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For 125 years, we have been a church in the community with Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors. Our church has a rich history of community leaders who embody what it means to be a Christian disciple by how they have lived out their beliefs in their daily lives. We have challenged ourselves through God’s teachings and by learning about community needs and developing fresh ways to meet them. Our church has always been supportive of our community and its residents, having been considered by many throughout the years as a safe haven in times of storm. We strive to worship God by loving God, loving our fellow humans, loving ourselves, and loving God’s wonderful creation. We work hard to be a compelling witness to Christ through our words of love and our works of love.
We continue striving to be the Christ-centered family with a desire to do good for our community and world!
WE WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU BE A PART OF THAT CALLING, TOO!
Port Edwards had no permanent house of worship until 1898. Mrs. John Edwards, Jr. (daughter-in-law to the founder of the village), purchased an old local schoolhouse for $1,400 and presented it to the village as a chapel. She donated land at the corner where Letendre Avenue meets the Wisconsin River. The schoolhouse was moved to this location (our present location). The school-turned-chapel was called the “Community Chapel.” While the chapel was under the direction of the Methodist denomination, Catholics and Lutherans worshipped there each Sunday at different hours.
But on Saturday, December 14th, 1946, this wooden structure burned. By this time, only the Methodists were using the building. The Catholics and Lutherans had moved to other locations. Groundbreaking for a new church on the same property started on August 27th, 1948. Dedication of the new church was held on October 30th, 1949. The cost was approximately $151,000. The architect was Donn Hougen.
The basement of the former wooden church was retained and continued to serve as a meeting place for Sunday School classes, meetings, and other social events. In the spring of 1961, plans began for a church addition. The crowded conditions of the Sunday School and the desire for a new kitchen and dining area prompted it. The educational wing broke ground on April 28th, 1963. Donn Hougen was the architect and the addition cost $185,750. Sunday School classes first met in the new building on December 15th, 1963 with a formal dedication held April 12th, 1964. In 1962, a lot was purchased west of the church and a home was removed to make way for a parking lot and enlarged in 1992 to meet the needs of a growing church.
Our church membership experienced a significant rise in the late 1960s. As a result, additional pews were added to the back of the sanctuary to accommodate 50+ persons. From the beginning, our church name was ‘Community Methodist Church.’ In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren and the Methodist Church joined under the name of The United Methodist Church. We changed our name to reflect this union of the two church traditions and became the Port Edwards United Methodist Church.
When Mrs. Dorothy Gallery died in 1974, she willed her property to the church. She lived next to the church on the corner of Wisconsin River Drive and Market Avenue. The house was sold and moved. With this addition of land, the church now owned the entire #16 block in the Village of Port Edwards. Proceeds from her estate were used to set up a Trust in her name. To this day, interest from her Trust is used for education and mission purposes, according to her request. In 1981, with generous giving from the Nekoosa-Edwards Foundation, Inc. and the Alexander Charitable Foundation, the mortgage was paid off and the church was free from debt.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, extensive refurbishing took place outside and inside our facilities and grounds. Many talented and dedicated persons gave generously to make these updates possible.
A word of appreciation is given for all the memorial gifts that have been presented in remembrance of past members and friends of the church.
Over the years, our church has participated in missional outreach all over the world through our denomination’s long reach. In some cases, church members have visited mission sites directly, including projects in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Bahamas, Appalachia, and Hawaii. We have also participated in many statewide and local organizations, too. Such organizations include Love Inc. (Love in the Name of Christ), SWEPS, Neighborhood Table, food pantries, etc. We have traveled to other United Methodist-related missions around the Midwest (for instance, Harbor House in Superior, WI, Milwaukee’s The Gathering mission & Northcott Neighborhood House, and Midwest Missions Distribution Center in Central Illinois).
One definition of history is “a narrative of events.” For us as a church family, it is “a narrative of people.”
This church was created and sustained by people like you who, over the years, have volunteered time, treasures, and talents as seamstresses of costumes, choir robes, curtains, and draperies, as phone callers, a chauffeurs, nursery helpers, landscapists, roofers, cooks, and custodians. People like you who made food donations, made visits to our homebound and hospitalized, served as Sunday School teachers and leaders, chaired and served on committees, led and provided music, and gave a hand as plumber or electrician. People like you have given us music and missions, plumbing and paintings. This list is endless. Each member has contributed to the growth of this church family, and to you we are indebted.
In 2023, we are celebrating our 125th year!
“Our God, our Help in ages past . . .
and our Hope for years to come!”
And the work goes on . . .