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Present-Day United Church of Diagonal

When the town of Goshen moved to Diagonal in the 1880's - 1890's, the Methodist Church was moved on the Burlington rail to Diagonal. It was relocated to the site of the present-day church.

The first brick of the new church was laid on May 30, 1911. The cornerstone of the Diagonal Methodist Epsicopal Church was laid on Sunday, July 2, 1911. The first services in the church were held on November 5, 1911, and the church was dedicated on November 10th by Dr. ILIFF of Denver, Colorado. Reverend Charles M. EDMONDSON was the pastor, 1910 - 1911.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, November 29, 1916

The new M.E. Parsonage is the last building to be completed in Diagonal this year, and makes a total of nineteen dwellings and one business house during the year.

The church has beautiful windows which were installed as memorials to the charter members.

The First Methodist Church of Diagonal celebrated its 100th anniversary on September 30, 1956. In observance of the occasion, Reverend M. R. TALLEY of Des Moines noted in an article he wrote for the Diagonal Vindicator:

In 1856 Reverend Jesse SHERWOOD preached in the TALLEY log cabin. That was the first sermon given in this part of the county. The TALLEYS started a membership which later became the Bethel class. This class evolved into the Goshen Methodist Episcopal Church. The Goshen M.E. Church later became the Methodist Church of Diagonal, then, the United Church of Diagonal. Benjamin KELLER and Isacc TALLEY went to serve in the Civil War, returning with plans to build a church for the TALLEY class. They built the Bethel Church on Isaac's farm in 1868. The first pastor was E. H. KING, then Rev. WALKER. 15 years later the town of Goshen was established and the church was used as a schoolhouse. A new, larger church was built in town with an 8'x 12' entrance, tower, and bell. In 1890, under the leadership of Rev. W. C. SMITH, the church was split into parts and transported to Diagonal where it was re-built and used until 1911 when the new brick church was built.

Seven charter members when the church was built in 1911 were present for the 1956 centennial celebration. They were as follows: B. F. TALLEY and his wife Sarah (KELLER) TALLEY, I. A. TALLEY and his wife Nancy (KELLER) TALLEY, Benjamin KELLER, Michael STAHL, and Mary KELLER. I.A. TALLEY was the president of the Board of Trustees for the church in 1911.

The dome was removed from the church in 1971.


Diagonal, Ringgold County, Iowa

Diagonal's United Methodist Church was designed by architect O. A. [Oran Alonzo] Hougland. He was born September 6, 1859 in Missouri. He came to Chariton, Iowa, in 1876 and began a career as a carpenter, builder and contractor. At the turn of the century, 1900, his career as an architect boomed. He designed many buildings in Chariton and the Lucas County Home. He was the architect of Chariton's First Presbyterian Church which was built in 1909 and dedicated in February of 1909. Corning's First Methodist Church, also was of his 1908 design. In 1910, seven churches were in various stage of construction, all using his designs - Promise City, Humeston, Carlisle, Milo, Clearfield, Grand River and Van Wert. Of these churches, the Milo Church burned in 1921; Clearfield Church has been demolished; Humeston and Grand River churches have been demolished, too; Diagonal's Church has been torn down and replaced. The church at Promise City still (2010) stands but has been closed and most of the interior work has been removed. Van Wert's United Methodist Church continues to thrive.

O. A. Hougland died suddenly on August 8, 1912, while in Lenox shortly after signing a contract to design a hotel there. He was interred at Chariton.

"Death of O. A. Hougland." The Chariton Leader, Chariton IA. Aug. 15, 1912.

Compiled by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2015

The United Church of Diagonal officially originated on January 1, 1981 when the congregations of the Presbyterian, Christian (Disciples of Christ), and Methodist congregations federated, keeping official ties to all three denominations.

Diagonal's Christian Church, built 1911

Diagonal Christian Church
Left to Right: Sue OSHEL, Crystal BROWN, Sandy McCORMICK
Mrs. Bert JOHNSON, Electra HARTER, Alan OSHEL, Bert JOHNSON,

Diagonal's Presbyterian Church, built 1913

Diagonal Presbyterian Church, date unknown

For some time the congregation met alternately between the Methodist and Christian buildings (referred to from then on as the west building and the east building) until, after much prayer and thought, it was decided to make the Methodist building a permanent United Church of Diagonal home. The Presbyterian building had been closed earlier due to furnace problems. The congregation voted to sell and tear down the Disciples Church (the building was closed September 9, 1984 and sold October 13, 1984) and renovate and modernize the west building.

Mount Ayr Record News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 12, 2012

United Church of Diagonal names pastor

The United Church of Diagonal has a new pastor effective April 1 with the naming of Ed SHIELDS of Mount Ayr as the new full-time pastor for the church. SHIELDS comes to the church with a long background of church and community work. Most recently he served as the interim pastor for the Villisca Advent Christian Church. While ministering there he completed the licensure and ordination processes as required by the General Conference of the Advent Christian Church and the Missouri Valley conference Ministerial Committee. His wife Kathy will continue her work at Graceland University in the student life office, where she has worked with reporting for 44 years.

SOURCES: Diagonal Centennial History Book

John Earl "Barney" HORNE scrapbook, Mount Ayr Depot Musuem

The Mount Ayr Record-News, Mount Ayr, Iowa. March 17, 2005.

Diagonal Vindicator, Diagonal, Iowa. July 5, 1956.

AVITT, Mike. Pages and Pictures from the Past . . . Ringgold County, Iowa: 1885-2005 p. 21. Paragon Publications, Inc. Mount Ayr, Iowa. 2009.

JOHNSTON, Mrs. Esther. "Bethel Church"

Compiled by Sharon R. Becker, 2009; updated April of 2010; updated June of 2011; updated April of 2012

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Wednesday, September 11, 2014

Diagonal fined for burning old church

The city of Diagonal has been ordered to pay a $4,000 fine after agreeing to a consent order with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The fine is the result of air quality and solid waste violations which occurred during the demolition and burning of the old United Church of Diagonal and a house owned by the church in 2013.

In October of 2013, the DNR received a citizen complaint about the burning of the structure by the Diagonal Fire Department and church members.

In a Notice of Violation Letter sent out on November 18, 2013, the DNR said the burningof the buildings may have exposed people to asbestos.

A new church being built on the site could continue its construction provided that the area where the old building and house debris were buried remained off limits to any kind of disturbance.

The city will be required to pay a penalty of $1,000 to the DNR. In lieu of payment of the remaining $3,000 the city will make a payment of $3,000 to the Ringgold County Conservation Board.

NOTE: Church services and Sunday school has been held at the Diagonal School auditorium until the new church building has been completed and is ready for occupancy.

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2014

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 07, 2015, Page 1

New steeple for United Diagonal Church

The new steeple at the United Church of Diagonal now set in place, thanks to the skills and talents of several local residents.

The steeple stands approximately 32 feet tall, including the cross.

Using basic dimensions furnished by Bob Johnson from Altoona, the builder of the new church, Gary Sobotka created the finished design and fabricated the structure ou tof alumnium.

John Platte from Hubbard powder coated the structure. Hubbard is a former teacher and coach in the Mount Ayr schools. He also powder coated the football arch and the arches for the softball and baseball fields which, incidently, were also designed and built by Sobotka.

Making use of a crane, a crew of local residents recently lifted the four-piece structure into place. Those helping with the installation were Sobotka, JP Whittington, Steve Newton, Bradley and Michael Bentley and Doug Sobotka.

The original bell from the old church will be hung into the steeple at a later date.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2015

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 22, 2015, Page 20

Consecration service for UCD Sunday
By Barb Stephens

After nearly five years of prayers and months of planning, the United Church of Diagonal Elders, congregation and Pastor Ed Shields are pleased to announce Sunday, October 25, 2015, as the day the new chruch will declare its lasting devotion and service to God. The people of UCD invite the community to join in this celebration. Please consider this your invitation to attend.

A day of events is planned. The day will begin with all being welcome to attend Sunday school at 9 a.m. and worship at 10 a.m. A lunch provided by the church will follow at noon in Fellowship Hall. Those wanting to attend the lunch are asked to RSVP Darla J. Sobotka by leaving a messages at [phone number and e-mail address].

The consecration service will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the church sanctuary with a dessert bar to follow in Fellowship Hall.

Reverend John Beran, Pastor Emeritus, will present the message. Choral groups and soloists will be joining in the service. In addition a brief history of the church will be presented. Communion will be served at the event by pastors of the Christian (Disciples of Christ), Methodist, and Presbyterian churches.

UCD is located at 400 Adams Street on the former church site. Parking is available at the church site and on the streets near the church.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015

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