The History of Jamestown United Methodist Church

The following information was researched and gathered from various places, books, articles and interviews.  Every effort has been made to insure the most accurate information possible.  Please report any errors or pertinent information you may have to the Web Administrator of this site.

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Before "Jamestown Church"

Prior to the founding of the Jamestown church in 1854, Methodist missionaries came into the territory in 1829 when many settlers came into the community to secure land grants from the government.  These missionaries traveled from house to house, staying in the homes of hospitable pioneers.

Elder Felkner was the first missionary known to have been in this area.  He was sent into the northern Indiana and southern Michigan area by the Ohio Conference.  In 1831, the Indiana Conference annexed this territory and sent Rev. Nehemiah Griffith to replace Felkner.  It is unclear, though, whether or not either of these men ever came into the Jamestown community but it is reasonably certain that their successors did find their way to Jamestown.  Rev. R. S. Robinson replaced Rev. Griffith in the Elkhart territory in 1832 and in 1833, Rev. Beswick and Rev. Phelps shared the circuit.  Services were usually held in private homes with the ministers serving as many as 12 to 15 churches.

 

The Founding of Jamestown Church

A few years before the Civil War, the first church, a log building of about 30' x 40', was built in 1854 in Jamestown by Rev. Zenas Belden.  It was originally called Jamestown Methodist Episcopal Church.  It was located on the site where the current church stands, on the corner of CR 3 & CR 22.

Log Church
Depiction of Log Cabin Church.
Unknown if photo exists of original log church.

 

As membership grew, the log church became crowded and they started meeting at the larger, log schoolhouse that was built in 1836.  Finally, in 1903, the log church was replaced by a larger, rectangular framed structure on the same site.

 

Jamestown United Episcopal Church, (circa 1903-1910)
Jamestown Methodist Episcopal Church
(c. 1903 - c. 1910)

 

With continuing growth, they found there was a need for classroom space and in 1916 a large Sunday school room was added with a basement under the church.

In the early 1930's, Jamestown Methodist Episcopal Church became Jamestown Methodist Church with the Rev. V. O. Vernon as pastor.

During Rev. Vernon's pastorate, membership almost doubled and continued growing and, in 1952 while Rev. Elvin Miller was pastor, an annex was added on to the church (at left in the photos below).  The upper level held one large room which was used for junior church and two classrooms plus three other classrooms.  The lower level consisted of overflow sanctuary space plus two classrooms.

 

Jamestown United Episcopal Church, (circa 1903-1910)
Jamestown Methodist Church with Annex—c. 1954

 

Jamestown Methodist Church with Annex
Jamestown Methodist Church with Annex (left)

 

Jamestown Methodist Church with Annex
Jamestown Methodist Church with Annex (left)

 

Jamestown Methodist Church with Annex
Jamestown Methodist Church Sanctuary

 

Jamestown Methodist Church with Annex
Jamestown Methodist Church Sanctuary

 

Soon after the annex was added, more room was needed for the little folks and in 1954 the church purchased the Garl property just to the south of the church.  The house was used as classrooms on Sunday and as a week-day kindergarten.  Both children and teachers had to bear harsh weather to and from the church at the beginning and closing of Sunday School.

As the community of Jamestown continued to expand and grow, more space and better accommodations were needed.  The church grew from 194 members in 1932 to 296 in 1950 and 426 in 1961.  At this time, under the pastorate of Rev. Roscoe Pheneger, the church launched a program called "Program for Progress".  To make room for the new addition, the Garl house was sold to Jack Dils and was moved west on CR22 past five-points (intersection of CR22, CR1 & CR118).
In June, 1963, work began on a new structure, an Educational / Fellowship Hall Building which connected to the annex that was added in 1952 and extended south across the former Garl property.  Completed in the spring of 1964, this new building contained a Fellowship Hall, kitchen, restrooms, classrooms, nursery and kindergarten rooms.

 

Church with Educational Building-1966
Jamestown Methodist Church—c. 1966
(Educational / Fellowship Hall Building at right)

Church with Educational Building-1966
Jamestown Methodist Church—c. 1966
(Educational / Fellowship Hall Building at right)

 

A New Name

In November of 1968, the Methodist Church Conference united with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, so Jamestown Methodist Church became known as Jamestown United Methodist Church.

 

A New Sanctuary

As part of the 1966 "Program for Progress", the church had envisioned the need for a sanctuary to replace the aging old frame building built in 1903.  Finally, in 1978, a new sanctuary was added to the south end of the Educational / Fellowship Hall Building.  In addition to the new sanctuary, this building contained a new church office and 7 new classrooms below the sanctuary.

1966 Sanctuary Proposal
Sketch of Educational / Fellowship Hall and Sanctuary
from 1966 "Program for Progress" brochure

 

Present Day Jamestown United Methodist Church
Present Day Jamestown United Methodist Church

 

With the completion of the new sanctuary, the old frame church that was built in 1903 was taken down; but in a way, the old church lived on by being dismantled board-by-board and used to construct an Amish school.

 

Annex/Apartments History

In 1989, the church purchased the house and property of Howard & Vernice (Garl) Stone which was next to the new sanctuary on the south side.  This home was known as the Annex or Rental property and contained two apartments that were rented to various people over the years.  In 2020, the Annex apartments were torn down as the cost for needed repairs were becoming prohibitive.

The Annex / Rental Property
The Annex/Apartments
(former home of Howard & Vernice Stone).

 

Parsonage History

The first parsonage was purchased in 1936.  This was the Bert Cook home, located just one block west of the church.  The need for a better parsonage increased and in 1966 the church sold the old parsonage and purchased the Leonard Beehler home which was to the east of the church.  In 1994 this parsonage was sold and the church purchased the home and property, south of the church by Baugo creek, from Dave Miller and is now the current parsonage.  This was originally the home of Harold Bollenbacher who contributed much to the Jamestown Church and community.  This parsonage property also contained a large building (barn) which was converted into a Teen Center.

 

Jamestown UMC Parsonage-2021
Current Parsonage

 

Teen Center-2014
Jamestown UMC Teen Center

 

While today's congregation is smaller than those of the mid 1900's, the members are not unlike the first settlers that came to this territory and the village of Jamestown.  They are dedicated Christians serving God, the Jamestown community and beyond.

 

Circuit Riders and Pastors Who Have Served Jamestown

¹Ministers that were Circuit Riders for Northern Indiana.
²Rev. Beswick & Rev. Phelps shared the circuit in 1833 and 1834.

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