. Baker
1873-1875--Rev. W. S. Skinner
1875-1878--Rev. J. C. Magee
1878-1881--Rev. E. G. Waite
1881-1882--Rev. B. C. Barnes
1882-1884--Rev. B. C. Cory
1884-1886--Rev. R. N. Earhart
1886-1889--Rev. W. A. Pottle
1889-1892--Rev. Geo. B. Shoemaker
1892-1894--Rev. H. S. Church
1894-1896--Rev. Bourland Smith
1896-1898--Rev. S. T. McKim
1898-1900--Rev. S. N. Fellows
1900-1902--Rev. J. B. Jones
1902-1903--Rev. N. Pye
1903-1905--Rev. G. H. Kennedy
1905-1910--Rev. J. F. Black
1910-1913--Rev. W. C. Keeler
1913-1918--Rev. Dilman Smith
1918-1922--Rev. Fred P. Fisher
1922-    --George Woodall

--The Grundy Republican (Grundy Center, Iowa), 28 December 1922, pg 1,7