This post will be a two-parter. I will hopefully get back to the area very soon so I can include the church.
First off, I would like to thank Pastor Evan Rohrs-Dodge in responding to an email asking if the church is affiliated with the cemetery down the road. He gave me a little history of the original church, which was located on the grounds of the cemetery. There is a large, empty square-shaped section in the cemetery, and he confirmed that is where the original church once sat. We emailed back and forth, and he was so kind to mail me a booklet about the history of the church. It was printed in 1975, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the building of the present church.
The booklet explains the first conference in the U.S. of the Methodist Church was held Christmas Eve in 1784. Methodism came to Broadway in 1843, just 59 years later! Several men got together to plan the building of their church, how to raise funds, and elected a Board of Trustees.
100 years later, new plans were laid to build a new church building. However, it was not an easy task to raise funds. I admire everyone’s determination who was involved, as it took 12 years finally have the new church building open its doors on May 1, 1955 for the first service there. Actually, there were 3 services held that day with a total of 700 who attended. The booklet explains many pledges, sales, suppers, etc. were done out of faith and love for their church and community. Unfortunately, this not something we all see often enough today.
So I bet you’re wondering what happened to the original church, as I was. The building was sold in 1957 (to help pay off the debt of the remaining balance of the building of the new church) to a contractor, with the agreement that after 10 years, the building be torn down. 10 years later, the building was dismantled “piece by piece so as to avoid damage to the surrounding cemetery.” On May 3, 1964, the debt was finally paid in full, with 2 services held that day in celebration.
The booklet ends with a list of church organizations, prior ministers, and a members of the church at the time.
Needless to say again, I would like to go back soon and take pictures of the new church. I am in awe of the history and those who worked so hard for what they believed in and loved. Without getting too sentimental, it truly is remarkable and inspires me to never give up. Even viewing the church website, you sense the feeling of community.
Since I only have pictures of the cemetery, I’ll describe what I found. Unfortunately, there are a few smashed headstone and quite a few that are toppled-over. However, the landscaping is still being kept. There are quite a few members of the Willever and Baylor families resting here. You can also find a few Civil War veterans and, unfortunately, children. It’s kind of sweet though, that a little girl named Viola is buried where little purple flowers happen to grow.
Once again, thank you SO very much, Pastor Evan. I enjoyed reading the booklet and am grateful that you sent it to me. I hope you and your congregation enjoy this post. Of course, I also hope all readers enjoy this post too. Not only did I learn about this specific church history, but also a little bit about Methodist history.