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THE CHURCH’S HISTORY

 

Monroe United Methodist Church is the product of a merger of three churches. The first church was a Methodist Episcopal Church, erected in 1849. This congregation occupied a wooden structure until 1869 when the foundation was laid for an imposing neo-Gothic brick church. As soon as the first floor of the new building was completed the congregation began using it for worship. The building was completed in 1887 and is now used at the Monroe Arts Center.

The second church was Immanuel Evangelical Church. In 1861 a German language Evangelical Church in Monroe was established by the Wisconsin Conference of the Evangelical Association. The first church building was a small wooden structure which was replaced in 1893. A brick building was erected in 1889, and housed the congregation until a new edifice was built in 1916 on the corner of Sixteenth Avenue and Sixteenth Street.  

A third congregation was Bethel United Brethren Church. For many years it was a rural church located southwest of the city, but the congregation relocated in Monroe prior to 1920. In 1923 they built and moved into a new brick church at 14th Avenue and 14th Street.

In 1946 Immanuel and Bethel churches both became Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) churches when their respective denominations merged at the national level.  

Twenty years later, the Methodist Church merged with the EUB to form The United Methodist Church.  Monroe was one of the few towns in Wisconsin to merge former Methodist and EUB congregations. It took the members of these three churches eighteen months of thoughtful work to complete the merge.  

The congregations and the church schools began to worship together and merged on the first Sunday in September 1970. The marriage of the congregations was completed on January 3, 1971 when they were officially declared to be one church by Bishop Ralph Alton. The Bishop, the two pastors – Harold Crume and Melvin Roehrdanz – and three laymen joined hands, symbolically uniting the former congregations. Crume and Roehrdanz served as co-pastors for three more years.

This new congregation met in the larger EUB building at 16th Street and 16th Avenue with a combined full membership of 1238. 345 were enrolled in Sunday Church School, and the youth Fellowship had nearly 100 members. In the early 1970’s this represented over 10% of the town’s population. 

In the 1970’s the new church was very active in mission work.  The senior high youth went on work camps trips to New Mexico, Colorado and northern Wisconsin.  More than two dozen adults went to Appalachia.  The church sponsored two Vietnamese families to be settled in the town.  They hosted a Zimbabwean pastor and wife for five months and later helped the pastor further his education in an American Methodist seminary.

A building committee started work almost immediately after the merger to address three major concerns: handicapped accessibility, expanded parking, and adequate space for the Sunday School.  The church building had three floors, so climbing steps is necessary all the time.  The former parsonage next door was converted into the church office and additional Sunday school rooms. Using the former parsonage proved disconcerting as people were spread across two buildings each Sunday. The parking lot had only twenty stalls and street parking was limited. It was not reasonable to expect members to walk to church.  The committee met for years, working with two different architects, yet no plan could adequately address all concerns.  It was decided to start from scratch on new land.

Shortly after the 1968 merger, discussion began on what kind of facility would best meet the needs of a growing church. A long range committee was formed and their recommendation was to add on or build new.

In 1977 the decision was made to build a new building. In September, 1979 ground-breaking ceremonies were conducted on land in an undeveloped area on the northeast corner of the town. Two years later the new facility was dedicated. It included ten large class rooms, a kitchen, and combination fellowship hall/sanctuary at a cost of $1,348,000.  A 400-seat sanctuary was built in 1989 at a cost of $527,000. 

In September 1981, the dedication was held for the current building at 2227 Fourth Street.  It met the requirements of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) nine years before it was law.

It has been designed to be open and accessible to the community. We host scout troops, Hand-in-Hand adult care through Green County, multiple blood bank events, and a wide range of community events.

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