Elida church celebrates centennial

By Gary Mitchell

Elida Methodists are planning to have a party on Sunday. They’re celebrating 100 years of ministry to the community.
“We’re coming together in this celebration to praise God and give him honor for 100 years of continuous Christian ministry,” said Fred Anthony, co-chair for the event for Elida Methodist Church. “We hope those in attendance will be blessed through this celebration.”
Sunday’s festivities will begin with a 10 a.m. praise-and-worship service, Anthony said.
“There are several former members — as well as current members — who will present special music, and we’ll have a time of recognition for former clergy and their families,” he said.
“The Rev. Martha Singleterry, our district superintendent, will present the welcome from the bishop and herself, congratulating the church in the celebrating of 100 years,” said the Rev. Mary Sue Hull, pastor of Elida Methodist Church.
“Anytime you reach a milestone like this, you’re just awed by the blessings God has bestowed on these families and the dedication they have,” she said. “As a pastor, it’s a very humbling experience to realize all of God’s blessings to both the church and the community. From my perspective, all I have to say is, ‘To God be the glory.’ ”
Following the morning worship service, a catered meal will be served at the Elida Senior Center, which was built in 1907 as the Methodist Church building. It served the congregation from 1907 to 1968, when it was transformed to the senior center.
“Following the fellowship meal, the afternoon will be spent sharing memories, music and just visiting,” Anthony said.
Ruth Tillinghast Moore, music director for the church, said mementos would be available.
“We ordered cups with a picture of the old church on it in case anyone wants a memento,” she said. “It’s now the senior center, and it’s still used a lot in Elida — painting classes, quilting parties and also as a community center.”
Anthony said former pastors have been contacted for Sunday’s celebration.
“We’ve had about 65 pastors in 100 years of ministry,” he said. “We’ve been able to locate 25 of them. We expect several of them. Some of our former pastors are coming from as far away as Carlsbad, Tucumcari, Albuquerque, Fort Worth, Abilene, Texas, and Midland, Texas.”
“We know of former members and family members coming from Oklahoma and California — and from other places as well,” said Moore, whose father was a member of the first graduating class of Elida High School in 1916.
Elida Baptist Church also had its beginning in 1903 as well, and that congregation recently celebrated their 100th anniversary.
Both churches helped celebrate each other’s events, Anthony said.
“Our working relationship with the Baptist Church is like none other,” he said. “We do so many things together.”
In fact, they had a common heritage from the beginning, said Ronald Anthony, Fred’s brother.
“Our grandparents, J.W. and Ollie (short for Olive) Anthony were charter members of the Methodist Church, and J.W.’s brother, J.L. Anthony and Alba, his wife, were charter members of the Baptist Church,” Ronald Anthony said. “This church has been here for years, and our ancestors helped start it.”
“This is the fifth generation of some of the families who started this church,” Hull said. “Doris Wall is the church’s oldest living member — she’s 97 years old.”
Elida Methodist Church was organized in 1903 in the office building of the lumber yard. Services continued to be held in the same building until the first school house was completed in 1903.
The Rev. W.D. Wood served as the first pastor, and Dr. D. Roach was the first Sunday school superintendent. He was also the first doctor in Elida.