Glenville church to celebrate anniversary

Published 8:18 pm Thursday, September 27, 2018

A 140th anniversary celebration will take place at 9 a.m. Oct. 7 during the church service at Glenville United Methodist Church.

The church has a long history. In 1858, a small group of English settlers began the construction of the first church building in Shell Rock City, which has since been renamed Glenville, to house their Methodist congregation.

The Methodist congregation of Glenville pre-dates the 1878 construction of its sanctuary by 20 years. According to a press release, early church services took place in the first school and later in the Grange Hall. The lot on which the church stands was purchased from Olive Skinner and the deed was dated Feb. 25, 1878. The worth of the building was placed at $2,500. Before that, the land on which the church now stands was part of a farm entered for homestead ownership by John W. Smith on Nov. 1, 1856.

The presiding elder of this Minnesota Methodist Conference wrote in his 1878 reports, “At Freeborn a new church has been built and dedicated worth $1,000 and at Shell Rock City one so far advanced we used it for worship, worth $2,500. The crew that built the church was composed of masons William Jenkins, Bette Turbett and his father, John Turbette. The carpenters were Oliver Andres, G. D. Barron and a Mr. Hendrickson.”

Since then, several additions have been made, the largest being at the east end or back of the church, which was begun in 1961 and completed in 1962. The social hall consists of a kitchen, dining room, restrooms and a furnace room. The Rev. John White was pastor at the time.

In 1966, the congregation decided to beautify the inside of its church, and wood paneling was installed behind the altar, the ceiling was lowered, new lights were purchased and the aisle and altar were carpeted.

In 1971, while Gerritt Molenaar was pastor, congregation member Douglas Williamson started off a fund for a new narthex with a $1,500 donation. Work was started on the new narthex, containing an enclosed ramp leading to the sanctuary and steps to the church basement. The spire that originally topped the church steeple was struck by lightning. When repairs were made, the steeple was cut down to its present size. Several church people volunteered their time on this project, which was once again led by Vierkant.

The latest improvement called for the paneling of the remaining walls of the interior of the church and the varnishing of the wainscoting and window frames.

During a two-year period of time, the church was without a pastor. In the interim the congregation was served by numerous retired pastors and lay speakers from the Austin and Albert Lea area. The small, 34-member congregation stayed with the Glenville United Methodist Church and is now lead by the Rev. John P. Scherb.

After sustaining much interior and roof damage to the Narthex area in early 2017, it was decided to redesign the roof pitch and cover the entire church roof with steel. The social hall area of the church was changed from a flat roof to a gable design and also covered with steel roofing.