Methodist Church

By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

The 125th anniversary of the Manchester Methodist Church on West Main Street was celebrated in October, 1964.

Earliest records of Methodism in the area show Manchester belonging to a Tecumseh circuit which reached as far west as Coidwater and included 27 preaching places.

Washtenaw County was practically a wilderness with no railroads. Hardships were on every hand. The first church society was organized with nine members in a log house owned by Gilbert Rowe in Sharon Township. The Rev. E. H. Pilcher was organizer.

In 1831, Amasa Gillett donated the beautiful "burr oak" grove as a site for a Methodist Church, but the building was not erected for another 15 years.

The building, known as the "Sharon Center" Church was built by the Congregationalists in 1848, and later purchased by Methodists. This building was used until destroyed by a cyclone, June 7, 1917. At that time many of its members joined the local Methodist Church.

The Manchester Methodist Church is the combination of these early churches.

The first Methodist Church was organized in 1839 with the Rev. George Bradley the pastor and Samuel Doty the class leader. This first meeting house was erected on Beaufort Street and cost $1,600. Most of it was brought "piece meal" from Sharon Township's Rowes Corners Church.

By 1866 the valuation of the Manchester Methodist Church was $8,000 and the Sharon Methodist, belonging to the same circuit was $3,000. In 1868, the Rev. J. W. Scott divided the two and made Manchester a station alone.

Pews or "slips" as they were called were rented by parishoners. Fifty-two were rented and 12 were free. The Sunday School library had 665 volumes and by 1876 the average attendance at Sunday school was 98.

The Beaufort Street Church was used until 1892 when the frame of the building deteriorated so much that services were held in the Presbyterian Church. In 1893 the Methodists bought that church.

The bell that rings in St. Mary's Catholic Church every Sunday hung in that Presbyterian Church which the Methodists bought in 1893.

John Moran circulated a subscription to raise money for the bell and it was blessed by Fr. Ternes. This friendly atmosphere between the churches exists today.

A new pipe organ was given in 1928 by the three grandsons of Dr. W. H. Bessac in his memory.

Largest of gifts to the church was one for $18,000 from the estate of Mr. and Mrs. George Gott. This made it possible for the church hall addition to be built.

Pastor at the Methodist Church is the Rev. Oscar Cooper.