Romeo United Methodist Church
Wednesday, November 25, 2020

History

In the year of 1824, circuit rider Elias Pattee rode into Romeo, known then as Indian Village. He organized a group of six people who would lay the foundation of Methodism in Romeo. The first meeting was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Finch, and it is their Bible we have in our possession today. It is displayed upstairs in our original building in a memorial cabinet.

In 1872, the congregation outgrew their original church and raised money to erect a Gothic Revival structure on the corner of North Main Street and Dickenson Street. The cost was $42,000 and the building still stands today in the same location as when it was first built.

At the Hovey Brick Farm on Van Dyke and 34 Mile Road, 500,000 bricks were made by hand at the cost of $22,248. In the fields, rocks were formed into pillars to be used for the foundation. They were brought to the church on sleighs in the winter. They can still be seen in our basement today. When the church was completed it could seat 900 people comfortably. On July 30, 1872 the cornerstone was laid in place on the south corner of the new Episcopal Methodist Church.

It has been written:  “On that day our church was known as the finest church in northern Michigan. It will be a fit occasion for the greatest gathering of many, and a good time will be remembered by all.”

Our church bell arrived January 1873 from New York. It weighs 1,439 pounds. What a magnificent masterpiece! It is incredible to think about how it was made and visualize it rising high into the structure. It has tolled for many years, beckoning churchgoers in a six-mile radius to our wonderful church.

In 1912 the east wall in the Sanctuary was moved 14 feet forward. This resulted in two much needed rooms for the growing congregation. The church was painted and new carpeting placed only in the aisles.

In 1934 the roof of our original building was severely damaged by a cyclone, necessitating some interior repairs. The original steeple (160 feet from the ground) was still intact. However, the townspeople made
the decision that the steeple had to be removed. There is much regret even today that it had to be done.

In the late 1950’s we began to remodel our kitchen and a back hallway office was made possible. This was a huge undertaking. The women of the church worked diligently on projects to raise the funds. This kitchen is used today for our famous Lenten Fish Fry, the profits of which provide scholarships for our children and youth to attend Christian camps.

In 1958, planning a new addition to our building was on the Board of Trustees agenda. A building fund was established and it grew quite favorably. However, the money was needed elsewhere for new purchases or repairs to the church including a new organ, new furnace, point tucking, paved parking lot, and electrical updates. Consequently, the building project was tabled.

In 1959 the original church windows had to be repaired or replaced. Some of the original glass can still be seen on the upper level of the church. A team of husband and wife undertook this huge project. Our beautiful Rose Window was replaced with a dove in the center as the only change.

In 1969, the building committee was again asked to replace the original pews and install a new floor and wall-to-wall carpeting.  The original pews were left
in the balcony. The church was redecorated and repainted at this time. In 1990 a much-needed elevator was installed and it has proven to be a very useful amenity. Visitors and parishioners alike appreciate the convenience it allows.

In June 1996, new minister Reverend Dr. Gary Glanville and his family arrived in Romeo. Upon the first day of his arrival, he visited the Romeo Village offices to discuss the purchase of the adjoining property for future expansion or parking.

After rebuilding the attendance of the congregation, this became the next goal for Dr. Glanville. At that time, smaller project plans were in the makings that involved new carpeting for the Sanctuary and stairs. The parking lot expansion was installed. An updated sound system and video system were installed in the Sanctuary. Instruments for the Praise Band were acquired. The nursery was remodeled and new pew cushions were
acquired. A new organ was purchased. Church volunteers painted the entire church, including the choir arch.

In 2005, our dream from 1958 finally became a reality.  The addition project materialized to provide a safe and state-of-the-art environment for children, youth, and adults to learn about our Savior through Christian Education.  On the second floor, beautiful Biblical themes adorn the walls and a drama room, computer lab, and art room provide opportunities for a variety of teaching methods.  The ground floor houses functional office and meeting spaces and the basement provides ample space for our youth to congregate.  We see Christian Education as a means God uses to grow the church today for tomorrow's disciples.

Our church has two Sunday services: Traditional, with our Choir, and Contemporary, with our Praise Band. Our congregation is proud to welcome all members of our community. With the help of other local churches, groups, and families, we are happy to host His Table, a free weekly meal open to all who wish to share fellowship over a meal.

We owe so very much to our forefathers and their perceptive views for our future. Guided by a strong foundation, our modern leaders are able to continue God’s work in our church, community, and world. We are sincerely grateful to teams of volunteers for their fortitude and prayers in accomplishing these far reaching goals.

On July 1, 2020, we welcomed Pastor Devin Smith, his wife Brittany, and their family.  We look forward to new plans, projects, and programs in the ensuing years.

Compiled by Ilene Lock, church historian