The first Methodist meetings were held in Sheldon, Iowa in the private home of D.H. McKay, but were not an organization that could be called a church. This was before the town started.
In 1872, when the town was very young, a Methodist minister, Rev. Ira Brashear came to Sheldon and preached in the unfinished depot of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha. It was better known later as the Omaha or Northwestern Depot. This stood where the freight depot now stands.
An organization was formed, and a regular pastor was appointed in 1873 and meetings were held in a small schoolhouse which stood where the museum now stands. The school was sold so the next meeting place was a Hall. Meetings were then held in the Opera House until a sanctuary was built in 1881.
During this time a date was made with a Chaplain McCabe to deliver a lecture on “The Bright Side of Life in Libby Prison.” He came to town on a freight train, not knowing he had missed receiving a cancellation date. Mr. J.A. Brown had some dodgers made and personally left one at each house in town, so the lecture was given as previously planned. At the close of the meeting the Chaplain raised a subscription of $1,500 toward building a Sanctuary. Chaplain McCabe later became Bishop McCabe.
The sanctuary was built on the present site, Eighth Street and Fifth Avenue, and Bishop McCabe presided at the dedication in September 1881. The cost was $4,500. During the period between 1897 and 1899, the foundation was laid for the second sanctuary.
In June 1899, ground was broken for a new sanctuary, and the corner stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies on August 22, 1899. The new edifice was completed and dedicated by Dr. B.I Ives on March 25, 1900.
The church mortgage of $2,500 was paid off and burned in 1906.
The first church was moved to the east side of the second church and the two joined, with the door opening to the north. The windows were left the same as in the original building. There was no balcony, so a new one was installed to match the one in the new church. Part of the former church was attached on the south to make an entrance to the study behind the pulpit. The east part of the former church was used for primary Sunday School rooms.
After the sanctuary was completed and the mortgage burned, the women were so inspired they struggled to rebuild and beautify the parsonage, which they did at a cost of $2,000 and in 1909 the entire property was debt free and second to none in the conference.
Many years ago, we were known as the Sheldon District and the District Superintendent resided in Sheldon at 716 5th Avenue. When J.H. Edge became District Superintendent, the District Headquarters were moved to Spencer and has since been known as the Spencer District.
In November 1933 a pipe organ was purchased from the Methodist German Church at LeMars, Iowa. This was a gift from Mrs. W.H. Myers, Mr. & Mrs. E.B. Myers, Mr. & Mrs. Loyal Myers, Dr. & Mrs. Frank Nelson and Dr. & Mrs. Lynn L. Myers. Formal dedication of the organ was on February 4, 1934. Presentation was made by Rev. F. Earl Burgess and the acceptancy by C.D. Jory. Mrs. Gladys Henderson served as organist and presented two numbers during the dedication. An organ recital was presented that evening, with noted organist, Faith Foster Woodruff of Sioux City presenting a concert.
After World War II the chimes were added as a memorial to the boys who “Gave their last full measure of devotion” to their country. A gold plaque now in the entrance of the sanctuary has the names of the boys from our congregation who were killed during World War II.
In 1959, Phase I of a three-part Building Project was started.
The building Crusade for the construction of a new educational building and fellowship hall was started. The Rev. Walter E. Hoover, Board of Home Missions of the Methodist Church assisted the local congregation and served as director of the crusade which was conducted from September 24 to October 6, 1959. The proposed building was to contain 13 classrooms, choir room, pastor’s study, church office and the fellowship hall to have a seating capacity of 225 persons.
On March 26, 1991 ground was broken and the educational building was constructed just east of the sanctuary. A house to the east was purchased and removed from the building site.
On January 7, 1962 the Educational Building was completed and consecration services were held. The building was dedicated on March 20, 1966 and the mortgage burned. Bishop James Thomas was present for the dedication service.
Prior to 1968 our church was known as First Methodist Episcopal, then First Methodist and following the General Conference at Dallas, Texas in 1968 was called United Methodist. At that time the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren Churches were united.
In April 1970 a vote was taken and at this time a Yokefield was organized between the Sheldon United Methodist Church and First Congregational UCC. This meant both churches operated under one pastor but shared their own finances and boards.
The Rev. Calvin Teasdale became the pastor and the first Yokefield service was held in the Congregational Sanctuary on 4th Avenue, Sunday, June 28, 1970.
In November 1970 a vote was taken to decide what should be done with the United Methodist Sanctuary as it was considered unsafe and it was completely razed in 1971.
In October 1970 work began on a new parsonage at 505 Eighth Street. The new brick parsonage was completed, and an open house held May 23, 1971 with over 400 attending. The former parsonage was rented for a year or two, but then sold and moved off of the lot, making room for a new parking lot.
Ground was broken July 31, 1977 for a new United Methodist Sanctuary. On October 22, 1978 the congregation walked in procession from the UCC Church to the new building. Consecration services and open house were held November 5, 1978.
After the Yokefield was dissolved many of the UCC members became members of the United Methodist Church.
In 1987 there was a great need to install an elevator, as many of the residents from Village Northwest Unlimited were attending services and could not participate in any functions in the basement. An elevator was installed, and the entry enlarged with the entrance facing the east.
As our church grew there was a need for room in Sunday School and an associate pastor was added.
On June 28, 1992 ground was broken for construction of the new addition to the sanctuary and educational building.
The new addition made room for the pastor’s study and secretary’s office and nursery was to the east of the entrance on the first floor. A stairway was added leading to the basement, making entrance easier from the sanctuary. On the upper level a beautiful chapel was completed and fellowship hall was enlarged, with a multi purpose room and also making room for many more Sunday School rooms.
With the completion of the sanctuary and new addition, this ended the three phase building project.
In 1994 a vote was taken to purchase the land and buildings just east of our United Methodist lot, which was owned by the Church of Christ. The buildings were burned September 10, 1994.
As we celebrate our 125th Anniversary, we thank our Lord for His guidance through these many years.