First United Methodist Church
BEGINNINGS - 1849
The first Methodist services
held here were in 1849 when a circuit rider preacher by the name of George W.
Teas was assigned by the Iowa Annual Conference to hold services in what was
called "Three Rivers mission". The Mission included all of Warren and
Madison Counties and the south part of Polk County and a sizable part of Marion
County. Its name was derived from the North River, Middle River and South
River which flow through this region. When the Mission was established the
first house was yet to be built in what was to become Indianola.
The first sermon to
be delivered in Indianola was by Rev. Teas in 1850 in a log cabin owned by Sam
Johnson located southeast of the city square. A class of 8 persons was
organized that year. By 1853 the circuit was no longer listed as Three
Rivers Circuit, but as Indianola with a total of 305 members. By that time
portions of the circuit had also separated and formed into a Hartford Circuit
and Winterset Circuit.
FIRST CHURCH BUILDING - 1855
By 1855 the first church
building was built as a cost of $4,000. It was a brick building erected on
the northeast corner of the city square, a location which later was the site of
a J.C. Penney store. This was used be the church for 36 years until 1885.
Until the county courthouse was building in 1869 the church was used for court
proceedings. It was also a site for various cultural events such as
literary readings, lectures, magic lantern shows and even county political
conventions. By 1857 the church had 440 members and 163 probationary members.
congregation outgrew this building and it was decided that a new church building
was needed. The building was sold in 1985 to Silas G. Keeney who
turned it into a livery stable. The proceeds were used to build a large
more spacious structure on the site of the present church on Ashland Avenue one block west of
the city square.
SECOND BUILDING BUILT - 1886
building was sold church services were held in the Simpson College Chapel until
the new church was finished in 1886. The new church had a bell tower
and spire more than fifty feet high. However, some time after the turn of
the century the tower was struck by lightening and damaged to the point that the
upper portion was removed. By 1896 the congregation had outgrown the new
church and so an addition was built. By 1906 church membership had grown
to 1,040 members.
CHURCH SCHOOL BUILDING ADDED
A new brick church school building was
added in 1926 containing class rooms and the Parish Hall upstairs. This
building now houses the church offices and hospitality room, chapel and library
and some class rooms. The year 1955 was
celebrated as the
congregation's 100th anniversary and a special centennial service was held to
mark the occasion.
CHURCH BURNS IN 1956
On February 14, 1956 the church
was destroyed by fire. The Parsonage, which was located in what is now the
courtyard area between the two wings of the church, was saved by valiant efforts
of the fire fighters.
NEW CHURCH BUILDING BEGUN IN
The cornerstone for a new larger and all
brick building was laid on February 17, 1957. The building cost $424,419
including equipment. It was consecrated on
September 8, 1957 and celebrated by a special program and three worship services attended by total
of 2,128 people.
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
By 2004 the church had again
outgrown its facilities. Membership of the church reached nearly 1,800 and
classrooms were over crowded. So a major capital campaign in was completed
in December of 2004 which raised 1.6 million dollars in cash and pledges to
renovate the west wing heating and plumbing systems, repair the roof, and
install a new phone system and video projection system in the sanctuary for
worship. It also included parsonage renovations and the purchase of the
house and lot just south of the sanctuary. The house was used as an annex
for classroom space until April 2006 when it was demolished to make room for a
new addition to the south side of the church. The Consecration of
the new addition was held on May 6, 2007.