The United Methodist Church of Center Point is a union of the Evangelical United Brethren and First Methodist Churches. Nationally, the churches combined in 1968. In Center Point it was a natural union since both churches were located in the 800 block of Summit Street. Each has its own history.
In 1841, the first Methodist preaching in Center Point was by Rev. John Hodges of Marion Mission. He preached at the Shearer cabin and at Bartimeus McGonigle’s. In October 1841, Rev. S.W. Ingham began preaching duties and also preached at the homes of the Osborne’s and at Mr. Davis’. This group quickly grew to a dozen. By 1850, the Methodist Episcopal charge was made up of five preaching places. In 1851, Rev. Hawn, at the end of this first year, stated, “My receipts for the year were low, one calico dress for my wife, six to eight bushels of corn for my horse, and about $2.50 in money. But we were young and hopeful and lived in the affections of the people and sowed seed, the fruitage of which shall be gathered in eternity.”
In 1865, under the pastorate of W.O. Glassner, the first church building was erected at 321 Summit Street, which is now the home of Dan and Teresa Scheeler. The new church was 44×28 feet and was dedicated May 20, 1866, at a cost of $2,206. In 1878 the new members numbered 65. In 1881 the church was remodeled and 16 feet added. A new belfry as added in 1891.
A new church was built in 1906 at 803 Summit Street. The total cost of the building was about $8000. It was dedicated on April 28, 1907, while Rev. S.C. Bretnall was minister (grandfather of Gertrude Calvin). $2,500 was needed to finish paying for the church and after a magnificent sermon by the bishop Dr. Stuntz, $3,200 was raised in less than an hour. This was a magnificent testimony of what people can do if they believe they can do it.
In 1939, when the different bodies of Methodism united nationally, the “Episcopal” was dropped from the name and it was known as First Methodist Church.
The centennial of Methodism in Center Point was celebrated in November 1942. In 1949, a remodeling program was begun with installation of an oil burning furnace and conversion of the coal room into new restrooms.
Evangelical and United Brethren Church
About the year 1877, a Rev. William Kolb, and Evangelical circuit rider, in filling his appointments every two weeks, passed the Blue Creek Schoolhouse three miles north of Center Point. He was persuaded by John and Fred Heverly to hold services at the schoolhouse. After the death of Rev. Kolb, the ministry was continued at the schoolhouse by Rev. W.J. Hahn.
In the year 1878, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Asa Cheadle, the Center Point Class of the Evangelical Association was organized by Rev. Hahn with nine charter members. After worshipping in private homes and the Old Red hall, a resident pastor, Rev. J. Wagoner, was assigned here by the conference in spring 1882. It was then decided to build a church which was completed in 1883 on State Street, just west of the present Methodist church, at a cost of $700. As the congregation grew, in 1886 the building was moved to the north side of the block on Washington Street, and a 22-foot addition and tower were added at the cost of $1,600. This site was where the former EUB parsonage stood. In 1900 another addition was dedicated during the pastorate of Rev. Klinefelter.
In 1896 the Ladies Missionary Society was formed with Mission Study. The Ladies Aid was organized on May 10, 1904, with its focus on the upkeep of the church, etc.
In 1911, during the pastorate of Rev. G.A. Albright, the church and parsonage were constructed at the southwest corner of Summit and Washington Streets. This time the cost was $12,500. A part of the old church was sold and the remainder was remodeled into a house to be used as the parsonage. The new church buildings, below the window sills are large cut stone gathered from the Kramer and Ring farms north of town. The trimmings around entrances and front are built of native granite. The windows are art glass and the remainder of the walls pressed brick. This gives it the designation of the only church of this denomination built like this in the state.
In August 1911, the cornerstone was laid. Among the contents of the box sealed within were local newspapers, coins, and a record of the church membership, committees and officers.
On December 21, 1926, during the pastorate of E.H. Heverly, the church held ceremonies which marked the end of their indebtedness. The congregation sang with deep emotion and gratitude “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow” as the mortgage was reduced to ashes. Rev. Heverly had been a member of the church as a boy and helped as a young man with the various building projects undertaken by the church.
In 1946, the Evangelical Church joined with the United Brethren and became known as the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB). In 1961 there was a celebration of the 83rd year of the church in Center Point and the 50th year since the laying of the cornerstone of the church building.
Combined United Methodist History
In 1968, the First Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) churches were merged nationally and became known as the United Methodist. Sunday morning services for the newly combined congregation were held at the EUB building (north). The basement of the Methodist (south) building was remodeled into classrooms. The EUB parsonage was sold as well as other excess things at an auction. The parsonage which was west of the buildings across the alley, burned in the 1980’s. In 1993 due to overcrowding during worship, services were moved to the south building after some sanctuary renovations. In 200, the north building sanctuary was remodeled into a Youth Center where youth groups meet.
In 2012, there were two Sunday morning worship services at 9:05 and 11:00. We are currently blessed with a temporary but highly functional structure that seats 300! Our two sprung structure house, in addition to our sanctuary, bathrooms, and nursery, are all handicap accessible. Youth groups are held on Wednesday nights for all school ages. We also have D6 program on Wednesday nights for youth K-6th grade. We currently have 12+ acres of land and are praying to relocate as soon as possible.
Current pastor since 1999 is Michael Ellson. Many years of Methodism in Center Point has seen many changes and still holds a strong nucleus for the future.