United Methodist Church
307 East First Street
408 East First Street
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
302 West Reeder
Living Hope Bible Church
St. Mary’s Catholic Church (reprinted from Rip Van Winkle Centennial Book) From the history of Cedar County and the Church records, St.Mary’s Church dates back as far as 1857, when Father Emmons, then of Iowa City, offered the first Mass in the presence of a little group of Catholics in the old brick house of Thomas McAllister of Mechanicsville. This building was located on the farm now owned by the Edward Poduska family. From 1861 to 1872 quarterly services were held in the home of Pat Burke by Father Lowry of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 1872 Father Downy formulated the plans for first Church which was built in 1873. Father McAbe was the first Resident Priest in Mechanicsville from 1876 to 1878. Following him were Father Daly, Freeport, Ill.; Very Reverend James Gillespie, Keokuk; Father Glenn, Williamsburg; Father Kissane, Clinton; Father Landers, Mt.Pleasant; Rev. T.V. Lawler; Father H. Frenken and Father P.J. Casey. In 1921 a new Rectory was built and the Church was remodeled and decorated. This church was dedicated in May 1922. The St. Mary’s Guild, an organization from the women of the church, was organized in July 1949. The Men’s Council was organized in 1957 and the Catholic Youth organization was started in 1954. This church was found to be too small so the cornerstone for the new St. Mary’s church was laid Sunday, September 20, 1964. This land was donated by the Francis Crock family. The new church was built in the form of a cross. The building measures 90x40 and will seat approximately 300. The church has a full basement which can be converted to classrooms by folding doors. Quentin Robinson was chairman of the building committee. Bishop Ralph L. Hayes officiated at the Dedication of the new St. Mary’s Church on June 17, 1965. Father Casey, pastor, was Celebrant of the dedication Mass. The new Rectory was built between November 1, 1968 and May 31, 1969. The front of the rectory is made of Lannon stone to match the church. There is a walkway between the church and the rectory. The statue of Our Lady of Grace on the church lawn is an attractive addition to the church and rectory. A Celebration was held September 17, 1972, by the church to commemorate 100 years of services to the Mechanicsville area.
United Methodist Church (reprinted from Rip Van Winkle Centennial Book) The United Methodist Church, which is 135 years old, had its beginning in late 1840 in a cabin with 11 members at Pioneer Grove located about a mile north of the present Rose Hill Cemetery. In 1859 a church was built, and in 1866 the building was moved to Mechanicsville. In 1884 the church was remodeled into a home which is now owned by Mrs. Mamie Thimmes. A new church was built in 1884 on the present site. During the construction the belfry and tower were damaged by a small tornado. Three other disasters befell this building. The first was in 1894 or 1895. On the evening of Children’s Day, the kerosene burning chandelier crashed to the floor and much of the church’s interior was damaged. The second fire occurred in the night of Oct. 30, 1911, from an overheated furnace. The third disaster, which completely destroyed the building, was on the morning of Dec. 24, 1933 when fire struck again. In spite of these setbacks, the faith of the congregation has continued to grow. The construction of the present church began on May 21, 1934, and was dedicated on Nov. 4, 1934. Those who served on the building committee were Frank Miller, Chairman, Graydon Johnson, Everett Puffer, and Harold and Lester Nicoll. A bequest from the Mae Hatcher estate and accepted by the official board became the seed money for the educational wing of the church. Ground breaking ceremonies for the new wing were observed Oct. 20, 1968 with Dr. L.D. Havighuirst, District Superintendent in charge. The wing was completed and consecration service was held Feb. 15, 1970, with Dr. Arthur Kindred, a former minister, delivering the sermon. Dedication services were observed Sept. 8, 1974, with Bishop James S. Thomas presiding. The educational wing was built under the direction of Rev. James R. Nelson and the following building committee: Robert Oxley, Chairman, Alan Weets, Co-Chairman, Walter Kiehl, Lester and Harold Nicoll, Mrs. Howard Rhoads, Mrs. Mamie Thimmes, Forest Johnson, Mrs. Calvin Robinson and Mrs. Forest Johnson. There are several active organizations of the church of long standing. The present United Methodist Women were Chartered Sept. 7, 1973, and dates back to after the Civil War when ladies aid groups were formed within the Methodist churches and took over church housekeeping. The ladies were involved in sewing, quilting, dinners, charity and promoting the church budget. In 1869 Women’s Foreign Missionary Society was organized and in 1880 the Women’s Home Missionary Society came into being. Then these two groups along with the Ladies’ Aid were reorganized in 1939 into the Women’s Society of Christian Service. Then in 1968 this group became known as the Women’s Society of Christian Service. The women of the church have always been active in supporting the church’s various needs by serving dinners and smorgasbords. The “Turkey Dinners” were annual affairs served in the evening of the second Thursday of the month of November. It was well attended by people from our community and neighboring communities. Over the years the women have always generously supported World and National missions of the United Methodist Church. The Pollyanna Sunday School Class was organized in May 1920 under the leadership of Mrs. Jennie Taylor and Mrs. L.L. Lockard. It has been a working, as well as a social class. Some of the activities have included Market Days, making and selling aprons, napkins, salad cutters, quilt tops, holding public dinners, selling magazines, serving lunches at farm sales. In 1939 they served 870 men at threshers meals charging 40 cents a meal. Recent projects have been serving Lions and Commercial Club dinners and holding bazaars. The Methodist Men received their first charter as an organization of the church in 1955. They have been a very active group meeting monthly and cooking their own meals. They have annually sponsored the Lord’s Portion Sales held in the sale barn until 1970 when they started holding the auctions in the church basement. Wilbur Colby has donated his services as auctioneer and has been the promoter of this annual event. The youth of the church have been active through the Epworth League organized in 1892 and later reorganized in 1939 to the Methodist Youth Fellowship which is still active. July 1, 1974 was an important date in the history of the United Methodist Church when it yoked with the United Presbyterian Church. Both churches, known as the United Parish of Mechanicsville, are served by the same pastor. The first pastor called to serve was Rev. Donald Wooge from the Methodist Conference. Each church will alternately provide the minister to serve both churches. Each church provides six members to serve on the Parish Council which provides leadership for combined activities. Each church retains its own denominational ties. Some of our Methodist people who have gone from our church into Christian work include: Mrs. Luella Rigby Jones, a missionary for many years in Burma; Mrs. Edith Helmer spent many years in Y.W.C.A. work; Ralph Rigby was Dean of Music in Berea, Kentucky; Mrs. Earl Hodgkin, the former Grace Ferguson, whose husband was a minister; and Merle Griffith, who serves as a supply pastor. Others who have served beyond our church and community are: Mrs. Emma Miller, who began in 1912 serving 25 years as Conference Treasurer of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society; Mrs. Howard Rhoads served as Cedar Rapids District Status of Women in 1957; Mrs. Robert Beck, Cedar Rapids District Treasurer of United Methodist Women from 1971 to 1975 and Mrs. Edward Kleppe who is presently serving a three year term as secretary of the Cedar Rapids District United Methodist Women. Accurate records of pastorates in the Methodist Church reach back to 1856. Circuit riders were: R.G. Hawn 1855, Andrew Coleman 1857, John Scoles 1858, Ashael Bronson 1860, George Stanley 1861, John Scoles 1862 and C. MacClean 1863. Resident ministers were: G.M. Waterbury 1865; J.M. Rankin 1866; F.S. Church 1867; F.H. Burris 1869; C.A. Hawn 1870; Samual Howe 1871; J.M. Rankin 1872; S.C. Freer 1875; J.H. Hayward 1882; W.M.Chaffee 1885; W.F. Skinner 1888; J.T. Spry 1891; S.S. Smith 1896; R.W. Coates 1901; S.D. Bartle 1903; W.J. Pyle 1980; A.M. Ewert 1908; James Baliz 1909; Baker 1915; I.A. Bartholomew part of 1918; L.L. Lockard 1918; Dorr Whitmore 1920; J.W. Atkins 1926; R.S. Scott 1927; H.R. Schmidt 1930; A.J. Kindred 1931; M.W. McKinley 1935; R.H. Supplle 1936; B.G. Kemper 1943; Charles Arnold 1945; M.C. Melcher 1948; C.F. Little 1954; Eugene L. Miller 1955; Tom Mikelson assistant pastor 1957; Beaty McDonald 1964; James Nelson 1965; Aldreth Weigel 1973 and Donald Wooge 1974.
The Presbyterian Church (reprinted from Rip Van Winkle Centennial Book) The scattered Presbyterians of this area began to meet in 1853, in the school house which stood at the west end of town, at the location which is now 600 West 1st Street. Rev. George Porter preached once a month. He also preached for the Tipton church then located near Red Oak Grove. After he preached for 2 years the Cedar Rapids Presbytery organized the First Presbyterian Church, Mechanicsville, Nov. 18, 1855, with 24 charter members. In 1856 a frame building 20’x 24’ was built on the lot which now is 207 West 1st Street. In May 1858, Rev. Robert Boag came as the first resident pastor and stayed for 10 years. This lot and building was sold in 1871 for $300. In 1865 Joseph Jackson deeded the lot where the present church stands to the trustees, and in 1865-66 a new frame building was erected. Some time later, a bell was installed in the belfry. This building served until 1906 when it was sold to Harvey Thomas for $250. On April 30, 1906, he began tearing it down to make room for the building we have today at a cost of approximately $10,000. The building committee was Rev. Cooper, chairman; S.T. Buel, Howard Elliott and Alexander Moffit. The building was completed and dedicated Oct. 28, 1906. The material of the walls is Anamosa stone for the foundations and the upper walls of manufactured stone, from the Iowa Granite Brick Company of Clinton. Rev. Cooper’s sermon was entitled “Life Building” based on the Bible reference I Corinthians 3:9-10. On Christmas morning 1917, it was gutted by fire but the walls and roof were not harmed. Insurance covered the cost of repairs. Due to the loss of the piano, the present pipe organ was installed at the cost of $2,500. The present cost of such a pipe organ is estimated at $50,00 to $75,000. Many changes have been made over the years. Under the guidance of Rev. Charles Tyrell in 1942, the chancel was remodeled and the Little Chapel was built, which was the scene of many weddings. The kitchen has been modernized and two Sunday School rooms have been finished on the second floor. Since then the Little Chapel has been torn out and the East Parlor has been made into the present Gold Room. The chancel has been remodeled again and new carpeting laid in the entire church. New modern rest rooms have been built in the basement. In 1888 the first church-owned manse was built. Fifty eight years later the building which is at 616 East 2nd Street was sold to Elmer Border for $3,000. The present manse is located at 502 East 2nd Street. Many will remember it a s the Will Johnson home. It was purchased fro $10,500 from Mr. and Mrs. Max Banks for the manse. In 1911 while Rev. Gray Cardy was the pastor, union evangelistic services were held. During that time 67 people were received into the church. In 1951 when Rev. Keith Tabor was the pastor the membership grew from 176 to 210. During Rev. George Gallaher’s pastorate, which was 12 years in length, the longest period served by any minister, 114 people became members. The Sunday School has been active over the years with the following people serving as superintendents: Charles Stoffel, Walter Hammer, Don Davidson, Robert Hentrich, Larry Albaugh, Mrs. Cecil Smay and Mrs. Everett Russel. Many organizations have helped the church grow including the Missionary Society, Gracia Guild, Ways and Means, the Men’s Sunday School Class, United Presbyterian Women, Couple’s Club and the Priscilla Class which is the oldest existing group and meets monthly. Daisy Butler is the only living charter member. Mrs. Edith Robinson is the president; Mrs. Don Robinson is president of our present women’s organization. Mrs. Elmer Littig has been the organist and part time choir director since 1935. The present choir has 18 members. At present there are 232 members. Roy Parks has belonged to the church since 1909 making him the longest member belonging. In 1974 the members voted to share a pastorate with the Methodist church. Don Wooge is the present pastor. The following have served as pastors of the Presbyterian Church: G.D. Porter 1855; A.C. Thorne 1857; Robert Boag 1858; J.W. Knott 1868; E.R. Brown 1872; W.A. Ward 1875; E.P. Wells 1878; Henry McMeekin 1882; Nathan Downing 1883; F.S. Moffit 1886; J.H. Cooper 1887; J.W. Hubbard 1889; W.A.Sears 1897; C.J.W. Triem 1901; A.P. Cooper 1905; Gray Cardy 1911; W.T. McCandless 1914; George Albright 1916; E.W. Brown 1919; I.R. Prugh 1928; A.R. Osborne 1933; P.H. Van Drooge 1936; C.W.Tyrell 1939; Robert Allen 1944; Robert Von Oeyen 1947; Keith Taber 1949; William Tjaden 1952; George L. Gallaher 1956; William Wills 1968; Norman Lawton 1971; James Adyelotte 1973 and Donald E. Wooge 1974.