History of the Methodist Church in Lincoln County

The Lincoln United Methodist Church is celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2020, and what follows is an article from the Lincoln Sentinel-Republican of the history of the Lincoln church, along with the other Methodist churches in the county that have been combined with Lincoln over 150 years. 

The Methodist church got its start in the county the same year the county was founded. On December 18, 1870, 28 people gathered in the home of T.A. Matthews to hear him read a sermon from a series written by Bishop Morris. This was the first gathering of what would become Lincoln county’s Methodist congregation.

The following year is credited for officially founding the church in the county. In January of 1871 a Salina minister, Rev. J.N. Bartells, preached at Schermerhorn’s Store on Elkhart Creek to a gathering of 40 people. A few months later Bartells was appointed to the Salina Circuit which included Saline, Ellsworth, McPherson and Lincoln counties, and preached in Lincoln at the home of Herman Kingsley in early April. That evening Rev. Bartells preached at Abram and the first Methodist Episcopal church was organized with thirteen members. Charter members of the church included Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Parker, Mr. and Mrs. T.D. Farnsworth, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Schofield, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Schofield, Mr. and Mrs. T.A. Matthews, Mrs. Kingsley, Mrs. Mary Buzick and Enos Matthews. T.A. Matthews served as leader of the congregation and J.C. Parker served as steward.

For several years the church met at the Abram store, Schermerhorn’s store, and in various homes. When the Presbyterian church was built in 1879, all the organizations met in that building for worship services. In 1885 the church built its first building at the corner of Fourth and School, which serves its congregation to this day. The original church was a white frame structure, built at a total cost of $1,535. Only five years later the congregation had grown to the number of 197 and the building was enlarged, and a choir loft and belfry were added. An annex for the Sunday School was built south of this frame church in 1912.

Organizations within the church include the Women’s Society of Christian Service and Wesleyan Service Guild.

With passing years and a constantly growing membership, plans were made to build the present-day brick structure. The complete church with beautiful stained-glass windows was dedicated Sept. 10, 1916, at a cost of $25,000. Improvements to the present church have been made throughout the years. Sanctuary remodeling was done in 1940 and again in the 1960s. An air conditioner was a gift in 1957 and memorial gifts provided a speaker system last year. In 1953 a house located at 101 E. Lost St. was purchased, remodeled, and relocated for use as a church parsonage. Recent improvements to the building include replacement and restoration of the stained glass.

The Barnard Church first appears in the list of conference appointments in 1888. At the close of the first year, pastor G.P. Miller reported 75 full members and 35 probationers and a Sunday School with 100 students.

The Sylvan Grove Methodist Church was issued a charter in February of 1888. The directors were H.S. Buzick, Sr., John F. Seirer, W. H. Pilcher and A.B. Cross, all of Sylvan Grove, and S.W. Bard and J.S. Kaufman of Wilson. Their white frame building included a bell tower and was constructed in 1892.

According to A History of Methodism in Northwest Kansas written by William Henry Sweet, Mr. Buzick was the driving force in organization of the church, giving both time and money for the church to be built.

The Sylvan Grove church became the pastorate for many preachers just starting out. Rev. M.R. Starbuck served the congregation for the longest period. Active in the church at the turn of the century were Sunday School superintendent William Coover; Mrs. Herman Blythe who served as president of the Women’s Missionary Society and led the group to double its membership and Mrs. William Booz who led the Ladies’ Aid society and achieved success in the work of the organization. The church continued its work until the members voted to merge with the Presbyterian church in the 1930s.

In 1898 the Methodist Church of Beverly was built on Main Street. Members of the church in the 1870s and 1880s included Dora Webb, James Bell, Fred Skinner, Tom Skinner, George Ingham, John Bell, John Shaver, and others.

The Prairie Grove church was dedicated in 1905 and the Ash Grove church was dedicated in 1906.

When the Prairie Grove Methodist Church disbanded in 1953 many of its members united with the local church. In 1967 it was proposed that the Lincoln Church share a minister with the Beverly Methodist Church and both churches agreed to this arrangement.

The Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church nationally and the name was changed to the United Methodist Church in 1968.

In 1971, the centennial year observance included the return of former pastors on designated Sundays.

Sunday, May 16, 1971 was designated as Centennial Sunday and the Bishop of the Kansas Area, Bishop W. McFerrin Stowe, was the guest speaker at the morning worship service. An “Old Fashioned Sunday School Hour” preceded the worship service. Centennial costumes were worn Centennial Sunday to add to the festivities. Displays of pictures, furniture and other items pertaining to church history were also shown. An afternoon program including an historical skit and special music followed the basket dinner in Fellowship Hall. Many former members and friends who live away from our community attended and celebrated this day of “A Century of Faith” for the United Methodist Church.

Lincoln United Methodist Church, pastored by Pastors Kaye and Jeff Metzler, now serves all Methodist congregations in Lincoln County known as the Lincoln County Cluster. The church continues to serve its congregations in ways that allow worship. With the recent stay-at-home order, the Pastors Metzler are conducting worship services on-line. They reach out to community members who are not members of their congregation as well, with the operation of the county’s Food Bank, the community garden The Radish Patch, and the willingness to minister to anyone in need physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

By Jyll Phillips, for the Lincoln Sentinel


Additional notes:

Pastor Kaye Metzler was the first female pastor of the Methodist churches in Lincoln County.

The Lincoln County Cluster combined seven local Methodist churches in 2003.

The Lincoln United Methodist Church building is the biggest church building in Lincoln County.

The recently restored stained glass windows tell many stories, and there are plans to share more information and photos about each of those windows as the Sesquicentennial year progresses!

You can find the Post Rock Cluster United Methodist Churches on Facebook.