Church History

Laying the Cornerstone April 28, 1914

Methodist Episcopal Church

Tuesday, April 28, 1914

Dr. Thrall gave the address on that spring day at the corner of Main Street and Third where our church stands today. It was Tuesday, but in the picture, you will see that many of the people wore their “Sunday best” to celebrate this special occasion as was customary in those days.  Dr. Flint is standing to the right of the cornerstone as it is carefully being lowered into place. With their guidance and patience, our church was built. 

Rally Day from the Old Church to the New Church Nov. 29, 1914

Rally Day

Women on Dedication Sunday, December 6, 1914

Women on Dedication Sunday

Men on Dedication Sunday, December 6, 1914

Men on Dedication Sunday

Our Stained Glass Windows

Our Stained Glass Windows

“Father if you are willing, take this cross from me” are words spoken by our Lord in the scene of Jesus praying the in Garden of Gethsemane. The original oil painting of this scene was painted by Heinrich Hofmann around 1890 and was the inspiration for many church windows designed in this era.  It inspires us to seek God and pray.  With this brilliant depiction of Christ in prayer, we can kneel with him. “Yet not my will but yours be done.”   Like Jesus, we will face trials and hardships, and we will ask to be delivered from those troubles with the will of God above our desires. Moving, inspirational, quiet reflection, ornate, classical beauty, and vivid color may describe any of our stained glass windows, but most definitely the beautiful window of Jesus praying in the garden.

1925 Newspaper Article

1925 Newspaper Article

From the Flora Journal-Record Industrial Edition 1925

     Accurate data concerning the earliest organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Flora, Illinois, is not definitely known.  From the best information attainable, there were Methodist people here, and Methodist services were held as early as 1854.  So the beginning of Methodism had its beginning with the founding of our beautiful city.

     True to their convictions of right and duty and the early training they received in the homes, from hence they came and with characteristic loyalty to God and church, to home and country, the little company of typical, pioneer Methodists, who had chosen Flora for their place of residence organized a class, thus forming the nucleus of the present First Methodist Episcopal Church.

     This class held its first service at the home of Noah B. Russell, paternal grandfather of Mrs. Ernest (Maude) Taylor, located on Vincennes Avenue and was later known as the Cassidy place.  Later the class was connected with the Maysville charge, and preaching was supplied by Rev. A. Bliss and Rev. Jessup starting in 1854.  From this beginning, the class moved in 1856 into the old frame school house, the first frame school house built in Flora.  It was located on the northwest corner of West Third and North Elm.  Services were held in the little frame school house for approximately ten years.

     The Flora circuit was formed in 1860, with Rev. Jacob S. Moore, as pastor, who served a part of the year.  He then raised a company of volunteers and joined the Union forces in the Civil War.

     In 1863-1864 Flora was connected with the Mt. Erie charge and during this year, money for the erection of a church in Flora was begun.  Under the pastorate of Rev. R. H. Peters, $3000 was subscribed.  The old church on the corner of West Third and North Elm Streets, east of the first meeting place in the school building and on the site of the Earnest and Maude Taylor residence was built in 1865.  In 1866 Rev. S. L. Rea was the pastor.  The old site was one block west of the present church.  The membership soon numbered 200, and Flora was made a station separate from the circuit in 1866 under Rev. W. H. Corrington as pastor.

     Five members of the class who held series in the little old schoolhouse are yet living.  Only two of them reside in Flora now.  (in 1925) They are Mrs. T. H. Lowrey and Mr. Wesley S. Birch.

     Under the pastorate of W. D. Mabry the church was much improved.  A tower was built in front, large enough for a vestibule below and a pastor’s study above.

     In 1896 the tower, having been damaged in a storm, was taken down and improvements were made, such as new pews, ceiling and electric lighting, in all amounting to $1000.  That church served not only the Methodist congregation, but the public as well, for many years.

     Some time prior to the year 1913, the pastors and members knew that the old church had served its days of usefulness and was unsuitable for the needs of the increasing membership.  However, real active determined work for a new building suitable to the times, was not begun until 1913, when at the quarterly conference, held February 3, 1913, under the Rev. W. H. Poole, District Superintendent, the following building committee was appointed:  W. A. Karr, J. M. Boyles, A. E. Golden, C. E. Hemphill, and N. E. Prince.  The Board of Trustees, composed of Dr. J. M. Boyles, C. E. Hemphill, Mrs. B. M. Maxey, E. D. Hancock, A. G. Gaddis, W. A. Karr, A. E. Golden, H. C. Chaffin, and Wm Cunningham, realized the difficult task of raising the amount necessary, but they decided to do it.  The Ladies’ Aid came forward with a $5000 donation to begin with, to which they added thousands more and a large window.  Members put in memorial windows to loved ones and donated liberally.  The Sunday School classes donated and put in windows and even outsiders helped.

     The work started with misgivings upon the part of some, but none on the part of the committee, or the pastor, Dr. Flint, who gave all the time and ceaseless uncomplaining hard work required to erect and furnish the magnificent building dedicated to the worship of God.  This dedication was on Sunday December 6, 1914.  A structure that will be a monument to the trustees, building committee, and to Dr. Flint, who in his Christ-like spirit dealt with all problems and differences in a quiet yet forceful manner; to all members and all who gave aid, a pride to Flora, an untold good to those who live here today and their children and strangers who will come to abide with us.

     The amount necessary to dedication, having been raised, the church was formally dedicated by Dr. F. C. Iliff, of Denver, Colorado.  His masterly sermon on “immortality” made a deep impression on all present.  The choir rendered a fine song service, and the day was one of great rejoicing to all.

     The dedication was of unusual interest to Mrs. T. H. Lowrey, she having been a member when the former church was built and dedicated 49 years ago.  She was also one of the committee who prepared the history of the church, placed in the cornerstone.  It was regretted by all that Dr. Thrall, who was the pastor just before Dr. Flint, could not be present at the dedication.  His pastorate in Flora was a memorable one, lasting nine years, a record made by no other Methodist pastor in Southern Illinois at that time. (1925)  Dr. Thrall was an eloquent preacher and made the address at the laying of the cornerstone on April 28, 1914.  His address was powerful and was built upon six words:  Beginnings, Body, Foundations, Unity, Spirituality, and Eternity.  Among other fine things, he spoke these words of comfort and inspiration; “because of your prayers, your sacrifices, your tears, some wanderer out of the famine land of sin and loneliness and death will find his way and listen to the message there that will charm him back to his Father’s house.  Will that not be reward enough?  Will any of you be content to do less than God would have you do to perpetuate his work?”

     The present building is modern and beautiful.  It is situated two blocks north of the main business section of the city, just across the street from the library.  It is built of brick and stone, the former of a beautiful light brown glazed brick, with lighter shading and trimmed with white glazed brick, which will stand the ravages of time.

     It has a basement, well furnished, which is used for banquets, classrooms, church, and social functions.

     During the pastorate of W. I. Terhune, our former pastor, and through his efforts and those of his wife, who is an able pipe organist, a fine pipe organ was purchased and dedicated.  Robert Gray and the Ladies’ Aid gave the money to make it possible to purchase the organ at this time.  It bears two memorial tablets one to Mrs. Robert Gray and the other to the Ladies’ Aid.  It adds greatly to the worship.  The church, at the present time, is in a prosperous condition with a large instructive Sunday School under the superintendency of C. E. Gibson.  The Ladies’ Aid with Mrs. C. S. Mitchell as president, renders invaluable service to the welfare of the church upon all occasions.

     There are two missionary societies, the Woman’s Foreign, with Mrs. Karr as president and the Woman’s Home with Mary Lowery Hanna, president.

     Our present pastor is Rev. J. B. Johnson, an earnest, spiritual minister.  Under his leadership the church is pushing forward in all good works in helping needy humanity to come to know the Savior and find eternal life.  His sermons have the rare power of reaching to the heats of his hearers, as he depicts the Book of Life.  His charming wife labors indefatigably in the interest of her helpmate’s pastorate.  Hers is the gift of whole-souled ability to make the stranger feel welcome within the gates.  So ends the story of the First Methodist Church to the present day.  (1925)  May it go on; ever increasing its strength spiritually, for in the words of our beloved founder, John Wesley, “The best of all is God is with us.”

Author unknown 1925

Children & Youth Choir abt 1975

Children & Youth Choir abt 1975