(Source: As Time Goes By, pages 131-132, Odebolt Centennial Book, 1977)
In 1877 migration was continuing westward assisted at this time by the railroads which had stretched their steel highways across the continent, and land companies, which platted town sites along the right of way. On one such spot the town of Odebolt came into being. Incorporation was not accomplished until 1879. [Note: The election on the incorporation of the town was held on Monday, May 13, 1878, not 1879] Earlier pioneers had liked what they had seen in this great prairie land, so there were some settlers about before the town was started.
These people brought what they could of earthly possessions to furnish their new homes. They also brought with them their religious beliefs and convictions. Circuit riders as representatives of the church were serving throughout the country, so in the same year, 1877, with their help, the Methodists in the area were organized. It was the first religious organization for the community, but they did not erect the first church building. In the early months of its being, worship services were held in a schoolhouse east of town. As soon as a building in town was available, it became the worship center, and the nucleus of sixteen men and women moved in from the schoolhouse. Seats were provided by carrying in planks on Sunday morning. This building was on the corner where the plumbing shop now stands [in 1977].
(From the church centennial booklet, "United Methodist Church, Odebolt, Iowa, 1877-1977: In town the church was organized in November, 1877. The organizing minister was the Rev. O.H.P. Faus and the charter members were the following men and their wives. A.D. Peck, M.D. Fox, Robert Waddell, James Taylor, S.E. Smith, M. Bartlett and J. W. Southwell. On January 22, 1878 the Articles of Incorporation were adopted and there was incorporated the First Methodist Episcopal Church. These Articles were filed February 8, 1878 and recorded in the Book of Contracts, page 263 of Sac County records. The signers were G.R. Parker, H.T. Martin, R.Waddell, O.H.P. Faus, B.H. Mummey, E.A. Bennet, (and) S.E. Field, E. Geist. M.D. Fox was the notary before whom it was sworn. When the organization was completed there were about ninety members.)
In the next few years various other buildings were used. One such building was on the corner of Third and Main where Dr. Page’s office is located [in 1977]. On Sunday morning the Methodists used the upstairs for church, and on weekdays it was the public school room. Rev. C.P.H. Faus was the first minister.
In 1883 Rev. Wm. Preston led the members in the building of a new church; our present church occupies that same corner. The value of that building was set at $3,000. This building served until 1899 when Rev. Wm. Carr, then pastor, encouraged the remodeling and enlarging of the building. Again in 1909, with Rev. W.W. Bollinger as pastor, the building again underwent remodeling and enlarging. Not too much was done after that in the way of major repairs and improvements, and it served until 1950 when the new church was finally begun.
Three country churches, which had flourished during the horse and buggy days, were closed after the roads and the means of travel were improved. Memberships of these groups were spread among the Methodist churches of Lake View, Wall Lake and Odebolt. The Epworth Chapel was south of town in the Paul neighborhood. When it was closed, the seats and part of the building were brought to town and were used in the last remodeling job, so the closing must have been about 1909. About 1917 Bethel Church, which was about five miles east of town, closed. This church had been organized by some who had had a part in the organization of the town church. The third was the Richland, commonly called the German Methodist, and was three miles north and one mile east of Odebolt. Much later, in 1966, the Boyer church closed its doors. The church doors were closed with regret and sorrow, but the good they did in those early years did not end with the ending of the churches. All things must give way to change.
Some of the activities connected with earlier years of the church have disappeared or changed. Revivals, prayer and class meetings are gone. The old so-called “Amen Corner”, usually occupied by elderly deaf men who loved to shout “Amen” as the minister preached, is no more. Modern hearing devices make it unnecessary. It often furnished a bit of amusement where none was meant, when, not hearing, they shouted at the wrong time. Missionary and Aid Societies do not exist as such. This work is done by the Methodist Women’s organization called the United Methodist Women.
As the years passed, more and more repairs were needed by the old building. It at last became an accepted fact that the old church would have to be replaced. When it was felt sufficient money was pledged to begin the undertaking, plans were drawn, and on Sunday, February 6, 1950 we gathered for our last service and goodbye to the building we loved for its memories and for what it represented. No time was given for mourning. The next day a wrecking crew was on hand and by the next Sunday the spot was vacant. Now we were ready to begin our great adventure in building a church. From that time until January 28, 1951 services and Sunday School were held in the school gymnasium. We were fortunate that no judicial decree had been handed down to prohibit the use of the public school.
Labor problems plagued the work at times. In spite of setbacks, August 1950 saw the cornerstone placed with impressive ceremonies. On January 28 when the basement could be used, until Easter Sunday when we moved to the sanctuary, we carried on under difficulty, but the end was coming into view.
Before the building could be dedicated after its completion, the debt had to be cleared. This did not hinder the dedication of the beautiful pipe organ, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Petersmeyer. This event took place February 5, 1951. On November 7 of that same year the financial goal was reached after a final money drive, and on that day Bishop Gerald Ensley dedicated the beautiful stone structure to the glory of God for the good of Man. It was a day of rejoicing.
Since that day memorial gifts and other remembrances have made possible added comforts to the church. Our cushioned pews in a beautiful building are a far cry from those planks in a borrowed store.
Rev. Thomas Woodin, our present pastor , is the 38th. Since 1918 a large, comfortable parsonage next door to the church has been home for the ministers. Before that time two other houses were used for that purpose.
The church in 2001 - photo by Charles Hanson
United Methodist Church
301 Walnut St
Odebolt, IA 51458-1006
Today this church whose history is briefly sketched here has a different name. The word Episcopal has been dropped, and around the world our denomination is known as the United Methodist Church.
(Transcribed by B. Ekse)
From the church centennial booklet,
"United Methodist Church, Odebolt, Iowa, 1877-1977
Some who have served as director or organist are Maxine
Hix, Ruth Reuter, George Hilburn, Gertrude Horstman, Pamela Boney Arrigo,
Corinne Down, Thomas Woodin, Dorothea Nielsen, Lois Oxendale and Lynda
Johnson. If your memories go back a great many years you remember Nellie
Bruce, Minnie Kessler, and Blanche Ballard at the piano. An old issue of
the paper states that Mrs. C.W. Kistler was our first organist.
United Methodist will celebrate 125 years on Sunday, November 3, 2002. The day will begin with District Superintendent James Hanke preaching during the morning service with special music being performed, followed by a catered dinner at noon. Special guests will be former ministers and former members. Beginning at 1 p.m. a program will be held in the sanctuary followed by a tea in the dining room to which the public is invited. The program will include the movie "The Christmas Story," produced in 1961 by the Church School Department under the direction of George and Doris Hilburn. This will also be a time for reminiscing and comments from former ministers.
The first church services were held in homes, followed by store buildings, one of which was on Main and 2nd Street, now occupied by Hemer's Plumbing and Heating. Later the church moved a block south to a two story building which gave room for Sunday School classes and day classes on the second floor, and worship on the ground floor. The first church was built in 1874 and was called Bethel. In 1882 a building was erected on the present site. The morning service was in English and the afternoon in German. The cost of the building was $1,200. By 1899 it was evident that the building was too small and needed remodeling. In 1909 the building was again remodeled and enlarged. In 1950 this building was torn down and the present building was erected.
Odebolt United Methodist Church 125th
Anniversary was held Sunday, November 3, 2002. Former ministers attending were:
Rev. & Mrs. Lyle Lieder, Clear Lake; the Rev. & Mrs. Tom Woodin,
Creston; Rev. & Mrs. Thomas Hotle, Sioux City; Mrs. Anthony Blaners, wife of
the late Rev. Anthony Blankers and her daughter and son-in-law Mr. & Mrs.
Russ Sevadge, Indianola; and Mr. & Mrs. Paul Farnham, Gowrie, son of the
late Rev. J.A. Farnham.
The morning service included special music, recognition of former ministers, and a message by District Superintendent, Rev. James Hanke of Sioux City. A catered dinner was served to nearly 200 people after the service. An afternoon program featured special music, and "The Christmas Story" filmed in 1961, directed by George and Doris Hilburn and performed by the Sunday School classes. Memories were shared by former ministers followed by the anniversary tea and continued fellowship in the church dining room
Chairing the committee for the event was Elaine Raasch, assisted by Irene Siebrecht, Mary Jeanne Thompson, Ray Willhoite, Beverly Einspahr and Alice Hemphill and a host of willing helpers.