In 1844, a group of early settlers organized the Church of Christ two miles north of the unincorporated Jefferson County town of Abingdon. After meeting in homes for two years, a frame building was constructed in 1846. No dedicated pastor served the church in its early days; rather, services were led by congregation members. An 1855 record shows a membership count exceeding 250.
The building was moved by oxen to its present plot of land in 1867, though a brick church building was erected shortly after. It served the congregation until 1899, when the present church was constructed at a cost of $1800. The building was dedicated debt-free on October 29, 1899.
In 1847, the Methodists became the first religious group to construct a church in the Keokuk County town of Richland. A new brick building was constructed at a cost of $1,500 in 1880, before being replaced by a wooden frame building on the same site in 1898. A fire engulfed the building in October 27, 1925, causing services to temporarily be held in the town’s Opera House.
The cornerstone of the current building was laid on June 3, 1926; it was dedicated on October 3.
While the rural Wapello County hamlet of Christiansburg saw its restaurant, gas station and general store shutter after Highway 34 was rerouted in the early 1960s. While only a few homes remain, the unincorporated village has been home to a United Methodist Church since 1850.
In that year, three families gathered at James M. Chisman’s home for worship services led by Reverend W.A. Nye. Services were later moved to the the log school before the present building was constructed in 1886. In 1928, the building was raised to allow the addition of a full basement. Electric lights were added in 1946, while 1962 brought running water to the church facility.
Reverend W.C. Williams was appointed to come to the Union County town of Afton in 1854, with the first class held in January 1855 in a private home. As membership grew, services relocated to the school house, then the old courthouse building, before the first permanent building was erected in the present-day church parking lot. In 1903, the present church facility was constructed.
Membership grew in the 1960s, when the local Presbyterian Evangelical Church disbanded. The church shares a pastor with congregations in nearby Lorimor and Arispe.
In 1978, the Palmyra Township in rural Warren County was considering razing the 100-year-old Palmyra Methodist Episcopal Church. The prospect of demolition led to the formation of Friends of Palmyra Church, a group focused on restoring the historic church and listing the building on the National Register of Historic Places. The church was added to the Register in 1979, preventing demolition and propelling the group forward with its restoration plans.
The process was slow, but by 1984, auxiliary Sunday School rooms were removed to return the church to its 1870 footprint. The interior was restored and period-appropriate internal fixtures were installed. The church was made available for events and weddings and a non-denominational annual service was scheduled. The group’s recent focus has shifted to the exterior, raising funds to replace the aging roof and apply a fresh coat of paint. Photographed April 3, 2009.