History of Coatesville United Methodist Church
More than a century and a half ago, our forefathers, under the influence of the indwelling Spirit, were thinking in terms of their future and the spiritual nurture of future generations. They were concerned about a place to meet to worship, to study the Bible, to sing and pray together. Since there was no building available, they first met in the home of Ashel Mann, on a farm, some distance northeast of present Coatesville. Mr. Mann gave a parcel of land to be used for the location of a church and cemetery. This small church was affiliated with a circuit-rider charge of twenty-eight points of like churches. Many were named for nearby creeks and settlements, since there were no cities or post offices. Names such as Sugar Creek Circuit, White Lick Circuit, White River Circuit, and Wabash River Circuit were the identifying circuit-rider areas of service. The Pastor to these areas was known as a Circuit-Rider, who held services every day of the week and traveled by horse-back from one charge to another. After a two-day break the circuit-rider would be off on another tour of the circuit carrying his belongings in a saddlebag, staying in the homes of those he ministered to, all for the salary of $35.00 - $40.00 per year.
The small church soon outgrew its building, and the congregation decided to move to the Smith schoolhouse, where there were better accommodations and a larger congregation could be served. At this early time there was no Indiana Conference, so the twenty-eight point charge was a part of the Midwest Mission Conference. This frontier Conference was always experiencing difficulty in finding spiritual leaders, and in 1844 the Indiana Conference was organized comprising all of Indiana and part of Illinois.
The Smith School congregation continued to grow in members and in 1852 a number of events began to happen: The Northwest Indiana Conference was organized; More and better trained ministers became available; The Vandalia Railroad was completed, bringing more opportunities for community expansion; and a new site for a building was found at Coatesville (then known as West Milton).
Money was in short supply, but with the aid of much volunteer labor the building was completed and was dedicated as the Coatesville Methodist Episcopal Church, Springtown Charge, Greencastle District Northwest Indiana Conference. Tragedy struck in 1860 when the building was destroyed by fire. Unable to meet expense the Coatesville church was made a part of the Fillmore charge as a mission church. Unhappy with this arrangement the Methodist worshipped with the Moravian people who had a building in the south part of Coatesville. In 1862, under the leadership of Rev. F.M. Pavey who also had some carpenter experience, the new building was built. This building, with some repair and renovation, was used for worship until it was destroyed by the Good Friday tornado, March 26, 1948. The parsonage was capable of being remodeled and this was started at once, but the congregation worshipped in the Coatesville school house until a new building could be constructed. The new edifice was dedicated December 11, 1949, and in 1956 an educational wing was added to the existing building.
Through the years the Coatesville Church has had many worthwhile activities. The United Methodist Women's group has made countless contributions to the Church's ongoing program as did its predecessor groups: The Women's Home Missionary; The Methodist Ladies Aid Society; The Women's Society Of Christian Service. At times there has been a very active United Methodist Youth Fellowship organization, and also a Men's Fellowship, but at the present time there is need in this area. The Coatesville Church has been blessed with outstanding musical talent and has also enjoyed great fellowship with Amo United Methodist Church, her sister Church on the charge alignment.
During her history the Coatesville United Methodist Church has been served by many dedicated pastors, each one making his own special contribution of special gifts and abilities to the Kingdom of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. It is our prayer, and we hope that it will be yours also, that we may continue to proclaim the Gospel in such a manner that "hearts will continue to be warmed" in the Wesleyan tradition as it has been our heritage.... so let it be our future.
Of course, the history of the church is not primarily the building, but it is the story of the people, the leadership, the changed lives and the influence that they have had in the community and the world.
- Presented By Christina Kivett 2002 -