History of the E. R. Dodd memorial Emily Wesleyan Methodist Church 1939-2014
This history is really a record of God’s power working through dedicated people who did not have much of this world’s goods, but a great love for the lord, and people’s souls. Their desire was to help people come to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
To have an accurate account of the church, we need to refer back to the Wesleyan Methodist church of Little Pine, about 7 miles east of Emily. It was organized in 1916. A man, by the name of Reeve, preached there at the time, and an evangelist, by the name of E. R. Dodd, held services there also. Rev. Dodd walked the roads of this area before 1920, praying for people to be saved, and would preach to anyone who would listen. Some of those saved around that time were, Glen Hite, Leota Hite, and Phoebe Lingwall. Charter members of Little Pine were Mr. And Mrs. Frank Huff, Mrs. Robert Kagel, Otto Fletcher and Mrs. C.O. Bush.
The Little Pine Church was instrumental in mentoring some of the new Christians who lived in Emily, and either walked or found some other way to go to services out there.
In August of 1939, the Iowa/MN district of the Wesleyan Methodist church held a tent revival in Emily. It started on August 20th, and closed Sept.17th. On the 13th, Rev. Clarence Budenseik, the district superintendent, came up and officially organized the body of believers who wanted a Wesleyan Methodist church in Emily. Charter members were: Mel and Dolly Brannan, Ethyl Taylor, Edwin Taylor, Ivan Olson, Charles and Lena Todd, Glen and Myrtle Hite, Glen Hite jr., Lois Hite, Lucile Hite, Stacy Huff, Earl and Anita Jones, Agnes Sullivan, and Jeanne Sullivan. Lois Hite Fletcher is the only living charter member who still worships at Emily. Lucile Hite Cyr is still living, and attends a church in Kansas.
For one year after organizing the church, Sunday worship services, and Sunday school,
were held in the home of Glen and Myrtle Hite. The pastor at Little Pine, Rev. Paul R. Davis, after preaching at his church, would come in and preach for the Emily congregation. At times, as many as 40 people crowded into the living room. Wednesday evening meetings were held in other homes. The first prayer meeting was held at the Earl Jones home. They held a short business meeting, and voted to give Rev. Davis 70% of offerings, and put 30% into a building fund. The second prayer meeting was held at the Sullivan home, after which they elected Sunday school officers.
On Dec. 1st, 1939, Glen and Junior Hite laid out plans for digging the basement for the first church. The location was south of where the present church stands, closer to the road. On Dec. 4th, Rev Davis had the deed recorded. On the 7th, with the help of several men, the basement was dug. Then, from Dec. 8th-10th, Rev. Davis, Paul Fletcher, and Glen Hite put in forms for the walls of the basement.
Mel Brannan hauled in rocks, gravel, and 40 sacks of cement. On Dec. 11th, 1939, the cement walls were poured. Through the next nine months, construction continued. Many of the large logs, for the heavy timbers, were donated by the Winegarner brothers, and the rest of the lumber was sawed and planed from timber that was purchased from a local 40 acre tract. Most of the labor was donated. First, the basement was finished off, and the upstairs shell constructed. The last Sunday of Sept., 1940, the first worship service was held in the basement. The upstairs was finished enough to have Christmas services that year, and the church was filled to capacity. The first church was completed and dedicated on June 20th, 1941.
In 1944, the house and lot directly north of the church was purchased for a parsonage, making it possible to have a resident pastor. Through the years, the following pastors served the Emily church: 1939-1942: Rev. Paul R. Davis. 1942-1944: Rev. Wm. Goldsmith. 1944-1946: Rev. Harold Scoggins. Part of 1946: Rev. Chas. Mason. 1946-1949: Rev. Wm. Judkins. 1949-1952: Rev. Wm. Popinga. 1952-1956: Rev. Daniel Huffman. 1956-1968: Rev. Arnold Nabholz. After Rev. Nabholz came to pastor, the church purchased the old Emily hotel from the city. Rev. Nabholz and some of the men from the church tore it down, and used the material to erect a fellowship hall. It was used a lot, and truly appreciated.
Then in 1964, because of the need for more room, the members voted to build a new church. Swenson builders of Pine River were contracted to do the building. On June 13th, 1965, the last worship service, in the old church, was held, the last prayer meeting, on the 16th. On Friday, June 18th, the men finished the cleanup, and installed the new pews. Sunday, June 20th, 1965, the first morning service was held, with 105 in attendance. 50 attended in the evening. On July 4th, 1965, the church was dedicated, with 300 attending the morning service, 250 in the after-noon, and 150 in the evening. In 1966, the Little Pine church voted to merge with the Emily church. It was approved by the district, and both congregations felt it was a good move.
The former church building was then renovated to construct a parsonage across the highway. Rev. Nabholz took the lead on that construction project. On April 2nd, 1968, he informed the church at a business meeting that his family would be leaving by June 1st, to go as missionaries to the Philippines. As it turned out, they didn’t get their visas until august. The Nabholz’s were much loved by the Emily congregation. “For their down-to-earth walk with the lord, and his preaching truth”. When he resigned, he recommended Rev. James Slye to the congregation.
The church called the Slyes in August, 1968, and they pastored for 28 years at Emily. The new parsonage was not completely finished when the Slyes came, but by July of 1969, it was ready to be dedicated on July 4th, which was anniversary Sunday.
Under pastor Slye’s leadership, the lots north of the church were purchased for $3000.00, in 1973. In 1978, the lot south of the church was purchased for $1000.00, and the parking lot blacktopped. In 1979, the mortgage on the church was paid off, and in 1984, the church purchased the 16½ acres west of the church for $25000.00. Many other projects were completed, including custom built cupboards in the parsonage.
In June of 1988, the church voted to launch into another major building project. This included an enlarged foyer, church offices, pastor’s study, fellowship hall and kitchen. After much labor by Pastor Slye, many men of the church, and some hired labor, this building project was completed by June of 1990. The old fellowship hall was sold to Kenneth Yarkey, who moved it across the highway, and north about a block. He later sold it to John Stern, and it now part of the “Sweets and Such” store.
On July 1st, 1990, the 51st anniversary of the church was observed in the new facilities, with an all day celebration. The district supt., Rev. Richard Ernst, gave the message, and dedicated the new facility, followed by an all-church pot-luck dinner. There was an open-house from 2 to 4 p.m., and a concert in the evening with local church talent.
When the Slyes retired in 1996, the church called Rev. Jeff Fradenburgh, and family to pastor. They pastored for nearly 8 years, and then moved to Indiana. The church then called Rev. Steven Dow. After less than two years, he and his family moved to Bristol, South Dakota.
For several months, the church prayed, and searched for a pastor, and at the encouragement from the district superintendent, Pastor Jeff Drake contacted the church board. He was invited to come and visit with them, and then was asked to bring the message one Sunday. The church voted unanimously to call him to pastor. He, his wife and boys, accepted, and began their ministry at Emily in October, 2006. Both pastor, and his wife, Linda, are greatly gifted musically, and in many other ways.
Under Pastor Jeff’s leadership, the church voted to build an addition on the west side of the fellowship hall, and kitchen. The kitchen was renovated to meet state standards for serving meals, by installing a sterilizing dishwasher, and other equipment. This has allowed the church to provide facilities for what is known as the “Care’n Share” café, where free meals are served every Wednesday evening. Many of its volunteers, and some of the board members, are members of Emily Wesleyan church, but members of other churches, and the community, join in preparing and serving the meals, at the church, and also delivering to some homes.
Every pastor who has ministered here has brought his own gifts, and talents, which the Lord has used as He saw fit. In spite of several times when there was a disagreement about something, or hard times, financially, or we badly needed revival, the Lord has remained faithful to draw us together again, provided above and beyond what we could ask or think, and healed many situations that seemed beyond healing.
Methods may change, circumstances may change, but God’s word is very firm on the fact that He never changes, and the way to know Him will never change. Jesus will always be the way, the truth, and the life. May that remain our message for as long as we are privileged to be a church! And may the Lord remain our “strong god, strong foundation, and strong tower.” Prov. 18:10
Submitted by Donna Hite (2014)
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