RUM Church history …

Religious services for Russell Methodists were first held in private homes. Circuit-riding pastors came through as often as possible during the years from 1830-1851.

In 1852 a log schoolhouse was built on the east side of the Conewango Creek at the corner of Fox Hill Road and the Akeley Hollow Road. It became the meeting place for the church members.

Finally, 48 members decided to build a church on Main Street in Russellburg. A lot 66 feet by 189 feet was purchased on June 18, 1854 from Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Marsh for $100. Lumber at the time was $2 for 1000 feet. The total cost of the church building was $2000. It was dedicated in 1854.

During the early years of the church, various denominations rented the church building for their services. Different hours were scheduled for each denomination so the church was referred to as the Russell Union Church. Unfortunately, records for this period were not kept.

The Methodist Episcopal Church provided ministers until 1968.

In 1883 Russellburg became known as Russell so the church was changed from the Russellburg Methodist Church to the Russell Methodist Episcopal Church.

An extensive remodeling took place in 1903 under the leadership of Claude Ruland and Arthur Fehlman. At this time the roof was changed, and a new roof put over the old one. The Choir room was built and the spire was removed and the present steeple was erected.

Another extensive remodeling project was begun in 1922 with Arthur Fehlman in charge. A balcony and was built and the choir loft was also built.

In 1940 the Men’s Bible Class was given permission to excavate the space under the church for a classroom. It was dedicated in 1946. In 1949 a dedication was held for new pews given in memory of Lieutenant Arthur Lindell by his parents, Andrew and Delia Lindell. Arthur had been killed in World War II. His sister, Alice Branstrom, donated bookracks. A new organ was purchased in 1949, which was paid for by donations and proceeds from public dinners.

The basement was enlarged in 1954 to provide a kitchen and dining room. The church was incorporate in the same year. Chimes were installed in 1957 in memory of Dr. and Mrs. C.H. VerMilyea.

The Educational Building, Wesley Hall was built in the rear of the church in 1964. Church member, John Nelson, designed the new building.

When the evangelical Brethren Church Conference merged with the Methodist Church Conference in April 1968, the church then became the United Methodist Church.

In 1970 the parsonage was completely remodeled and in 1974 new siding was put on the church. In 1987 a new entrance, porch, ramp and steps were built for the church.

In 2000 a capital campaign was undertaken to finance a ministry center on the south side of Wesley Hall. In 2003 as part of the first phase of the project a new parsonage was purchased in Pinegrove Acres for $155,000, to make room for the ministry Center. The parsonage mortgage was paid off in 19 months.

Original cost estimates increased substantially and a new architect was hired. The new architect discovered that the main sewer line for the township went directly under the proposed site.

At this point the building committee considered its options, evaluated potential cost and made the decision to construct and new single story facility with a ministry center and sanctuary. Toward the end of a multi-phased approval process the County Zoning Board failed to approve the plan and we went back to the drawing board.

They reevaluated options and developed a new plan that would preserve the existing sanctuary, add a new ministry center on our south connecting all existing facilities, an addition to the north side for additional seating and a complete renovations or the existing building. As part of the due diligence process a structural engineer was hired to evaluate the load capacities of our balcony and concluded that the church could not add additional seating, and that the balcony needed to be closed because it was unsafe.

This led the committee to once again review options and they decided to build a new sanctuary with a social hall in the basement. Initial cost estimates far exceeded the initial budget; selected contractors attempted to value engineer the project, but still substantially exceeded the budget.

On a recommendation from another local church, the committee was led to contractor Ron Long, who had a history of building churches more economically. He was able to supply an estimate that fell within their financial capabilities. Unfortunately due to the tightening of banking regulations, following the financial crisis of 2008 the church was unable to acquire the necessary financing for the project. Plans for the new building were then put on hold indefinitely, while continuing to gather funds.

In late 2012, the building committee met and agreed to host a “town hall” meeting to focus the ministries of the church and what members felt would improve their efforts to serve the congregation and community. As a result of the meeting several new ideas were shared and in particular a thought that the immediate needs of the congregation needed to be met, including an accessible social hall and restrooms, with improved kitchen facilities. The building committee reconvened and agreed to explore the option the cost and logistics of the project and to revisit the reinforcement of the balcony.