Morrice UMC History

MORRICE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH HISTORY

JULY 2012

 

This “bare bones” history was first written in 1999 and is not properly footnoted. Some of the sources used were “History of Shiawassee and Clinton Counties, Michigan, 1880”, interviews, previous history articles, memories and records of meeting minutes when available. Readers who wish to know more about the history of the village of Morrice are directed to the website www.morrice.mi.us and a history written by Mr. Paul LeValley. Many records prior to 1950 were not available to me in 1999, possibly destroyed in a fire at the Perry ME Church and/or parsonage. Records beginning in approximately 1951 are much more complete. As with all histories, revisions and changes occur daily. Please feel free to make me aware of corrections or additions you feel should be made. Nina Mortimore

 

The Morrice United Methodist Church has been a part of the Morrice area since it was organized as a Methodist Episcopal Society in 1865. The Rev. J.R. Gordon enrolled seven members. The names of those enrolled were: Mr. and Mrs. H.A. McKnight, Mr. and Mrs. James Davis, Mr. and Mrs. Ely and Mary Davis. The first meetings were held at the Purdy School house located at the southeast corner of what is now Britton and Morrice Roads.

 

The Methodist and Baptist Societies contributed to the construction of the Presbyterian Church (later known as the Community Hall) when it was built in 1878. Those societies therefore had use of the building on alternate Sundays.

 

Other meeting places were used until the present brick building was constructed in 1887. The approximate cost of the cross-shaped building was $5000 with the brick manufactured at the Morrice brick factory. The church has a basement. In 1955, the basement was enlarged with a modern kitchen and in 1956, the main floor addition was completed above the kitchen. These changes were made in part to help the Morrice schools. This area includes two rest rooms, several storage cupboards and presently houses the copier. A redecoration of the rest of the building took place with a dedication ceremony in 1958.

 

The interior has been redecorated numerous times. During the 1960's, paneling was installed on the lower sections of the walls, carpeting for the aisles and platform installed in 1961, pews replaced theater-type chairs in 1967, communion rails, altar chairs and a pulpit were purchased by 1968. New wiring and lights were installed in 1969. In the 1970's, flower stands, flags and other furnishings, including carpeting for the entire sanctuary were added. The parking area was paved in 1974. By 1979, the walls were insulated and a wall covering was placed on the area above the paneling with woodwork being stained. The belfry was fixed so the bell could be rung the same year. Ceiling fans for the sanctuary were added in 1982 and 1983-4 saw an enclosure for the southwest (main) entry built. The years 1992-94 brought another major redecoration to the building which included: removal of the paneling stripping the woodwork, new drywall and fresh coats of paint on the ceiling and walls. Although a ramp into the sanctuary had been discussed as early as 1969, one was not built until 1992 at the northwest entrance. That same year the basement was painted and carpeted. The roof over the sanctuary was redone in 1997. The steeple was repaired with new shingles in 2009. The kitchen received a new ceiling, lights, paint and other updates in 2010. A new sound system for the sanctuary was purchased in 2010 and speakers in 2011.

 

The parsonage is located next to the church and was built in 1889. Originally a barn was on the parsonage grounds but was torn down in about 1962 and a garage was built using some of the original lumber. The parsonage has gone through a number of renovations. A major remodeling job occurred in 1972. A bathroom on the main floor was built in 1981 and new siding was installed in 1989-1990 and re-roofed in 1997. During 1932-51 and part of 1980, the parsonage was rented out because a minister was not in residence. In December of 2011, the parsonage was again rented.

 

At times, the Morrice church has been on a 2-point charge (minister serves two churches) sometimes a 3-point charge. From 1871-1888, Morrice and Perry were a two-point charge. In 1888 Morrice became a 2-point charge with Antrim (located at Glass River Cemetery) until 1915. and again 1925-1929. From 1915-1919, Morrice was on with Nicholson. Morrice was a one-point charge from 1919-1926 and 1929-1932. In 1932, Morrice became a part of 3-point charge with Perry and Shaftsburg with the pastor living in Perry. In 1951, Morrice and Bennington became a 2-point charge with the parsonage in Morrice. In June 1972, Pittsburg came on to make a three-point charge. In 2005, Bennington UMC closed and a realignment occurred with Morrice on a three-point charge with Pittsburg and Bancroft. In 2011, another realignment occurred with Morrice sharing a part-time pastor with Bancroft with the parsonage becoming vacant at that time.

 

A woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal church was organized in May of 1880 with a membership of thirty. A Ladies' Aid Society was in existence in 1912. Records from the 1930's show this group was very active and helped with numerous bills and reaching out to the community . The record shows the Ladies' Aid Society served many dinners including Chamber of Commerce, FFA, Morrice Alumni, put on banquets and other public dinners and fundraisers.

 

In 1940, the Ladies' Aid Society was reorganized by the Methodist Church into the Women's Society of Christian Service, better known as the WSCS. They continued their work on behalf of the church and community, meeting 1-2 times per month in the afternoon. In 1942, they were notified in case of an air raid, they may be called on to serve something to eat.

 

By 1952, two different groups of ladies were meeting to accommodate those who worked outside the home by meeting in the evenings. Membership at this time was about 40-50 total for the two groups. By 1958, these two groups merged so the ladies could meet together in the evening. In about 1973, another name change happened and the group became known as United Methodist Women (UMW). This group continues to support mission projects, the church and community events. For many years they have served salad luncheons and other dinners.

 

The men of the church have had various meetings and projects throughout the years. It wasn't until 1975 that a group was formally organized as the United Methodist Men (UMM). Their support of the community and the church is appreciated. They have stepped into the kitchen and cooked Easter Sunrise breakfast many times. This is in addition to their expertise at making repairs or collecting for mission projects. For a number of years, they were responsible for cleaning a portion of I-69, east of Perry. They are known in the community for sponsoring monthly Recycling Days in which they collect newspapers and take them to be recycled for insulation.

 

The young people have been an integral part of the Morrice church. A Methodist Sunday School was organized in 1885. At times, a junior church has been a program offered during the worship service. Several times, junior choirs were formed and performed at Sunday worship and special programs. After school programs have been held at different times, the most recent during the 1990's when the “Kid's Club” met weekly after school.

 

In 1974, Rev. Terry Euper became dean at one of the Bay Shore Camps in Sebewaing. The church has had an affiliation with the camp since then, first joining the Bay Shore Association in 1976 and sending many young people as campers, counselors and other staff.

 

Groups for teenagers have been organized throughout the years. Records show an Epworth league in existence in 1912. Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) groups have been organized many times. Sometimes these groups were combined with youth of the other churches, especially Bennington and Pittsburg and lastly with participation from youth from Bancroft. These groups have stressed fellowship, service, fund raising with singing and fun mixed in. These groups have traveled to meetings, music festivals, concerts, retreats and other activities.

 

Music is a part of every service and choirs of all ages have participated. In 1964, a new piano and new organ were purchased. The organ was replaced in 1991 but the piano is still in use in 2012. Numerous music groups have performed and many compliments have been received on the acoustics of the sanctuary. The original high ceiling and open area are praised.

 

In 1956, Morrice schools called upon the church to alleviate a shortage of classrooms. The basement was rented and one kindergarten class under the direction of Mrs. Fugimoto met on the north side and Mrs. Ruth Jarrad had a 1st grade class on the south side. Mrs. Jarrad was a member of the church.

 

Many groups have used the building for meetings, fund raisers, public awareness, and other reasons. These groups include: Morrice Woman's Club, Perry Rebekahs, 4-H Clubs, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and American Red Cross blood drives.

 

The church members have, in addition to all the groups already mentioned, held Bible studies, prayer groups, family nights, suppers and programs, concerts, special services, Easter Sunrise Service, Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and potlucks.

 

The Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968 so in 1969, became the Morrice United Methodist Church. There have been 40-50 pastors serve the church and a listing follows. Some were able to serve only a few months, some several years. The longest serving pastor was Charles Bamberger, Feb. 1981-June 1990. Occasionally the church has been without a pastor for a few months. During those times, lay speakers and interim pastors have filled the pulpit.

 

The church members have participated in many community events. They have participated in parades, winning a first place trophy for float decoration in the Morrice Centennial Parade in 1984. More recently they have sponsored a bicycle decorating contest during the summer Homecoming celebration and had floats in both the summer celebration and the fall school parade. In 2011, they took over the village Halloween party and in 2012 had an Easter egg hunt on the church lawn. In 2010, they began sponsoring the annual “Buck Pole” on opening day of firearm deer season.

 

The list of missions and missionaries helped by members of the Morrice UMC would be too extensive to list. Since about 2004, the Morrice UMC has been recognized as a “Spotlight Church” by the Detroit Conference. To receive this designation, the church must meet several criteria for mission giving at local, state, national and international levels.

 

The future of the Morrice UMC looks toward changing to new technology. Already a website and Facebook sites have been established. New avenues for reaching the community and new services are being planned so future growth can take place at the little church on the corner of Main and 1st streets.

 

 

LIST OF PASTORS SERVING AT MORRICE

1865 J.R. Gordon (records incomplete until 1871)

1871-3 Harvey Hodskiss

1874-5 George Stowe

1876 W.M. Campbell

1877-9 John J. Hodge

1880-2 Frederick S. Strong

1883-5 John Hamilton

1886-8 J. W. Kennedy

1889-93 W. Benson

1894-7 C. W. Barnum

1898-1902 Samuel Graves

1903-5 J.B. Wallace

1906-8 A. J. Martin

1909-10 Fred Coates

1910-12 A.W. Wilson

1913-14 S.A. Carey

1915-16 W. J. Weidenhammer

1917-18 Robert Davies

1919-1920 U.G. Ostrander

1921-24 Herbert S. Johnson

1925-27 William P. Schlitt

1928 Thomas J. Stubbs

1929-30 E.H. Scott

1931-32 H. Harris

1932 J. Austin

1934-Nov. 34 H.A. Hudgins

1935-38 R.C. Johns

1938-40 Matt Mullins

1940 T. Eddy

1941-45 Clayton Oliver

June 45-June 1951 Robert Worgess

Morrice left Perry charge and joined to Bennington June 1951

July 1951-June 1955 Lloyd F. Merrell

July 1955-June 1960 Leon E. Dayringer

July 1960-June 1967 George F. Bolitho

July 1967 Richard North

Sept 1967-June 1972 Richard Andrus

Pittsburg added to Morrice and Bennington charge

July 1972-June 1976 Terry A. Euper

July 1976-June 1980 James and Margaret (Peggy) Paige (co-pastors)

Feb. 1981-June 1990 Charles Bamberger

July 1990-June1993 Donald Woolum

July 1993-June 1997 John H. Schneider, Jr.

July 1997-Feb. 1998 Penney Meints

June 1998-June 2004 Arthur Turner

Sept. 2004-June 2008 Jeremy T. Peters

In 2005, Bancroft replaced Bennington on the three-point charge

July 2008-June 2011 Jeremy P. Benton

In July 2011, Bancroft and Morrice placed on two-point charge

Aug. 2011-June 2015 Tricia Elliott

July 2015-March 2017 Robert Forsyth

April 2017-June 2017 Terry A. Euper (Interim Pastor)

July 2017 Coleen Wilsdon

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