The congregation of the Scottland United Methodist Church is hosting a 135th anniversary celebration Sunday, Aug. 12, at the rural Edgar County church.
The small but extremely faithful congregation invites the public to join them for a program at 2 p.m., which includes speakers discussing the rich history of the church followed by fellowship with refreshments of drinks and desserts.
“The event is a celebration of it’s own because many of the smaller churches are closing down and the fact that our church and congregation are keeping on is a whole lot to celebrate,” said Pastor Melanie Hoth.
“We hope to get a lot of people to celebrate with us,” said church member Emma Henry. The church has a regular attendance of approximately 15 to 20 worshippers each Sunday.
Delivering the message is Methodist district superintendent Scott Grulkey of Effingham. Former pastors have also been invited to speak about the church history and their time in service at Scottland.
The congregation selected favorite hymns for singing during the special service, and Henry will share a poem that was read at a previous anniversary celebration.
“We invite the public – especially those people who have been affiliated with the church in the past in many ways such as baptisms, weddings, or even special Sunday services,” said Hoth. “We seat about 70 and have exceeded that before. I hope we can do that again.”
Hoth said the small congregation spends a great amount of time planning special events to minister to the community.
“Our goal is to keep the doors open,” said Hoth. “To do that, the church members have an open mind as far as newer ideas and ways to minister and serve the rural communities. When you have God on your side, then we can’t go wrong.”
Echoing the pastor’s sentiments Henry said, “We could have waited until the church’s 150th anniversary but we wanted to celebrate together earlier because our congregation is aging.”
In preparation for the celebration, Henry researched the extremely old church documents and history books.
The church started 11 years after Scottland became a village in September 1872 with two blacksmiths, two doctors and three dry-good stores.
An interdenominational Sunday School was organized in the spring of 1874 and classes were held in a hall above the J.A. Dawson store. It only lasted for six months. Another Sunday school class was created in 1875 and worship was held above the Simpson-Thompson Hall, which was later known as the Craft’s Garage.
The land for the Scottland Methodist Episcopal Church was purchased from William and Sarah Scott Nov. 9, 1882, and the building was dedicated July 29, 1883.
The Rev. Granville Lowther was minister in 1881 and is known as the first pastor of the Scottland Methodist Episcopal Church, although a Rev. Stevens preached at the school and in a small chapel prior to 1881.
After reminiscing about the past, Hoth looks toward the future and the church flourishing for many years to come.
“We see worshippers come and go right now, and we have a few youth in the congregation” said Hoth. “We anticipate moving forward and staying relevant to the community while looking for new ideas and more ways to reach out to Chrisman, Scottland and surrounding areas and ways to meet their needs.
“Our small congregation is doing what churches should do which is to minister to the community. This is an example of Christ. He reached out to any and all so we will continue to think of new ideas and see how we can fill that roll. We have some very caring people in the congregation and that shows.”