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Haysville United Methodist Church History
In the 1870’s, Bill Hays (Founder of Haysville) made the eventual construction the first church building possible:

“Mr. Hays gave the land for the Methodist Church, the Christian Church and the hall – which was originally the Woodman Lodge…” – Eva B. Jackson

Religion was important to the early-day residents of Haysville. In 1881 Haysville was one point on a six-point circuit served by Reverend Price. A small parsonage was built on the south side of the Cowskin Creek and east of Seneca near the grist mill. On Sunday he served three points. The farthest was 12 miles southwest in the morning, then partway back in the afternoon and to Haysville for night services. The next Sunday he traveled northwest to the early morning service, then a few miles to the north to Prairie Center for afternoon services, and then back east to Simpson schoolhouse for evening services (4 miles north and 1 east of Haysville).

In 1882 the circuit pastor was I.N. Wilson. Sometimes the pastor could only hold one service every three months in each place. Weddings and baptisms would just have to wait. At first, there were no church buildings, so the meetings were held in almost any available place. Schoolhouses and homes were often used. Two denominations were beginning in Haysville – the Methodist and the Prairie Home Christian Church – and both shared the same meeting place. Services were held at the grist mill south of Haysville; in time, it was the Methodists in the morning and Christians in the afternoon. This way people could attend both services if they wished, and many did.

“…From 1883-1896 we had nine preachers in all, (they were) in circuit with other churches. Pastors were always invited to eat Sunday dinner with various members of their congregations and were often given food by appreciative church goers.

As the years passed, the people wanted to have a church building of their own… So a group of men formed a committee to meet with Rev. T.B. Lawrence to see what they could do to build a church on the land given them by W.W. Hays, who at the time was the sheriff of Sedgwick County. With the help of Rev. Lawrence, who was a former carpenter, they built it for about $1,200 on the corner of Hays and Grand.” – Ruth Clark
“… Members went all around the neighborhood in their buggies asking for donations for the project. There were five trustees – James Kirby, Marian Kirby, William Beck, Ezra Beatty and Frank Cavis.” – Edith Wahlen

In 1897, the Haysville Methodist Church was officially organized and chartered, the building was erected and a string orchestra provided music for early services.

As the church continued to meet the needs of the people, sometimes it was necessary to share a pastor with Riverside or Peck. In 1938 Haysville Methodist Church hired its first full time pastor.

The original church building was remodeled in 1942. A full basement was added by moving the steepled church to the south and then back over the new basement. The front entrance was changed, and a furnace was installed. The beautiful sanctuary with its Gothic ceiling and lovely Gothic windows were not changed. Reverend Raymond Miller was the pastor during the remodel.

In 1951 Rev. C.I. Wallace purchased more ground to the east of church for the purpose of building a parsonage. However, the parsonage was never built. By 1954 the property was utilized when more room was needed for the church. A building was brought in by Rev. Dwight C. Bonham and attached providing an annex, meeting room, and minister’s office.

1955 brought more growth to the membership, from about 100 in 1950 to 350 in 1955, which warranted the building of an educational building. The nearest offered and available land was a few blocks to the east. Mr. and Mrs. L.A. Nelson gave the land on which the current church stands at 601 E. Grand. A Fellowship Hall, kitchen and classrooms were planned.

“Special guest at the groundbreaking ceremony will be Dr. O.F. Volkland, superintendent of the Wichita District of the Methodist Church. The Rev. Robert M. Peters is pastor of the new church. As part of a special program, the Junior and Senior Choirs will sing special anthems.

Speakers for the milestone occasion will be Rev. Robert Peters, pastor of the church; Dr. O.F. Volkland, district superintendent; Preston Dunlap, chairman of the building committee; and Leland Schawo, lay leader of the church. Mrs. Neil Vreeland, superintendent of the children’s division will remove the first shovelful of earth from the site.” – From a newspaper clipping in 1957

As expected, by 1958 membership had grown to the point that the original building could no longer serve its original purpose. So, the “educational building” became the new main church building and services were held in Fellowship Hall.

In 1959, Rev. J.E. Landsdowne suggested the purchase of the rest of land north to Grand Avenue for future sanctuary expansion and street presence. Official planning for the new sanctuary began in 1961 as membership grew past 550.

The Haysville Methodist Church added a second service in 1963. The early morning service was designated a contemporary service with a band. Anything that was added to the worship experience that was not traditional was included in the early morning contemporary service. The later service was traditional.

On April 23, 1968, the United Methodist Church was created when the Evangelical United Brethren Church (represented by Bishop Reuben H. Mueller) and The Methodist Church (represented by Bishop Lloyd Christ Wicke) joined hands at the constituting General Conference in Dallas, Texas.

By October 1968 the new Sanctuary, Chapel, offices, bathrooms and more classrooms were added.

Mrs. Alta Beck Valentine wrote the following account of the dedication of the new church. She still referred to it as the “Haysville Methodist Church” missing the new name of “Haysville United Methodist Church”:
“On a beautiful Sunday morning the Haysville Methodist Church was dedicated. The dedication service was conducted by the District Superintendent Reverend Martindale, assisted by the pastor, the Reverend Thomas Lawrence. The choir, with Miss Molly Huffman (now Mrs. Ed Lawrence of Long Beach, California) as organist and Frank Cavice, tenor, as choir leader; was composed of Alta Beck (now Mrs. A. M. Valentine of Los Angeles, California) soprano; Mrs. Sam Kirby and Mrs. Ed Darnell, daughter of W. W. Hays (founder of Haysville), altos; Mr. Dave Benner and Mr. Will Hess, bass.

Also an orchestra composed of J.C. Shoemaker, Sara Shoemaker, Mary Shoemaker and Mr. and Mrs. Albert Baughman provided music. We had some noted singers from Wichita – Mr. E.B. Walden, baritone, and his sister-in-law, the fire chief’s wife, contralto, Mrs. Charles F. Fuller, lyric soprano – sang in all services during the day. At noon a bountiful feast was served at the Woodman Hall. Then came afternoon services, at which Rev. Martindale presided.”

Winter 1968, the first sessions of adult enrichment classes were held on Wednesday evenings. Leroy Smoot taught a Bible study class called “The Eternal Word: Studies in the Gospel of John.” “Exercises: Emphasis Exercise for Good Health” was taught by Kathy and Kevin Williams. “Death and Dying” was taught by Terry Murray and others. It included an overview of gerontology, nursing homes, and the “generation gap.” An evening with couples was led by Gene and Carol Fisher.

A parsonage on 152 Ballard Street was purchased in 1953. Later, a parsonage was built at 134 VanArsdale Street. It’s split level floor plan was not good for those with disabilities. So, finally in 1975 the parsonage was purchased at its present location on South James, right next to the church and since has been expanded and updated several times.

To update the church, promote greater community and steady growth, the Gathering Area, choir room and more classrooms were built in 1992.

In the 1990’s worship was changed to two blended services (a combination of traditional and contemporary).

The little one room white church that stood on the corner of Hays and Grand served the church in alternative ways for many more years until the May 3, 1999 tornado destroyed it and much of downtown Haysville.

“Sheila Pedrow began working as secretary at Haysville United Methodist Church on the morning of May 3. Less than a day later, the single mother and her two children, Justin, 13, and Amanda, 10, were homeless, their rental house severely damaged.

The family and one of Justin’s friends had just returned home from the ball park when the electricity went out. A few minutes later, a hail storm started. Pedrow, who had survived a 1991 twister, sensed a tornado was coming.

All of Haysville’s historic district was destroyed in the 1999 tornado. Destruction of the historic buildings began at the red brick schoolhouse at 79th and Seneca and continued north along Main taking out the elevator, bank, churches and more. The only thing left standing on the east side of main was the original bank vault.” – Newspaper Clipping

In the 2000’s the congregation designated the early service as traditional and the later service as contemporary.

In 2009 another building project added the Family Life Center (Gym) – complete with more bathrooms including showers, mezzanine storage, and a Youth Center.