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Valley United Methodist Church to celebrate 145 years

Staff writer

Marion’s oldest congregation and second oldest church will celebrate its 145th anniversary Old Settlers’ weekend with a “homecoming event” for present and former members and friends.

What today is known as Valley United Methodist Church was established in 1869, nine years after the town’s first settlers arrived, as the Methodist Class.

The Rev. Manoah Woolpert became pastor on April 28, 1869. He served two years at a salary of $500 and conducted services in a stone schoolhouse that later was enlarged and served as the county’s courthouse.

The first church building was erected in 1881 at 3rd and Santa Fe Sts., where the church has remained, though several additions and renovations have been made over the years.

A stone addition, containing the church’s sanctuary and bell tower, was completed north of the original brick building in 1887. In 1923, the original brick building was razed, and classrooms and a full basement were erected. The building was extensively remodeled from 1967 to 1968.

Anniversary plans include a special worship service Sept. 28, a luncheon by reservation at Marion Community Center across the street, and an open house afterward at the church.

On display will be an article of church history documented by Ralph Kreutziger and a memory book created by Mary Jeffrey.

The Rev. Dennis Livingston, district superintendent, and former minister Phil Smith will be among those attending.

Since 1985, the church also has been home to Marion County Emergency Food Bank. Stepping Stones Preschool was established there in 2001.

Organs have always been an important part of the church. The present organ was installed in 1938. It originally had 446 pipes, to which 360 additional were added in 1999.

Church members with the longest tenure include Joan Meyer, who joined in 1935, and Jean Pierce, in 1937.

Last modified Sept. 17, 2014

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