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August 22, 2013

Arbela United Methodist Church Celebrates 125 Years of Service to Community

The Arbela united Methodist Church hosted an open house at the church on Sunday afternoon, august 11, 2013, from 3:00 to 5:00, in celebration of 125 years of service to the community. Homemade ice cream in various flavors and lots of cake and pie were served to approximately 90 members, friends and neighbors, following the blessing offered by Lonnie Triplett and welcome given by Lance McClalmroch.

The Arbela United Methodist Church has its roots in the former United Brethan Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church. The United Brethan Church was built in the 1860's and was located on the "Hill South" in Arbela (as described in legal documentation). Due to dwindling attendance in 1888, a committee headed by Decree Sage and Johnny Houtz proposed selling the church building to the Methodist Society, the Methodist Society having been organized in 1880. D.B.Cravens and J.L.Logston financed the purchase of the building for $400.00, each putting up half of the purchase price. The deed was transferred on February 15, 1891. This church now belonged to the Methodist Society and was practically rebuilt in 1893. Many successful revivals were held in the early 1900's with conversions totaling in the seventies.

During the remodeling process in 1893 the church caught fire and the vestibule was badly damaged. Not to be held back, the church board sought enough money in class funds, subscriptions, etc., to complete the reconstruction after the fire.

Many improvements have been made since the conception of the Arbela Methodist Church. Back in 1951, it was decided there was need of a social gathering place, so the men of the church got together and drew up a blueprint - a basement was to be constructed. With horses, dirt skid, spades, shovels, hammers, recycled lumber, pounds of nails, wheelbarrows and many hours of manual manpower, a basement was dug and cement hand-poured. Steps were built from the sanctuary on the east and south sides of the basement. A cover was added over the south entrance; the east-side entrance cover was built in 1982.

The old wood-burning stove was replaced by a more modern oil-burning furnace; however, this system was not as cost-effective as was hoped, so it was replaced with a more efficient gas-burning furnace with the availability of natural gas in the 1970's. In the early years water was carried from the city to be used for kitchen water purposes. This gave the men employment on Ladies Aid Day's too, hauling water in to fill the well each month. When the rural water was put into place and access to this water supply was available to Arbela, it seemed there was "need" for an indoor "facility". A restroom was installed in the early 1980's. The tank "well" was converted into a septic tank for the restroom. There is surely a reason John Wesley called this denomination "Methodist".

The front steps of the church and a portion of the sidewalk were replaced in 1995. Vinyl siding was installed in 1995-96. In 2011-12 a handicap ramp was built with a new door entry on the east wall of the sanctuary. This looked to be a next to impossible task; however, with the expertise of an architect and skill of a carpenter, the much needed ramp was completed.

Due to a flying object subjecting itself through one of the beautiful windows, it was decided by the church board that measures needed to be taken to protect these windows. Money was raised to place framed covers over all of the stained glass from the outside. This led to the problem of Ventilation in the sanctuary when it was 100 degrees outside, so parishioners again dug deep into their pockets and came up with enough in funds to put central air in the building. This took place around the turn of the century.

The 1990's lighting in the sanctuary has been replaced with much brighter kilowatt-friendly fixtures. The congregation enjoys a much "lighter" atmosphere.

There are ten stately designed stained glass windows in the church building. Beautiful needlework of the "Lord's Prayer" and "The Last Supper" were created by Jenny Lancaster in the form of crocheted wall hangings and are adorning the sanctuary.

At the close of Mt. Moriah United Methodist Church north of Arbela, those members were welcomed into the fellowship of the Arbela United Methodist Church. Some chose other congregations, but Arbela is thankful for those who chose membership with Arbela. Satin tapestry banners flank the right side of the altar. They were created by Twila Miller formerly from the Mt. Moriah Church. One piece of the art depicts the Methodist "Circuit Riding Preacher" and the other one displays the United Methodist flame and cross symbol.

The United Methodist Church was created when the Evangelical United Brethan Church and the Methodist Church consolidated at the General Conference in Dallas, Texas on April 23, 1968, giving birth to a new denomination by two churches that had distinguished histories and influential ministries in various parts of the world; thusly, Arbela Methodist Church became Arbela United Methodist Church. Arbela United Methodist Church is alive and well - not so big, but mighty! A current enrollment is 45. Sunday School is held every Sunday at 9:00 a.m., followed by worship services at 10:00 a.m. Vacation Bible School is ministered every summer; the Lord's Acre Meal and Auction is enjoyed the third Saturday of November beginning at 11:00 a.m. The door to this old church building is never locked, but is open for anyone needing the solace of this historically vibrant building. This is a very caring community. Visitors are always welcomed.

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Memphis Democrat
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