United Methodist Church

Worship Service: Sunday at 10:00 AM

History of the Columbus United Methodist Church []
The present United Methodist Church is the result of the union of three former Columbus area churches. They were the Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church (English), the Ludington Methodist Episcopal Church (German), and the Elba Methodist Episcopal Church (German).

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Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church []
     It was just five years after Major Elbert Dickason, the first Columbus settler arrived, that a circuit rider brought Methodism to Columbus. In the summer of 1844, the Reverend Stephen Jones, of the then thriving settlement of Aztalan, located on the Crawfish River, a few miles above Jefferson, rode up on a horse to the back door of H.W. McCafferty. As Mr. McCafferty came to the door to greet the stranger, he said, "I am Reverend Jones, my mission is to preach to these ungodly people living in this settlement." Mr. McCafferty assured him of his support and arrangements were made to conduct a religious service in the McCafferty home that evening. He then sent his young son off on horseback to inform the settlers of this meeting. At the agreed upon time the cabin was crowded with settlers.
     In 1845, the Reverend J. Gallop and his associate Reverend H. Wood from Lowell began to hold meetings in the Town of Fountain Prairie (now Fall River). When Reverend Stephen Jones succeeded Reverend Gallop at Lowell in 1846 he began to hold regular meetings in Columbus. They were held in the Buxton Wagon Shop, which was located on the northeast corner of Ludington and Harrison Streets, (where All Phase now has their business, formerly Lien's garage). In 1847, the Reverend N.S. Green and his associate, Reverend W. Randall organized the "First Methodist Society" in Columbus. That same year it was made head of the circuit.
     With the increased population in Columbus the membership of the church grew so steadily that by 1852 the congregation requested the annual conference to separate them from the circuit and to let them have their own pastor. Some members realized it was important to have a building to worship in, so in 1853 it was voted by the quarterly conference to buy a lot on the corner of Mill and Birdsey streets to build a church. Work began the summer of 1853, and the church was dedicated in February 1859 with the Reverend H.C. Telton preaching the dedicatory sermon.
     In 1869, the English Methodist Society saw the need for a larger church. Plans were made to erect a new building. The membership at this time was about one hundred. In September 1871, it was voted to buy two lots from William Griswold located on Broadway (now called Dickason Blvd.)for the purpose of building a church. The building program started in the Spring of 1872 under pastor Reverend G.E. Reynolds.
     It is believed that a Mrs. VanCott, who was an exceedingly energetic and magnetic evangelist, had great influence on the building of the church. It was she who suggested the plan with the sanctuary on the second floor, very similar to several other churches in this part of the state during the period. She conducted evangelistic services in Columbus several times and had made many converts. She was able to sway large crowds according to her will. Robert and John Williams of Columbus were the contractors.
     The building of this church was a great undertaking. When winter set in it was far from complete. During the winter services were held in the church parlors. The bricks were hauled from Watertown by team and wagon. It was not until the fall of 1873, on October 26th, that the dedicatory sermon was preached by C.H. Fowler, Reverend C.E. Carpenter was the pastor at that time. The total cost of the church was $18906.10. Of this amount about half had been secured in cash and subscriptions.
     Another evangelist by the name of Reverend McCarver was instrumental in starting the building project. He promised $1000.00 for this purpose, but failed to keep his promise. The congregation had this debt, and because of the financial panic and depression from 1873 to 1877, several families that had made pledges to the church building fund found they were unable to pay them. Three farmer members of the congregation, P. Miller, Josiah Whiting, and Daniel Johnson made a great sacrifice by mortgaging their farms and later lost them to save the church.
     The first church that had been located on Mill and Birdsey streets was sold in 1872 and the proceeds were applied to the debt of the new church. It was purchased by J.T. Henderson, who moved it to the corner of Broadway and Mill streets. When the Birdsey and Mill street church was built, a bell had been purchased in 1866 for $465.00. This was transferred to the new bell tower, which was said to have been 160 feet high. Some years later the bell cracked and could no longer be used.
     In the fall of 1900, the steeple of the Broadway Church was struck by lightening and began to burn. The firemen were helpless in attempting to put it out until the fire burned down far enough to where their hose streams could reach it with the equipment they had at that time. During the fire the old bell fell to the ground and was completely shattered. An upright beam in the top of the steeple, 10 inches by 10 inches and 20 feet long, crashed straight down through all the floors. It was to its present height rather than the original estimate 160 feet, when it had been the tallest structure in town.

The Ludington Methodist Episcopal Church []
     In 1852, the Reverend Charles Kluchohn came to Columbus to preach the Methodist gospel in the German tongue. Meetings were held in homes. It was known as a missionary point. He was followed in 1853 by the Reverend John Schaefer of Baraboo. Later in 1855, under the supervision of Reverend Jacob Haas, the First German Methodist Church was built on lot 17 (338 S. Spring Street) in the West Columbus Addition. This is the same block where the Olivet United Church of Christ is located. The land was donated by Governor Lewis, an outstanding citizen of our city. The church was built on posts, as was the sidewalk leading to the building. It seems that water covered that part of the city in the spring and most of the summer. The building was 24 feet by 36 feet. That same year 56 people joined the church and 16 more the following year. A children's Sunday School was organized in 1859 and in 1873 a Sunday School for adults was added.
     It was in 1867, under the pastorate of Reverend Gottschalk, that the Spring Street German Church was moved to 318 N. Ludington. The membership continued to grow and this building was used for worship until 1874. In September 1873, a meeting of the congregation was called to vote on the question of a new church. The majority voted to build a new church. In September 1874, the building, which still stands, was built and dedicated. (It is now known as the Masonic Temple.) The cost of the building was $5186.20, of which $4460.00 had been secured in donations,leaving a balance due of $675.00. The amount was oversubscribed by $63.00 the day of the dedication. In 1886, the old parsonage was sold for $200.00 and a new parsonage was constructed adjacent to the church at 304 N. Ludington for a cost of $2000.00
     This church became one of the strong churches in the conference with 275 members in 1914. The records show that annual conference sessions of the German Methodist Church, headquartered in Chicago and covering Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, were hosted by the Ludington Street Church in 1875, 1906 and 1917- many members arriving by train at the nearby depot.
     The German M.E. Church on Ludington had a very active Epworth League. Many remember walking to Astico for sunrise services. The women's group was called Frauen Verein meaning "Ladies Aid". The story is told about one meeting they had. They usually had a dinner at the house where the meeting was to be held and husband were often invited. One winter afternoon some of the ladies were on the way to a meeting in a sleigh, but when they got to the home, two of the ladies were missing. The horses evidently started up a little fast and two of the ladies in the back of the bobsled had fallen off. They ended up walking the rest of the way to the meeting.

Broadway and Ludington Merge []
     The Ludington Church served the community well, but German was no longer being used in services. Under the pastorate of the Reverend R.T. Wilkowske, who was appointed to serve as pastor of the Ludington, Broadway and Elba Churches in 1933, meetings were held to determine the possibility of a union of the Columbus churches. As talks progressed both churches were willing to unite, but neither wished to give up their church building. A committee of outside pastors and laymen was appointed by Bishop J. Ralph Magee, to appraise the situation. They recommended they unite, and that the Broadway Church building was the best qualified to serve the two congregations. Unification was achieved on September 2, 1937. The Ludington Church was sold the next year to the Masonic Lodge for the sum of $2800.00.
     The pews, bell and other useable articles were brought over from the Ludington Church. The Ludington parsonage became the home of the pastor, and the Broadway parsonage was sold. A heavy rain fell the first Sunday of the merger, and many remember a leaky roof in the Broadway sanctuary, causing many to point out that their former roof didn't leak, questioning the wisdom of choosing the Broadway building. The first wedding in the church after the merger was Laura and Wallen Klein. Because the Wilkowske family was very musical, that carried over to the rest of the church members, and a church orchestra was organized.
     The church was very strict about activities, and one highlight was the youth groups. Another highlight was the annual camp meeting at the Watertown Campground. Each church in the district had their own cabins and they went there with cots and blankets to spend the week. Services were held for all ages. At one evening service the June bugs were so plentiful that the pastor inadvertently thanked God for bugs.

The Elba Methodist Episcopal Church []
     In 1855, Reverend Jacob Haas, who was the pastor of the Columbus German Church, visited several German families in the Town of Elba and arrangements were made to conduct services in their homes. Within a short time a class was formed and services were held regularly.
     A need for a church building was soon felt, and at a quarterly conference in 1868 they purchased a lot from Silas Axtell and his wife for $35.00. The church was built in 1869 and dedicated that year in November, with the Reverend John J. Keller, the presiding elder, preaching the dedicatory service. The total cost of the building was $2000.00. The records show that six years later it was voted at quarterly conference to decorate the interior. A committee was appointed and in a short time the work was completed at a cost of $160.00. In 1879, Frederick Topp donated a lot for burial purposes (thus we still own and operate the Elba Cemetery).
     In 1862, the Elba M. E. Church organized the Sunday School as an important part of the life and development of the church. It was held ever Sunday, although the preaching services were held only every two weeks due to the fact there were four charges in the Columbus Circuit - Columbus, Elba, Fountain Prairie and Windsor. The local lay people conducted prayer services on those Sundays when the pastor was absent. During the pastorate of the Reverend George Ruff, the church celebrated its 50th Anniversary on July 20, 1919. A fitting program was arranged with only two surviving members present out of those who helped build the church. They were Carl Linck and Mrs. Joachim Holtz who were invited to be the guests of honor.
     The church always had a large tree for their Christmas services with lighted candles, and all the children loved it, as well as the sacks of candies and nuts which they received. The women always sat on the left and the men on the right side. There was a barn built near the church where the horses were stabled during services.
     For several years prior to the closing of the Elba Church, it was necessary to discontinue services during the winter months and unite in worship with the German congregation in Columbus. Because some families had moved and had been replaced by people of other faiths, only six active families were left.

Three Churches United []
     On May 4, 1941, by a majority vote, it was decided to close the Elba Church and continue worshiping in Columbus. In the spring of 1944, the two congregations were consolidated and the Elba church was sold to the Methodist Church in Marshall for the purpose of enlarging their church. A last memorial service was held on August 13, 1944 with more than 159 people participating. The Reverend Robert Wilkowske preached the memorial sermon paying tribute to the church that had been a "spiritual home for spiritual people" for 75 years.
     At about this same time, the Broadway Church name was changed to Dickason, because when the City of Columbus celebrated its centennial in 1940, the name of "Broadway Street" was changed to "Dickason Blvd", as we know it today, in honor of Major Elbert Dickason, the founder and first settler of Columbus.
     In 1941, the Reverend Marlin Smith and his wife, Merlin, were the pastoral family. He left here in January 1944 to be a Navy Chaplain in World War II. It was December 7, 1941, that Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese and the United States entered the war. It affected our church, not only by the number of young men who went to serve their country, but by the arrival of many refugee farmers dislocated by the building of the Badger Ordinance Plant near Baraboo, who decided to settle in Columbus. They became very active in our church.
     During Marlin Smith's pastorate it was decided a new Hammond organ was needed. Everyone was very enthusiastic about this project, and most of the money was raised in a few days. One church member feeling the old piano was good enough and they didn't need to spend money foolishly. When all but about $200.00 had been raised, a parishioner went to call on him. We he discovered everyone was anxious to get the organ, he subscribed the last $200.00 needed. Mrs. Merlin Smith was the first organist.
     The Reverend Francis Foulke arrived here with his wife, Mildred, in February 1944 and stayed until June 1947. A few members singing in the choir today started singing during his pastorate. The congregation began to feel it was time to make some improvements in their church home. The fellowship hall had a wood floor and a big furnace in one end. There was a cook stove in the kitchen. They began to dream of future possibilities.
     The Kum Dubble Klub for married couples, which had begun under the Reverend Francis Foulke became very active. The presented the play "Nuts and Bolts." It was even presented in other towns as a money-making project. Great Friendships developed among the members. They helped organize the first chicken barbecue with the help of Barry Hayes from the U.W. Extension.

Some Improvements Are Made []
     The Reverend Paul and Jean Smith with their four children arrived in Columbus in June 1947, to serve the flock until 1952. There was an active family in the parsonage for the first time in years. The first thing he helped plan was the 100th Anniversary of Methodism in Columbus with a week of various services planned for October 1947.
     It was under Reverend Smith's guidance that a building committee was appointed. The committee was made up of Alvin Hoppe, Walter Karow and Ed Henke. Remodeling began the summer of 1948. It was something to see: those two Ford tractors, driven by Roscoe Premo and Ben Henke, inside the fellowship hall of the church, leveling off sand being dumped by a big shovel through a hole where two big windows had once been. Other members of the congregation were there with shovels and wheel barrows helping to level it off. A concrete floor was laid over the fill and later it was tiled. The circular stairways, one on each side of the entryway, were removed. They were built just like the one that still goes from the second floor up to the former balcony (attic). A new stairway was built that went straight up from the front entrance. There was now a large rest room on each side, where the circular staircases had once been.
     Mr. & Mrs. Otto Ninabuck had the room that had been the coal room remodeled to be the kindergarten room for Sunday School. This was her room and she loved teaching the children who came each Sunday Morning. The fellowship hall had two folding doors on each side that were about eight feet long. This divided it into six Sunday School rooms plus an area in the center for meeting. In this way the room could be used for large meetings during the week and have individual Sunday School rooms on Sunday.
     It was decided to rent the gym at Dickason School for church services during construction. However, after one service there, the Presbyterian Church extended the invitation to join them on Sundays. This we gladly did, the two choirs worked together, and the pastors took turns on Sunday mornings.
     The church began using the santuary before the carpeting was laid up the aisle and on the chancel. Gloria and Wesley Karow were the first couple to be married after the remodeling. The Karow boys were busy painting bare wood around the floor of the chancel, in case it wasn't covered in time. But the day of the wedding the carpet layers went down the back steps as the guests began arriving up the front stairs. The dedication service was held in September 1948, with Bishop Clifford Northcott preaching the dedicatory service. Reverend Smith and his older boys remodeled the kitchen at the parsonage.
     It was during Reverend Smith's pastorate that a Junior Choir was organized with about 30 children. Those were the days of families with four to six children, so there was a big Sunday School.

1952 - 1961 []
     From 1952 to 1954, the church was served by Reverend Theodore J. Reykdahl and his wife. He had been the District Superintendent, and this was his last charge as he reached the age of retirement. During this time in Columbus there was an explosion at the REA power plant with a loss of power for three days. It was winter time, so much ingenuity was used to find heat for people and water for animals on the farms.
     During the pastorate of Reverend Steve Rankin from 1954 to 1957, we had active youth groups. Junior Choir sang once a month, and a primary choir was formed for special occassions. Ruth Rankin directed the adult choir, with Marshall Griffith at the organ. Kum Dubble Club was busy with meetings, hay rides, and special activities for the church. It was on a warm, muggy spring day that the trustees decided to beautify the church grounds. The adult choir and youth fellowship were meeting. Doors to the outside were open for good fresh air. A couple of weeks later the hospital was filled with Methodists with a strange disease. They ran out of space and even the halls were used. The patients were in quarantine. It was called the "Methodist Disease." The younger the patient, the sicker they were. It was finally decided they all had Hystoplasmosis. (They still carry scars on their lungs.) The men had been digging up soil loaded with pigeon droppings, and the disease spores really grew in the hot humid weather.
     The Reverend Richard G. Noble and his wife Dorothy, with their three children came to live in the Ludington Street parsonage from 1957 to 1961. It was under his guidance that Gloria Karow became Sunday School Superintendent, and she served in that capacity for many years. It was Dick Noble who looked at the white house on the corner of Harrison and Dickason and the green house on Harrison, and dreamed of putting a sanctuary on the first floor so people like Lena Wright wouldn't have to climb all those stairs to come to worship, which she did long after her 100th birthday.

1961 - 1968 []
     From 1961 to 1964, the Reverend Alvin W. Briggs, wife Ginny and their two children lived in the parsonage. We began to have trouble making our budget, but we had an outstanding youth group, as well as an active Kum Dubble Klub. Members of the church made use of Astico Park in Dodge County on a weekend of camping with other members coming on Sunday for services and a picnic lunch. It was decided to start some sort of building fund to do something about the building. Bob Hoffman was appointed as chairman.
     The Reverend Francis St Amant, his wife Evelyn and their four children were with us from 1964 to 1968. During his time of service here there was much unrest in the world, and it was felt in the church. The pastor's direct involvement in some of the day's issues created a controversy in the church. Some land (formerly the Moll farm) was secured as a future building site. The piece of property was located West of Columbus, just South of Highway 60. ( In front of the current Columbus Pick N Save.) The land was purchased for $10,000.
     During his pastorate the church was yoked with the Fall River Methodist Church, as both churches were having difficulty meeting their budgets. When the Dickason Street School was remodeled with new addition, the schools needed to rent additional classroom space around town. Our fellowship hall was turned into a school room for one year. This meant the fellowship hall was always warm for evening meeting during the winter months that year.

We Become United []
     In 1968, the General Conference consummated the union of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical Brethren to form the United Methodist Church.

Reverend Horace Grubner []
     In 1968, the conference sent us a very fatherly type of pastor. The Reverend Horace Graubner and his wife Sudie, were with us until 1974. Under his guidance the church purchased the white house on Dickason Blvd and the adjacent house on Harrison street, in case it was decided to use the present location to build. The white house was used for Sunday School and some circle meetings. The green house became the home of U.M.Y.F. (United Methodist Youth Fellowship) The youth were united with the Presbyterian youth for activities for some of these years under the excellent leadership of Helen and Wray George.
     In 1972 the 100th Anniversary of the (Broadway) Dickason United Methodist Church building was celebrated. At the time, plans were being drawn up by an architect for the congregation to select the most suitable plan. After a plan to merge with the Fall River United Church failed to be adopted, it was decided to sell the property on Hwys 16 and 60, and remodel the present church, as the location was good. A buyer was found and the land was sold for $135,000--a good down payment on a new building. Those on the building committee were: Merton Walcott, Chairman, Elaine Baerwald, Russell Farr, Gloria Karow, Alton Mather, Helen George, James Vale, Bruse Robertson, Marshall Wright, Wallace Weidemann, Albert Zeier, Stanley Elder, Allen Seidlinger, Robert Zimmerman, Walter Graper, Lloyd Lange, William Henke, Lawrence Roberts, Ethel Theede, Ron Balfanz.

Reverend Robert Sanks []
     In 1974, the Reverend Robert Sanks came to Columbus. On Sunday, August 24th of that year, the church service began upstairs in the old sanctuary. Then the big move was started. During the singing of a hymn, selected members of the congregation carried the cross, candles, etc. to the new sanctuary, followed by the choir and the congregation. The remainder of the service took place in the new sanctuary.
     The new sanctuary was consecrated on November 16, 1974. After the sanctuary was finished there was an auction of church furniture that was no longer needed. Members also brought in things on consignment and Julius Temkin took care of the auction. There was everything from pulpits to washtubs, and even a horse-drawn cart on the church lawn. The ladies held a bake sale and served a light lunch. Proceeds went to the building fund.
     In December 1975, on the first Sunday of Advent, the custom of an annual Advent "Hanging of the Greens" was begun--a time for decorating the church for Christmas.
     The summer of 1975 was the beginning of a yearly weekend campout with a Sunday worship service and picnic in Dodge County Park for everyone.
     In 1978 Reverend Sanks and his wife June had a pastoral exchange with the Reverend John and Margaret Skidmore in York, England. Another exchange took place again in the summer of 1985 with the Reverend Jeremy Dare and his wife Sheila, in London, England. The church members gained a great deal from these exchanges.
     A Wills and Gifts committee was also established by Reverend Sanks and Lloyd Lange to develop permanent trust funds. Reverend Sanks (Bob) also led the church to be increasingly involved with other churches in ecumenical programs.
     In 1980 a set of hand bells was purchased as a memorial to Susan Kendell. An adult bell choir was started and then a children's group called "Sue's Ringers" was added. At this point, the yoke with the Fall River Church was ended.
     In 1982, a second phase of the building program was completed by remodeling the former sanctuary into Sunday School rooms.
     In 1984 there were several activities for the 200th Anniversary of American Methodism. In April, "Francis Asbury" (Bob Sanks in costume) visited our church. The men sat on one side and the women on the other. Banners had been made depicting the three church's history. After the service a heritage dinner was served to the congregation followed by a program, at which time remarks were made by "John and Susanna Wesley" (Bob and June Sanks). The Elba Quartet sang several songs. The Quartet was Arthur and Clarence Witte and Arnold and Elmer Theede, accompanied by Bernice Witte Neuberger. Sue's Ringers played some hymns.
     In September of that year another heritage day was held to honor deceased family members by placing a Methodist bicentennial on each headstone. A service was held at the grave of Frederick William Conrad, a German Methodist circuit preacher who had served in Columbus. At this time Bob Sanks portrayed John Wesley as he stood on his father's vault to preach to people. We then went to the Masonic Temple (German Methodist Church) for a light luncheon and then to the Elba Cemetery and Okee Cemetery.
     Columbus churches took responsibility for a Hmong refugee family. The church took turns transporting children to school, found work for the father, and helped them with shopping. A piece of Mrs. Vang's handiwork which she gave in appreciation to the church hangs in the church library.
     The Reverend Bob Sanks retired from the ministry after 43 years of service on June 22, 1986. A new parsonage was purchased.

Reverend Frank Thompson []
     Frank and Sandra Thompson came to lead the Columbus flock in 1986. They had three children. Their daughter Jill was adopted from Korea, and when she graduated from high school, her graduation gift was a trip to korea with her mother to gain some knowledge of her "roots". They brought back a lovely wall hanging for the child care room. The Mary Martha Circle painted matching children's figures around the room.
     With Frank the last phase of the building program was begun. The building committee for the third phase included: Ron Balfanz, Chairman, Larry Baker, Carol Garner, Winfield MacDonald, Bobbi Schaefer, Frank Thompson, Lorna Will, Clarence Witte, Terry Woods, Lyle Elske, Gloria Karow, Russell Mielke, and Dennis Tamminga. Soon after that, the first Long Range Planning Committee was formed to plan for expanded programs and ministries.
     On April 14, 1991, the new addition, begun in October 1990 and finished on April 5, 1991 was consecrated. The 2000 square feet project included a music room, library, lounge, secretary's office, pastor's study, handicapped accessible restrooms, and a ramp. The renovation area included the fellowship hall, kitchen, and nursery. Bishop David Lawson preached at the consecration service, followed by a pot luck dinner, hymn sing, and program with greetings from former pastors, and an open house for the public. The total cost was approximately $335,000.00
     During Frank Thompson's ministry, Mary and Larry Baker became youth group leaders. One of the youth, Andrew Buske, was elected President of the Conference Youth Organization. They were a very active group. One Easter Sunday everyone was surprised when a little lamb dressed in Pampers was brought into the sanctuary for the children's service. A very rocky time for the church was the embezzlement of $10,000 by a church treasurer. Luckily, the church was insured and most of the money was recovered.
     The United Methodist Women had undertaken a program emphasis on children, and when community service organizations decided they wanted to do something about "latch key" children, the women of the church got on the committee and helped form the "Columbus Clubhouse" for after school care and they contributed funds and helped with activities.
     Merton and Frances Walcott participated in several Volunteers In Mission (V.I.M.) work camps in Costa Rica, The Island of Trinidad, and Bolivia. The church members also packed boxes of food to go to Russia.

Reverend Dave Steffenson []
     Reverend (Pastor) Dave Steffenson came to the Columbus church in 1992. Also, to the delight of the children, he bought a puppet, Penelope Pig, who visited during many of the children's moments. Then Bruno Bear and Lulu Ladybug occassionally came to church. Pastor Dave was welcomed to the sanctuary by reaching for a book at the pulpit, only to find a live bat there.
     Chicken Barbecues, Craft Sales, Rummage Sales, Luncheons on the Boulevard, a Sweets Booth,and Book Sales were all fund raisers done by our church at this time. Also Mother's Day 1996 was the ever popular "Keep Your Mother Dry" Sunday, set aside to raise money to replace our leaky roof.
     The Long Range Planning Committee was expanded and changed into a Long Range Planning Team as the church entered into a three-year program of planning and transformation, along with about a dozen other Eastern District churches, under the direction of the Center for Parish Development, Chicago. The teams in the process met quarterly with the consultant from that Center. There were several Bible and theological studies that included many in the church, and other sessions were held to project interests and needs, as well as to develop a vision for the future. A five year plan, and a new organizational scheme was adopted in 1997.
     One of the results from the Long Range Planning was abandoning the words "Sunday School" and creating the new "Christian Youth Community". This indicates a wholeness we want to achieve in all youth programs. CYC now uses new lectionary based curriculum which means the same scripture used in the church worship is carried over to the children's Christian Education. The upstairs hallway was painted by Julie Jensen and then handprints of the youth were added as a border to further emphasize the community feeling. Adult classes were based on "Faithlink" which addressed current issues facing Christians.
     In 1997 we celebrated "Our 150th Year" since our organization, and our 152nd year since the Circuit Rider came to town. The committee consisted of Lorna Will, Chair, Ethel Theede, Historian, Dan Burnard, Lay Leader, Richard Sheard, Elaine Baerwald, Sara Glasbrenner, and Mildred Henke. Our celebration started with a Re-Covenanting Service in January. In February a cast of 20 directed by Mildred Henke presented an updated version of a play put on at the time of our 100th birthday. In March the musical duo "Faith Journey" performed and our former pastor, Reverend Robert Sanks preached. In April, former pastor Reverend Alvin Briggs was our guest pastor and the Seventh Day Adventist Academy Choir provided special music. In May, Mert Walcott presented a slide show about the history of our church. In June, Junior Choir Alumni helped us to celebrate and the Reverend Paul Smith, who was pastor for our church in the '50's was our guest preacher. In July, our church had a float in the annual Columbus 4th of July parade. In August,Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader was our guest preacher and the service was held in the Dodge County Park in Astico. In September a musical service was held and John Wesley's "Rules for Singing" were followed."Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half ashamed; but lift up your voice with strength"(Rules for Singing, John Wesley, Select Hymns, 1761) In October, former pastor, Reverend Frank Thompson was our guest preacher. In November a closing Sesquicentennial Banquet was held. The 150th Birthday Gift Fund was tallied and all monies given were applied directly to the mortgage debt.
     Also in August 1997, Columbus UMC became a Missionary Covenant Church by providing a full share of support ($1000) for a Wisconsin person in mission. Our missionary was Ardell Graner, a UM Missionary in Bolivia. She and her husband, Gordon, minister as a team. We enjoyed many letters from the Graners, helping us to share a little of their experience. Gordon also visited our church in October 1997.
     After 38 years in 1998 the Annual Chicken Char-Broil was canceled and the weekly Kiwanis dinners were changed to every other week. There were just not enough people volunteering to help at these events. The "chronologically-gifted" members no longer have the strength to do it, and the younger members live with pressures and constraints which make it difficult for them to take part when needed most.
     In 1999, a member of our church, Ainsley Rowe was crowned Miss Columbus and Reverend Lynette Peterson lead a Video Enhanced Bible Study on the book of Revelation. Katy Plantenberg authored the Christmas program, "Our Greatest Gift". It was wonderful.
     The year 2000 brought us the Reverend Colleen Ruiz as new interim associate pastor. She worked at the Columbus church one day each week and leading worship one Sunday each month through the end of June. Colleen is remembered for her warm pastoral calls and insightful sermons.
     The highlight of 2000 was on May 7 when we dedicated the office addition as the mortgage had been paid in full. District Superintendent Steve Polster presided.
     Pastor Dave retired or as he says "redirected" in June 2000 and the church parsonage was sold as our new pastor, the Reverend John Hobbins will be living in Waunakee, where his wife is a pastor.

Reverend John Hobbins []

Reverend James Cotter []