Ghosts of Main Street: The Methodist Churches of Marion

April 19, 2018

By Julie Traynor
Corrispondent

                       

This week we have a Did You Know? story to tell of two sibling church buildings, both still very much with us today.
Did you know that in the days of our Marion’s youth, she was a bit of a wild child? Early on she had more saloons than churches; more lumbermen than families, but that soon changed and soon the call went out for a real church building. The early and growing Methodist Episcopal congregation met in the rough and original old log school building. Early in 1889 the ladies of that congregation formed a Ladies Aid and began to raise money for a building. The proceeds from their first supper purchased the plans for that building.  

By the ladies diligent fundraising efforts the new Methodist Episcopal Church opened its doors on the northeast corner of Lake and Main Streets in September 1889. It was built on grounds donated by founder’s Christopher and Mary Clark and was constructed of local materials from the Chadwick Mill and the Clark Mill. Labor was donated by townspeople. The new Village of Marion had a new church building.

The Methodist Episcopal congregation grew as did our town. By 1912 they were ready for a new structure and funds were raised to begin building. The old church structure was sold and moved.

The 1889 timber built Methodist Church structure served the Free Methodists when this 1940’s photo was taken.

The 1889 timber built Methodist Church structure served the Free Methodists when this 1940’s photo was taken.

The new red brick Methodist Episcopal Church, with stained glass windows whose cost was donated by various church groups, and a bell in its tower, was dedicated in July 1913 and has served these 105 years since.

The church, now known as the United Methodist Church, has been modified several times and two additions have been built. Classrooms were added in 1958 and in this century a family/community room was constructed on the sight of the former parsonage. 

Did you know that it has always been said that the Reverend George Bennerd penned the hymn “The Old Rugged Cross” when attending a revival at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Marion in 1912.

And did you know that the original M.E. Church structure, the one sold and moved in 1912, is still with us today?

It was the Free Methodist congregation who purchased the old timber structure. They moved it to the other end of Main Street and their lot on the northwest corner of Broadway and Main Streets in the spring of 1912. Thus began their long use and care of the old structure.

The 1913 red brick Methodist Church structure, seen here when newly finished, is familiar to all. The church was built in 1913 and continues to serve the United Methodist congregation.

The 1913 red brick Methodist Church structure, seen here when newly finished, is familiar to all. The church was built in 1913 and continues to serve the United Methodist congregation.

The Free Methodist Church, as a congregation, began in this area in 1903. They met in the Harding Town Hall until their purchase of the former ME Church building. The congregation used the structure for many years for church services, as a meeting place for youth activities for outreach and missionary programs. Sadly their numbers dwindled and the church was closed. Well remembered pastors and Marion folks include Derwood Mayle, Enoch Beeman and Donald Ruhl.

Did you know that the now 129 year old building has served other groups but has sadly been shuttered through much of this century. Still ready to serve, the structure is for sale.

And now you know a very brief version of the sibling Methodist church buildings in Marion, Michigan. 



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