First United Methodist Church Clarinda, Iowa [part 5]

1913-17 Abram S. Woodard



Rev. Woodard came to Clarinda in 1913.  It was during his pastorate that the present beautiful structure was erected.  “The old building was used in the reconstruction, which gives us a property now that could not be duplicated at present prices for $60,000”. (17)


It is believed that the interior of the sanctuary was remodeled at the same time.


The active congregational groups included Epworth League, Junior League, Ladies Aid, Woman’s Foreign Mission Society, Woman’s Home Mission Society, Woman’s Home Missionary Society Reading Circle , Queen Esther Society and Kings Heralds.  Charles Lankert was the chorister and Mrs. Anna Lucas was the organist.


In 1915 C.E. Hoskinson organized Boy Scout Troop 1.


It was also reported (17) that “the largest ingathering into the church occurred during this pastorate, following the Lowry Union Meetings, that shook the whole community.”


In February, 2003 letter his son, John H. Woodard, sent the picture that was taken sometime after he retired at the age of 72.  In the letter he tells that Rev. Woodard, “. . .had been District Superintendent of the Bloomington , Indiana districk from 1938 to 1944, then went to 1st Church, Columbus , Indiana until his retirement.  He was born in 1877 and died in 1975 before his birthday that year so he was 97. . . You’ll note he was born oe year after our country’s centennial and died one year before its bicentennial. . .” 


It is interesting to note that in 2003 the Clarinda church and some other churches served by Rev. Woodard received a bequest of $5,000 from his estate.  The local funds will be used to replace the doors of the educational unit.
  1917-19  Rev. Myron Milton Cable


In a historical sketch of 1922 it is reported that “These were the years of the world war, and he did splendid service cooperating with all patriotic endeavors. . . The church is now one of the leading charges in the Des Moines conference.  It has a membership of 850, and is progressive along all lines.  It went over the top in the Centenary drive during the pastorate of Rev. M.M. Cable with a grand total of about $30,000 for the five year period of missionary enterprises.  The Sunday school is well organized, and all departments and auxiliaries of the church are flourishing.  A splendid spirit pervades.”


During this time worship music was provided by a paid quartet.  In a 1927 interview, C.N. Tomlinson speaks of “the Big 4 Quartet, consisting of Thomas Tomlinson, Watt Webster, C.R. Vance and Warren Hurlbut.  They sang so well together that it was a treat to hear them. . . With all due respect to our good and efficient quartet choir, I for one, wish the young people of today would take the opportunity, and esteem it a previlege. . . to develop their individual musical talents as well as obtain mastery of themselves and thus become a public asset as well as one of importance, leaving out all thought of pecuniary gain which sooner or later comes to those who have ambition coupled with ability.” (9)


It was in 1918 that Mrs. Roy (Maude) Collins began the Builders Class of High School girls that she taught for 41 years.









1919-22 James Michael Williams


In 1919 Rev. Williams , who had just been released from army service, was appointed pastor.  In his third year (1921) he wrote a historical sketch of the church.  He said of his own pastorate, “We will just mention two items included in the present pastorate.  One is the reception of a large number of new members in 1921 following the Harper meetings, and the other is the improvements and modernizing of the parsonage in 1922 by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the church.


According to the Page County Democrat, Rev. Williams might have underestimated the impact on the community that the revivals created:


Culminating in a mighty sweep with services on Sunday declared by all to be among the most wonderful in the religious history of Clarinda, the union evangelistic effort being conducted in Clarinda by the Business Men’s Gospel Team of Fairfield had five hundred and eighteen converts to its credit at the close of Sunday’s tremendous effort.  This week the campaign has centered upon its final phase with the added momentum of these new converts—far more than half adults—working hard to bring in their friends, and with members of the Christian churches awakened and working as rarely laymen work in the cause of religion.  Sunday will see the close of the six week’s work, and after a two weeks’ rest the Gospel team will go to Ames, while the Christian churches of the city will endeavor to conserve the wealth of new material and the awakened spirit of their own membership which these meetings have aroused.


To accommodate the meetings, a “big shed” was constructed.  At the close of the sessions, the lumber was sold with the exception of the trusses for the seats which were shipped on to Ames .


Led by A.K.Harper, a manufacturer described as the “hard hitting, plain speaking, fiery leader of the party”, the Fairfield group included a groceryman, a high school principal, a department store owner, an elevator man, a dentist and a good-natured “big Swede” singer.


There was concern that the road conditions had prevented some of the farmers from attending until Saturday night.  One of the most impressive scenes was on “working man’s night” when a group of miners came wearing white caps with their lights burning brightly.  These lights would have been candles or oil burning lamps affixed to their caps.  The hymn of the evening “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” was reported to have been sung lustily.


Meetings were held in the schools with students.  There were many sessions for businessmen and even one session for women.  Prayer meetings were held in homes.  A local gospel team was formed at the last meeting in the “big shed” tabernacle to continue the local effort.  The churches planned special services the following week to receive new members according to the preference expressed.  On February 27, 1921, there were more than 90 baptisms in just our own Methodist Church .


1922-27 Alfred T. Bishop, DD


Rev. Bishop joined the North Dakota Conference and served churches in Steele, Oakes and Church’s Ferry.  Prior to his Clarinda assignment he served Iowa churches in Calamus, Grand Mound, Miles, Sheffield, Tama , Iowa Falls, Vinton, Marion, Osage and Perry.


During the pastorate of Dr. Bishop, the church continued to thrive. In 1924, the entrance lobby, stairways and walls to the main auditorium and the Gallery ad Belfry were all redone.  The woodwork was varnished, the plastering repaired and even the crossbeams refinished.


Church organizations continued to grow in number—Epworth League, Queen Esther Circle, Junior Queen Esther Circle, Home Guards, Mother’s Jewels, Standard Bearers, King’s Herald’s, Junior Standard Bearers, Light Bearers, Ladies Aid Society, Woman’s Home Mission Society, and Woman’s Foreign Mission Society were all functioning with elected officers and monthly or more frequent meetings.


The Boy Scout work was being reorganized under the direction of a committee from the churches and the Community Club.  C.E. Hoskinson was leader of the Methodist troup.


Dr. and Mrs. Bishop were active with the youth groups.  In 1924 they attended a Family Institute held in Mills County facilities in Glenwood. 















Sunday school classes were regularly invited to their teacher’s home for a social time.  June Logan recalls a party in the upstairs apartment of her teacher Mrs. Freeman.


In 1927 the church sponsored a “Home-coming” for past and present church members.  The event was a method of raising funds from the church and also a time of renewal of past friendships. The letter of invitation sent out on March 16, 1927 reads in part,


Dear Fellow Methodists:


            Does the word “Home-coming” appeal to you?  We hope so.  We mean that it shall.  We want to help enjoy a Home-coming with you.  A Standard Dictionary defines home-coming as, “A coming home or the festivities attendant on the reception of an important personage on his return; as, they all made merry at the homecoming.


            While we may not have any important personage return to us for our homecoming, and yet who knows and we will hope that there may be more than one such join us, we do want you to join us in not only anticipation but in the realization of the home-coming of sentiments and heart stirrings and recollections of days gone by and of friends whose memories we revere and hold sacred and who mingled with us and worked with us in former years.  Then too we want in addition to all of those thoughts and sentiments an aroused interest and feeling of fellowship for each and all of us who are now on the membership rolls of our beloved church and who are left the heritage, duty, and privilege of “carrying on.”. . .


            If you have friends who were formerly members here wit us, we hope you will either write them and enclose a copy of this letter to them, or another letter which the Committee is getting out and invite them to join us in our Home-coming.  Our Pastor and the Official Board hope to have some of the former pastors and friends here for the evening of March 30th to enjoy the festivities with us.  It would be fine to have some letters to read at that time from non-resident friends who cannot be here and we hope to have some of these.  Make this your Home-coming and do your part to create not only funds but fellowship.”


Rev. Bishop was known for working well with other denominations and spent a good deal of time visiting the sick and the troubled.  After his Clarinda pastorate, Rev. Bishop served churches in Valley Junction and Grand Junction .  He retired in 1935.

1927-31 David Shenton



David J. Shenton was born in Coin in 1897 and was appointed to the Clarinda church in 1927.  Prior to Clarinda he had served appointments with the Perry Circuit in Russell, Blockton, Allerton, Shelby, Audubon, and Winterset.  He left the Clarinda pastorate to become district superintendent of the Council Bluffs district and was then appointed to a church in Jefferson . 


At the time of Rev. Shenton’s pastorate, there were 847 church members.  He received an average of 29 members per year during his ministry.


During his pastorate a Men’s Brotherhood was organized.  In 1928 Dr. Shenton asked the ladies to divide into four groups, stating that the social problem was the outstanding problem of the church.  They divided into the SE division with 23 members, NE with 24 members and the NW and SW totaling 94 in all.



Sometime during the 20s the choir was reorganized and took over the work of the paid quartet that had been providing worship music.


Alice Owen remembers that her father, W.C. Lehman, was janitor for a time and she felt really important when she got to ring the bell to call everyone to the church.


Mildred Bean recalls a wood stove in Fellowship Hall where the fireplace is now.  There was a huge furnace down the steps in the furnace room.  The fires had to be built and the ashes removed.  Her father, W.C. Lehman, paid her to help.  She deposited the money she earned and had written a check for a new winter coat just the day before the bank closed. 


Dan and June Logan remember that Rev. Shenton was an intellectual and very “Bible smart”, but he was sometimes hard for young children to follow.  Ruth Woolson Laning was a flower girl at his daughter’s wedding and got to “throw pebbles”.  His sermons are remembered as being rather long, lasting until 12:30 or even 1:00.  His sermons were called “deeply spiritual and high in their educational value.”  He married Russell and Mary Price and had been the minister in Russell’s home church in Winterset.