The Lanark Methodist church had its beginning in Cherry Grove township in 1858 under the Reverend J. D. Brown. Services were held in two county school houses until 1860-1861 when it was decided to build a church building.

In October 1860 a lot was purchased from John Nycum located on what is now the south- east corner of the Lanark cemetery. A board of trustees was chosen, a building committee appointed, and work began on the new structure by David Wells, master builder. The structure was completed the next summer by Ed Ritter and William Frazey. It was dedicated in the fall of 1861 and cost about $1200.

Lanark had not been platted when the church was built and many thought the location was a poor choice but with the establishment of the town and the coming of the railroad this was changed.

In 1862 James Wheat agreed to move the building into town for $90. In a short time it was located at 224 East Locust Street and had a membership of 45.

When the church was moved into town, the land reverted back to Mrs. John Nycum who agreed to deed it to the trustees for a burial ground on condition that they sell enough burial lots to pay $80 for the lot in town and fence the land. This was done and the cemetery held by the trustees of the church until April 1, 1881 when it was conveyed to the City of Lanark to be used for a cemetery.

The dimensions of the old church are not known but an entry on the record book by Seth C. Wiley, secretary, June 9, 1867 said the attendance that day was 160 scholars and 20 teachers, a total of 180 and the house was too small.

A larger building seemed necessary and the first subscription was made by J. W. Garmong June 15, 1869. The Rev. A. Newton Trescott and Joseph Yeager were appointed the building committee and lots on the north side of Locust Street between Princess and High streets were purchased. The corner stone was laid about August 20, 1869 and bricks for the new edifice were made in the Lanark brick- yard.

The new church was dedicated on Sunday, January 8, 1871 by Rev. E. M. Harfield, Chicago. The church was among the finest in the state, excepting large cities, and cost $20,000. The society now had 125 members. The old church was taken over by another faith and called the Abrahamic Church until it was replaced by a residence.

Five years later on January 1, 1876 a storm destroyed the large spire and it was not until October that repairs were completed.

In 1888 new carpet was laid upstairs, new lights and a furnace installed. The first pipe organ used two years was purchased in Chicago and including installation cost $589. Emerson Harnish was the first organist. From then on until 1897 the church was remodeled, repaired and redecorated, and wired for electricity in 1897.

The Lanark grain elevator burned in May, 1901 and wind carried burning embers into the church belfry. The west belfry fell in carrying the bell with it and the east belfry was badly burned but firemen were able to confine the fire to the area within the four brick walls of the towers preventing it from spreading to the rest of the building.

A new roof was put on and two new-style towers built. A bell weighing 1700 pounds was purchased at a cost of $310 to replace the one broken in the fall.

An extensive remodeling program costing $3300 was done both outside and in, in 1912. Included were: pebble dash on the exterior, carpet, steam boiler, light fixtures and outside double steps. The organ was rebuilt in 1955 at a cost of $2150 paid mostly by subscriptions.

In 1956 plans were started for remodeling and improvement to coincide with its centenial celebration. By June 17, $54,826.50 had been received and pledged. New chancel furniture, and pews, redecoration of the sanctuary, lights, and carpet, new floor in the church parlor, outside steps and walk a passenger elevator were among the improvements. Work began August 1 and was completed December 7.

At the present (1968) enrollment is 261. The Rev. John Vanscay is the present and forty-eights pastor.

Source: Goodly Heritage 1968

An updated History

During the tenure of Reverend William G. Johnson two telephone services were started: "Dial Devotions" and a counseling service. The "Dial Devotions" service is presently handled by the six ministers of the Lanark Community Religious Council.

A Cuban refugee family, the Frank Ramoses, was sponsored in 1962-63 and in 1968 the Johann Wiemero family of Finland was sponsored.

In 1966 the Sherman Brennaman home on East Franklin Street was purchased and remodeled for a parsonage, and the old parsonage was converted into an educational unit.

Several generous memorials made possible a number of gifts, among them chimes for the organ and an audio system with lavalier microphone for the sanctuary.

At Dallas, Texas on April 1968 the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist denominations merged to form the United Methodist Church. The Woman's Society of Christian Service is now known as United Methodist Women.

Lay men and women under the leadership of James Jones and Reverend Joe Gibbons worked four and a half months in 1973 redecorating the entire church. The sanctuary's rich, red walls caused the church to be referred to in the area as the church of red walls! The sanctuary had beams, pillars and one wall of paneling installed, and all the lumber was refinished by members who later built the beams, etc. Warren Waltrip of Thomson drafted all plans for the redecorating. Professional help was employed to install the ceiling, to repair and re-lead the stained windows, and to cover all windows outside with protective glass.

Present enrollment is 260

Probably from the Goodly Heritage = Issue Unknown


Illinois - "Our Way"