Church History

History of Our Church

The foundations of the Woodward United Methodist Church dates back to 1850, only four years after Iowa became a state. In that year a small class was formed at the home of Jeduthan Waldo, a licensed lay reader in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Waldo was a landowner and the first schoolteacher in the area, which became known as Xenia in 1856. Services were conducted by circuit riders Rev. Ockerman and Rev. Hare who covered the area along the Des Moines River from Fort Des Moines to Boonesboro and Ogden.

            The first regular services were held in 1851, with Rev. Charles Haun from the Adel mission. Early services were held in groves and homes and later in the school that was built in 1852. A second class was formed in 1853 at the home of Isaac Robbins. This group built Robbins Chapel.

            The first class in Xenia continued with Rev. Enoch Woods as pastor in 1853, T.D. Boyle in 1854-1855, R.M. Donohue in 1856 and A.E. Johnson and G.W. Todd as joint pastors in 1857. In 1860, G.S. Nichols was pastor and sent the first known statistical report.

            In 1861, a building program was begun. The church known as “Old Ship Zion” was the center for religious services for twenty years. Pastors at “Old Ship Zion” included H.H. Badley, 1862;Sanford Haines and B.R. Wright, 1863, James Lisle, 1865; T.J. Levani, 1866-67; W.C. Martin, 1868. W.W. Browning, 1869-70; H.H. Jones 1871; Leonard Gee, 1872; R.J. Osborn, 1873-74; B.J. Shettely, 1875; Wm. Abraham, 1876-77; W.C. Smith, 1878-79;A. Kern, 1880 and J.E. Nichol in 1881.

            In 1881, the Milwaukee Railroad built a station at Colton, (now Woodward) and the town was laid out. The old church in Xenia was sold and two lots were purchased in Colton. The foundation for a church was laid in May of 1882 and was completed that fall on the site where our church now stands. In 1882 the name of the charge was changed from “Old Ship Zion: to Woodward. A parsonage was ordered built by Pastor Wm. Stevenson who built most of it himself.

Pastors and major events from 1882

1882 – J.H. Hall

1882-84 – Wm. Stevenson

1884-85 – W.T. Mark

1886-87 – C.W. Anderson

1888 – F.M. Slusser – first Sunday school

1889 – A. Ostrander

1890-91 – S.E. Brown –church gallery taken out and other improvements made

1892 – C.G. Grantham

1893 – S.O. Elliott

1894-95 – S.A. Roberts

1896-98 – J.E. Bryan

1898 – Alfred Knoll

1899 – A.J. Matthews

1900-1902 – J.C. Hall

1902-03 – J.F. Gibson

1903-05 – A.W. Harned

1905-08 – R.E. Harvey – 1907 – new church erected

1908 – O.F. Shaw – new church dedicated

1909-1911 – W.H. Larrick

1912 – J.S. Boreman

1913-16 – J.H. Beveridge – 1913- parsonage renovated and church basement enlarged

1916-17 – F.S. Conrey

1918-21 – E.L. Bellows

1921-26 – H.P. Young – new parsonage purchased

1926-29 – J.H. Finley

1929-33 – F.A. Smith

1933-38 – Harry Coates

1938-41 – Wm. F. Overhulser – 1939 – the three branches of Methodism united to form the Methodist Church and the ladies groups merged to form the Women’s Society of Christian Services

1941-44 – J.H. Krenmeyer

1944-52 – Glenn D. Toole

1952-56 – Warren Meredith – 1946-56 – improvements and redecorating the church and basement

1956-60 – John W. Darlington – 1959 educational wing and fellowship hall and new kitchen completed

1960-63 – Lester J. Hancock

1964-70 – John A. Robinson – 1965 – the sanctuary was remodeled and redecorated and extensive repairs made to the parsonage

1969 – the Methodists and the Evangelical United Brethren united to form the United Methodist Church

1970-78 – Robert Jones – 1973 Women’s Society of Christian Services reorganized to form United Methodist Women

1978-1982 – Wayne Kamm left the UMC sometime after leaving Woodward and became an Episcopal priest.  He retired a couple of years ago and now lives in Newton.– 1978-80 parsonage redecorated and improvements made

1979 – Lil’ Sprouts’ Mission day care and preschool established

1982-87 – Mark Lieder – 1983 – present church building started and completed in 1984

1987-96 – David Ohrt

1996-99 – Bonifacio Mequi is retired and living in Killeen, Texas. -improvements made to parsonage

1999- 2005 – Clarence (Clare) DeBoef retired this year at Annual Conference.  He lives in West Des Moines.

2005-10 – Benjamin Allen-Carter lives in Stuart.  He serves part-time as pastor of Macksburg and Hebron UMC’s, is adjunct faculty at DMACC, and also is the manager at Build-a-Bear Workshop.

2010-13 – Nan Geske Smith is now serving Hope UMC in Marshalltown.– First woman minister in our church

2013- Present – Dale A. Schoening

© 2024 Woodward United Methodist Church
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