ROLLING PRAIRIE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
As Marcia asked.. I ask as well.. "As with all history, many events, people, and information has been lost to time. Please forgive any omissions or errors..Please feel free to contribute any information to correct or make our history complete..
The rebuilt Church of 1896
In August of 1965, Robert Foltz was hired as architect, to draw up plans to present to congregation. The plans were approved and presented to congregation on January 12, 1967.
Construction began April 10, 1967. The Corner stone was laid on July 16, 1967.. A contract was signed with Earl J Snook & Co, Elkhart for $134,000. It was decided to only build the sanctuary, offices, classrooms and the connection between the sanctuary and a future Fellowship hall.
March 2017 revised writing.
In 1960, while Rev. Herbert Wingard was pastor, a building fund was set up for construction of a new and larger sanctuary. For about a year discussions included whether to rebuild at the site of the church in center of town or find new location. On April 23, 1961 the congregation voted to take out a six month option on Charles Hunt property, where the church is now located. In Dec 1961 the option was extended another six months and on March 4, 1962 the decision was made to purchase the property and a building and finance committee was established to begin fund raising for the new church. The final payment on property was made in March 1965. Rev James Byrd was pastor.
With the parking lot a sea of mud, the first service held in the new sanctuary was on Easter Sunday April 14, 1968... The parishioners sat on comfy planks that were placed on cement blocks... The music was provided by a small and wheezy electronic keyboard.
Again funds were raised to rebuild the church at a cost of $3000. After the fire, the preacher, Rev George Cramer, made no serious attempt to rebuild. After being appointed pastor, Rev Wm. Davis, who was a go-getter, set out to rebuild.. The foundation was laid and in the spring of 1896 the church was completed... This is the church that many of us, in the 30's 40's, 50's & 60's as children, teens, young parents, remember and attended until 1967.
Secretaries who worked for the church and its pastors were: Charlotte Kitchenmaster, Marian Watnick, Shirl Sater, Peg Greziowski, Fran Hedstrom, Kathy Jack, and current secretary, Gail Dailey, (2013 - 2017) Bette Schaefer (2017)
In 1981 an addition above the Fellowship Class for Sunday school rooms.. William Rist Construction built the outside walls and sloped roof, to eliminate leaking problems of the flat roof. The inside was completed by workers from the members of the church... Charles Wheatbrook donated building materials for the project. The Sunday School room were ready December, 1981..
History of Rolling Prairie United Methodist Church
In 1975 members of the church voted to sell the old parsonage on Michigan & Lynn streets, and build a new parsonage on the grounds behind the church.. The parsonage, a three bedroom ranch with full basement & garage was completely paid for March 25, 1976, by donations of the members and the sale of the old parsonage. The first pastor family to live in the new parsonage, was Ken & Bobbi Mahan. In 1975, Ken, a bachelor, came roaring into town on a motorcycle, wearing a leather jacket, with a big white dog, named Sam, to begin his pastor duties.. In a lovely wedding ceremony he married his lovely bride, Bobbi in our church.
ROLLING PRAIRIE, Ind. – State authorities have ruled a fire that heavily damaged the Rolling Prairie United Methodist Church 20 miles west of South Bend May 5 accidental. Once the blaze was brought Rolling Prairie church burns, ruled accidental by authorities under control, Jeffrey Roseboom from the state fire marshal’s office led the investigation with two agents from the Merrillville branch of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called to investigate. According to The South Bend Tribune, they said the fire was started by an electrical timing junction box that is located in a closet on the main floor of the church. The box, which was worked on earlier this week, turns the lights in the church on and off automatically. Roseboom said the fire caused an estimated $400,000 in damage. The ATF is routinely included in investigations of church fires. Authorities don’t believe anybody was inside the building when the fire occurred. Sunday’s worship service was scheduled to be held on the parsonage lawn. Information for this story is from The South Bend Tribune
More of our Story to come soon.. Feel free to share with me any info you would like to see included or to correct any errors shared here in the History of Rolling Prairie United Methodist Church..... by contacting the church office or messaging me on facebook...
The old church on Michigan Street was purchased by the Rolling Prairie Lions Club in 1968 for a community building...
In 1980 it became the Rolling Prairie branch of
Laporte County Library..
Sadly, In 2016, the Rolling Prairie Library was demolished to make room for the new but beautiful Library.
Dedication of the new Church was conducted by Rev Albert Northrop, assisted by former pastors, James Byrd & Herb Wingard. Rev Northrop was a retired, 25 year U.S. Air Force Chaplain, who served around the world.
In 1982, the bell purchased after the fire in 1895, was placed in the new steeple, presented from Elma Banzhaf as a memorial to her husband Gus.
In 1985 a new kitchen area, women's rest room, and a hall closet were added by the hard work of members of the church...
The Rolling Prairie Circuit was organized in 1856. In 1859 the circuit was call Portland and then in 1864 went back to being called Rolling Prairie..
The Church was commenced in 1865 and was built by Jacob Folant. The church was built with members contributing whatever they could afford. Most contributions were between $5.00 to $10. It was completed in January 1866 at a cost of $3400.00
In September 1895, the church burned to the ground inside an hour, despite the efforts of the citizens to extinguish the fire. The fire was a mystery but believe it may have started by spontaneous combustion. Rev. C.D. Royce was pastor at time of fire. On Sept 16, 1865 the following headline in the Laporte Daily Herald newspaper read: HOLY SMOKE! METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN ROLLING PRAIRIE DESTROYED..