Church History

History of Our Church

Merrill, First was founded in 1880 and Adaville was founded in 1871 the two churches have a rich history.



1980’s – Our church family helped support Rev. and Mrs. (Zandra) David Thompson missionaries in Zambia, Africa.   Zandra was a granddaughter of Harvey and Mable Herman from our church family. (Historian Book letter from the Thompsons – 1984)

1981 – Ray Kindler took many pictures to be entered into a new church directory published by United Church Directories. (Historian Book – 1981)

1982 – A Christian Symbol Sampler Quilt was pieced and donated by Ethel (Kehrberg) Tschampel and was auctioned off at the Bishops Ingathering receiving $104.00 to be donated to missions. (LeMars Daily Sentinel Wed. April 20, 1983 page 4)

1984 – A committee studied organ choices for over a year and March 1984 the church board voted to purchase a replacement for the 35 year old Baldwin model 45 electronic church organ. The May 6, 1984 choir concert kicked off a fund drive to purchase a new $24,000 Rogers electronic organ with two ranks of windblown pipes. Nearly half of the money was on hand or pledged. Funds were raised through memorials, donations, and a bazaar. July 15, 1984 the new organ was played for the first time. (Le Mars Daily Sentinel Thursday May 3, 1984 and misc. information in Historian Book - 1984)

1987 – The First United Methodist Foundation By-Laws were established and signed Dec. 29, 1987. The purpose of the foundation was to enable the further growth of our church, the ministries, and the stewardship opportunities. Only the income from the principal of this fund would be available to spend. (Copy of original foundation by-laws in the Historian Book)

1987 – The Merrill Christian Community came together and held a Seder Meal in the Merrill school gym. (Photos in Historian Book – 1987)

1991 – The United Methodist Women published a church cookbook (green binder), which contains 429 recipes. Some of the recipes are in memory of former members. (Le Mars Daily Sentinel article)

1991 – A Mission Statement was made which reads: The mission of the First United Methodist Church of Merrill is to share and proclaim the gospel message of salvation to friends and members of the community; to enjoy the friendship and support we received from one another; to feed the hungry, physically and spiritually; and to be a witness of faith in our community, country and world. (Historian Book - tri-fold brochure)

1991 – The church parsonage was sided and the trim was painted. The parsonage and church were treated for termites. (1992 Trustees Charge Conference report)

1991 – The Merrill 1st United Methodist Church was incorporated on 8/5/1991. (Charge Conference Report)

1992 – The members and friends of the Merrill United Methodist Church, have many reasons to celebrate. These are just a few of them: inspiring music, Christian education for all age groups, youth and adult fellowship groups, sound financial base and faithful stewardship of property, third miles Rainbow Covenant mission giving and ecumenical cooperation and leadership. (Quote from Rev. Shirley Textor in her State of the Church Report for Charge Conference)

1992 – At the Jan. 19th meeting of the Administrative Board meeting it was discussed how well we serve the community and when the meeting was adjourned a phone call came from Casey’s Gas Station, asking if they could send stranded motorists to the church, because of bad weather. A total of 26 people came to the


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church, which gave the church family another opportunity to share God’s love. (Le Mars Daily Sentinel Friday January 19, 1992.)

1993 – We were yoked with Adaville United Methodist Church to jointly sponsor a sister church which had been damaged by Hurricane Andrew. Through consultation with United Methodist Corp on Relief (UMCOR) we were linked with Clanton Chapel United Methodist Church in Dulac, Louisiana. Rev. Shirley Textor, Connie Ashley, and Glenda Hobson went on a work trip to Clanton Chapel. These ladies did repair projects and taught Vacation Bible School. The churches also sent money, clothing, and prayers for their sister church. (Pastor’s Report by Rev. Shirley Textor in the Charge Conference booklet)

1993 – RAGBRAI went through Merrill. Our church family provided “The Garden of Eaten” for the bike riders. Healthful snacks were available for purchase by the bike riders and free water was available. Our church was open for prayer and meditation. (Photos in Historian Book)

1994 – A Mother-Daughter Brunch was held at Waukum Inn in Merrill. The Precious Gifts and Treasures program was given by Susan Dannenberg (Miss Iowa 1993). Tickets were $4.00 for adults and age 5 and under were free. We served 119 at the brunch including the 4 young men (Phillip & Peter Smith, Josh Richardson, and Rich Sutherlin) who served the beverages. The fellowship and inspirational speaker made the morning very enjoyable. (Historian Book has invitation, photos, and etc.)

1994 – Heritage Sunday was held May 1, 1994. We honored 19 members and friends of our church who were 80 years and older. Each honoree was asked to fill out a questionnaire about their own history with our church. Wilma (Kehrberg) West and Ray Weinheimer shared some of their memories with the congregation. (Photo in Historian Book)

1994 – Wilfred R. Harris left 3% of his estate to the Merrill 1st United Methodist Church in two installments. The first one in the amount of $9,857.14 and the 2nd $5,436.81 for a total of $15,293.95. A special Charge Conference was held Sunday February 27, 1994 to decide what to do with this money. $1,000.00 was donated to the new Merrill Ambulance Fund. The remainder was put into a Building Fund. (Ethel Tschampel typed up this report and is found in its entirety in the Historian Book)

1995 – The Administrative board support 13 youth by paying half of their church camping fee, which amounted to $781.00 which came from undesignated mission giving. The congregation also prayerfully supported our youth at camp by remembering them with letters and prayers. (Camping chairperson report for Charge Conference)

1995 – Donna Holtz had two of her poems published in the `1995 volume of the National Library of Poetry. Donna’s poems shares her faith in God and are titled: “My Quiet Place and Gifts of Love”. She has also penned The Christ and The Price. (Historian Book)

1995 – ‘Fischer of Men’ was the theme for the Father-Son Breakfast. Tickets were $4.75. Damon Green from Siouxland Youth for Christ was the speaker and Dr. Tom Jeneary taught how he makes fishing lures. (Invitation, photos, and etc. in Historian Book)

1996 – Proposed working budget was $50,014. (1996 Charge Conference Report in Historian Book)

1997 – Merrill 1st United Methodist Church celebrated one Sunday by honoring the past 100 years with dressing in antique clothing and Gerald and Joan Johnson rode their horses and Don and Betty Crawford rode

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their buggy pulled by Sailor the horse to church as a kick-off for the Merrill Quasquicentennial. (Photos and clipping from Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

1998 – A Vision Committee was formed with 7 lay people + Pastor Fred Malone. The purpose of the committee was to brain storm visions for the Merrill 1st United Methodist Church for the future. A list of 44 items were drawn. (Minutes of the meetings in the Historian Book)

1998 – A community worship service was held July 12, 1998 at 7:00 a.m. sponsored by the three churches in Merrill: Assumption Catholic, St. John Lutheran, and 1st United Methodist Churches. This was one of the many community activities for the 125th anniversary of Merrill. During the parade our church had a food stand in the front lawn. (Historian Book has the worship service bulletin and photos)

1999 – Popular after school program (JAM) Jesus and Me is held on Wednesdays at our church. (Historian Book photos and in Charge Conference Report)

2001 – The Mission Statement was updated to read: The mission of the Merrill 1st United Methodist Church is to share and proclaim to all people; to be a caring community; to feed the hungry – physically and spiritually; and to be a witness to our faith. (Charge Conference Report)

2001 – A quote from Pastor Charles Teft in his Charge Conference report reads: The congregation has a strong choir; we are fairly conservative; and our financial situation has shown great improvement.

2001 – November 3, 2001 just seven months after the Heifer Project Internation Ark Banks were handed out to start a Mission Project to ‘Fill the Ark’, our goal was reached. We were able to send a check for $5,000.00 to Heifer Project International, plus there was an extra $94.13 to send to the Christian Needs Center for Christmas. (Certificate in Historian Book)

2002 – A motion passed at the March 20, 2002 Administrative Council meeting to expand the foyer at the approximate cost of $24,500. (Minutes of the Administrative Council in Historian Book)

2002 – We have begun introducing new and contemporary hymns into the worship service using The Faith We Sing hymn books.

2002 – Sept. 15, 2002 the first annual Pork Loin Dinner was served to 390 guests at the Civic Center. Adult prices were $6.00 and $2.50 for 10 years of age and under.   This fund raiser was a great way for the congregation to work together on a special project. (Historian Book)

2002 – We praise God that we have been able to meet our connectional giving at 100% to the Iowa Annual Conference. We have received the Rainbow Covenant Third Mile Church certificate several years for Mission giving. (Charge Conference Report in Historian Book)

2003 – Jan. 19, 2003 a new United Methodist Women’s circle was organized. They gave themselves the name ‘Circle of Seekers’ with 7 members and holding their meetings in the evenings. The ladies use the United Methodist women’s program book for their monthly programs, along with an article from the Response magazine. The Ruth Circle of United Methodist Women continues to meet the 3rd Wednesday in the afternoon each month. (Copy of the first meeting are in the Historian Book)

2003 – For John Hall’s Eagle Scout project, he planned, supervised and helped with the building of an 11-foot equilateral triangular shaped brick flowerbed and installed a 25-foot flag pole in front of our church. (Photos and Le Mars Daily Sentinel article in Historian Book)

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2004 – In June during worship service there was a dedication of memorials dating from 1996 – 2004. (copy of program and list in Historian Book)

2005 – We marked the 125th year of our Merrill 1st United Methodist Church with special observances each month (see attached sheet).

2006 – The United Methodist Youth Fellowship continued their tradition of their annual camp out under the direction of Dan Smith and Clark Tindall accompanied as chaperone. (Photos in Historian Book)

2007 – Caring Hands In Christ continue to meet the fourth Monday evening of each month. They are crocheting and knitting projects for missions. (Bulletin announcement in the Historian Book)

2008 – Both youth and adult continually led. This includes several who have finished the Disciple program. Learning is happening in our church as sharing the excitement of both teaching and growing. (Charge Conference Report in Historian Book)

2008 – Six United Methodist Youth and two chaperons went on a mission trip to Crow Reservation in Montana. (Charge Conference Report in Historian Book)

2008 – The 2007 Annual Conference passed a resolution which requires each local church to adopt a Safe Sanctuary Policy. June 5, 2008 our Church Conference adopted a Safe Sanctuary Policy. (Charge Conference Report)

2009 – Sept. 27, 2009 dedication of the Clavinova which was given in memory of long time member Wayne Warnock. (Article and photos in Historian Book)

2009 – This was the first time that 9 churches came together for a cluster Charge Conference for a unique setting of sharing and approving the year’s work. Bernie Colorado, District Superintendent, presided at the meeting and opened with a “Welcome” and a prayer. The following practices were shared and each table explained how they fulfilled that mission. A. Radical Hospitality B. Passionate Worship C. Intentional Faith Development D. Extravagant Generosity E. Risk-taking Mission and Service (Charge Conference report)

2009 – Our church family was hurting spiritually and mentally after enduring along with 3 pastors and their illnesses and deaths. (Fred C. Malone 1995-1998 (died 1998), Benjamin Meeks 2003-2006 (died 10-2006), and Ted Stowers 8-2006-8-2010 (died 2/12/2011) (Historian book)

2010 – We are struggling as a church family and no Sunday School or youth groups were organized in the fall of 2010. Several members are attending other churches, we are in need of prayers and rebuilding. We are hopeful that this will happen with God’s blessings and our new pastor’s leadership. (Historian Charge Conference Report)

2011 – 7 people ventured to Volva, SD to help assemble solar ovens to be sent to Haiti. (Historian Book)

2012 – Candy was collected for Easter bags for the soldiers in the United Arab of Emirates, where our current pastor Rev. Merrill Muller is deployed as chaplain in the Air Guard. (Historian Book)

2012 – The trifold brochure was updated including current activities, phone numbers and etc. of our church. (Sample in the Historian Book)

2012 – Small Group Ministry and average attendance: Youth Fellowship 10, UMW – 13, Women’s Bible Study 15, and Sunday School 24. (Charge Conference Report)

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2013 – Acoustic ceiling was installed in the Fellowship Hall costing $2,363.00, which proved to be successful. (Historian Book)

2013 – United Methodist Women continue to present the United Methodist Women’s Mission recognition pins. Glenda Hobson and Sue Richardson were the recipients for their outstanding support of missions. (Historian Book)

2013 – The first Advent Tea and Dessert was hosted by the United Methodist Women December 8, 2013. (Historian Book)

2014 – Budget for 2014 was $67,950.00 (Charge Conference Report)

2014 – The Food Bank is coming to Merrill 1st United Methodist Church. The paperwork has been filled out to start a food bank in the Lighthouse. The congregation will be given the opportunity to donate grocery vouchers for fresh foods and meats. (The Beacon – church newsletter April 2014)

2014 – Christmas Eve Services were held at 4:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Wednesday, December 24, 2014. ( The Beacon – church newsletter December 2014)

2015 – Vacation Bible School theme was Shining Star – See the Jesus in Me! Average attendance was 36 students. We continue to serve at the Gospel Mission in Sioux City one meal a month. 31 Knitting Kits were donated to the Bishop’s Ingathering. Evangelism Team have coffee mugs with our church logo and name on. These mugs are to be given to prospective members while visiting our church. (The Beacon – church newsletter)








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