Tuesday, June 14, 2016

First Methodist Church in Centerville, IA

St. Louis Trip, Day 8, Friday, July 31, 2015
It's not everywhere you go that traffic will slow down and wait for some random blogger standing on the sidewalk across the street to get a photo of the local church.  But...that's just what one car did for me in Centerville, Iowa!
Centerville was one of our last stops on our way home from St. Louis last year.  We noticed this Methodist church down the street from the courthouse, and knocked on the door of the parsonage.

Caroline Bahman, who has attended the church for 70 years (and fills in for the secretary), answered.  When we asked if we could tour the church, she kindly obliged.  From the church office, she took us through the parsonage.
The parsonage itself rivals other historic homes throughout the state!  Isn't the woodwork gorgeous?! 

 The land for the church was platted in 1846.  In 1847, the first church, a wooden building, was constructed.  This was followed by another church, built in 1876 across the street.  The current structure was built in 1906.  Old photos of the congregation show that the church was once packed with hundreds of members, young and old!
Originally, the church had a huge pipe organ behind the pulpit, and two lovely balconies for the choir on either side.  If I remember correctly, those balconies had to be removed because they caused too much strain on the structure.  Now there is one balcony at the back of the church.

The focal point today is the beautiful stained glass windows.  Mrs. Bahman's son is a carpenter and her husband was a shepherd for a time, so the window with Christ as the Shepherd, which (if I recall) she purchased for the church, has special meaning for her.
 There are three windows featuring Christ.  A fourth window features John Wesley, father of the Methodist church.  It has been said that John Wesley preached over 40,000 sermons.  He rode about 250,000 miles on horseback, and often preached in the fields.  "God grant that I may never live to be useless," Wesley prayed.

One saying commonly attributed to Wesley is "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can."

I often think of this saying, as Aunt Esther (My Centenarian) gave her version of this quote whenever she was asked for advice, "Do all the good you can while you can, because you never know how soon it will be too late!"
Other windows show the Bible, a crown, star and U.S. flag (probably to remember veterans), dove, anchor, sheaf of wheat, grapes, and crosses.

Downstairs there is a spacious fellowship area for church dinners and meetings.  When we visited it was nicely decorated with flowers for an upcoming event.  The kitchen is modern and useful-looking, though also very tastefully designed.
The Sunday school/Bible study area has plenty of books.  It also has a counter and sink at a little over knee-height.  Since I had recently visited Montauk--where everything was built for very short people--I asked the lady if the sink was built so low because the church was so old or if it was for children.  She assured me that it was for present-day children.  
Mrs. Bahman told us about the coal-mining history of Centerville, and about the annual Pancake Day festival, which has been held since 1949.  
I was very glad we stopped at the church.  Thanks to Caroline Bahman for a wonderful tour!
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26 comments:

  1. My, what a lovely church and yes, the woodwork is stunning in the parsonage. Thank you for sharing the tour with us, Bethany.

    Have a delightful day! Hugs!

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    1. The care people put into making the homes constructed back in the day beautiful is remarkable.

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  2. wow it is an impressive and well organised church

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    1. Indeed! Thanks for stopping by, Gosia!

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  3. This church is very impressive and obviously has been well loved through the years.

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    1. I am glad it has been well cared for. There used to be two churches in Liscomb, a town near me--one had become a habitation for raccoons and has since been torn down. It was sad, as I'm sure it too was beautiful when it was up-kept.

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  4. My mom took us to a Methodist church near our house when we were growing up. The interior was a lot more modern (hallways and stairs much like a school) but ours seemed to be maybe smaller. They did have a full-sized gym which was nice.

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    1. Oh wow, for young people I imagine that would be nice.

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  5. What a beautiful church! Those stained glasses windows are quite impressive as is all the woodwork. This is a building that has been lovingly maintained over the years. I can imagine how great it was touring it! Oh, the photo opportunities!

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    1. I was so thankful Mrs. Bahman agreed to give us--complete strangers(!)--a tour!

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  6. OH what a lovely stop and beautiful tour. That parsonage is cozy and adorable with its warm woodwork. And the church itself is just beautiful. I could look at those windows all day!! You can tell that it is well loved and well used. What a blessing to know during these troubled days in our world.
    Thanks for the tour Bethany! xoxo

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    1. I do enjoy seeing stained glass windows. Thanks for stopping by, Carrie!

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  7. Hi Bethany, Just for fun I put "Methodist Church Centerville Iowa" into Google Maps and, of course, it came right up at the corner of N Main St and W Washington St. Wow, W Washington, of all things! :-) Probably "George" and not "State of ..." however. Anyway, your photo is much better of the Church than the Street View. It is a really nice old building! That a car stopped for you while you snapped the picture ... well, I think that may only happen in Centerville. :-) Caroline Bahman was very kind to give you the tour. Thanks for sharing with us! Hope you have a fine week ahead!

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    1. Small Iowa towns are pretty awesome. Hope you have a great week as well!

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  8. I like the castle style of the building & inside is wonderful. The stained glass windows are marvelous & I like how the pews are curved. A really lovely church

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  9. Those windows are heavenly. Love that the car waited for you. Much better than being run down.

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    1. Right. I was on the sidewalk, but it was very nice of the driver to try not to obstruct the view in my photo. :)

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  10. Thanks for sharing your tour with us, Bethany. The woodwork is beautiful...and those stained glass windows are fabulous! The modern churches I have been in are so different in style...which is ok with me because ultimately the church is believers gathered where they can inside or outside. However, I appreciate the special beauty of many older church buildings. xx

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    1. Agreed...the church is made of people, not buildings. But as a tourist, I do love the architecture. :)

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  11. Hello Bethany!!!
    Thank you very much for your visit and left a comment.
    Greetings.
    Lucja

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    1. I enjoyed your photos. Nice to meet you in the blogosphere, Lucja!

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