A brief history of the Menominee Methodist Church.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized and in July 1872, Rev. Richard Copp was appointed pastor. During his pastorate, lots were secured and a 32 x 50 ft. church was built and paid for. The lot was given by H Ludington Co. of Marinette. The policy of the mills was to help the churches because they thought them cheaper than jails. The land was covered with small trees and brush, and Ogden Avenue (now Ave) was a road (partly corduroy) through the woods. Brother Copp cleared the land himself and selected the timber which was donated. The building was built by volunteering laborers, the preacher being foremost. It is said that Brother Copp was in such haste about “our Father’s business” that he was distinguished by the way his long coat tails flew in the breeze.
In 1885 Brother Ivey became pastor for two years. His salary was $750 including $200 from the missionary fund. During his pastorate, a parsonage was built of which there are no written records, but tradition has it that Mrs. Ivey was the moving spirit. Also during his pastorate, the envelope system of financing was adopted.
In 1888 a presiding elder encouraged the people to build a new church and in the spring of 1889 work was begun. The cornerstone was laid on June 29, 1889, and the church dedicated on June 29, 1890. An amount of $1500 raised that day placed the society out of debt. Quoting from writings of that day: “The church and parsonage valued at $10,000 is beautiful and commodious with auditorium, lecture room, kitchen, wood and furnace room with a most attractive and commodious study on the 2nd floor just above the lecture room. The church is thoroughly furnished and gives to the worshippers that assemble within it a cheerful and homelike impression.”
In the period of 1891 to 1897 owning to financial stringency, members of the official board volunteered to do janitorial services and many learned the art of rising at 4:00 a.m. on Sunday to attend to the church furnace. The organ was pumped by hand power and the boys stayed out until the service had begun to avoid being drafted for the job.
Just seven years later on April 21, 1907, that church burned down. It was on the Sunday just after a ceremony of the public burning of the redeemed mortgage on the building. The church organist, Mrs. Lovell, was riding by the church on a streetcar about 8:30 Sunday evening when she saw flames shooting through the roof. They stopped at a fire alarm box and turned in the alarm.
In 1908 when building started on the new stone church, they were still using mules and drags or sleds to move material. The building agreement was for $12,303.05. It was decided to build a parsonage as part of the church. The pastor’s family’s living quarters consisted of the current “parlor” area, the current “gathering room,” and rooms upstairs. The parsonage in the church was quite unique among the churches of the north is a step toward the famous institutional church in that the parsonage or residence of the pastor and his family will be in the church build. One of our previous member’s son remembers being baptized in the pastor’s living room which is now the gathering room. Another of our current members lived in the parsonage after being born in 1948 (?) when his father was pastor.
The cornerstone was laid on Jun3 27, 1908 by the Masons and contained one copy each of the following items: the Holy Bible, Methodist Hymn Book, 1904 Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, minutes of the 1907 Detroit Conference, New York Christian Advocate, Michigan Christian Advocate, and Menominee Herald-Leader dated June 26, 1908. The church building was dedicated on Feb. 28, 1909, with Mayor Spies as General Chairman of the exercises. Bishop McIntyre preached from the text “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” On Monday evening his famous lecture “Buttoned Up People” was given.
Marion Jessie Hall was a teacher in town and also a Sunday school teacher at this church. She lived about two blocks away, owning two houses; one she lived in and the others she rented. On her death on Dec. 25, 1951, she left the two houses to the church. They were sold and a parsonage home was purchased in 1953. The freed up the former parsonage rooms for Sunday school rooms that were named Marion Jessie Hall rooms.
We have gone from the Methodist Episcopal Church with twelve charter members on July 18, 1872, until in 1939 there was a merger of the United Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church-South, and the Methodist Protestant Church. We were known simply as the Methodist Church until 1942-43 when the pastor was William Clyde Donald II. At the time he was in his last year at Garrett Theological Seminary. His father was a prominent minister in the Detroit Conference so Rev. Donald had much familiarity with churches and church names. The nameless state of the church in Menominee irked him so that on all church bulletins and publications he began using the name First Methodist church to get away from mediocre namelessness in an innocuous way. No one ever objected and it was called that until 1968 when it became First United Methodist.
On April 23, 1968, The United Methodist Church was created when The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and The Methodist Church joined hands at the constituting General Conference in Dallas, Texas. With the words, “Lord of the Church, we are united in Thee, in Thy Church and now in The United Methodist Church,” the new denomination was given birth by two churches that had distinguished histories and influential ministries in various parts of the world. Theological traditions steeped in the Protestant Reformation and Wesleyanism and relationships that dated back almost two hundred years facilitated the union.
In 2008 a significant remodel and addition was undertaken. The beautiful sanctuary only received cosmetic changes. The pastor’s study with its original wood floors is now our parlor and what once was a hall and Sunday school room is now a gathering area. Access for all was created by installing a lift that goes to the three main areas of the church; entry, fellowship hall, and the gathering area, parlor, and sanctuary.
This church home has certainly seen change but whether it is wood or stone, large or small, new or old, this is a place of God. We hope we stand for and work for God for many years to come.