First United Methodist Church Clarinda, Iowa [part 7]

1940-45  Charles R. Rowe


Rev. Rowe first joined a Methodist Conference in Kentucky .  In Iowa his church appointments included Exline, Douds, Chillicothe , Burlington and Grinnell.  Rev. Rowe came to Clarinda in 1940.  In his first quarterly conference report (October, 1940) he records the family’s arrival:


. . . Since we arrived here rather late on Saturday, we were given a nice room at the Linderman Hotel over Saturday night and Sunday.  Then, our moving expenses were paid.  The ladies under the direction of Mrs. Lafe Boman, helped organize things in the parsonage. 


A hearty reception was given the parsonage family.  We like Clarinda.  We like the parsonage.  We like the newly decorated church.  It is a beautiful, worshipful structure.  Most of all we like the people.  They are just grand! . . .


We are looking forward . . . We must go deeper spiritually, then go on to widen our influence as a church. . .


Our suggested goal is a 10% increase in all of our church organizations this year.  This includes the Church School , Worship Service, Epworth League, W.S.C.S., and Men’s Club. .


At that point of his ministry Rev. Rowe had already made 50 calls, preached 3 funerals, married one couple and preached 7 sermons.  One of today’s parishioners recalls that he wore a long-tailed coat while preaching and often read poetry as a part of his sermons.


An Honor Roll of boys serving in the army indicated the War Period which made church work difficult.  Both Mr. And Mrs. Rowe are remembered as being kind and sympathetic.  His sermons were filled with sympathetic understanding of life’s problems.




The choir sometimes combined youth and adults.









In 1940 the charter meeting of the Woman’s Society for Christian Service and the Wesleyan Service Guild were held.




Under his leadership and that of the Presbyterian deacon, the youth of the church and the Presbyterian youth participated in the “ University of Life ” each Sunday evening.  There were talks, lessons, refreshments and games.  The young people got to do folk dances, but were careful to call them folk games in order to avoid criticism.


During Rev. Rowe’s ministry the Builders Class celebrated their 25th Anniversary with Rev. Rowe as their guest speaker.


Rev. Rowe married Bob and Norma Caswell.


The congregation became quite attached to the Rowe family before they moved to Utah .  They were saddened to hear in 1946 that their daughter Margaret died of burns suffered when a grass skirt caught fire while she was playing.






1945-49 Warren W. Bentzinger, DD



Prior to coming to Clarinda, Rev. Bentzinger served churches in Kingston , Burlington , Winfield, Winterset, Mt. Ayr , Dallas Center , Grand Junction and Brooklyn .  Rev. Bentzinger is remembered as being stoic and strictly business.  He was regarded as a perfect Christian gentleman.


Under his leadership the church made financial gifts to the New Delhi Church in India through the Certificates of Sharing program of the conference.  The conference Ministers Pension Fund and the Crusade for Christ were completed.


In May of 1946 he reported to the conference some of his priority goals were increasing the attendance at church school, additional funds for relief, and evangelism.  It was during his ministry that the Lacour Evangelistic Crusade was first brought to Clarinda by the Ministerial Alliance. 


Outreach was important to Rev. Bentzinger.  He reported that “Outstanding in my experience this year has been the opportunity for me to meet a total number of 147 Junior and Senior High School youth each week in Bible Classes at school.  I confess that I consider this one of the greatest, if not the greatest contacts that is afforded me as your pastor.  How effective these contacts have been, we cannot always tell, but I feel we as a church are greatly indebted to the local School officials for their permission to insert religious instruction into the regular weekly school schedule and buildings.”  Youth activities and the “ University of Life ” were also priorities in his ministry.


He preached regularly at the state hospital and was active in supporting many local organizations.  In addition he had conducted 171 get-acquainted visits, 99 visits to the sick, and 77 visits to new people in town that year.  He had officiated at 17 weddings, 24 funerals, 4 communion services, and 26 baptisms.


Rev. Bentzinger had a beautiful bass voice and sang “Old Man River” in the Lions’ Club minstrel show.  When he was criticized for that participation he countered that this was the only opportunity for him to see some of his parishioners except on Christmas and Easter.



The choir loft was redecorated and beautiful large velvet drapes hung in the chancel.  The heating plant was overhauled and a new oil burner installed in the church and the parsonage.  The pastor’s office was opened in the church and a part time church secretary was hired. 


Youth activities were strong.  Some of today’s church members remember George Woolson taking his Sunday School group to the woods where they swung on saplings and came back to the church for chocolate waffles.  At one Sunday School party Mrs. Bayes held for her class, Paul Owen fell off a pony and broke his arm.


There was an MYF subdistrict and rural young people came in for MYF.  Young people were expected to attend the revivals and slumber parties after them were often held.  Parents would pick their young people up on Sunday morning so that they could attend church as a family.


Opening exercises for Sunday School were important.  Fred Fisher and George Woolson led the singing.  Norman Wynn recalls that it was during opening exercises in 1947 that he gave Wanda a Valentine card and locket.


Temperance activities were on going.  At one event sponsored by the WCTU, Nellie Eastman set up a smoking machine in Fellowhip Hall to capture the nicotine in a vial.  This was injected into a sparrow to show the deadly effect of nicotine.  One member recalls hearing that one in seven social drinkers become an alcoholic and that none of those unfortunate souls intended that to happen.


After the Clarinda assignment Dr. Bentzinger became chaplain at the Iowa City Hospital and Oakdale Sanitarium in Iowa City .