From Sawmill to Solar: The History of Medford United Methodist Church

Over 100 years ago in 1875, the first sermon in Medford was preached in a sawmill by a Methodist woman named Mrs. Pitcher. Here begins the story of the group of people who called themselves Methodists from that time to the present.

In 1879, the congregation built Medford’s second church. (The first church built in Medford was the Holy Rosary Catholic Church.) The church, located on the north-west corner of what is now Park Avenue and Broadway, was a handsome, clapboard building of simple lines in a vernacular Gothic style. The first minister noted in the church records was Rev. Charles Barker who came to the congregation in 1882. Mrs. Allman recalled walking from her home in the country to that first church on cold winter mornings. The minister’s wife would take the family into the parsonage kitchen to warm them around the wood-burning stove before they went into the church for Sunday service.

In 1920, District Superintendent Kundert purchased the Winchester Hotel on South Main Street. He had the building razed and used the lumber and other materials to build churches and parsonages all over northern Wisconsin. Medford’s second Methodist Church building was erected in 1921 on the site of the former hotel. For 60 years, this building was known as “the church on Main Street”. It featured a rounded sanctuary paneled in dark, glowing oak with cathedral-like stained glass windows. Two interesting features of the building complex were a horse stall in the rear (which accounted for the back entrance) and a gymnasium. This gymnasium, which was very popular with young people in the city, was built about 1924 by Rev. David LaVinn who was a convert from Judaism. The mortgage on this building was burned on October 1, 1944. Among the participants in that happy event were Rev. Henry Holverson, Mrs. Harry Manney, Arthur J. Latton, Andrew Hetland, and Jesse Moore. Lunch and dinner were served in the Fellowship Hall for about 400 people.

The congregation was originally known as the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1946, the Congregational Church of Medford voted to merge with the Methodist Church and the name was changed to Christ Church Federated. However, in 1968 there was a national merger of the United Brethren and Methodist Churches. At that time the name United Methodist Church was adopted.

In 1969, the congregation undertook a major face-lifting project on the exterior of “the Main Street church”. The work was done by Steel Structures, Inc. under the supervision of Lee Smith. However, the church members soon began to consider other options because of internal structural problems.

Under the direction of District Superintendent James Weiss, the District Board of Church Location and Buildings, and the initiating spirit of Rev. Clem Dozer, a Building Committee was formed. Officers were Corliss Jensen (chair), Phil Vincent (vice-chair), Molly Schiffler (secretary), and other members Tom Clark, Elmer Hedlund, Ruth Ann Hutchinson, Glen Niemuth, Norm Perrin, Lee Smith, Bonnie Vincent, Gerald Prellwitz, and Harry Allman. For the next four years, this committee was concerned with church design, construction, and financing. The architect was Gary Davis of the Halbeck Group at Eau Claire, WI. The contractor was Steel Structures, Inc. with Lee Smith as foreman. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new church was held on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1981, at the new site on Allman Street. Rev Clem Dozer, members of the Building Committee and the Sunday School participated in the service. Construction began and continued through the summer and fall of 1981. The new church has two sections. The first serves a dual purpose as an educational facility and Fellowship Hall. The second is the octagon-shaped sanctuary. Seating in the round with large chancel pieces in the center provides a focus of worship that denotes the concept of Christians worshiping around a table in the manner of Christ and His disciples. The Good Shepherd window is featured in a lighted case above the main sanctuary entrance door. The first service in the new church was held on January 10, 1982. Service began in the Fellowship Hall and then moved into the sanctuary for the remainder of the service.

It was 20 years on April 25, 1982, since the construction of the new church was completed. Over the years, improvements have been made largely to maintain the building and property. In the fall of 1999, a shed was constructed behind the church to act as storage. The exterior of the church was updated by members of the Trustees in 2018.

With our continued growth and ever-changing needs, our congregation is setting its sights to more improvements as it continues to grow in the Medford community.

List of Pastors from 1882 to the Present

1882   Charles Barker

1887   O. H. P. Smith

1890   H. B. Brennemen

1893   J. W. Speer

1901   W. F. DeLap

1903   P. J. Stair

1905   S. W. Ingham

1906   J. A. Hall

1907   R. D. Dunn

1910   John I. Sainty

1912   J. Wilkenson

1913   J. B. Gibson

1914   Thomas Harris

1916   J. F. Morgan

1918   J. H. Chatterson

1920   Nelson J. Alderson

1923   David LaVinn

1926   James A. Moats

1930   Donald Mills

1933   Peter Holms

1935   Calvin Graves

1936   A. Langendorff

1942   Henry Holverson

1949   Douglas K. Marks

1957   Gordon Welch

1962   William Warner

1967   Henry Bahrenberg, Jr.

1974   Ray Gurney

1976   Clem Dozer

1982   James Rowlette

1987   Robert Linaberry Charis

1994   Calmer Overlein (interim)

1994   Terry Erickson

1997   Henry H. Hall

1999   Irving W. Case

2006   Dennis E. Govier

2009   Dr. Clem Dozer (interim)

2009   Michael O. Adedokun

2012   Kyochul Shin

2016   Angel Rosario

2020  John Hazen

  • Written History Updated 2020 – ( from 1982 History and 2002, 2009 Updates)
  • Pastor History Updated 2021