San Jon Methodist Church to celebrate 100 years
Published: Tuesday, September 19th, 2006
The San Jon Methodist Church will celebrate 100 years of ministry on Sunday. As its history demonstrates, the small San Jon Methodist congregation first had to meet in people’s homes or a general store for Sunday services. And then it had to face several fires which burned its structures to the ground and the subsequent rebuilding. Nevertheless, its members held steadfast and today the congregation meets in the church that was constructed in 1951. What follows is the history of the San Jon Methodist Church: In the year 1905, The Rev. Benjamin F. James began preaching in San Jon and holding services in the few private homes of the community and sometimes in the General Mercantile Store built by C. L. Owen. A brush arbor was constructed northwest of the main part of th e small settlement, close to the location of the current reproduction of the original brush arbor at the corner of Sixth Street and Oak Avenue. The following year, in 1906, several homesteaders met together to establish a congregation to be known at the San Jon Methodist Episcopal Church South. These first members were: Mr. and Mrs. J.T. White, Miss Jeva Fry (sister of Mrs. White), Mr. and Mrs. C.L. Owen, and Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Burton. Before the congregation was chartered, it was known as the San Jon Circuit and was joined with a congregation in Bard, about 5 miles east of San Jon and Porter and about 5 miles North. The brush arbor provided shelter for the service until the first building was completed in 1912, When the weather was bad, the congregation met in a home or in Owen's mercantile. In 1912, a new church was built just north of the present location. This church burned in 1921 and the following year a new adobe building was constructed. The new building was dedicated as the Jeva Fry Memorial Methodist Church in honor of her service as a committed Sunday school teacher and church leader. Jeva Fry died when she was walking to her sister's house with God as her only witness. The adobe church burned in the winter of 1949. It was a very cold day and the fire truck was frozen and garden hoses could not overcome the blaze. The congregation held services in a building on Main Street (US 66) owned by Clark and Fern White until the new brick church was completed at the site of the old adobe building. The Rev. Al O. Hood was pastor during the construction of the new church that was finished in 1951 and the first service was held on March 11, 1951. The building was dedicated on Aug. 26, 1951 with Bishop W. Angie Smith conducting the service and The Rev. Harry L. Webb as pastor. In 1945 the Bard church merged with San Jon and in 1951, the Porter church joined with San Jon. In September 1958, the Community Church in Wheatland disbanded and 13 members from that congregation transferred to San Jon. The Rev. Mary Sue Hull, current pastor, was appointed in June 2006 as the 56th pastor to serve the San Jon United Method Church. Special services will be held Sunday to celebrate the centennial beginning with fellowship at 9:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. The Centennial Worship Service will begin at 10:30 a.m. under the brush arbor and then move into the sanctuary. The public is invited to join the congregation for this special observance and Bar-B-Que dinner after worship. This information was provided by Gerald White, church historian, in San Jon.
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