LUMC Altar Rail Kneelers
and historical Christian monograms
Using sacred and historicalChristian monograms
The fifteen kneeling cushions around the chancel rail and the two minister’s cushions of the United Methodist Church, Luverne, Alabama, were done as a part of the redecoration of the church following the renovation begun in October, 1975, and completed in March 1976. All materials used in the needlepoint work and all expense for blocking and the making into cushions were a gift from Madie B. Horn and Carolyn Horn Beck of Auburn, Alabama. The word done on the needlepoint work of the background was a project of the United Methodist Women of Luverne. Lily Hill of Auburn designed the needlepoint patterns. Friends of Carolyn Horn, in Auburn, did the needlepoint work on the designs. JoAnna Middlebrook, of the Young Women’s group of the United Methodist Women, directed the work done on the cushions by members of the U.M.W.
Mrs. Lily Hill, who is a student of Christian symbolism, designed and selected the series of symbols for our church. We are indebted to Mrs. Hill for this work. In appreciation, the U.M.W. sent one hundred and fifty dollars, in Mrs. Hill’s name, to the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church of Auburn. The interpretation of the symbols contained in this booklet were also written by Mrs. Hill.
The church is indebted to Madie B. Horn and Carolyn H. Beck for the gift of these beautiful cushions. They presented this gift for the Glory of God and in memory of Felix Tankersley Horn.
Members of the U.M.W. who did the background needlepoint work are:
Beth Beasley, Mary Susan Gholston, Alice Kay Shoemaker
Mary Lynn Bender, Cerrie Ann Hansford, Laura Smith
Linda Bland, Cindy Harold, Davis Watts
Judy Carpenter, Lee Haugh, Martha Williams
Sara Coleman, JoAnna Middlebrook, Nan Williams
Ann Finlayson, Sweetie Parris, Tulah Wise
Mary Exa Ford, Rheo Jo Purdue
In addition to the 17 communion cushions, two large white wedding kneelers in needlepoint have been added. The kit for one of these cushions was a gift from Mrs. Martha Kendrick; the money to have it blocked and made into a cushion was a gift of Mrs. Faye Harbin. The needlepoint work on the orange blossom design and on the background was done by Mrs. Mary Susan Gholston. The other kit, blocking and cushion making was a gift of the Auburn Class. The needlepoint design and background was done by Mrs. Sara Coleman.
TO THE GLORY OF GOD:
It is hoped that the visual symbols displayed on these lovely cushions will help to create an inward readiness to hear the Word of God and receive His saving power. As they add to the beauty of the sanctuary, may they help to deepen the spiritual experience of each person that participates in these worship services.
Sara Coleman – President, United Methodist Women (1975)
JoAnna Middlebrook – Chairman, Needlepoint Committee
(Excerpts from a leaflet from the First United Methodist Church of Troy)
A symbol is an object or an action that represents a truth, an idea, or a quality. Every day we are governed and guided by symbols of many kinds. We obey traffic lights, whistles and bells. We salute our national emblem, shake hands with friends, transact business with checks and paper money, and use spoken or written words to communicate ideas.
The word symbol comes from Greek words, “syn” and “ballein” meaning “to throw together.” It is the throwing together or joining of an abstract idea and a visible sign of it. Symbols are used in all religions. They are a tangible means of expressing that which is unseen or spiritual.
The Bible contains much symbolism in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus made frequent use of symbols. He referred to Himself as “The Good Shepherd,” “The Door,” “The Light of the World,” and “The True Vine.” His parables abound in symbols.
When symbols cease to represent ideas and beliefs, and themselves become the objects of worship, we have idolatry. Idolatry is the misuse of symbols. There is little danger of idolatry when the true meaning of a symbol is understood.
In the early life of the church, Christians used symbols as a means of expressing their beliefs and also as secret signs by which they made themselves known to one another during dangerous days of persecution. The use of Symbols in the church reached its height in the Middle Ages. Before there was printing, and most people could neither read nor write, church buildings were like giant picture books with symbols in wood, stone, painting and stained glass illustrating Christian history and doctrine in a way that all could see and understand.
Today, symbols are used in churches for ornamentation that has spiritual significance, and to suggest ideas for meditation. “Avenues to the soul need not be limited to the ear or printed page.” Symbols are pictorial metaphors full of meaning. A symbol can grow in meaning to an individual as he advances in understanding and appreciation of the truth it represents.
Three cushions at the center represent the three members of the Trinity (cushions 7, 8, and 9) the Hand of God the Father Creator, the Lamb of God with resurrection banner, the dove descending Holy Spirit. Each is placed on a Trinity shield composed of three interlocking circles and an equilateral triangle. Either together or separately they are symbols of the Trinity. The symbol of a member of the Trinity shield may be used only alone, with the symbol of a member of the Trinity, or with a symbol representing the Trinity as a whole. In this case, it is used with symbols representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. One other cushion, using Three Fist in a circle, represents the whole Trinity.
Most of the cushions use the Cross-crosslet in the upper corners. This is made of four Latin crosses joined at their bases with their tops going out in four directions. This cross is also called the Cross of the Disciples’ Commission and suggests the spread of the faith to the four corners of the earth. Matthew 28:19 (Jesus said) “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
1. Old Testament
Tablets of the Law, burning bush, serpent on the pole, harps
2. Christian Year Wheel
3. United Methodist Shield
Cross and Two-tongued flame, Iota Chi, Radiant Cross
4. Ship of the Church
Winged Man, Books
Winged Lion, Books
7. Trinity Shield, The Son
Lamb of God, Christ Monograms, Resurrection Star
8. Trinity Shield, The Father Creator
Creating Hand, World from dark to light, Star of Jehovah (or David)
9. Trinity Shield, The Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost)
Dove, seven-tongued flame, seven branches candleholder, triangle
Winged Ox, Books
12. Crown of Thorns
Cross of Pain, Radiant Cross
13. Cross over the World
14. Fish in a Circle on Trinity Shield
Anchor Cross, Three looped circles
15. New Testament
Resurrection Cross with lilies, two sacraments of Christ (shell and chalice,) Alpha and Omega
Shell, water, and fish
17. Holy Communion
Chalice and Host, grapes and wheat
OLD TESTAMENT – Cushion 1
The Covenant of the Law is one of the high spots of the Old Testament. It is symbolized here in the two tablets of stone. The Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20.
Exodus 24:12 “The Lord said unto Moses, ‘Come up to Me in the Mount and be there; and I will give thee tablets of stone and a law and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.’”
Matthew 5:17 – “Think not that I (Jesus) am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”
Over and above the stone tablets is the six-pointed star of Jehovah (also the Creator’s Star, also called the Star of David) showing from where the law comes.
The burning bush – God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush.
Exodus 3:2 “And the angel of the Lord appeared to him (Moses) in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush … “
At this time Moses was called to bring Israel out of Egypt and slavery. The serpent of the Tau (T) cross –
Numbers 21:9 “And Moses made a serpent of brass and put it on a pole, and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”
This was done at God’s direction and occurred in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. It is considered to be an early “pre-vision” or picture prophesy of the saving death of Christ.
CHURCH YEAR – Cushion 2
The calendar of the Christian year drawn as a circle centered in Christ is a very old church symbol. It was probably drawn first as a useful guide to early churches, and as a teaching aid to the young Christians.
The great wheel of the year is covered by the cross and centered in the Christ symbol (here we used the IHS.) The four “wing-outs” (in deep blue) symbolizes the four Gospels which enclose and support the year.
ALL CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS follow the great Christian seasons – some simply, some more elaborately. Here we have tried to show the particular seasons as followed by the Methodist Church now in the present day.
UNITED METHOIDST CHIELD – Cushion 3
The new shield for the United Methodist Church was adopted when the United Brethren joined their membership with them. The Cross of Christ is shown as the center of the Church’s life. The two-tongued flame represents the two denominations becoming one.
The Iota Chi is a monogram of Christ. The letter I is the first letter of the Greek word IHCHOYC (pronounced Yasous.) The X is the first letter of the Creek word for Christ – so the Iota Chi means Jesus Christ.
THE SHIP OF THE CHURCH – Cushion 4
The church is described as a ship. Words meaning parts of a church building are often the same as for a ship. Such as: nave – the body or main room of a church. In Denmark, the model of the ship is often suspended from the ceiling of the church at the head of the center isle to remind the worshipers that the church is a ship on the sea of life. In the Epistles of Clement to James, “For the whole business of the church is like unto a great ship bearing through a violent storm men who are many places and who desire to inhabit the city of the Good Kingdom.”
The helm is used with the ship to show that the church is guided by the Holy Spirit. The anchor cross is a combination of the figures of an anchor and a cross – symbolizing the hope of eternal life through Christ.
Hebrew 1:13 “But to which of the angels said He at any time, sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
Examples of this cross of hope are found in the catacombs. The red cross on the sail of the ship is the resurrection cross.
Two of the disciples listed in the scripture as following Jesus in His life on earth, Matthew and John, became Gospel writers – called evangelists (from the Greek meaning bringers of the good news.) Two, Mark and Luke, are not listed in scripture as being of the original twelve disciples. All four are Apostles and Evangelists.
The Biblical basis for the evangelistic imagery is found in Ezekiel 1:5-10 and 10:19-22.
“Four living creatures, who had the face of man … the face of a lion … the face of an ox … the face of an eagle …”
And in Revelations 4:7 (John’s vision of God’s throne) “… the first creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, the fourth living creature like a flying eagle.”
MATTHEW – Cushion 5
Since it is thought that Matthew’s Gospel dwells more on the humanity of Jesus Christ than the other Gospels, Matthew is pictured as a winged man.
MARK – Cushion 6
Mark is pictured as a winged lion. The lion, king of the beasts, represents the Royal Character of Christ, Son of God. The roar of the lion refers to the opening verses of this Gospel which tell of “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”
GOD THE SON – Cushion 7
Christians recognize the lamb as the most familiar symbol of Jesus Christ. The lamb denotes freedom from sin and also sacrifice.
In John 1:29, John the Baptist said of Jesus “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
1 Peter 1:18-19 “… Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things … but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Revelations 15:3 “… and the song of the Lamb, saying ‘Great and marvelous are Thy works, just and true are Thy works ...”
The standing Lamb shows Christ risen. On the cruciform standard is the white resurrection banner with a red cross. The seven seals at His feet are mentioned in Revelations, and are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The five-pointed stars in the upper corners are the Redeemer’s Star, or Christmas Star (also Star of Bethlehem, Epiphany, Jacob and of Jesse.
Side symbols – The Chi Rho is a monogram of Christ derived from the first two letters of the Greek word IHCYC (Jesus.) The Greek C being later changed to the Latin S. Combined, they signify “In this sign shall thou conquer” or “in hac salus” - “In this cross is salvation.”
GOD THE FATHER – Cushion 8
In the Trinity shield is the hand reaching downward – symbol of God the Father Creator. The palm-out position denotes the giving of life. The thumb and two fingers extended represent the Three-in-One. Junction of wrist and top of shield forms the Crown of Lordship. Note formation of triangle in palm of hand, also.
The six-pointed stars in the upper corners are formed by two equilateral triangles. This is the Creator’s star, also known as Jehovah’s Star and the Star of David.
Earth from night pictures God’s creation. Earth under His Hand shows His blessing and protection.
Genesis 1:11 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
Psalms 119:73 “They hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn Thy commandments.”
Joshua 4:24 “That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty …”
I Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty h and of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT – Cushion 9
The top corners show the equilateral triangle – a sign of the Trinity (Three in One, all equal.) In the center Trinity shield is the descending Dove – the most recognized symbol of the Holy Spirit, as He is so described in all four Gospels.
Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22 and John 1:32: “And John (the Baptist) bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him (Jesus.)”
In the upper background of the Trinity shield is the Creator’s Star representing the Father, and the Cross representing the Son. From the Nicene Creed: “… and I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified …”
The seven-tongued flame and the seven branched candelabra represent the power and the gifts of the Sprit.
Acts 1:8 “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you …”
Revelations 4:5 “… and there were seven lamps of fire
burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are named in Corinthians 12:1-10 and in Revelations 5:12.
LUKE – Cushion 10
Luke is symbolized by the winged ox because his Gospel opens with the Sacrifice of Zacharias and emphasizes, in the latter part, the sacrificial death of the Savior.
JOHN – Cushion 11
The eagle denotes the Evangelist John. The spirit of the Gospel of John is like an eagle soaring. In fable, the eagle is the only creature who can look directly into the sun and not be blinded. John, in the book of Revelation, looked directly into Heaven and beheld the Throne of God.
CROWN OF THORNS – Cushion 12
Three of the Gospels tell of the soldiers mocking Jesus be placing a crown of thorns upon His head. It is the symbol of the torture and crucification of our Lord.
Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:17 and John 19:2.
The letters INRI placed inside the crown of thorns symbol are the abbreviation of the Latin words Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, meaning Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” This inscription placed on His cross is mentioned in Matthew 27:37, Luke 23:38 and in John 19:19.
The cross used at the top corners of this cushion is the Pointed Cross, also called the Cross of Agony, Cross of Suffering, and Passion Cross. It is a symbol of Christ’s suffering for us. The cross used as side symbols is the Cross Radiant showing that beyond the suffering is the resurrection.
THE CROSS OVER THE WORLD – Cushion 13
John 3:14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” John 3:16 “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 12:32 “And I, (Jesus) if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.”
THREE FIST AS TRINITY SYMBOL – Cushion 14
The Greek word for fish, IXOYC, can be made into an acrostic by regarding each letter as the initial of a work in the sentence “Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Savior.”
The fish was used by the persecuted early Christians to convey this message to other Christians without being understood by the Roman soldiers. When displayed outside a pagan home, it mean a funeral banquet was being held for the dead. When displayed outside a Christian home, it meant that the Lord’s Supper would be celebrated that night in secret.
The three fish arranged in the triangle came to symbolize the three members of the Trinity.
We placed this triangle in the triple circle – another Trinity symbol.
The upper cushion corners hold three rings interlocked – each a member of the Trinity, three in one, and each eternal.
The shamrock as a Trinity symbol dates from the time of St. Patrick, missionary and evangelist to what later became Ireland. St. Patrick spoke before the pagan king who demanded that the Trinity be explained to his satisfaction. The king could not see how three persons could be in one. St. Patrick picked a shamrock growing nearby and asked the king if it was one leaf or three. The king could not answer. Then St. Patrick assured him that if no one could explain the mystery of a common shamrock, there was no hope that so deep a mystery as the Holy Trinity could be explained. It must be accepted on faith.
THE NEW TESTAMENT – Cushion 15
In the upper corners are the Alpha and Omega.
Revelations 1:8 “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith … “
The cross is the central symbol of Christ’s Church; the symbol of man’s redemption by Christ’s death and resurrection, forgiveness and grace. Christ, the new testament:
Hebrews 9:14-15 “How much more (than the blood of bulls and goats) shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause He (Jesus) is the mediator of the New Testament ...”
Christ brings justification by faith:
Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ ...”
Christ brings redemption:
Galatians 3:13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law …”
Galatians 4:4-5 “God sent forth His Son … to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Ephesians 1:7 “In whom (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
The empty cross shows the resurrection.
Lilies are a traditional symbol of the resurrection:
Luke 24:5 “… why seek ye the living among the dead?”
Luke 24:6 “He is not here, but is risen.”
The Minister’s Cushions represent the two sacraments instituted by Christ: Baptism and Holy Communion.
BAPTISM – Cushion 16
Baptism is symbolized by the shell and water. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, giving us the example of obedience.
Matthew 3:13 “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John (the Baptist) to be baptized of him.”
Jesus tells His disciples to baptize.
Mark 28:19 “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”
The helmsman’s wheel derives from the picture description of the Ship of the Church – the wheel symbolizing the guiding of the Holy Spirit received at baptism.
The shell is also used as the symbol of the missionary – being found on shores throughout the world.
HOLY COMMUNION, THE LORD’S SUPPER
The Holy Communion is symbolized by the chalice (cup) and host (bread.) We show a further extension of these symbols in picturing the grapes and wheat – the gifts of the earth from which the communion elements are made.
Luke 22:19-20 “And He took bread and broke it, and gave it unto them saying, ‘This is My Body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me … this cup is the new covenant in My Blood, which is shed for you …”
Matthew 26:26-29 “Jesus took bread, and blessed it and broke it … ‘Take, eat, this is My Body …’ and He took the cup … ‘Drink ye all of it; this is My Blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins …”
Luverne United Methodist Church
(Primary Source: History of United Methodist Church, Luverne, Alabama - Published 1974.)
Luverne United Methodist Church has a long and relevant history. The first sermon preached in Luverne by a Methodist was preached in the Academy by Rev. W. S. Price of Little Oak sometime during the summer or fall of 1889. The Academy was located on the site of the old Luverne Grammar School just above where BB&T Bank is now.
The first Methodist Church of record in the present city limits of Luverne was the Emmaus Methodist Church at Emmaus Cemetery. Before the church was built, services were held in the Academy.
History does not record when the spirit of Methodism first came to this community. However, it is certain that a solid foundation for the growth of the Methodist Church in Luverne was laid long before either the present town of Luverne was incorporated or the present Luverne Methodist Church was organized. A Methodist Church, known as Ammaus (Emmaus) was located on the present site of Luverne (Emmaus) Cemetery, but records of the early church at Emmaus are not available. Even before the present town was founded, a news item from Old Luverne in the Rutledge Enterprise, a newspaper published at Rutledge under the date of January 13, 1888, stated that Rev. Mr. Jones of Brundidge preached at the M. E. Church on Sunday.
There was a large influx of residents from neighboring communities to the new town during the fall and winter of 1888 and the year 1889. The Methodists among the newcomers did not join the church at Emmaus. The records indicate that Rev. W.S. Price, who lived at Little Oak in Pike County, and who had been assigned to the Patsaliga Mission in September 1889, was one of the first Methodist ministers to preach within the corporate limits of the new town of Luverne. He preached during the fall of 1889 in the Academy, which was located on the site of the Luverne Grammar School and which was destroyed by fire in November 1917. The Academy was used as a place of worship by the community in general during 1889, as there were no churches within the town.
The Emmaus Church continued to hold services for a while after the organization of the new church at Luverne. As late as July 1890, Mr. Price conducted protracted services at Emmaus. A short time after that, the Emmaus Church was abandoned and its members became affiliated with the Luverne Methodist Church.
Rev. N.W. Beverly was the first regular pastor of the Luverne Methodist Church, which was then a part of the Rutledge Circuit, in the Union Springs District. Dr. Urquhart was presiding elder of the district at that time. Mr. Beverly preached his first sermon in Luverne on December 29, 1889, in the Academy. On that Sunday evening, the Methodist Sunday School was organized. For several years after its organization, the Luverne Methodist Sunday School met every Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm.
The members of the Luverne Methodist Church experienced a difficult struggle in building the original church. An informal meeting of the members was held in early January 1890 to formulate plans for the erection of a church building on the present site of our church at an estimated cost of $1,000.00. By February 14, 1890, the brick pillars of the church had been built, but for some reason work was suspended shortly after that time. In August 1890, the Luverne Enterprise stated that it had been rumored that work would soon be resumed on the Methodist Church with this statement: "It will be an ornament to a town of double Luverne's size, when it is finished, according to the plans shown by Mr. Folmar."
The Ladies Aid Society, of which Mrs. F.C. McDonald and president, and Miss Lucy Folmar (who later became Mrs. James S. Hawkins) was secretary, sponsored an entertainment in May 1892 at the home of Dr. James E. Kendrick for the purpose of raising money for the painting of the church. In fact, the first church building, when completed, was a very modest frame structure consisting of one large room and and a vestibule. The Luverne Enterprise reported in April 1892 that the Sunday School was in a "flourishing condition." The Sunday School hour was changed from 3:00 PM to 10:00 AM. In July of 1890, the Methodist Sunday School had 76 on roll and an average attendance of about 50. By 1899 there were 190 members on roll.
Soon the "little white church" was splitting at the seams with members and activities. Sunday School classes were held outside beneath trees, some in tents, and others in the nearby parsonage. The wheezy little organ could not carry a tune and the big fat round stove could not keep the bulging membership warm, even at prayer meeting. So it was imperative to build a new church. The members, however, became hopelessly split over where the new church should be built. Some said right where it was; others thought the new church should be built down town where the people were. This divide continued for months.
A new minister, Rev. John H. Williams, came to town and called the people together to consider the building of the new church. To this meeting came a young lawyer and his wife who had recently moved to town. As they walked to church that night, the young lawyer said to his wife, "This church ought to be built! It can be built!"
As the meeting progressed, one after another speaker arose to say why the church could not be built. The "no's" had a strong lead. Then the young lawyer got up and made a motion that the church be built. There was astounded silence then two or three derisive laughs. Nobody would second the motion. But from the middle of the church came a very small, timid voice, hardly audible: "I second the motion."
The young lawyer thought this was some great old sister, strong in the faith, but it was his wife, so he launched into his speech as to why the church could and should be built. When he concluded, everybody started talking at once. The young presiding officer, the minister, in confusion himself, tabled the motion and adjourned the meeting. The meeting was adjourned - to meet around the big warm stove to talk about how the new church could be built.
The money pledged by the members was not collected and put into a lump sum. The Building Committee just began building and, day by day, as the money was needed, a member who had pledged was asked for his amount. When some of the money was pledged, a member said frankly, "I haven't this money now, but I will get it when it is needed." Some who pledged did not have the money then; others borrowed it if they did not have it. The young lawyer pledged $500 and when it was needed, he gave it. So the church was built and there was great rejoicing. It was necessary to place a $10,000 mortgage on the church to finish it. Mr. Bibb Folmar, a member, loaned this amount to finish the church.
The Reverend J.H. Williams was not here long after the initial move was made to build the church. He was succeeded by Reverend R.P. Cochran. It was under Brother Cochran that the church was completed.
For several years, the members just "enjoyed" their church. They rested on their laurels and not much was done about paying off the mortgage. But this did not satisfy some of the builders of the church. Among them especially was Steiner Odom.
Mr. Odom had been superintendent of the Sunday School for some years, having taken over from Mr. Frank Bricken in the little white church. During these early years, the Sunday School under Mr. Odom's able. consecrated, dedicated leadership became known as the "best Sunday School in Southern Methodism." This recognition came from Methodist Headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. It was decided that the mortgage on the church must be paid - and through the Sunday School, as many other things, were being done in the church at this time.
A careful plan was worked out and submitted to the classes. Each class was given a certain amount to raise; beginning with the strong and able Ben Bricken Class of one hundred members, through every adult class, every department, down even to the nursery with the babies under the joyous, loving supervision of Mrs. Guy Folmar. Each class raised its quota - even the babies with their pennies. The mortgage was burned during an informal, but solemn service in the Ben Bricken Assembly Room. This took place during the Reverend R.A. Moody's pastorate.
When the finance committee met at the early time more than forty years ago, they said to each other, "We will build a church to last a hundred years!" It was the wish of every committee member that the Luverne Methodist Church would again burst its seams - not only physically, but burst into the great spiritual beauty in the hearts of its members - blessing these and others far beyond this small town and on into infinity.
TORNADO STRIKES LUVERNE MARCH 6, 1944
The Methodist Church was hit hard. The damage was estimated at about $20,000 (Luverne Journal.)
On May 3, 1944, a revival meeting was held in a huge tent behind the Sunday School building since the church had not been repaired after the tornado. The Reverend R.J. Haskew was the visiting preacher. The Reverend A.H. Vanlandingham was the regular pastor at the time.
Repairs to the church following the tornado were completed in time for the White Christmas Program. The program was held in the main auditorium on Sunday, December 24, 1944.
On March 12, 1944, motion was made and seconded that the trustees of the Luverne Methodist Church be authorized to ask for and accept a donation of $5,000 from the General Board of the Church Extension for rebuilding the church after the tornado. It was reported by the Second Quarterly Conference Report on May 28, 1944, that the Sunday School had raised $11,198.41.
On the evening of February 27, 1949, Bishop Clare Purcell of the Birmingham Area of the Methodist Church preached in Luverne Methodist Church and dedicated the pipe organ during the service. The public was cordially invited through a story published in the Luverne Journal. (The church organ cost $6,000.00 installed.)
The narrow concrete steps to the front entrance was a hazard. They were replaced in September of 1950. Ralph B. Douglass of Norfolk, Virginia, formerly of Luverne, wanted to make a contribution to the church in memory of his mother and father. He asked his sister, Lila Douglass Fundaburk, to find out what was the greatest need at that time. In discussing this with other members of the church, it was decided that the greatest improvement that could be made would be to change the entrance. This work was done by L.D. Liles and Jesse Martin. A plaque was placed to commemorate the gift.
"In loving memory of
Georgia Emma Douglass
Frazier Michel Douglass
This entrance given by their son
Ralph B. Douglass
A building committee for the Fellowship Hall was elected on November 30, 1965. They met 17 times from January 1, 1966 to February 4, 1968. The committee was given the assignment of studying the educational and fellowship needs of the church.
The committee recommended to the Church Conference on April 3, 1966, that a two-story educational annex be built immediately to the rear of the church. Two assembly rooms and six class rooms were proposed for the second floor.
However, after further study, the committee decided that additional classroom facilities were not imperative at that time. Therefore, a fundamental departure was made in the original proposal. Instead of a two-story building, a plan for a one-story building was submitted for the following: (1) Fellowship Hall with dining capacity of 152, suitable also for a wide variety of indoor recreation; (2) Modern, well-equipped kitchen with a commercial type range, two hot tables, dishwasher and cabinets; (3) The new building to be connected to the present building by a lobby structure reaching from the front entrance of the new building to the east entrance of the present educational building; (5) Covered drive at the west entrance to the new building; (6) An elevator installed at the northwest corner of the Ben Bricken Room up to the space on the next floor occupied by the pastor's study. The new building to be air-conditioned and heated independently of the existing building.
In a report on February 4, 1968, the building committee made this statement: "Our generation has been the beneficiary of buildings and facilities which others have worked and sacrificed for. We now have the opportunity not only to participate in a project which will make a truly distinctive addition to our church plan, but more important, one which will enable us to expand the ministry and program of our church in the critically important areas of Christian fellowship and recreation. We are confident that our people will realize the gravity of the opportunity which we now have. It is not likely to come again."
To be continued ...