Loretto History

The Loretto United Methodist Church

History 1892—2018

 
Earliest records of the Loretto Church were lost in a fire. However, it is known that the families of Judson Pierce, Jerry Reed, and other early residents of Loretto, worked to establish a church as they settled into building the town in 1892.
 
In the winter of 1893-1894, the church met in the living rooms of the Loretto depot. The Rev. R. Phillips served both the Loretto and Petersburg congregations.

In 1899 the Methodist Church filed on a Pioneer Townsite.
Hard times hit the area at the turn of the century. A former history tells that the congregation paid the ‘magnificent’ sum of $350. 00 a year for the support of the pastor; he supplied pulpits at the Akron and Dennison communities and they contributed $75.00 each.

There was no parsonage for the minister and no building in which to hold services except what was donated, the early history recalled.
 
The first structure, called a tabernacle, was about 12’ x 16’ in size, located about one block north of the present church. A photograph from that era shows what seems to be a small building near the schoolhouse a block north and across the street from the present building.
 
When cold weather came, the tabernacle was razed and the boards used in building the new schoolhouse. 
 
Church then was held in the depot and also services were held in the hotel, operated at that time by Jerry Reed. After the schoolhouse was built, church was held in the upper floor of the schoolhouse.
 
At the turn of the 20th century, a parsonage was built on the present location of the Church. A modest-sized church building was erected on the site of the former parsonage.
 
In 1917-1918 the old church was moved one block north; the parsonage moved to the lot east of the present church and enlarged.
 
Rev. A. W. Ahrendts, minister at the time, once recalled how bitterly cold the parsonage was that winter as it sat on skids after the move because winter had set in before the foundation could be laid.
 
The present church building was built and dedicated Sunday, April 14, 1918. 
 
Years of worship at the Loretto Church have been celebrated with the 50th anniversary in 1943; the 75th in 1968 and the 100th in 1993 and now the 125th in 2018.
 
Life-long member Phyllis (Knott) Michel was honored this year as an 84 year member of the Loretto Church. Bonnie (Wolf) Cloeter was honored for 72 years membership and Doris (Fleek) Knott celebrated 71 years of Methodist membership.
 
Recent baptisms were for Henry Brengleman son of Heather and Scott Brengelman and Claire Elizabeth Krings, daughter of Matt and Hillary Krings. Both children continue the heritage of their family in the Loretto community and Loretto Church. Henry’s Brengelman family and Claire’s Philmalee family were early members of the Loretto Church.
 
In the year 2018 as we celebrate the 125th anniversary of the church our membership is 72. 
 
We continue to gather for worship, have Sunday school, Bible studies, United Methodist Women’s meetings and enjoy the fellowship of our Loretto United Methodist Church while continuing Christ’s work begun by those early Christians in Loretto of spreading Christ’s Gospel here and abroad.
 
~Twylla Crosby