Court Street United Methodist Church
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
719 Court St., Fulton, MO 65251, 573-642-5721
We celebrated 190 years as a worshipping congregation
The Methodist Episcopal Church was first organized in Callaway County in 1821, in a home four miles south of Fulton. The first pastor was the Rev. M. P. Scott. In 1833 the congregation moved its location to Fulton where the group continued to meet in homes. In 1840 the first church building was erected at a cost of $900. The pastor was Rev. Benjamin Johnson. The slavery question divided the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844. Fulton choose to become a part of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and the first Missouri Annual Conference of the M. E. South Church was held in Columbia in 1845. In 1849, the Missouri Annual Conference met in the Fulton church. This was the first of six annual conference sessions held at the church between 1849 and 1932.
A new and larger building was constructed in 1859 at a cost of $7,500, when Rev. W.A. Mehew was pastor. The lot was donated to the congregation by Irvine O. Hockaday. The third church, which sat where the current educational building is, was built in 1900 at a cost of $12,000. By September of that year a new brick church with a bell tower and spacious sanctuary was ready for the Missouri Annual Conference which was again held at the church.
In 1939 prayers for reunion and reconciliation between the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South, came to fruition in Kansas City when the two denominations along with the Methodist Protestant Church united to become the Methodist Church. The church’s name was then Court Street Methodist Church. At a quarterly conference held in July of 1946, the congregation under the pastorate of the Rev. Mark S. Horn began making plans for an improvement program of the church and on Sept. 17, the Fourth Quarterly Conference voted to erect an educational building west of the church to cost $25,000. On Dec. 1, under the pastorate of the Rev. J. D. Randolph, a finance campaign was started to raise the necessary funds for the building. As the years went on, the vision of the people grew and in the fall of 1951, under the pastorate of the Rev. Joseph H. Wagner, the congregation engaged architects’ recommendations for a building program to meet present and future needs. On Dec. 17, 1953 the first recommendations were made by the architects which called for a program of remodeling the present structure with the addition of a small educational unit. On January 21, 1953 the people voted to accept this recommendation. The following Thursday, the 29th, the quarterly conference, conducted by the Reverend J. O. Craig, district superintendant, accepted the report of the committee and the vote of the congregation and a building committee was named. May 7, 1955 the church purchased the Miss Elizabeth Rice property north of the existing church and with the addition of this property, the architects were asked to make further studies as to the possibility of erecting an entirely new building. On September 6, 1955 the congregation voted to build a new Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall as Unit I and a new Educational Building as Unit II. Unit II was to replace the old church when finances allowed.
In December of 1956 a contract was signed with the construction firm of Plez Lewis and Son of Saint Clair, MO, and the ground breaking ceremony was held Sunday, February 10, 1957. Construction began Feb. 18. Rapid progress was made and in June of 1957, the great Gothic arches were raised in place and sufficient brick had been laid so that the Corner Stone Laying Ceremony was held July 28. The key stone on the main entrance archway was lifted in place in August with the cross adorned copper steeple placed on the roof on Oct. 3. The art windows were installed in February 1958, with the oak paneling completed in March. The Wicks Pipe Organ, a gift of Miss Ida Bush, was installed in May and the pews interior fittings were completed in June. On June 21, the carpeting and tiling were laid. The Service of Thanksgiving and Consecration was held June 29, 1958 with Rev. Joseph Wagner preaching. Photos from the Groundbreaking, the Laying of the Cornerstone and the Consecration of the Sanctuary can be found in the new history display in the hallway outside the church offices.
Church members then turned their attention toward two goals: the retirement of the $145,000 debt on the sanctuary by 1966 and the construction of a new educational building. A major contribution to retire the debt was made each year from the Annual Christmas Bazaar which was begun by the Dorothy Carter Circle of the Women’s Society of Christian Service in 1952. In the following 26 years almost $80,000 was raised through the bazaars to help retire the debt. A capital funds campaign called The Completion Crusade was started in 1963 with Howard Blattner, chairperson and Ted Mallinckrodt, pastor, to raise the additional $60,000 to pay off the sanctuary debt. On Sunday, April 17, 1966, Bishop Eugene Frank, District Superintendent E.C. Ellis, and Pastor Fletcher Dodson received the paid off sanctuary mortgage from John Harris, of Callaway Bank and the sanctuary was dedicated. Plans for the Educational Building continued under the leadership of Rev. Vergil Eaton, who was appointed pastor of the church after the death of Rev. Dodson. On June 21, 1967, the Quarterly Conference approved the construction of the Education Building The church built in 1900 was razed in July and August and the groundbreaking service was held on Sunday, Sept. 10, 1967. While construction was in process in 1968, the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church united to become the United Methodist Church. The name of the church then became Court Street United Methodist Church. Construction was completed in 1968 and the new education building was consecrated on Nov. 24, 1968 by Bishop Eugene Frank, assisted by Rev. Vergil Eaton and Rev. E.C. Ellis. Faithful giving and fund-raising dinners and bazaars through the pastorates of Rev. Eaton from 1966 to 1973, and Rev. Richard White from 1973 to 1978, steadily reduced the debt on the Education Building until the final payment of $5,555 was made on Dec. 31, 1978 from the 1978 Bazaar proceeds. The Educational Building was dedicated on May 20, 1979, by Bishop Robert Goodrich, Jr. assisted by the pastor, Rev. Otto Steinhaus.
From 1985 to the present Rev. Pete Soens(1985-90), Rev. Jimmie Robinson(1990-97), Rev. George Braden(1997-2002), and Rev. John Hoos(2002-2007) served as pastors of the church. In 2007, Rev. Diana Loomis became pastor. In April of 2010 the church voted to make signficant changes to our facilities and our ministries to reach younger generations in Fulton. New programs like children's church, an updated website, communications using Facebook and Twitter, modifying our sanctuary to include flat screen technology and becoming a more outward focused "making a difference in the name of Jesus" congregation are all part of the church's plans.