As of 1992 to present, our official name is Stewartville United Methodist Church, 900 John Wesley Avenue, NW, Stewartville, MN 55976. Built on a picturesque hill on the north end of the town of Stewartville, the focal point of the church is the awesome 20-foot by 30-foot faceted glass cross window in jewel-like colors. Our theme is “Lift High the Cross.”
Our Methodist Church history in Stewartville started in 1891 “with the coming of the railroad,” and Eugene S. Wooldridge, Leander Duncanson, and other Stewartville families of the High Forest Methodist Church, decided to organize a local town church. Rev. Josiah Royce of High Forest over saw the building of the church in Stewartville. On March 18, 1891, they started excavating on a lot in the east part of town (corner Hwy 30 and 2nd Avenue, SE), donated by Mr. Simpson for the church. Rev. Chaffee, the Presiding Elder, preached the dedicatory sermon on December 20, 1891. A ladies aid was organized as the new church was built. A parsonage was completed in early 1893 to serve a resident pastor; 1893 also marked the beginning of an Epworth League (youth).
E.S. Wooldridge and Fred Robbins, two trustees of the Methodist Church, bought the brick church building (300 2nd Street, NW) from the Presbyterian Society trustees (O. P. Shaffer and David Bonner) in 1899. The next year (1900) the Methodists sold their church building in the east part of town to the German Lutherans for $1000 and bought the brick church from E. S. Wooldridge and Fred Robbins.
From 1920 to 1929, the Methodists joined the Congregationalists and held union services at the Congregational Church. The Union Church and Zion Lutheran Church held joint vacation Bible School during this time. The Methodist Church From 1920 to 1929, the Methodists joined the Congregationalists and held union services at the Congregational Church. The Union Church and Zion Lutheran Church held joint vacation Bible School during this time. The Methodist Church was remodeled and a new entrance and belfry were built, and in 1929 services resumed in the brick church (300 2ndStreet, NW).
Pastor M. Lee Wilson served the Methodist Church from 1940 to 1947. In 1940 the church was enlarged by an addition of 12 feet on the west end with a new chancel arrangement and paneling. During the pastorate of Rev. C. D. Cook (1951-1954) plans were made for building a new parsonage and basement addition to the church to provide extra Sunday School room and kitchen. In the spring of 1954 work was started and completed that year with Rev. Allen E. Dripps, now pastor; the Dripps family were the first occupants in the new parsonage (December 1954).
From 1965 until 1984 the Methodist Church, Stewartville was yoked with the rural Methodist Church, Sumner Center (formerly an Evangelical United Brethren Church) with the following pastors serving both congregations: Charles Dundas (1965-1966), Stuart Joransen (1966-1970), Solomon Bass (1970-1973), Forest Strnad (1973-1977), Earl Almquist (1977-1982), and Dennis E. Glad (1982-1989).
A New Building for SUMC:
As years passed, lay leaders and members in the United Methodist Church, Stewartville talked about building a bigger church for worship, education, fellowship hall and parking spaces, among other needs. During the 1970s and into the 1980s, many meetings were held and information obtained pertaining to this huge endeavor. Of utmost importance was the question whether the church could support a full time pastor without the support of the Sumner Center United Methodist Church. Also, what other church could yoke with Sumner Center United Methodist Church? Pastor Dennis E. Glad’s leadership during the 1980s was of great importance during this time. In 1984 both congregations voted to approve the separation; also approved by officials in the Minnesota Conference. Indeed, the United Methodist Church in Stewartville was able to support fully the pastor’s salary and commitments in the ensuing years.
In the quest of a perfect building site, many possible building sites were checked out. On January 9, 1987, Clair Mrotek and Richard Lewis, representing a New Site Committee, visited with Millie Sass Petersen about purchasing a 15-acre tract of farmland from her for the purpose of building a new church. Millie said, yes! especially since a church would be built on the site. The District Board of Church Location and Building approved the site. The legalities were consummated by the District Superintendent and Pastor Dennis Glad’s approval and a vote of approval by the congregation April 5, 1987.
Ground was broken for the new church on October 13, 1991, with Pastor Mary Hurmence, appointed pastor to the church June 1989, leading the special ceremony. By that time the building fund had accumulated to approximately $300,000 in cash and a large pledge of donated labor for the million dollar church. To God’s glory, the church was paid for in less than 10 years’ time. The first worship service in the new church was September 13, 1992.
In 2001, a beautiful parsonage was built across from the church and paid for by 2010. Again, much labor was donated by church members and credited toward the cost of the parsonage.
On September 10, 2017, the congregation celebrated the 25th anniversary of the “new” church facility. During these past 25 years, many, many events have taken place. In 2012/13 the Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) became a part of our church’s revitalization and continues to-date. We do have many faithful leaders and our Church Leadership Council encompasses the committees and ministry team who serve on behalf of the congregation and SUMC.
In July 2017 Stewartville UMC began a partnership with STORM Ministries, hosting a STORM Camp in our church and community. Working together with the STORM Participants (55 students, 11 adult chaperones, and 13 STORM staff), serving as many families and individuals within a 30 mile radius as possible.
Present Staff includes: Pastor Laura Nordstrom; Kristin Gontea, Children, Youth and Family Ministry Coordinator; Laurie Helmers, organist; Jaymi Wilson, pianist; Renee Wilson, parish nurse; Sound Booth Operator volunteers; education leaders, and more.
The Mission of the Stewartville United Methodist Church is to be a place that makes disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the world. We strive to be a welcoming community, that encourages the faith of all people, regardless of where they are on their faith journey. Through our Sunday service, programs for children & youth, outreach, and Bible Studies; we are seeking to love God and love our neighbors, to the best of our abilities.
History of Pastors Serving Stewartville United Methodist Church
- Pastor Dennis Glad – 1982-1989
- Pastor Mary Hurmence – 1989-1996
- New Stewartville UMC building – 1992
- Pastor Jack Haddorff – 1996-1998
- Pastor Jeffrey Olson – 1998-2008
- Pastor Linda Grounds – 2008-2010
- Pastor Wane Souhrada – 2010-2020
- Pastor Laura Nordstrom- 2020-Present
- 25th Anniversary Celebration booklet, Lift High the Cross, compiled by Margaret A. Lex with review by Pastor Wane Souhrada and other church members. “This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
- The Stewartville Story 1857-1957 by the Centennial Book Committee, Stewartville, Minnesota, 1957.
- United Methodist Church, Sumner Center, and United Methodist Church, Stewartville combined directory, 1975.
- Centuries of Commitment by Martha E. Billings for Stewartville UMC’s Centennial Celebration, 1991.
- Past Church Directories