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Memorial celebrates 125th anniversary

December 1, 2012
Daily Press

GLADSTONE - What do Memorial United Methodist Church and the City of Gladstone have in common?

Memorial was organized in the same year that the City was incorporated - 1887.

According to the Gladstone Centennial History Book - 1887-1987, the church was originally organized as the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Gladstone on Nov. 19, 1887. Its first pastor, Rev. James Pascoe, and his congregation of 27 members occupied the schoolhouse for the Sunday worship service. A building site was granted on the corner of Wisconsin Ave. and 12th Street by the Sault Ste. Marie Land and Improvement Company for a church building on Dec. 5 of that year. The only stipulation was that the congregation erect a "neat and substantial building for church purposes."

Article Photos

Dorothy McKnight | Daily Press

Memorial United Methodist Church will cap off a year-long series of special events as the parishioners celebrated the church’s 125th anniversary with a special service on Sunday beginning at 10 a.m.

By February of the following year, ground was broken for the foundation. It was necessary that morning to dig down through a firm snowdrift. The first church building was dedicated in May 1888. The cost of the building and pews was $1,177.

Soon after the church was completed, a small house was built at the rear of the church for a parsonage. This was sold in 1893 and a house was again erected in 1895 at the same location. Four years later, it was enlarged and moved to the lot east of the church. This new parsonage served as a home for pastors and their families until 1980 when a new parsonage was purchased at 1424 Wisconsin Ave.

The present church edifice was dedicated Jan. 26, 1908, and the old building was moved back a short distance and placed upon a stone foundation. Additional rooms and a gallery were added and a tower was built. The new building was capable of seating 400 persons.

Rev. Hugh Harris was the church's pastor and I.N. Bushong was chairman of the building committee. The congregation numbered 88 members and chose to name the church the Alice Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church to pay respect to Bushong's wife, Mary Alice.

Rev. Harry Colenso served as pastor from 1922-35 when many church improvements were made. During those years, William S. Skellenger was the church school superintendent. He organized the first Easter Sunrise Service n 1925.

Many other improvements were made over the years, thanks to memorials, including a new side entrance, the enclosure and carpeting of the front steps, a new kitchen, paneling in the fellowship hall and a modern heating system.

In January 1960, during the pastorate of Rev. Meldon Crawford, the church's 75th anniversary was observed. Eight years later, when the Methodist and United Brethren Church united, the name was changed to Memorial United Methodist Church.

Rev. Wayne Large had a two-part charge with the Trenary United Methodist Church during most of his seven-year pastorate from 1974-81. Under his leadership, the sanctuary was redecorated, pews refinished and carpeting installed.

The Birmingham Memorial Church School building was built directly behind the church in 1980. In addition to classrooms, the building housed offices of the church pastor and secretary. Funds to construct the building were provided through a bequeath from Mrs. William Birmingham and her daughter, Helen.

By 1985, the active ministries of the church included United Methodist Women, Fellowship Group, Evening Service Guild, Miriam Circle, Couples Club, Methodist Men, Bible study groups, and Youth Fellowship.

Music has been an integral part of the worship at Memorial with four choirs, including Jubilee Choir, Good News Singers, Joyful Noise and Junior Choir. A new Kilgen organ was installed in 1951 and handbells were purchased in the 1980s.

On April 10, 1994, the church celebrated its new facility located on Lake Shore Drive. The land was donated by Robert and Melba Smith, parents of member Barbara Nemacheck. The Kilgen organ was brought to the new church building and Ron and Shirley Wilson stripped and refinished the wooden organ console. In less than 10 years, Smith Hall (gymnasium) and additional classrooms/choir room were added.

Memorial currently has 296 members. A weekly Adult Sunday School takes place each Sunday and there are weekly Bible study and other study groups throughout the calendar year.



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