United Methodist Church ● United Church of Christ
(From The Gustavus Story 1800 - 1965 compiled by Mary Case Hoskins)
First church services in Gustavus were held in Jesse Pelton's home. Rev. Thomas Robbens preached the first sermon. Rev. Joseph Badger and Mr. Osgood were other circuit-riding missionaries who sometimes held service here. Rev. Henry Cowles, A Congreational minister from Austinburg, held services at Josiah Pelton's home all one summer, paid by Mr. Pelton.
A Methodist Class was formed about 1809. Among its members were Zenas, Patty and Mercy Pelton, Eliphas and Roger Perkins, Lydia Lane and Thomas Partridge. Missionaries came but rarely so these people met with the Methodists in Kinsman.
At an early date a log house was erected a mile north of The Center. sometime before 1840 an edifice was erected or a factory building was remodeled and used for a time at The Center, on the southwest corner. According to Quarterly Conference records, when the building was being planned, in order to have the buildings line up evenly, a contract was let to move the church back, without disturbing any more than necessary, the building or contents. The land on which the church stood was sold to the township for a Commons. The Academy minutes of 1841 mention the Methodist building being moved back so the Academy building could be built in line with the Stevens store.
The present Federated Church building was built by the Methodists in 1856 at a cost of $2160. Mr. Alfred Morey was the carpenter. It is patterned in the Greek Revival style with a squared belfry and has beautiful stained glass windows. It was raised on the basement walls in 1908. A parsonage was purchased in 1857. This is the house presently occupied by the Robert Day family.
In 1881 while J. W. Wilson was serving, a great religious revival occured. More than 100 people were converted and joined the church.
There is a church record book dating from 1879 to 1928 when the churches federated, which records all admissions, dismissions, baptisms and marriages. A list of ministers follows:
Methodist Ministers of Gustavus Churches: 1834 C. Brown and A. Sturges; 1835 J. E. Aiken and D. Pritchard; 1835 S. Hibbard and E. J. L. Baker; 1836 J. S. Winans, H. Elliott and J. Crum; 1837 J. C. Ayers and B. K. Maltby; 1838 Isaac Winans and A. Reeves; 1839 S. Leech and D. Prosser; 1840 S. Leech and R. J. Sibley; 1841-42 A. Callendar, J. Van Horn and A. Wilder; 1843 W. F. Wilson and S. Heard; 1844 J. O. Rich and J. Deming; 1845 J. R. Locke and J. Kellogg; 1846 J. M. Plant; 1847 E. Brown and S. Heard; 1848 W. Patterson and A. Norton; 1849-50 J. Leslie and J. L. Graves; 1851-52 W. S. Winans and J. M. Plant; 1853 A. Reeves and N. Brown; 1854-55 J. W. Hill and J. B. Groves; 1856-57 J. K. Hallock, C. W. Reeves, and W. R. Johnson; 1858-60 William Sampson; 1860 P. P. Penney; 1861-63 William Bear; 1863-66 Charles Reeves; 1869 J. F. Hill; 1870-72 T. B. Tait; 1875 R. D. Waltz; 1881-83 J. W. Wilson Kingsbury; 1884 M. G. McCaslin; 1885-86 George J. Bliss; 1886-89 John W. Moore; 1889-92 George Elliott; 1892 D. Young; 1893 C. H. Edwards; 1894-95 D. Davies; 1895-98 D. C. Knowles; 1898-1901 J. W. VanKirk; 1901-02 J. W. Wilson; 1902-03 B. E. Heighway; 1903-05 W. C. Cain, R. E. Myen; 1905-07 F. J. Nichols; 1907-09 Ralph Staley; 1909-11 E. L. Trotter; 1911-15 D. C. Johnson; 1915-18 J. G. Hollingshead, J. W. King. B. H. Shadduck; 1918-21 F. C. Landfear; 1921-22 H. B. Roberts; 1922-24 H. B. Allen; 1926-27 George A. Parsons.
In 1825 Rev. Joseph Badger and Rev. E. P. Woodruff organized a Congregational and Presbyterian church in Gustavus under the plan of union adopted by most of the early C. and P. churches.
A list of the charter members follows. The first 25 names were from churches of Wayne and Vernon to be constituted a church in Gustavus, the next 4 were examined and baptized while Mrs. Abigail Badger came by letter from Austinburg. Jehiel and Rhoda Bidwell, Joseph and Eunice Hart, Asa and Hepsibah Case, Truman and Eliza Cowden, Naoma Gerrills, Faith A. Mills, William Roberts, Marquis Roberts, Aaron Lyon, Curtis B. Coe, Ira Skinner, Hepsibah Skinner, Achsha Skinner, Riley B. Skinner, Rufus and Alcina Beman, Luther and Mary Jones, Abner and Lucy Waters, Seth St. John, Cyrus and Aligail Bailey, Lyman and Esther Downs, and Mrs. Abigail Badger.
A standing committee was elected: Rufus Beman, Asa Case and Abner Waters. Rufus Beman was elected deacon. At the second meeting June 15, 1825, the church voted a request to be taken under the care of Presbytery. For many years the records spoke of it as a Presbyterian-Congregational Church.
Rev. Badger's salary was $250 a year, $50 paid by the missionary fund. He served for ten years until infirmities of age cause him to resign.
Rev. Benjamin Fenn served from April 1, 1835 to March 18, 1842. His salary was $400. During his first year the membership doubled, growing from 66 to 138. But by March 1842, much ill-will had built up and Rev. Fenn who was an ardent worker in the anti-slavery movement, asked to be relieved. B. E. Chamberlain, at a salary of $400, served from August 1843 to January 25, 1851. J. B. Allen accepted the charge April 25, 1851, and served until April 13, 1856. During this period many members asked and were granted dismissions in order that they might join the newly organized Congregation Society. A. Cone was minister from 1856 to 1859, then Rev. james H. Spellman agreed to supply for a year February 1860-1861. Rev. B. E. Chamberlain supplied for 18 months until September 1862. Rev. J. Holcomb served until March 1864, Rev. H, B. Dye from September 8, 1864 until September 25, 1866. From that time on there was so little interest that the Presbyterian church ceased to exist. There were a few more dismissions, and a final letter is dated December 14, 1871, from the Congregational Church inviting the Presbyterians to join with them, but no record of them having done so. The minutes deal with the acquisition of new members by letter and by confession of faith; of baptisms, of dismissions, of communion services, of election of deacons and standing committees, and of appointment of principals and alternates to attend Presbytery.