History of the Modale United Methodist Church 1890-2016
The Modale United Methodist Church has been an important Modale landmark and a place of worshipping the Lord for over 125 years. Coming here in 1850, the Rev. H.A. Tarkington was the pioneer Methodist minister. Church services were first held at the home of Job Ross prior to the building of a cottonwood school house in Taylor Township; then services were held there. Rev. A.J. Andes came in 1866 and organized the Methodist Church Society and membership soon grew to 50.
In 1867, the Modale Methodist Episcopal Church was founded and services were held at the Penrod Schoolhouse northeast of town. Mr. W.W. Morton was class leader and served as Sunday School Superintendent for many years.
In 1875 this class moved to Modale where a Union Church building had been built on land donated by Alonzo Beebe, to be used by any and all denominations. Methodist worship services were held there until 1890, when a frame church 30x50 feet was built at a cost of $1400 on lots donated by Job Ross. This was erected through efforts and donations of the congregation. The membership at that time was 35. Mrs. Alonzo (Hannah) Beebe was the Superintendent and John Penrod the class leader.
In 1900, the Modale Circuit was established at the Annual Conference held in Chariton. This Circuit consisted of Modale as the head of the Circuit with Mondamin, California Jct. and Loveland. A parsonage was built in Modale to serve the minister.
In the 1930’s, the Circuit was changed to include the towns of Modale, Mondamin, and Magnolia; the minister living in Magnolia. In 1944 still another change. Modale and Missouri Valley were combined to form a charge, with the minister living in Missouri Valley. As the congregation grew and became more active, the need arose for more space and better facilities. Plans began for remodeling the old building.
The parsonage was sold and a building committee was formed and first met in June, 1946. In 1948, work began to remodel the church. A full basement and a new addition on the west was added. Stained glass windows and a new chancel were added. With the help of many, the “old” church was transformed into a new one with basement classrooms and a modern kitchen. On June 4, 1950, the dedication service was held. Bishop Brashares attended.
In 1968, the United Methodist Church was formed with the Union of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren Church. Many memoriasl have been given to the church throughout these years, each in its own way enhancing the beauty and usefulness of the church. Some of those were a lighted Cross and Flame given by the Middleton Family, the Dugdale Charitable Trust, new revised United Methodist Hymnal given by many families. And many others.
The church has always been very active within the community. The United Methodist Women held monthly “Kensington Dinners” until the late 1960’s. As more women became employed outside the home and commuted to the metro area of Council Bluffs and Omaha, the number of volunteers available for the dinners had a dramatic decrease. The dinners were reduced to once a quarter for many years and currently we have one dinner per year. Billed as the “Harvest Dinner”, it is served the first Saturday in November. People from through out the county attend, as well as friends and relatives from locations far away.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Sunday School classes were held every Sunday before the main worship service. Methodist Youth Fellowship was a weekly activity for the young teens, later replaced by CHUM. A children’s Christmas Service was held in the evening with fellowship afterwards.
From the many pictures we have of the church taken in the 1950’s, we know the church was vibrant and active! The men all dress in jackets and ties, the women in beautiful dress and hats. For many years, a full choir with robes performed. We have been blessed in the past and to this day to have talented keyboardists, singers, speakers and effective volunteers who work together to make it all happen.
As the population of Modale and the surrounding area decreased in the late 1970’s, the number of worshipers also fell. As agricultural machinery increased in size and efficiency, the number of people needed to run the farms was reduced. Many younger adults moved away. Combined with the older population passing away, it became alarmingly clear the church might close. The Modale Catholic Church closed its doors and the Christian Church had several years of hardship before finally closing.
Several determined and resourceful people within the Modale United Methodist Church worked diligently to not only keep the doors open but to make the church thrive again. In 1986, the Henry and Agnes Stokes bequest of $23,000 made it possible to again refurbish the church with new siding, handicap access, basement repairs and waterproofing, kitchen remodel and air conditioning installed. In 1989, Cecil Bair donated a beautiful Conn organ to the Church. This served well for many years. In 2015 an estimate for repairs was made. It was reluctantly determined to replace the organ with a new digital keyboard. Additions of a projector, screen, enhanced sound system, and computer were added to the Sanctuary.
In 2008, the corner stone for the “Community Center” was laid. A departure from the traditional “Fellowship Hall” name was done in the spirit that the community and surrounding areas were welcome to use the facility. This Community Center also offers audio and visual capabilities along with a functional and efficient kitchen area.
Currently we have around 100 members, an active United Methodist Women unit, a Bible Study group that meets every Thursday morning, Sunday School during the school year and a Vacation Bible School in the summer. Additionally, we have an active local ministry helping Matthews House Food Pantry in Mondamin, and the Harrison County Food Pantry located in Missouri Valley. Just one of the projects to help the aforementioned Food Pantries is the making of homemade laundry detergent every quarter.
The Sunday School children are raising their own money for mission projects. Musical instrument rental for school children has been given by the UMW. Box tops for education are passed on to the West Harrison Community School District. Fruit baskets for the elderly are given every year, camperships and many other projects.
There have been many able pastors serving this church and many dedicated and faithful members, past and present, who are continuing the ministry of our Lord through this church. For a Church is not a building, or pews, or a steeple. A Church is a people. We are very thankful for the many gifts we have received over the years and work to use them in the most effective way. Because we are a welcoming church, we are confident that future generations will continue to worship and serve the Lord through this church.
~ Courtesy of Helen McFerrin, Gwen Porter and Michael Johnson
History of the Missouri Valley United Methodist Church
In 1869 Missouri Valley, with a population of 800, was the most important point of the Methodist circuit, but with no place to gather, the first Methodist religious services were held in a vacated store building.
The first mention of building a Methodist Church was on February 18,1870 and a structural part of the church was completed in August of that same year. The ‘Third Street Church’ was built where the present church is located today, on the corner of 3rd and Superior St. This church building was later bought, and converted into residences.
In 1893 a new church was built at the same location at a cost of $10,000. This church was destroyed by fire on Sunday, January 3rd, 1937, when fire, caused by an over-heated furnace, destroyed the building.
Members of the congregation, with their faith unshaken, met and began looking to the future which included plans for a new building/church that all could gather to worship God. Services were first held in the basement Fellowship Hall (now church classrooms) on Easter Sunday, May 15, 1938. The upstairs was not completed until six years later with a Service of Consecration on March 26, 1944, with Reverend Dale E. Strong as pastor in charge.
In 1988, the parsonage, south of the church, was moved to the vacant lot diagonal from the church, thus vacating the lot south of the church for expansion. Renovations were done on the old Fellowship Hall, stage and kitchen, then creating five classrooms in that area.
On Sunday, April 14, 2002, on the now vacated lot south of the church, a ground breaking ceremony for a new addition to the church was held. This new addition included 2 offices, a conference room, Fellowship Hall/multipurpose room, kitchen and two bathrooms. On November 17, 2002, a Dedication of Addition and Remodeling service was held.
The United Methodist Church in Missouri Valley is more than dates, names, buildings and location, the United Methodist Church is God’s house of worship, a joining together of people of faith, and a long history of those that came before us, those whose shoulders we stand on.
Thanks be to God.
~ Submitted by Carole Liljedahl, faithful member of the Missouri Valley United Methodist Church