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MEEKER | Many are familiar with “Elbert Hall,” connected to the Meeker United Methodist Church on 809 Park Ave. What you may not know are the sacrifice and stories this building has to tell… and you may not know the energy and time that has been invested in it lately.
In 1957, the year Rev. Simmons came to Meeker, enrollment at the Methodist Church had soared beyond the 200 mark. Rev. Gordon J. Benesh followed Rev. Simmons to Meeker, and his six years of service to the local congregation were to be years of unprecedented building and growth in the church. The 1961 conference report, the first under Rev. Benesh, showed a record Sunday School enrollment of 234, as well as a new record 113 enrollment for Vacation Bible School. In 1962, the conference report for church membership rose to the 200 mark, the first time such a figure had been achieved for the Meeker church.
MAKING A PLAN
With very little space to function with this kind of growth, the final decision made was to renovate the interior of the existing sanctuary, preserving the original building constructed in 1899, and to proceed with a building program for a new annex building to the church. This, of course, was the culmination of a great deal of planning and discussion among the local congregation and with outside resource leadership. Plans were drawn up by April 18, 1962, after lengthy study and critical review.
The building committee submitted an initial estimate of $40,000 for the new structure, augmented by liberal contributions of labor by the men and women of the church and community. A financial crusade entitled, “Step Into the Future Through Faith,” began in the final weeks of 1963.
On Dec. 22, 1963, the W. H. Jacobs family were returning home to their ranch on Piceance Creek after a farewell dinner for the Wayne Luben family. A freak accident occurred on the highway about 12 miles west of Meeker resulting in the death of Elbert Jacobs, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs, and injury to their daughter Katheryn. As the accident was later reconstructed, a 300 pound boulder came rolling down the hillside and crashed on the top of the Jacobs’ automobile, crushing in the top of the vehicle. It was believed that this was the cause of young Elbert’s death, almost instantly.
At the request of his parents, memorial gifts for the forthcoming building program were asked for and received. The building fund for the new annex received an appreciable impetus as a result of this tragedy and loss. The new building became known almost from the beginning as “Elbert Hall.”
ALMOST A YEAR TO THE DAY …
Partway through the construction of the new annex building tragedy once again struck when another bright and promising young men sustained a fatal injury. On the evening of Dec. 8, 1964, while rabbit hunting on his parents’ ranch, young Larry Amick, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Amick and grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Amick, was accidentally shot and died soon thereafter. (Also brother to Diana Amick Watson who currently is a member in the church and serves as one of the pianists.) Memorials to young Mr. Amick came to the church in significant amounts, and at the request of his parents and other family members, the gifts were applied to the annex building and renovation program.
The new unit was dedicated Oct. 10, 2965.
FAST FORWARD TO 2018
In 2018, the church council of the Meeker United Methodist Church began formulating goals for the year. One of those goals was to be known as a family church, bringing the best programming and support to families to encourage spiritual growth and wholeness. Realizing the old “Elbert Hall” (where families would be gathering), was pretty much in its original state, a decision was made to begin an ambitious renovation to make it more inviting – with colorful and bright hallways, restrooms and classrooms for family and children’s programming including Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, music camp and more.
A grant was submitted to the UMC Foundation and $2,500 was awarded to this project. A “Support a Project” fundraiser was started to raise funds within the congregation to further to do construction in changing out a wall, add new trim work, purchase new paint, carpet, and add artwork. Of course, in-kind services helped the project come to fulfillment.
Today, the people at Meeker United Methodist Church and the updated “Elbert Hall” have the opportunity to write many more stories for future generations.
DID YOU KNOW?
Meeker United Methodist Church has been designated as the Meeker Chamber of Commerce’s April Business of the Month. There was to be an open house for the community to look through the whole building including our new renovations – complete with cake and refreshments and happy congratulations. However, due to our current state of “social distancing” related to COVID-19, we instead invite the public to a virtual tour and celebration, April 12 at 10 a.m (Easter Sunday). Join us live at @meekerumc on Facebook. Our Easter Worship service will be shown at 10 a.m. immediately followed by a virtual tour of the building and what has been accomplished. A drawing for a “Spring Gift Basket” complete with commemorative mugs, book of history of MUMC, two different cookbooks with recipes from the congregation and stocked with fresh baked goodies from some of those famous recipes, plus a $50 gift certificate (Chamber Bucks) will be earned through a virtual drawing on Facebook. Check the meekerumc Facebook page for details!
Special to the Herald Times