History of the Church

Waterloo United Methodist Church 

Established 1854

The oldest continuing church in Waterloo, the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1854 as the Waterloo Circuit, a part of the Fall River District, Wisconsin Conference. The land for the first church, the site of today's church, was deeded by John Mosher to the trustees of the Methodist Church in 1854. The cornerstone of that church was laid in 1855 and, when the building was almost completed, a heavy windstorm totally destroyed it. Workers rebuilt the 30- by 40-foot church and it was dedicated in 1856. The Rev. S. W. Martin was minister and church membership was at 22.

The Rev. J. D. Requa served the congregation from 1860 to 1862, followed by a Rev. Cushing. During the ministry of the Rev. R. Blackburn from 1865 to 1866, the parsonage at Portland was sold to the German Methodists and the pastor moved to Waterloo. The church's first organ was purchased at that time. The Rev. J. V. Trennery served as pastor from 1882 to 1883, and when the Rev. Thomas Potter was pastor, from 1883 to 1885, the parsonage was moved adjacent to the church.

The building served the congregation until the Rev. John Wills called the trustees together March 1, 1892, and presented a new church building. Not in favor of the idea, the trustees set a requirement that at least $1,400 of the $2,000 estimated cost had to be pledged before work could begin. When Wills convened the trustees again on March 17, $2,050 had been raised and the building of the present church began.

The original church was sold to D. J. Hoyt for $75. The bell tolled for the last time Dec. 13, 1891. The bell for the new church (thought to be the one in use today) was a gift from a Norwegian bachelor, Kanute Jenson, who also gave enough money to purchase an organ.

The architect for the present church was Benjamin D. Price of Philadelphia and the contractor was W. H. Caradine of Albany. The contract price was $3,850, which didn't include seating, the furnace, or finishing of the basement. The cornerstone was placed on Aug. 13, 1892, and the building was dedicated on Nov. 27, 1892. A women's group, the Dorcas Society, raised money for the pews, and another group, the Needlecraft Society, bought the piano. Reports indicate the pulpit carpet was also purchased by the women of the congregation. The total cost of the new structure and its furnishings was $5,545.

During the ministry of the Rev. F. P. Rady from 1913 to 1915, a new pipe organ was given to the church in memory of William R. Roach. At a cost of $2,820, an addition was built on the south end of the church to house the organ.

By 1933, it was apparent the church furnace needed to be replaced. The ladies aid started a furnace fund and by 1940, the fund had grown to $1,100. An additional $1,000 was received from the estate of Mrs. George Seeber who also bequeathed the residue of her estate to the church. While it was agreed other repairs and improvements needed to be made to the building, the congregation had the reputation of never having been in debt and wanted to maintain this reputation.

H. C. Haeuser, an architect from Milwaukee, drew plans for the remodeling, which were approved by the congregation. The Seeber bequest ultimately totaled $11,000, with the ladies aid contributing $1,100 and Algenia Porter loaned the church $500. With this amount on hand, the trustees voted to go through with a $12,000 project. Excavation began on April 9.

World War II created a need for men and materials and soon there was a short of materials, which led the War Production Board to issue an order prohibiting all new construction on public buildings totaling more than $5,000. Much of the church's building program was repair so the cost could be kept under $5,000. In preparation for the construction of a new entrance to the church, the masons removed the cornerstone on July 27, 1942. A copper box was removed from the stone and contained a Bible owned by the pastor of the church when it was built; a discipline of 1888; a Methodist hymnal owned by the Rev. H. F. Knight, a former pastor of the church from 1887 to 1890; an Aug. 11, 1892, copy of the Christian Advocate; an Aug. 10, 1892, copy of the Northwestern Advocate; an Aug. 11, 1892, copy of The Waterloo Journal; an Aug. 12, 1892, copy of the Waterloo Democrat; and a brief historical record by Wills.

The 50th anniversary of the church and the dedication of the building renovation took place Nov. 22, 1942. Changes in the building included an addition to the southeast corner of the church for a side entrance to the basement and sanctuary and a new furnace in the basement. A vestry or study and a recessed area for the organ were located above the furnace room. The basement remodeling included two rest rooms and the southwest corner was changed to a fully equipped kitchen. The northwest corner was transformed into the primary room with a separate entrance from the outside. The basement was replastered and painted and the ceiling covered with Nu-wood tile. Changes in the upper level included a fully enclosed entrance and remodeling of the sanctuary.

In the chancel area, the organ was moved to a specially built room, with only the keyboard being above the floor. This made room for the new altar. A new lectern was installed and the pulpit was moved. Installation of the rose window completed the chancel area. All new furniture was given as gifts from members and new carpeting covered much of the floor. The sanctuary walls were covered with Nu-wood, the entrance was moved and a colonial-style door was added to the front.

On November 20, 1966, the church consecrated a two-story 4,200-square-foot educational wing addition. Legacies from the estates of William H. McCracken, Emmett J. McCracken, James T. Russell, Frank Trapp and Mrs. Clarence Cole, along with contributions from various church groups and individuals, made the addition possible. This addition, at a cost of $80,000, was built during the pastorate of the Rev. Ivan Poole, and included six classrooms and a pastor's study. The initial $35,000 was paid before the completion and a mortgage from Farmers & Merchants State Bank provided $45,000. The mortgage was to be paid in full by April 1976 and, on June 27, 1976, during the ministry of the Rev. Charles Starkweather, the mortgage was burned.

The parsonage remembered by present members was a two-story house located east of the present church, which was demolished in September 1977. The present parsonage at 516 Indian Hills Drive was purchased that year.

In 2004 the church celebrated its 150th anniversary. As the congregation is looking into the future, the main focus is to find ever new ways to reach out to the community and invite people into the loving relationship of Jesus Christ. In 2008 the following mission statement was developed and is the guiding rule in all the church does:

Our mission is to follow Jesus, grow in faith and share it with the community; accepting everyone, sharing our love and using our gifts.