Milton church to host final service Sunday
MILTON — The Grace United Methodist Church of Milton will have its final worship service Sunday.
Everyone is invited to attend the service. The doors of the church will be open at 10 a.m. for anyone to walk through the building.
Worship will begin at 10:45 a.m., with singing, then formal worship at 11 a.m. and ending with the deconsecration service.
Grace United Methodist Church was established in 1842 with seven members. In 1881, the current property was purchased in the town of Milton for $350 from W.W. Holland and his wife Sarah. The current building was built in 1927 and is the largest in Van Buren County, constructed by visionaries who wanted to make a statement of faith to the community, county and region by building a church that could seat approximately 500 people. It replaced one that was destroyed by fire. The upper balcony contains pews salvaged from the previous church.
In 1988, the church was partially destroyed by fire, and several months were spent renovating the sanctuary.
Through the years the church and the United Methodist Women’s mission always have been “to be a presence in our community.” Besides the regular worship services and Sunday school, the church has provided after school programs, Bible studies, harvest suppers, men’s breakfasts, pancake suppers and ice cream socials.
The church has honored deceased persons at All Saint’s Day, sponsored missionaries and bowling teams organized to be a part of Van Buren Co-operative Ministries and last year celebrated 50 years of having candlelight Christmas Eve services at 11 p.m.
The church has celebrated: weddings — the last two were Heather Smithburg and Justin Chaplin, and Kaysi Davis and Charles Luffy; and baptisms — seven people were baptized in 2007 and the last baptism to be celebrated was McKenna Kate Bales. The church people have assisted families with funeral services for their loved ones. The last funeral services held this summer were for Mary Louise Short and Ruby King.
Over the past 174 years, 68 ministers have served the congregation. Current pastor Mary Kathryn Hart will conduct the final services Sunday, and what used to house a congregation of worshipers will become a building filled with many memories.