For years MaryLu McClure of Minnesota has been searching for church records for the Mt. Tabor M. E. Church to which her Smith family had a connection. Little is known about that congregation - other than they were members of the Selma Circuit and their records were not passed on to the Methodist Archives when the church closed.
Selma as a town was laid out in 1852. Railroad Street was then eighty feet wide, and was the principal street running east and west, It was crossed by Muncie Street. At the junction, on the northwest corner lot was erected the first Methodist Episcopal Church in Selma. It was what was described as a "building of very plain exterior, but was handsomely furnished inside".
In the early days, little attention to denomination preferences was given. The traveling ministers of the various denominations came at rare intervals. They were always greeted by the entire community, and heard with an appreciation that can only be known by the sincere Christian, long debarred from the offices of the Church. It was because of this fact that the Circuit Riders made their real contribution to early Hoosier life.
Probably the first religious meetings held in Delaware County were conducted by ministers of the Methodist Church, some of whom visited as early perhaps as 1829, preaching in private homes. Such is the statement made by the earliest historians.
The Methodist ministers came more frequently than those of other denominations. and the members of the Methodist persuasion naturally drifted together and were banded in what may be termed an indefinite organization. Private prayer meetings were held in the homes of members and thus the classes formed without any preliminary formalities. They worshipped at private homes in liberty Township in Delaware County, until about 1842.
In that year, or a short time prior, JOHN GOFF, they say, settled in the southern part of the Township and began at once to erect a house in which to worship. He was assisted in the falling of the trees and the dressing of the logs by several young men of the neighborhood. When the house was completed, he presented it to the Methodist Society, and it was dedicated by Rev. JOHN BlRT, and was known as Goff's Chapel in honor of its founder. It was occupied as a place of worship for a period of 10--11 years. Then as the congregation increased, a larger house was needed, A lot was donated by BASIL SHROVER about a mile south of the log Goff's Chapel and just west of the Mt. Tabor Cemetery. It became the site of the frame house of worship which was dedicated as the Mt. Tabor Church. Mt. Tabor was attached to New Burlington or Selma for its pastoral leadership during most of its entire existence.
It is impossible for a person to write of the history of any Church without backgrounds, facts, and origins of the faith of the Church. This is impossible for us to do in writing the history of the Selma Methodist Church for it drew from the beginnings of Methodism in Delaware County, and it is buried in obscurity.
The pioneer circuit riders, marching along with the advance of community building, had a continuing part in the history of Selma, and the Methodist Episcopal Church in Selma. Most of their names are lost to us, yet their message so impressed the pioneer settlers that they left an indelible imprint on the social and religious life of the County; so that today there are about thirty Churches called by the name of the "Methodist Church" within the borders of this county.
Working hand in hand with the Circuit Riders, or local preachers, as many of them were not ordained, were the Class Leaders, whom the preachers appointed to oversee the spiritual life of the dozen or more person committed to their care. They would meet in school houses or the homes of the people, as we have mentioned, where they gave instruction, and exhorted, the people to righteousness.
Smithfield, being the site of a mill on the White River, and lying on the road from Muncey Town and east through Windsor and other points east, was very early the focal point of the Methodist movement. It was here that the earliest Methodist congregation in Liberty Township flourished, and here that an early Church was built. It was destroyed by fire, and a new one was built, even before Selma became a town.
The Smithfield Class was organized in about 1830-33 by Rev. THOMAS LEONARD, a local preacher. The Church was created there in 1842-43. It was frame, and stood in the village which lies about one and one half miles south of Selma, on the banks of the White River. Several years later it too was destroyed by fire and rebuilt the next year, 1905.
Selma began to assume greater advantages as a community center due to the Big Four Railroad as it crossed the Albany-Smithfield pike there. Methodists who came to Selma worshipped at Smithfield for several years.
Mt. Pleasant, a community in the northeast part of Liberty Township, had a group of Methodists, and the Class there was organized as early as 1837 under the pastoral leadership of Rev. WADE PUSEY in 1838, and Rev. JOHN HILL. The Selma records show baptisms at Mt. Pleasant in 1846.
Each of these three communities was associated very closely with Selma, and had a very important influence in the founding and development of the Selma Church in later years. No history of Selma Methodism would be complete without considering this fact.
A Methodist Protestant, a United Brethren, a Baptist and United Presbyterian Church were also located near Selma.
THE METHODIST IN SELMA BUILD
In 1853, according to the County History, Methodists joined with the United Brethren in creating a Church in Selnia. Here both congregations worshipped, after having left the school house, alternating in Worship services, until the Methodist flock was able to build its own house of worship. The lot upon which the United Brethren Church was built, was purchased from WILLIAM J. MOORE , who two years later became a member of the first Board of Trustees of the Selma Methodist Episcopal Church.
In March 1853, the Selma Circuit was formed with Rev. NORR H. PHILLIPS appointed as pastor, and it was placed in the Marion District. Reverend H. J. LACEY followed Rev. Phillips in 1854, and Rev. MICHAEL BLACK came the next year. The pastor's salary was set for 1854 at $406. Such were the vagaries of the economic conditions on the Charges that the amount he received was $316.07. There were 1164 volumes in the Sunday school libraries on the circuit, noted in the Conference Minutes that year. No doubt much of the work done in promoting the building of a Church in Selma was done by Rev. Lacey, in the two years he was pastor, but it was to Rev. Michael Black that the honor goes of being pastor when the new Church was really constructed.
On June 16, 1855, the congregation assembled to elect a Board of Trustees. They elected THOMAS LEWIS, JOHN TRUITT, W. J. MOORE, MELKER SHROYER, and WILLIAM SEARLES to serve as the trustees while Brother Lacey was yet pastor. Early in 1856, January 14, with the Rev. Michael Black as pastor a Board of Trustees was elected to succeed those elected the previous year. William Searles was succeeded by JOHN SIMMONS and GILBERT WINSETT. It was then that the deed to the new Church site was made as follows: "Know all men by these presents that we, HENRY PHILLIPS and SUSANNA PHILLIPS, his wife, of Delaware County and State of Indiana, do hereby convey and warrant to WILLIAM J. MOORE, LEWIS SMITH, THOMAS LEWIS, MELKER SHROYER, GILBERT INSETT, JOHN TRUITT and JOHN SIMMONS as trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Lot #8, Block #1, in the town of Selma, for $75.00."
This conveyance was dated 11 February 1856. Later in the year 1856, the Selma M. E. Church was erected. Rev. N. A. PHILLIPS was minister at the time. "This was a frame building, quite plain in exterior appearance, but handsomely furnished within". This quotation comes from one of the histories of the County preserved in the Muncie City Library. The estimated cost was about $1,500. This building stills stands just south of the present Church, one block, and is currently in use as an apartment house. It was used as a business house for many years after its abandonment as a Church was in 1906. This Church was 32 X 50 feet. The building had a 16 foot ceiling and a 325 pound bell, It was dedicated in the fall of 1856 and all of its indebtedness pledged on the day of dedication. The bell of the Church was placed in the new structure at the building of the new Church in 1905.
The organization of the Church at Selma drew largely from the membership of the Smithfield Congregation, and both of the Churches were served by the same pastor until Smithfield was discontinued. The membership at Selma was 85 at the time of the dedication of the Church, and the Sunday school had an averagc attendance of 100 officers and teachers. There are many persons who still remember the services and revivals held in the old Church during its latter day with a sense of nostalgia for the "good old days" again. Among the members of the Church at the time of this writing who were members of the Church when it worshipped in the old building are: LOLA WILLIAMS, MRS. ETHEL CRISPEN of Long Beach, CA, MAYNE WRIGHT, and EMMA ALLON.
A brick-frame parsonage was built upon the site of the present Church structure in about 1875. It was on June 5, 1875, that Lot #5 was deeded from J. S. SPARR and RACHEL SPARR to N. W. BLACK, S. J. SHROYER, J. W. JONES, JOSEPH MEEKS, JAMES DAUGHERTY, JOHN CECIL and W. J. MOORE. (Deed Record 39, p 366 Delaware County.) It was carried in the Conference minutes as worth about $1,200 at one time to $2,000 at another.
A fact which contributed to the development and growth of the town of Selma was the discovery of gas and oil in Liberty Township. This brought prosperity to the community as well as drawbacks to the welfare of the Church. It invited both those who would be an asset to any community, and it brought those who were lawless and unscrupulous. This was evidenced at the time of the fire in the business district in 1903, when there was much looting and vandalism present during the conflagration. The challenge to the Church was great for saloons, taverns, and gambling flourished for many years.
There were periods of great ingathering in the Selma Charge, and in the Selma Church in particular. Although we know very little about them, the membership records reveal that it was true.
That which the membership records show most definitely is the work of the pastors with evangelistic fervor. Many ministers are known for their great preaching ability, others for their pastoral interest in the flock, still others are remembered for their ability to lead in the building of Churches and in promoting the material interests of the Church. Often Selma was blessed with those who were great evangelists.
The times of awakening in gatherings are noted during the pastorate of B. S. HOLLOPETER when 60 persons joined the Churches of the Charge on probation from December 15, 1895 - January 17, 1897, Twenty of these persons were from Selma, and eighteen of them later united in full connection. He baptized sixty-two persons and Selma had thirty-five of that number.
Probation was the preliminary stop in becoming a member of the Church. Upon a person confessing his "desire to flee from the wrath to come" or upon his conversion at an altar during services or upon other occasions, he would be received into Probation or as it was later called "preparatory" membership. After a stated time, about six months later if he showed evidence that he was a proper person, he would he received into full connection. He was then eligible to enter inter into the larger service required of Church members.
The failure of some Churches can be traced to their inability to care for, or their unconcern in caring for the new converts, and in developing in them a talent for leadership. Such was necessary in the earlier days of the Church since the tenure of ministers on a charge was very short. The first half century saw twenty-six separate pastorates, ten of those serving but one year. Eight served but two years. No pastorate was for more than three years, for there was a limit of three years set by the General Conference. Some Churches are known for their short pastorates. It may be due to their unwillingness to be satisfied in the progressive minister's leadership.
However, it still remains that Churches, in order to grow, must assume the care and growth of the converts which are brought into the fold during the pastorate of their respective ministers. The same minister, it will be noted while leading one Church has many who later come into full connection, hut in other situations the members are not saved for the Church.
Rev. DORIE V. WILLIAMS, 1897-88, followed Rev. Hollopeter with a ministry in which there were ninety-two probationers enlisted, thirty-one of which were at Selma, seventeen of whom became members in full connection. He baptized sixty-one, thirteen of whom were from Selma.
Rev. SYLVESTER BILLHEIMER, 1900-1901, who died only three years ago, was another leader in evangelism. He received fifty-two on probation, twenty-two becoming full members either during his pastorate or in the ministry of those who followed. He baptized eleven during his pastorate of two years.
Rev. J. O. STUTSMAN, 1902-1903, had few recorded new converts at Selma, although he did receive thirty-four on the charge, especially at Mt. Pleasant, and Mt. Tabor.
Rev. J. L. HUTCHINS, 1904-1905, received seventy-one probationers of whom 18 were at Selma during the period when he was leading in the construction of two new churches on the charge during 1905-6. Many of those converts were just before Conference, and since the six months rule generally applied then, these persons could not be received into full connection during his pastorate. The Church evidently did not follow up in the year that followed.
Back in 1883, Rev. R. TOBEY enrolled twenty-seven in December and January of 1884. Rev. JOHN PIERCE in 1865 performed the rite of baptism for 46, most of whom were adults, thirteen being from Selma. Rev. F. A. SALO, 1868-1869, baptized twenty-five. Rev. W. H. PIERCE baptized thirty-eight, sixteen from Selma, Rev. F. A. ROBINSON baptized thirty-two, five from Selma, Rev. CHARLES E. WHITE baptized twenty-six, eight from Selma, and. Rev. B. S. HOLLOPETER performed the rite for forty-five, twenty-three were from Selma.
Many ministers kept records rather loosely and it is hard to follow their achievements accurately, although they may have been very ardent workers for Christ.
Rev. V. B. HARGITT, 1916-19, received forty-one probationers, Rev. E. B. WESTHAFER, thirty-one, Rev. M. B. GRAHAM twenty-five, and Rev. H. B. SPARLING twelve.
Rev. C. B. DOUGHERTY during one year here baptized seventy-one, twenty- four from Selma, while Rev. J. L. LUTEY baptized twenty-eight, 19 being form Selma.
Those picked largely at random, reveal a fact Evangelism was a part of the ministry of the Church, and that is what made the Church grow.
Due to the loose-leaf records kept in the more recent years, it is difficult to appraise the work of the more recent ministers and the congregation, in accession and baptisms, except by going over each separate page. Yet the names of GEORGE THOMAS, GEORGE FARROW, W. L HALL, FLOYD BLAKE, and ROBERT GORRELL appear often.
Young people flocked to the parsonage to be married. Rev. C. B. DAUGHERTY married eight couples; Rev. O.N. HOLLOPETER, eighteen; Rev. J. F. LUTEY, five; Rev. D. V. WILLIAMS, fifteen 15; Rev. M. A. TEAGUE, nine; Rev. R. TOBEY, seven; Rev. JOHN S. McCARTY five; Rev. S. H. RHODES, fifteen; Rev. F. A. SALO, fourteen; Rev. T. SELLS, fourteen; W. H. PIERCE, twenty-five; Rev. CHARLES B. WHITE, thirty-one; Rev. F. A, ROBINSON, twenty-five; Rev. B. S. HOLLOPETER, thirty-four; Rev. SYLVESTER BI1LMEIMER, nineteen; Rev. J. STUTSMAN, fourteen; Rev. J. L. HUTCHINS, nineteen; Rev. RALPH C. JONES, seventeen; Rev. JOHN F. PIERCE and B. S. HOLLOPETER were really the "marryin' parsons". JOHN F. PIERCE recorded that he received $72 for marrying thirty-five couples. $2.00 per couple. The rate has not gone up much even now.
The Church in former years was the center of life, recreation, pleasure, and the center of inspiration and culture, Other agencies are vying with the Church for a monopoly upon the lives of all. It behooves the Church to recognize this fact, and then lay emphasis upon the fundamentals of life. Religion is more than an escape from life's realities. It is fundamental to the complete life.
A NEW CHURCH IS BUILT
The oldest entry in the Court records pertaining to Lot #5, the lot upon which the Selma Church is now standing, is when CHESTER SEARLES received it on January 21, 1836. It passed through his hands to JACOB SHOULTY, August 26, 1837, thence to FRANCIS DOWLER, October 17, 1845, and then to JAMES S. SPARR. He platted a portion of ground in Selma on August 25, 1853. The Lot #5 came into the possession of the Selma Methodist Episcopal Church for parsonage purposes in 1875 as previously stated. It was so used until in 1905 when it was razed in order to construct the ncw Church.
In 1905, the Church felt itself strong enough to launch into a larger program of' expansion and influence. Prosperity had come into the community in about 1903 with the discovery of oil as well as gas. Wells were being drilled in many places. It is said that the cause of the fire that destroycd the Smithfield Church, August 20, 1904, was fire which was ignited in thc reservoir tank under the eaves of the Church. The oil well was just to the rear of the Church.
Likewise there had been built a fine new school building in Selma in 1904. It was described as thc most beautiful school in thc county at that time.
This may have set ambitions high, so the Church launched their ambitious program. So on September 28, 1905, so great had been the interest in the new enterprise, that even the pupils from the school were brought to the corner stone laying of the new Methodist Episcopal Church.
The trustees in the enterprise were M. A. CUNNINGHAM, C. W. SMITH, MD, R. S. ARBOGAST, W. H. HUFFORD, J. M. HITCHCOCK, S. C. JUMP, MD; M. PUNTONNEY, E. E. PHILLIPS, and J. W. CLARK. The architect was LAYTON ALLEN, and the builder was A. D. GALLANTINE. E. E. PHILLILPS has been one of the trustees continuously since then, now being an honorary Trustee.
September 28, 1905
A number of people will go to Selma today to attend the laying of the corner stone of the Methodist Episcopal Church, now under course of construction. Members of the congregation of the Church have been making preparations for the event for several days, and have arranged for the corner stone services.
The Corner stone services will he conducted by Rev. G. M. HILL of the Richmond District. Dr. L. G. NAFTZGER, presiding elder of the Muncie District will be present and participate in the service.
Among the features of the occasion will he a basket dinner.
Work on the new temple of worship will he pushed with much rapidity, and it is the hope of the congregation to occupy their new home in a few months. The Rev. J. L. HUTCHINS is the pastor of the Church.
* * * * * *
The work continued with a great deal of speed, and on January 14, 1906, in the 50th year after the first Church was erected for services, and the new Church was opened for the worship of God.
January 6, 1906
The dedication of the new Methodist Episcopal Church at Selma which has just been completed at the cost of several thousands of dollars will take place on Sunday, January 14, and the Methodist of Liberty Township are preparing to make it a red letter day in their history. Member of the denomination in Muncie are taking much interest in the service and many will attend the service from here.
The dedicatory service is to be conducted by Rev. W. D. PARR of Kokomo, who will be assted by the presiding Elder GEORGE HILL of the Richmond District. Presiding Elder NAFTZGER of Muncie, being abset at the time, due to a trip through the south with the North Indiana Conference Quartette, and thus cannot be present.
Rev. J. L. HUTCHINGS is the pastor of the Church and with members of his flock is justly proud of the new edifice.
The Program for the day is as follows:
10:30 Devotional Services
10:50 Sermon by Rev. Dr. W. D. Parr
12:00 Dedicatory Services
(Probably should have read "2:00")
3:00 Communion Services
The evening service will be in charge of the Epworth League Chapter, and will include an evangelistic service beside a sermon by Rev. Dr. PARR.
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The Muncie Star
January 7, 1906
The new Methodist Episcopal Methodist Church at Selma was dedicted Sunday by Dr. W. D. Parr amid the praises and heart rejoicings of a most grateful people. The Church improvement cost about $12,500. Upon investigation it was found at the dedication that $4,500 was needed to clear away indebtedness. When Dr. Parr with his skillful management announced the sum raised, it was found that $8,500 was subscribed making a surplus of $4000.
The Church is modern in all its appointments and perfect and beautiful in design and utility having an auditorium, large Sunday School room, library and pastor's study, and choir vestry in the super structure, with a basement under the entire building containing a dining room, kitchen, furnace room for the Church and a cellar for the pastor, all complete and furnished throughout.
The visiting ministers were the Rev. George H. Hill, presiding elder of the Richmond District, the Rev. McCarty, the Rev. Robinson, Rev. P. J. ALBRIGHT, and the Rev. EVERGART.
Under the labors this Conference year, of the Rev. J. L. Hutchins' leading, this Church together with the new parsonage standing by its side, and now a $5,000 structure at Smithfield have been built.
* * * * * *
The Tuesday morning following there is the report of a windstorm which swept through the community, wrecking some of the largest oil derricks, and causing thousands of dollars of damage. However, the Church with its high steeple was not damaged.
In the Conference minutes of 1906, in a report given by Presiding Elder, G. H. Hill, this paragraph was included:
The largest outlay in Church and parsonage building during the year has been on the Selma Charge. The new Church at Selma costing $11,000 is I think, the best for the cost I have ever seen; at Smithfield on the same Charge the Church destroyed by fire last year has been replaced at a cost of $4,700. The new parsonage on the Charge, valued at $2,000 will for years be an inviting home for the pastor. These improvements, with a corresponding advance in the Pastor's salary and an increase in collections for our benevolence places Selma in the front rank, if not in lead of the Circuits of the Conference. It is due the Pastor, Bro. J. L. Hutchins, to say that he has been a prime mover, the leading spirit, and the chief executive in this work.
* * * * *
That year the pastor's salary was increased $50.00 and the following year the figure was placed at $975 (annually), the same as the preceding year. The next year the entire charge dropped $65, Selma making the largest deduction. It is to the credit of the Charge that they recovered the losses.
If we look at those figures, which are small to us, in these days of inflation, we can rest assured however, that upon the same basis, the salary would be no less than $9,000 if we were doing as well as they did then. There was devotion, sacrifice, love, and faith that was electrifying, and assured the burning of revival fires. They did. Within another decade Selma had grown in strength until it was carrying the load of the Charge alone as a Station.
The Church which they built was evidence of faith. A half century later, we are looking upon it as a beautiful temple of worship, and it is a joy to mediate upon the mercies of God, and His redemption of the world in it.
In the half century that has followed the building of the Church it has been altered very little since the day of dedication. It is substantially the same as then. It has been kept in repair. The basement has been more largely utilized. Three years ago, the wiring for the upper part of the Church was completely overhauled, the ceilings were insulated, and this year the outside of the Church was repainted. About six years ago the gas was installed in the furnaces, and two years ago the Church was redecorated. The Church is a beautiful place yet.
The first parsonage was built where the present Church now stands. It was a brick-frame structure. But when the decision was made to build the now Church, the original parsonage was razed, the lot joining it to the north was purchased from WILLIAM H. FORTICH and LAURA A. FORTICH of Jasper County by the trustees for $350. They had previously been a part of the membership of the Selma Church. WALTER and ETHEL SMALL were the last couple married in the old parsonage. Construction of the now brick-frame home was completed that same year as the Church, During the time there was no parsonage, the minister's family lived just at the top of the hill west of Selma on the north side of the highway.
It is possible that the back two rooms of the parsonage came from the old structure. Those two rooms became the kitchen and dining room. Later the kitchen was moved to the room nearest the brick, and the kitchen converted into a. utility room where is located the boiler for the hot water heating system. A bathroom was installed during the pastorate of Rev. W. L. HALL, and the kitchen cabinets in 1953.
PREACHERS WHO HAVE SERVED THE SELMA CIRCUIT
The following pastors served the Church during the first half century of the Church's history. The years given are the year they were appointed.
In 1837, Rev. WADE PUSEY was referred to as the pastor at Mt. Pleasant, followed by Rev. JOHN HILL in 1838.
At the time of the construction of Goff's Chapel in the 1840's, John Birt/Burt appears to be the pastor in charge of the flock in that area. He returned to the Charge in 1858. Rev. CAREY is also mentioned as one of the earliest spiritual leaders for this group of the Faithful.
1854 Rev. H. J. Lacey
1855 Rev. Michael Black
1856 Rev. Norr/Nerr H. Phillips
1857 Rev. Clark Skinner
1858 Rev. J. B. Birt/Burt
1859 Rev. Thos. Barnett
1860 Rev. S. H. Rhodes
1861 Rev. Thos. Barnett
1863 Rev. John F. Pierce
1866 Rev. S. H. Rhodes
1868 Rev. F. A. Salo/Sale
1870 Rev. T. Sells
1872 Rev. E. S. Preston
1873 Rev. B. H. Komp
1876 Rev. W H. Pierce
1879 Rev. N./M. A. Teague
1871 Rev. F. Hostock
1882 Rev. R Tobey
1883 Rev. J. S. Mc Carty
1886 Rev. P. J. Albright
1887 Rev. W. H. Pierce
1888 Rev. Charles E. White
1891 Rev. F.A. Robinson
1894 Rev. B. S. Hollopeter
1897 Rev. Dorie V. Williams
1900 Rev. Sylvester Billheiner
1902 Rev. J. O/G. Stuteman
The above all served in the original Church which still stands in Selma, one block south of the present building.
The following served at Selma while the present Church and parsonage were constructed and since that time.
1904 Rev. J. L. Hutchins
1906 Rev. Ralph C. Jones
1909 Rev. C. M. Hollopeter
1912 Rev. C. B. Daugherty/Dougherty
1913 Rev. James F. Lutcy/Lutey
1915 Rev. L.A. Sevits
1916 Rev. Victor B. Hargitt
1919 Rev. E. E. DeWitt
1920 Rev. F. B. Westhaver/Westhafer
1922 Rev. M. B. Graham
1926 Rev. J. B. Sparling
1933 Rev. W. L. Hall
1936 Rev. George Thomas
1940 Rev. Robert Gorrol
1945 Rev. George Farrow
1952 Rev. Floyd Blake
1953 Rev. Victor E. Stoner
Mrs. MARTHA MURRAY, a daughter of Rev. C. B. Daugherty married DONN MURRAY, the son of the late Mrs. EDNA MURRAY. Mrs. Martha Murray together with her two sons are members of the Church at the present time. Mr. Donn Murray died but a few months ago.
(Note: Based on the above list of ministers, this statement was made after 1953.)
The average pastorate for Selma has been two years, five months, and three weeks.
Selma became a station appointment when the appointments were made in 1916. It has maintained that position ever since.
During the first half century, the salary varied from less than $325 annually, to a high of $850 -$900. In 1865, the annual salary was $700. Two years later it was $635. In 1879, salary dropped to all time low of $537 (after 1865). The salary average $692 annually for the years after 1865 until the turn of the century.
The year Selma built its new Church, the charge paid $925. Selma is credited with $347 of the amount, Mt. Pleasant the same amount, Smithfield $90 and Mt. Tabor $90. The Charge was transferred to the Muncie District that year from the Richmond District. The Minutes of 1907 show that Selma and Mt. Pleasant paid $365, Mt. Tabor $149 and Smithfield $96.
The year 1907 marked a recession in general prosperity throughout the nation and support of the pastor showed Selma $335, Mt. Pleasant $365 (annually), Mt. Tabor $140, and $90 for Smithfield, a total annual cash income of $930 in the 1907-08 minutes.
The next year showed a slight recovery. This year also marked the year the members for each Church were giving as well to the support for their pastor. This year showed Selma having 106 members who paid $365. In the next report Selma with 122 members who paid $390, and Mt. Pleasant with 130 members who paid $410. It was in 1909-10 that Selma exceeded Mt. Pleasant in Membership, having a revival. One hundred forty members were now in the Selma Church, Mt. Pleasant lost ten. Mt. Tabor reported fifty-six members and Smithfield, forty-five. The charge paid $94 more than the proceeding year. Still Mt. Pleasant carried the greater financial load. It was also this year that the records show several person transferring from Smithfield to Selma. After 1913 Smithfield is no longer reported. Seven years after building a new Church, the Church is no longer an active congregation. In 1816 Mt. Tabor is off the charge and at Conference that year, Selma becomes a Station. Rev. VICTOR B. HARGITT was assigned that year to Selma. The Church building was valued at $15,000, and the parsonage at $1,500. The pastor was paid $900. cash annually, with the rental value of the parsonage listed at $150.00 (annually). The next year showed a marked increase in support, the Church paying $1,250. By this time, there were 215 members. In 1920 Rev. E. E. DeWITT was paid $1,200, with 229 members, and the following year, Rev. E. B. WESTHAVER was paid $1,700 (annually).
Rev. M. B. GRAHAM came to the Charge pastorate in 1922. While he served the membership increased to 795 members, the highest mark the Church ever reached. It was achieved in 1924-25.
Under Rev. J. B. SPARLING the salary was advanced to $2,200 (annually). But in 1932 the Church was feeling the effects of the Depression of the 1930's. The salary dropped to $1,261 and the membership stood at 238. When Rev. W. L. HALL came as pastor in 1933, conditions did not improve, people were seeking the Divine aid, and the membership rose by 20. Under the ministry of Rev. GEORGE THOMAS the membership reached its second highest peak of 272, and the salary began to climb. With the coming of Rev. ROBERT GORRELL and the return of prosperity to the nation, the salary began a larger ascent, until by 1951 it had leveled off at $2,400 (annually). The District Superintendents were finding it hard to place ministers at this figure. However, Rev. GEORGE FARROW heard the call and came to serve under the economic load. When he was transferred to Daleville, Rev. FLOYD BLAKE came to supply the work. During this interim, the Finance Commission estimated the salary at $3,500. Since then it has been increased and now stands at the all time high.
Membership at the time of Conference last May stood at 228. This reduction however was due to the efforts of the Commission on Membership and Evangelism to locate persons in the Churches near their homes. Many had left Selma and had not transferred their membership, as all good Methodist should.
Very early in the history of the Selma Church missionary interest began to develop. In 1856, the following amounts are listed in the Conference report of gifts to missions:
T. LEWIS $1.00 E. LEWIS $1.00 A. LEWIS $1.50Small sums were $12.50 more. That was the year after the Church was built.
L. A. LEWIS $1.50 M. SHROYER $1.00 J. E. WILCOXSIN $1.00
R. GUTHRIE $1.00 M. J. BLACK $1.00 LOUISA TRUITT $ .50
E. McCALL $ .50 MARTHA CURRENT $ .50
JOHN TRUITT $1.00 NERR H. PHILLIPS $1.00 M. G. PHILLIPS $1.00
LEWIS SMITH, G. WINSETT, E. SHOULTY, MR. JONES, JOHN DOTSON,
S. A. SMITH , E. HITCHCOCK, M. E. LEWIS, MARY MOODY, N. RIBBLE,
M. LOWREY, CYNTHIA BLACHERT, CAROLINE TRUITT, MARY STEWART, each 50 cents.
In 1859, the Charge gave $17.99. In 1867 it was $21.60, $33.05 in 1869, $67.00 in 1872, And so we find the interest growing. Last year Selma Church, accepting their quota of the apportionment from Muncie District paid $964 to World Service, and the W. S. C. S. added $615 to their missionary budget. This represents nearly $1,600 to Missions in one year. The total giving for all purposes was in excess of $8,381 and the year before when a redecorating program was on the total was $1,100 more. The total benevolent contributions including the sums going to District Superintendent, Bishops, and Retired Ministers was $2,773. The amount given for retired ministers alone was more than was paid in any one year by Selma before 1914, In the year 1912-13, this Church paid $420 to their pastor, while they paid $429 for retired ministers in 1956. If however, the Church was sharing as once it did during its early beginnings, the salary would be double what it is today.
MT. TABOR AND SMITHFIELD CLOSED
In the trend toward the modern way of life it often happens that churches which are located in the open country or in easy access to the towns or cities are closed. It is often unfortunate.
With the abandonment of Mt. Tabor, many of the members elected to transfer to the Selma Church. The falling away of members in the Smithfield congregation was so gradual that little can be noted of the decease in its relation to the Selma Charge. However, when the relatively new Church was sold in Smithfield in 1953, the proceeds of the sale were applied to the Church in Selma. It stands as a tragedy that so fine a Church structure should be sold to a private individual for only $460. After still another transfer, it was sold to a branch of the Church of God, who now holds services in the birthplace of Methodism in Liberty Township. The bell which rung in the Church at Smithfield was removed and placed in the Selma Church steeple. The Selma Church bell was placed in the inactive Church at Smithfield. It then becomes apparent that the call to worship which sounded from the steeple of its successor, on the Centenary of the Selma Church, was that which called the worshippers at the birthplace of the Methodist Church on the White River in Delaware County.
Mt. Pleasant Church which for so many years was associated with the Selma Church in maintaining the gospel which the Wesleys proclaimed more than a century earl ier is still a very strong Church in a strictly rural situation, and is a part of the DeSoto Charge. Its influence is a vital force in the religious life of Liberty Township.
Formerly the Methodist Church at Selma was known as the Methodist Episcopal or as it abbreviated M. E. Church. This abbreviation still remains in the art glass over the entrance. But with the union of the three major branches of Methodism in 1939, the name was officially changed to the "Methodist Church". That now is the proper title.
Art glass windows were placed in the new Church building by gifts of the G. A. R. Col. S. J. WILLIAMS, Post #267, The Junior League, and MARGARET BLACK. Memorial windows were dedicated in memory of DOLLIE PATRICK, JOHN and MARIETTA SIMMONS, Mr. and Mrs. NATHAN SHROYER, CHARLES H. and MARTHA CLARK, WILLIAM J. and SARAH MOORE, Mrs. JOHN and E. E. DAVIS, and LOUIE SKIFF.
A MISSIONARY GOES FROM SELMA
The Selma Church takes great pride in the fact that one of their members, Miss ALICE HITCHCOCK, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. LUCIAN HITCHCOCK, is now serving as a missionary in Japan. She was converted during the ministry of Rev. ROBERT CORRELL. She went to Taylor University where she received her degree. She then did missionary work at Henderson settlement, Frakes, Kentucky, for one year. She then enrolled for nurses' training at the Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where she received her degree as a R. N. After graduation there, the Women's Division of Christian Service, needing trained personnel in its foreign field, assigned her to Japan. She then went to Scarritt College and Yale for language study, and then sailed for the orient. After further training on the field, she was placed at Tsuayaki, Japan. She is proving herself worthy of the trust placed in her. The local W. S. C. S. adds to her support from the Board, in order that she can do more effective work. She will return for her first furlough next year.
The Sunday Schools have always held great interest in the Methodist churches very early in the history of Methodist work in Liberty Township. Sunday Schools were given a place in Conference records. Among the items listed in statistical records was enrollment, the number of books in the libraries of the Schools on the Charge as well as average attendance in later years. Since the reports were for the entire Charge, it is difficult to determine the activity of the Selma school in particular. But those still living who remember attending Sunday School in the old Church recall the school program as being most important. We can be well assured that the work of the Sunday School was well promoted in the Selma Church. Some of the Churches best leaders have served as the Superintendents. Among them was Dr. C. W. SMITH, who served for several years. His wife was also a primary teacher and song leader, Mrs. JO BARTLETT was Superintendent during the oil boom. FRED SWANDER served seven years. E. E. PHILLIPS served for several years. Later Superintendents have been CHARLES E. TURNER, EARL HUMBERT, JAMES R. CLINE, and WILLIAM PUNTENNEY.
The Sunday School at the present time is composed of twelve classes from the nursery to the oldest persons. All are cared for by devoted persons. The present Superintendent is WILLIAM PUNTENNEY, the son of J. M. PLUNTENNEY, one of the trustees who planned the building of the present Church. With him is associated DONALD GOODSON, as assistant Superintendent. Mrs. CHARLES J. TURNER is the Superintendent of the primary department.
Teachers and their assistants are:
Older Seniors - Joseph Landroy and Asa Swan.
Friendship - Mrs. J. Ray Cline and Mrs. Fred Swander.
Ever Ready - Mrs. Howard Jones and Harold Phillips.
Home Makers - Mrs. John Boots and Mrs. Cline.
Senior High - Elmer Schloot
Junior High - Mrs. Neil Moody and Mrs. V. V. Guthrie.
Intermediates - Mrs. Jay Kirklan and Mrs. Florian Orebaugh
Juniors - Mrs. John Hopping
Primary - Mrs. Ralph Bolinger and Mrs. William Mosier.
Beginners - Mrs Donald Goodson and Mrs. Asa Swan.
Kindergarten - Mrs. Charles E.Turner and Miss Patty Swas.
Nursery - Mrs. Leslie Jones. Mrs. Max Hill, and Mrs. Gordon Ross.
Mrs. Truitt Dunkin and Mrs. Harold Phillips have also served as assistants in the Primary department.
Miss Vernalu Guthrie and Miss Jane Phillips are the secretaries. The enrollment is 280 and the average attendance is about 140.
WOMEN'S SOCIETY OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE
The Women's Society of Christian Service, the successor to the Woman's Foreign and Rome Missionary Societies and Ladies' Aid Society of the Pre-Unification Churches is a very active organization. It performed great service in the earlier days. But today it functions locally with a great deal of zeal and enthusiasm. It is composed of two bodies of women, the Mother Society and the Esther Circle. Last year the W. S. C. S. as it is known popularly gave $491 to the support of the local Church and $615 to the missionary program of the Society, more than $1,100. There are thirty-nine member of the Parent Society and fifteen in the Esther Circle. Mrs. Lucian Hitchcock heads the Parent Circle and Mrs. Elmer Schloot heads the Esther Circle.
The Methodist Men is the newest of the organizations of the Methodist Church. There is in the local chapter a membership of thirty-five men. It was organized locally in 1952 and Emersen Morris, Robert Myers, Max Hill, Ralph Bolinger, and Donald Goodson have served as President. The group of men meet monthly, usually for a dinner meeting, and join in promoting the spiritual life and the material interests of the Church.
METHODIST YOUTH FELLOWSHIP
The Methodist Youth Fellowship, successor to the Epworth League of the earlier days, continues to interest the youth. Its leadership is younger than in former years, however, it promotes attendance at the annual Conference institute at Epworth Forest and by its activities adds $30 or more annually to the benevolent funds of the Church. Its present President is Miss Barhara Jones, and the adult counselor is Mrs. William Mosier. Great credit must he given to the former counselors, but Mrs. Ralph Bolinger deserves special mention for the interest she took in the youth. Mrs. Mosier is beginning her activities with the youth with excellent prospects.
J. N. Orr is reported to have been the first Choir director in the Selma Methodist Congregation. He led by lining out the songs, and using a pitch pipe to get the starting note. Some years later, Thomas Harrington assumed the leadership. It was while he directed that an organ was installed in the Church.
It is understood that this organ was moved into the new Church. Later the organ from Smithfield supplanted it. About nineteen years ago, an organ giving some of the qualities of a pipe organ, was installed as a memorial organ in memory of Gladys LaFlamme Hervet and William C. Hervet. It was dedicated on December 5, 1937. Within the last two years a Kenneth D. Swander Organ Memorial Fund has been established, looking forward to the purchase of a modern instrument.
The modern person makes music with the voice and instruments, for he can have both. The disposition to sing without an instrument may become a lost art in many of our Churches.
THE OFFICIAL BOARD
The Official board, composed of the trustees and Stewards functions as the administrative body of the Church. The trustees and the expiration date of their terms are as follows:
Honorary: E. E. Phillips.
Earl Hubert 1957, Emerson Morris 1957, Wesley Swander 1957, Cloyd Duke 1958, John Penrod 1958, Charles Turner 1958, Lucian Hitchcock 1959, John Juett 1959, William Puntenney 1959.
The Stewards are of two classes: elected and ex officio by virtue of the office they held. The elected Stewards are as follows:
Financial Secretary - Mrs. William Puntenney
Communion Stewards - Mrs. Cloyd Duke and Mrs. James Hall
Recording Steward - Mrs. Fred Swander
Treasurer - Emerson Morris
Harold Phillips, Asa Swan, Max Hill, Elmer Schloot, Paul Shafer, William Phillips, and Ralph Bolinger.
Ex Officio Stewards are as follows:
District Steward - John Penrod
Member of Conference - Charles E.Turner
Reserve Lay Member - Fred Swander
Lay Leader - James R. Cline
Sunday School Superintendent - William Puntenny
President - M. Y. F. - Barbara Jones
President - W. S. C. S. - Mrs. Lucian Hitchcock
President - Methodist Men - Donald Goodson
Four Commissions promote the various activities of the Church.
Commission on Membership and Evangelism:Many Commission members are members of some other office to which they have been elected. Other committees selected by the Quarterly Conference or Official Board of function in their limited fields.
Mrs. Fred Swander, James R. Cline, Asa Swan, Earl Hubert.
Mrs. Truitt Dunkin, Mrs. James R. Cline, Mrs. Leslie Jones, Jr.,
Mrs. Donald Shumaker, Ralph Bolinger, Dallas Vardaman,
Phil Armstrong, Dan Hopper, and Donald Goodson.
Commission on Education:
Mrs. Charles J. Turner, Mrs. Howard Jones, Mrs. John Boots,
Mrs. Cloyd Duke, Mrs. Vernon Guthrie, Mrs. Emerson Morris,
Mrs. Jay Kirklin, Mrs. Donald Goodson, Mrs. William Mosier.
Commission on Missions:
Mrs. Charles E. Turner, Mrs. Lucian Hitchcock, James R Cline,
Wesley Swander, Max Hill, Mrs. Neil Moody, Mrs. Jay Kirklin,
Mrs. Fred Swander, Mrs. Elmer Schloot.
Commission on Finance:
Emerson Morris, Fred Swander, Lucian Hitchcock, Cloyd Duke,
Earl Humbert, Ralph Bolinger, Charles Turner,
James R. Cline, Mrs. William Puntcnney and the
Chairman Commission on Missons.
It is hard to give credit where it belongs for our vision is limited, and our appraisal of value is limited by human minds and hearts.
The leaders of another day set before the present age an example, which those of today are of necessity bound to continue, unless they break faith. The amount spent for a new Church fifty years ago was $12,500. That in terms of today's rate of exchange would equal from $60,000 to $80,000. The Church of today is living off of the sacrifices, labors, devoted living, and prayers of men and women of a century ago, who had faith in the future.
The Church of today is faced with the problems of a growing residential community, Muncie, only six miles away, is continuing to expand. Its residents now are becoming a part of this growing community. Hundreds of new homes dot the entire township. Within a short time, more than a thousand children will he in our school.
Only one Methodist Church serves most of Liberty Township, the Selma Methodist Church. In order to successfully promote the cause of Christ, the organized Church needs to expand all of its resources, of faith, prayer, wholesome living, and its dedication to a great cause. The Church must meet the standards of religious culture.
An educational plant sufficient to meet the challenge of today is a vital necessity. With the courage and zeal which matched the forebears of Methodism in Selma, and the faith in the future like they had, a spirit of sacrifice, and a willingness to work like the possessed, there would be no difficulty in raising the funds necessary to construct a $50,00 educational unit joined to the present Church. It would contribute much to the progress of the Church for another fifty years.
And a willingness to practice, unashamed, the Gospel of Christ would condition today's Methodist Christians for this their challenge.
God is still calling us to service, unafraid, and with faith in our fellow man and in the future that lies ahead.
The Selma Methodist Church owes much to the past and it owes much to the future. The obligation to "serve the present age" far out weighs all other obligations under God.
In the Centenary which is being celebrated in 1956 has a meaning, it will be but the opening of the door for another century of greater days ahead. For Jesus said, "Greater things than these shall ye do because I go unto the Father"
. Many things which are important have been omitted that should have been included. Yet, none of those who made a vital contribution lived for themselves, but for the Glory of God.
* * * * * * We hope that this little outline of the history of the
Selma Methodist Church will help all who read it in appreciating
Their Church more than ever before
* * * * * * The Centenary of the dedication of the
First Methodist Church in Selma
Was Celebrated on September 30, 1956.
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