Churches of Miller County
FIRST CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE, ELDON
By Kay Webery
The First Church of the Nazarene in Eldon, Missouri, was organized on October 17, 1920, following a campaign started by Rev. R.T. Hodges and continued by Rev. L.W. Dodson, Superintendent of the Missouri District. The eighteen charter members met for worship in the Universal Theatre which the group purchased. The first pastors were Rev. and Mrs. I.B. Medler.
The group worshiped on Maple Street until 1930. Under the leadership of Rev. W.E. Carlton, property was purchased at 521 West Third Street. Immediately a basement church was constructed and dedicated for worship on April 20, 1930. The Depression delayed completion of the church. In 1933 under the leadership of Rev. F.B. Moore, a parsonage was built.
When Rev. G.M. Pace became pastor in 1938, building of a superstructure on the basement was begun. Finally on March 29, 1942, under the leadership of Rev. A.A. Septer, the completed building was dedicated by Missouri District Superintendent, Dr. T. W. Willingham. The church with its adjoining parsonage served pastor and people well for approximately thirty years.
In 1967 under the leadership of Rev. Robert M. Aldrich, property was secured and plans drawn for a new parsonage in the Gerhart Addition of Eldon. On February 8, 1970 the home was dedicated. Rev. and Mrs. Elton Hughes were the first occupants.
Nine lots adjoining the parsonage were purchased in 1973. Church bonds were sold during the summer of 1976 to finance a new church building. Construction of the 325 capacity sanctuary and the basement and educational facilities was begun. In April of 1977 the completed building was dedicated by Rev. Troy Daggett, pastor; Rev. Arthur E. Mottram, Missouri District Superintendent; and Dr. Charles Strickland, General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene. In 1979 ten adjoining lots were purchased for future expansion.
IBERIA'S CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE
by Peggy Smith Hake
The site of Iberia's Church of the Nazarene was once occupied by the Methodists. It has been 'holy ground' for well over a century. In 1871, James and Ruth Martin sold off a parcel of land in Iberia to the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Miller County. The trustees named in the deed included William Tallman, David Farnham, John W. Waite, Jeremiah (Jerry) C. Tallman, and John C. Thompson. They built a church on this land and kept it until 1903. That year the trustees (John Ferguson, Jeremiah Whalen, John L. Hopkins, John C. Thompson, and M.V.B. Trent) sold the church site to George R. Mace, a local physician, for $255. In the transaction, the church was referred to as "People's M.E. Church".
When Dr. Mace purchased the old Methodist church, it is my understanding he remodeled the building into his living quarters. Later he constructed a small structure to the west of the old church where he sat up his medical profession and practice. When the trustees of the Nazarene Church bought the property, the small medical office was still standing on the lot.
From 1903 through 1925, this property was owned by various members of the Mace family. In 1915, George and Victoria Mace sold to Elmer and Erma Mace. In 1918, Elmer and Erma sold to Bert R. Mace, a single man. Bert kept the property until 1925 when he sold it to Martin C. and Mary Hicks.
On March 10, 1926, Martin and Mary sold this piece of land to the Church of the Nazarene, which had organized just a short time earlier, for $1500. In the deed it specified that this property was..."In trust, that said premises shall be used, kept, maintained, and disposed of, as a place of worship for the use of the ministry and membership of the Church of the Nazarene; subject to the doctrine, law, and usage of said church, as from time to time declared by the General Assembly of said church".
On April 13, 1944, the church acquired the adjoining property from Joseph and Sophia Hendricks. It was located to the north of the church's parsonage. This adjoining lot has a parcel 33 feet by 33 feet excepted from the transaction because it was owned by the town of Iberia and was the location of the town's old jailhouse.
In 1908, David and Henrietta Farnham conveyed off this 33-foot square parcel to the Trustees of the Town Board of Iberia and thereupon was built the old concrete jailhouse. In 1954, the town of Iberia conveyed the old jail property to the trustees of the Nazarene Church who included Willard Duncan, Will Jarrett, and James Hendley. The real estate transaction was signed by Mayor Charles Abernathy of Iberia.
In the 1930s, under the pastorate of Rev. A. O. Shearrer, the first parsonage was built from native limestone. The old church was torn down in 1947 and the present church building was built and finished in 1949. The church was built of 130 tons of red granite rock that was quarried in Iron County, Missouri and hauled to Iberia for cutting and placed by talented stonemasons including my grandfather, Frank Smith, and his brother, Felix (Pea) Smith.
As I mentioned before, the old deserted jail still remains today....a historic place of confinement, condemnation, and calamities neighbored by a hallowed place of comfort, compassion, and Christians.....the Iberia Church of the Nazarene.