The History of the Albion United Methodist Church
Just as Methodism was the first Christian denomination to be organized in America, so was it first in Boone County.
Having been surveyed in 1870 and opened to settlers under the Homestead Act, Boone County became home for citizens from many states, the first group arriving April 13, 1871. Following in their steps came Samuel P. Bollman and son Calvin from Pennsylvania via Virginia to homestead northwest of today’s Albion. Endowed with a Methodist preaching license, he laid the foundation of Methodism by voluntarily preaching at various locations since there was not a parsonage, church or schoolhouse in the county.
In March 1872, the Nebraska Conference, in session in Nebraska City, appointed Rev. Bollman to the Boone County circuit with an appropriation of $50 missionary support. He initiated the formation of the first “class” in the home of T. H. Bowman of Boone in April of 1872. In May, Elder Vandoozer of the Covington Conference held the first Quarterly meeting there and reported 45 members and 30 probationers. In June the first “organized class” in Albion met in the home of W. J. Nelson, one of the April 13th group and a co-worker with Rev. Bollman. The circuit soon embraced Albion, Boone, St. Edward, the Moore and Robinson schoolhouses, and an unidentified point north of Albion. With a minister preaching in three locations each Sunday each station could have services every second week.
Not until 1878 was the Sunday School organized as Methodist, having prior existence as a non-denominational community endeavor.
In 1877 a parsonage costing $300 was first built on Second Street. At a cost of $1400, a fully furnished church was erected on State Street in 1879. One hundred dollars was contributed by an already functioning Ladies Aid. This church was moved one block south on Third Street in 1881. An addition for a parsonage was built on the west side and the old parsonage sold. In 1894 a new parsonage costing $1200 was constructed at Third and Park. The church was enlarged in 1885 to accommodate the Nebraska Annual Conference in 1886.
By 1903 membership was 425 and there was talk of a new building. But not until April 26, 1908 could Bishop Warren dedicate the new stone edifice (cost $25,000) at Sixth and Marengo. The Third Street parsonage was sold in 1907 and the house west of the church was remodeled for a parsonage. A new parsonage on Seventh Street was built in 1978. An Estey organ, originally costing $2100 and installed in 1917, was rebuilt in 1982. The Estey organ was most recently refurbished by Darrow Pipe Organ of Ottawa, Iowa in 2014 Careful maintenance and minor alterations, the latest being a lift for easy access to the sanctuary, have continued to provide a beautiful place of worship.
The zenith of membership was attained in 1928 with 734 in the church with 645 in the Sunday School. But drought and depression took their toll with membership falling to 445 by 1942. Thereafter a slow increase began and continues today to a present membership of 511.
With the first appointment of Rev. Samuel P. Bollman through that of Rev. Janet Burgel, forty-one ministers have contributed their individual talents to this church as well as the community. In return the church has sent six men into full-time ministry.
The dedication, loyalty, and capability of those founding fathers has been continuously duplicated through the church’s 146 years of existence. As it was then, so it is now – a combined product of minister and laity – a growing congregation effective in local society and missions afar. And truly we can say, through its doors, we have gone and still go into the world “to preach the gospel.”
– Compiled by June Bentley 1987, Updated by Austin Casper 2018