By LaVern Johnson
A large crowd enjoyed celebrating the 105th anniversary of the Lyons Community Church last Sunday, with the Stover Street Stompers from Fort Collins bringing in the jazz; a group of costumed church folks (Jerry Fike, Debbie Tabor, Chuck and Kitty Keim, Sam Miller, Jani and Zeke Little, and others) led by Carol Pranschke singing a ballad of old-time music. Pastor
Claire McNulty-Drewes gave the message of the church : “To be a community center in the heart of Lyons, offering God’s hope and promise to all!”
LaVern Johnson gave the following history of the church: Although there was Methodist preaching along the St. Vrain River before Lyons was settled in 1881, the church is first mentioned in 1903 as part of a charge with Hygiene. In 1905, people in Lyons were urging the sending of a Methodist preacher, and a Methodist Episcopal Church was organized with twenty-nine members that met in the Lavridson Hall (which was above the old Post Office that burned in 1967).
H. S. Murray, the first minister, and the members declared they were able and willing to build a church. In 1906, William Rubendall was hired to build the present church building, which was completed in two years at a cost of $4,000.
The Lyons United Methodist Church was dedicated on March 1, 1908, with Governor William H. Buchtel present for the dedication sermon. In 1910, the Lyons church was declared the smallest church in the Greeley District, and the congregation still owed half of the original cost. Drought and crop failure had prompted some members to move away. In 1911 the congregation considered closing the church, but District Superintendent Rev. A. L. Chase, and Rev. O. E. Baker encouraged the members to carry on, and helped raise the remaining $1350 to pay off the mortgage. Charlie Bradford who owned a saloon and operated a fish hatchery (now the James and Kathy Carrol property) gave $100.
Wesleyan Hall was added to the Church in May, 1952, for Sunday School and other activities. The church men dug out the marble formation by hand. Digging under the church was a very precarious task, but they made it. The cornerstone reflects commitment to the youth in Lyons, and reads “That The Child May Know God.”
The Ladies Aid met weekly in the afternoon, and the Methodist Guild, a group of working ladies, met once a month in the evening. Both groups worked tirelessly and held countless fundraisers for years to support the church, put in the restrooms where the kitchen was, financed the basement materials and furnishings, finished the floor and seats, as well as to pay the minister, etc. Guild members were: Margaret Billings, Kay Blalock, Josephine Blue, Mabel Bohn, Peggy Brackett, Marshall Brodie, Edna Campbell; Harriett Carter, Maggie Clotworthy, Luella Drage, Marjorie Gilchrist, Mabel Clark, June Hall; Dorothy Hewitt, LaVern Johnson, Florence O’Neal, Charlotte McFadden, Georgia Morton, Melva Nowlen, Beatrice Pease, Ada Peila, Frances Platt, Ruth Roach, Ann Rose, Doris Sanford, Anne Sherwood, Hannah Smith, Velma Smith, Mona Smith, Marion Stover, Waivus Twyford, Lillian Veith, Alice (Cumberford) Walker, Aleta Wood,
Frances Platt was instigator of topping the steeple, after the wind blew it off. We had a campaign to building Wesleyan Hall., and other campaigns build the garage, fence the parsonage, upgraded the parsonage, remodeled the gasket to keep the water from pouring into the basement after a hard rain, and installed new roofing just lately. Mr. LaVerne, was the plasterer, after the roof had leaked, but he slipped on a gob of mud and hurt his back, so he and the church were out-of-commission for about a month. He said he “got plastered every day.”
The Sunday school has always been a big part of the church with longtime teachers: Ema Wedow, LaVern Johnson, Sharon Leiding, Loretta Hammans, Gladys Suden, Marian Stover, Ann Rose, Lynda Kelling, Thelma Friend, Thelma Endres, and others. Teachers from 1976 through 1988 were: Mr./Mrs Wilbert Murphy, Debbie Tabor, Janell Wadnell, Anne Trementozzie, Lynda Kelling, Carol Kraft, Kris Sims, Mary and Wanda Griest, Ellen Hine, Dave Kloosterman, Rogena Deeter, Dick Hinshaw, Maureen Hoxit, Louise Pinkerton, Janice Bush, Susan Sherwin, and Doris Tow, and others.
I taught 5th and 6th grades in Sunday school for thirty years (1947 to 1977), and some of my prize students were: Debbie Kinsey, Suzanne Gardner, Jack, Pam Platz, and a host of others. We took trips in my big station wagon to the Capital, Denver Zoo, Denver History Museum, and had monthly roller skating parties, that the kids loved. Jack Platz couldn’t wait to get in the 5th grade so he could join us. I quit teaching after my boys had graduated, in college, and decided to let someone else have a turn. We had a youth organization with Flora Ann Noyes and later Jean and Jerry Peila.
The church has been a center of worship for other groups. In the early 1980s the St. Ireaneus Episcopal Mission held their Sunday service in the evening. The Catholic Church started by Martin and Meg Shoeneman is celebrating their thirtieth anniversary of using the Methodist Church. It has been a member of the Lyons Pastoral Alliance and is an outreach association for needy families. At the present time, over thirty families benefit from the Food Bank.
The church rightfully changed its name to the Lyons Community Church, but me, being old-fashioned, hate to give up the name, Methodist, and I call it, the Lyons Community-Methodist Church. The Lyons church is still the nucleus of many new young families (in fact Lyons is the only town in Colorado where 17% of their population is under five years old—that’s 370 young kids. The streets are full of baby buggies!). They are welcomed by the church and Sunday school.
The Lyons Community/Methodist church has become a modern church with music concerts, chili suppers, pig roasts, petting zoo, etc., to boost the camaraderie and attendance, giving its followers a joyful experience and a way to get acquainted.