OUR HISTORY

 Grace United Methodist Church enjoys a rich heritage. The Methodist movement in Warren started early with meetings in homes, schoolhouses and other public places. In 1833, the First Methodist Episcopal Church was built on Third Avenue. The First United Methodist Church, as it is known today, grew as the town grew. Worshipers on the east side of Caning Creek began to meet at homes of various members. In 1893, this group - with help from members of First Methodist Church - acquired a lot at the corner of Prospect Street and Main Street (now Pennsylvania Avenue East). A neat frame building known as "The Chapel" was built.

 

On October 22, 1895, a charter was granted to the assemblage of 105 members, as recorded separately - they chose the name Grace Methodist Episcopal Church. The pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rev. G.H. Humason and Rev. J.A. Wilson, a retired minister of the conference, were directed to secure a full-time minister. Rev. Thomas Thoburn from the Kansas Conference took charge of Grace Church as well as members of Epworth United Methodist parish at Glade Run. 

 

Grace Methodist Episcopal Church became incorporated May 29, 1901. That same year, the Mathis property next to the Chapel on Prospect Street was purchased. That home served as the parsonage for the next 50 years.

On January 23, 1920, Grace Church was completely destroyed by fire. Church services were then held on Sunday afternoons at the Bethlehem Congregation Church on Market Street. Since construction costs were high after World War I, it was decided to build a tar-paper-covered building on the right side in the second block of Crescent Street. The Tabernacle was our home until a new building could be constructed at the corner of Prospect Street and Pennsylvania Avenue East. 

 

Construction on our present building began April 27, 1922. A classic design was chosen for the building with facilities for worship, church school and social and recreational programs. The new building was dedicated by Bishop Joseph Berry on April 22, 1923 and cost about $195,000. Our membership was up to 1,000 at this time.

Church membership continued to grow, and finances improved following the hardship of the Great Depression. On April 7, 1946 we celebrated the burning of the mortgage for our building. By the end of the 1950s, the membership was 1,329 with a church school enrollment of 1,087. A new parsonage was built in 1950 at a cost of $35,000, and in 1958 the kitchen was remodeled and the sanctuary was redecorated. By the end of 1960, our membership had grown to 1,460.

By 1968 the Methodist and the Evangelical United Brethren churches united which changed our local church names to Grace United Methodist Church and Bethel United Methodist Church. The union of these two churches became effective January 1, 1973. The 108 members of Bethel Church at that time were transferred to Grace Church, upon written request were transferred to other churches, or withdrew their membership.

Over the next 20 years Grace Church underwent several construction projects. Our sanctuary was insulated and redecorated with new carpeting being installed, the kitchen and robe room were remodeled, our organ had major repairs, our stained-glass windows were repaired, our parking lot was rearranged and a new sidewalk was put in, a handicapped ramp and chair-lifts were added, in addition to electric, roof, brick work, stone work, and other miscellaneous repairs. In 1996, after a capital campaign was held, they added renovations to the church offices, adding a library, adding Wesley Parlor behind the sanctuary, an elevator to all floors, revamping the heating system, and adding a dividing wall between Fellowship Hall and basement classrooms. 

PASTORS

1895 - 1896  Rev. John W. Wilson and Rev. Thomas R. Thoburn, founders

1896 - 1897  Rev. Thomas R. Thoburn

1897 - 1900  Rev. J. Palmer Burns

1900 - 1901  Rev. Samuel M. Nickle

1901 - 1902  Rev. Samuel M. Nickle and Rev. Elmer C. Delaplain

1902 - 1906  Rev. Elmer C. Delaplain

1906 - 1908  Rev. Robert Newton Stubbs

1908 - 1910  Rev. Price A. Crow

1910 - 1911  Rev. J. Palmer Burns

1911 - 1912  Rev. Horace G. Dodds

1912 - 1918  Rev. Harry H. Barr

1918 - 1921  Rev. John Albert McCamey

1921 - 1925  Rev. Alfred B. Smith

1925 - 1929  Rev. Lawrence M. Barnard

1929 - 1936  Rev. Harold Adam McCurdy

1936 - 1941  Rev. John H. Clemens

1941 - 1949  Rev. Harold L. Knappenberger Sr.

1949 - 1958  Rev. Clarence William Baldwin

1958 - 1967  Rev. Ralph S. Findley

1967 - 1976  Rev. Wayne B. Price

1976 - 1986  Rev. David J. Lutz

1986 - 1992  Rev. S. James Schmittle

1992 - 2000  Rev. Robert W. Higginbotham

2000 - 2007  Rev. John V. Spahr Sr.

2007 - 2014  Rev. Kevin R. Haley

2014 - 2017  Rev. Richard A. Pearson Jr.

2017 -           Rev. William R. Beatty

Copyright 2019, Grace United Methodist Church, Warren, PA