Most of the small communities built throughout Michigan in the 1800s didn’t have churches. As the early settlers cleared the forests to make their homes, they began to see a need to have large groups of people gather together to worship. They held their services in their homes. Later as the number of worshippers began to grow, the services were moved to schoolhouses. The settler’s homes were too small to hold large numbers of people.
If you wanted to become a member of the church, you were required to serve a probation period of not less than six months. During this time, the people were carefully watched to see if their conduct deserved being a member.
The William McPherson family deeded a lot to the newly formed Webberville Methodist Episcopal Church for $1.00 in 1880. It was under the leadership of the Rev. James Caster that the 72-member congregation set about constructing the first church building at its present location at 205 North Summit Street.
In 1916, the pastor’s salary was $700 a year. A parsonage, which was located at 315 W. Grand River, was rented for $150 a year. The total budget for the year was about $1600. The attendance for the Church was around 145 people.
During the 1920s the church gained in prosperity and the growth of the church indicated that they needed more facilities. In 1923, the Webberville-Bell Oak Charge purchased a home at 403 N. Main Street to be used as the new parsonage. This property was purchased from George and Florence Dunn for $1900. The Webberville Church assumed 2/3 of the mortgage and the Bell Oak Church the other 1/3.
In 1924, the church building underwent extensive renovation. This building program was prompted because of an unfortunate incident. During a Children’s Day program, the floor caved in around the furnace and the service had to be moved outdoors. It was at this time that the basement was dug providing room for dining and kitchen facilities as well as Sunday School rooms. The sanctuary was also remodeled along with the addition of the beautiful stained glass windows. In special ceremonies, recognition was given to families who had donated the windows.
During the Depression years people gave as much as they could of their time and talents to the church to make up for what they couldn’t give in money. The beautiful painting of Christ kneeling in the garden was one such gift that the Church received. A painter and artist whose children were members of the church did the painting.
The Webberville Methodist Episcopal Church became the Webberville Methodist Church in 1939. The Ladies Aid Society was reorganized in 1940 and became known as the Women’s Society of Christian Service.
In February 1947, toilets and new wiring were part of a remodeling program as well as decorating the sanctuary. A new roof and painting of the exterior of the building also took place.
In 1948, the church met with the local school board to make arrangements for holding half-day kindergarten classes in the church. Rent was charged and the installation of a new drinking fountain and bathroom were necessary.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the Webberville congregation grew in membership ranging from 140-170. A new electronic organ was also purchased and dedicated in November 1953. New pews were purchased along with new carpeting and paneling during this time period.
In the 1970s the parsonage at 120 East Beech Street was purchased. Other changes included building a new steeple, having a paved parking lot, installation of a carillon, changing the brick exterior to white siding, and adding a belfry.
The current pastor at the Methodist Church is Dwayne Bagley. He has been here since 1995. His wife’s name is Shelly and they have two children. This church was his first church to be a pastor. He is enjoying being at Webberville. Besides the church, he is involved with the Webberville Elementary Chess Club.
By Coralyn from Mrs. Johnson’s fourth grade