Contributed by Daniel Baer
Oak Grove, Missouri
Written by Daniel Baer, Oak Grove, Missouri
A stranger driving down Broadway today would notice two old churches, one a red brick structure and the other a stone building. If these churches could speak, what historical accounts could they utter?
To have a historical understanding of these churches one needs to go back to 1844. The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was being held in New York City. The issue being discussed was Bishop Andrew of Georgia who owned slaves. The General Conference requested that he free his slaves or desist from the exercise of his office. The Georgia law would not allow him to free his slaves. The southern delegates rebelled and went home to organize their own church, later known as The Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The northern element of the church kept it's name, The Methodish Episcopal Church. The church remained divided for ninety five years.
In 1881, at Oak Grove, Missouri, The Methodist Episcopal Church, South was founded. The first pastor was T.D. Payne who also pastored the Pink Hill Methodist Church. The Methodist Episcopal Church (North) was organized in 1887. The first pastor was Stanford Ing. Both of the above churches were in their present day locations. These edifices speak volumes to those who would listen; births, marriages, deaths, surmons, family records and changed lives.
Today the red brick church and the stone church silently face each other just north of the railroad tracks. They are vestiges of a country with deep social and historical differences which resulted in a horrible fratricidal conflict known as the Civil War. On the east side of Broadway was the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Originally it was a wooden exterior. In 1913 an explosion of the gas furnace distroyed the entire building while an evening service was in progess. No one was killed. One year later (1914) the new brick building was completed. On the west side of Broadway the first Methodist Episcopal Church was built; It was a small frame building built on land given by the Frick family. Later the stone church was built, made of carthage stone. It was dedicated in 1915.
In 1939 the merger of both elements of Methodism occurred. The demoninations became known as the Methodist Church. The members of the stone church closed their doors and begin to worship in and with the members of the red brick church. Most parishioners excepted this merger, but some refused to worship together. They worshiped together in the brick church for nineteen years.*
In 1958 a new Methodist Church was built at 15th and Harding where services are held yet today.
Another merger took place in 1968. The Evangelical United Brethren Church, historically German speaking people of Methodist leanings, joined with the Methodist. The church again assumed a new name, The United Methodist Church.
Next time you drive down Broadway, observe the two old time-worn churches. The brick church (south) has the windows knocked out and is a state of general decay. This stone church (north) is presently being occupied by the Seventh Day Adventist.
Citizens of Oak Grove witnessed the Reconstruction, The Spanish American War, World War I and World War II. They have experienced the Great Depression and the period of great prosperity after World War II. The Korean and Viet Nam Wars occupied it's citizens, then on September 11th our world was ratically changed by the crashes of the jetliners into the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.
These churches have withstood the momentous changes since their origins of 1881 and 1887. Not many towns have these bold monuments and reminders of our changing times. The stone church and the brick church have been good companions for us all. Let us charish them and appreciate what they have given.
Oak Grove Historical Society
* The Broadway Baptist Church worshiped in the brick building from 1959 to 1981.
Note: Since this article has been written the red brick church has been demolished.