History of the Douglass United Methodist Church
The first religious service in Douglass at which there is any account was a Sabbath School conducted by Mrs. John T. Stanley for the benefit of her own children and those of Mr. and Mrs. John Long. These were neighbor families who lived near the Walnut River west of town.
The following information was extracted from articles published in the Douglass Tribune on January 4, 1984 and other records.
The Methodist society was first led by a young clergyman whose name appears only as Brother Zellars. He came in May of 1870 from his claim on the Arkansas River. He made all of his appointments on foot, and since the Rev. J. Copeland of Augusta was preaching in the area, he discontinued his work here.
As early as 1870 and 1871, Douglass was a regular point of the Methodist circuit. The EI Paso Circuit included EI Paso (later called Derby), Douglass, Rock, Britton, Lone Star, Bryant, Union, Brownlow, Pleasant Valley, and Lone Tree. Each was called a society or class.
Church and Sabbath school services were held in various homes and business houses. As soon as the school house was built many of the religious services were held there. For several years Sabbath school meetings were usually union meetings. In 1879, the Methodist society organized its own Sabbath school. It had an average attendance of 80.
At the quarterly conference of April 7, 1879, lots 2 and 3, block 11, original town of Douglass, were purchased from Mr. and Mr. C. N. James for a consideration of $50.00 as a site for the new church. A stone church was begun in 1879 and completed in November 1881 at a cost of $2,000.00. It had a seating capacity of 200. The stone for the church was hauled from a quarry near Augusta.
That building was replaced in 1910 by a brick veneer building. The building was begun in the year 1909. An estimated cost of the building and furnishings was $11,500.00. Stone from the first church building was used to build the basement of this building.
The present building was completed in 1974 at a cost of approximately $112,000.00. Consecration of the building was held on Sunday December 8, 1974. Dedication of the building was held on Sunday May 18; 1980.
All the furnishings in the sanctuary were bought with memorials. The corner stone in the present church is from the original building. The bell from the church #1 and #2 has been placed in the bell tower in front of the present church.
Soon after the first church was built in 1881, a parsonage was constructed adjacent to the church. In 1920, the first parsonage was sold and the large, two story house on the corner of Willow and First was purchased and used as a parsonage until 1978, when the final parsonage was acquired.
Where women held few, if any administrative positions in the early history of the church, they have been a vital part of the organization from the beginning. The Ladies Aid Society was begun on October 4, 1881. The women’s Missionary Society was organized March 6, 1887.
In May 1939, three branches of the Methodist Church united– The Methodist Episcopal, The Methodist Episcopal-South, and The Methodist Protestant. As a result of the merger, the Aid Society and Women’s Foreign Missionary Society were merged into the Women’s Society of Christian Service.
In April 1968, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church became the United Methodist Church. At that time the Women’s organization became United Methodist Women. In April 1968 the churches at Rock and Douglass were united under one minister, Rev. Wayne Findley.