The first Catholic Church to be built in the Jasper County town of Valeria was constructed in 1892. Four years later, on May 24, 1896, a deadly tornado swept through the community, killing 10 and destroying numerous buildings, including the church. The church was rebuilt the same year and remained independent until 1911, when Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Valeria became a mission church of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Colfax. Following this arrangement, the priest resided in Colfax and was the pastor of both churches.
In 1996, there was no available priest to send to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Newton to be the associate priest, or parochial vicar. The priest in Colfax became both the pastor of Colfax and parochial vicar of Newton, leaving Valeria without a priest. Instead of fully closing, or suppressing, the church, Bishop Franklin of Davenport designated Sacred Heart an oratory, or a sacred building under control of the Bishop. Rules concerning oratories very by diocese; for the Diocese of Davenport, oratories may be used for funerals and one annual mass per year.
Since Sacred Heart became an oratory, three funerals were held along with an annual mass followed by a picnic each June. Attendance initially was very good but steadily declined, and by 2009, the future of Sacred Heart was in question. On April 1, 2010, Bishop Amos suppressed Sacred Heart of Valeria as an oratory and returned it and all its contents to secular use. Though preliminary discussions were held to tear the church down, the City of Valeria asked to use the rectory next door and keep the church as a historic landmark. The church was sold for $1, with the city signing a covenant agreement to restrict building use; for example, it cannot be used for any worship service, wedding, or as an establishment that sells alcohol.
Constructed in 1856, the Unionville United Methodist Church is thought to be the oldest active church building in Appanoose County in southeastern Iowa. The site to construct the church caused early controversy, as two pieces of ground were donated, on opposite sides of town. The oak and walnut timbers were discretely moved multiple times between the locations before the east side location was settled upon. The church shares a pastor with the United Methodist Church in nearby Cincinnati.
On July 23, 1978, members of the Methodist and Christian Church congregations of the unincorporated Jasper County town of Ira held a meeting “for purposes of taking formal action to allow the merger of these legal non-profit Iowa corporations into one corporation known as the United Church of Ira.” The newly-formed combined congregation acted quickly to secure the pictured facility.
The building that houses the United Church of Ira dates to 1938, when it was constructed by the Works Progress Administration for use as a school and community hall. The two-room school, which housed kindergarten through eighth grade students, operated until 1955, when students were absorbed by the nearby Mingo Consolidated School District.
The building served as a community center then as a Grange hall before being purchased by the church in 1978. Volunteers created a sanctuary and church classrooms on the main floor, while leaving the basement room intact for use as a community hall.
Featuring a two-story bell tower and arched stained glass windows, the United Methodist Church building in the unincorporated Davis County community of West Grove was dedicated January 28, 1904. In 1923, the church temporarily closed as attendance declined, but by the following year, Reverend S.P. Trostle was installed as pastor and reinvigorated the congregation.
By 1938, the sandstone foundation of the church was crumbling and services were held in a community hall while cement blocks were installed to improve the foundation. A full basement was dug in 1945 and recent improvements include restoration of the stained-glass windows and the installation of a handicap-accessible ramp. In addition to the West Grove church, the current pastor also oversees the United Methodist Church in the nearby Appanoose County community of Jerome.
The United Methodist Church in the Marion County town of Hamilton was founded as a Methodist Episcopal Church in 1868. Services at the church ceased in the mid-1960s, but a faithful few continued to meet in the building for Sunday School, monthly hymn sings, and maintain the aging building. The commitment did not go unnoticed; in 1987, the church reopened with a full-fledged congregation in 1987 following a phone survey by the Iowa United Methodist Church conference.
The church continues to operate, with 23 members and an average Sunday attendance of 12. The Sunday School group meets at 9 a.m. with services following an hour later. The church continues to operate in the original building, constructed nearly 150 years ago. It remains a simple one-room structure today with recent improvements including the addition of an indoor restroom and central air conditioning.