Romeo United Methodist Church
Monday, November 20, 2017

Church History

The dream of building an addition onto our present church is now a reality.

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

When the congregation outgrew their original small church, they raised enough money to erect a Gothic Revival structure that today, as it has since 1872, stands on the corner of North main and Dickenson Streets.  The cost was $42,000.

At the Hovey Brick Farm on Van Dyke and 34 Mile Road, 5000,000 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, when you realize how it was made and then you visualize how it was raised to this height.  It has tolled many years, beckoning churchgoers that it was time to come.  The bell can be heard in a radius of six miles. 

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, and consequently some interior repairs were made.  The original steeple (160 feet from the ground) was still in tact.  However, the townspeople made the decision that the steeple had to be removed.  There is much regret even today that t 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 many moneymaking projects.  This kitchen is used today for our famous Lenten fish dinners.

In 1958, the beginnings of planning a new addition or building was on the Board of Trustees agenda.  A building fund was established and it grew quite favorably.  The money was needed elsewhere for new purchases or repairs to the church such as:  a new organ, new furnace, point tucking, paved parking lot, electrical update, etc.  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 asked again to replace the original pews, install a new floor and wall-to-wall carpeting.  The original pews were left in the balcony.  The church was once again decorated and repainted at this time.

In 1990, a much-needed elevator was installed and it has proven to be a very successful and useful project.  It is very much appreciated by visitors and parishioners alike.

In June 1996, a 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.  He felt, "Procrastination can lead to depression and discouragement.  The project gets bigger and more difficult, leading to never getting the project done."

In 2001, another painting and decorating project of the entire church was completed by many parishioners who volunteered their time and labor.

The dream of 47 years ago was once again the dream of 2002-2003.  After many meetings regarding Village variances and property lines, finally in December of 2004 we broke ground on North Main street in Romeo next to our existing church building.

Then on March 9, 2005 a shovel began digging what seemed like a bottomless pit.  Gradually, a building structure started to take on the look of possibly being an addition to the present church building.  The interior began to look like what was planned with new openings to various rooms being detected; entrances, office space, restrooms, and of course new Sunday school rooms.  On completion of this project, it was very evident of the cautious concern of the workers as the symbolic emblems are very much intact today.

Our dream has materialized to provide a facility for children and youth in a safe and modern environment to learn about the Savior.  We want the church to grow.

We owe so very much to our modern day forefathers and their perceptive view for our future.  We are very grateful to Dr. Glanville for his fortitude and prayers in accomplishing this far-reaching goal.

This synopsis cannot be concluded without expressing our appreciation to the workers such as:  the Board of Trustees; planning and finance teams who attended many, many meetings; interior and exterior decorating teams; and the prayers and encouragement from our parishioners.  We extend our sincere gratitude.

Compiled by Ilene Lock, Church Historian