In 1836, the “Methodist Society” was organized in the home of Mr. J. J. Bowlds. These forefathers laid the ground work for what is now Settle Memorial United Methodist Church. As their numbers grew, they could no longer meet in this parlor setting and held their meetings in the court house which was built of logs, had saw dust floors and plank seats. 

Later the Methodists realized the necessity of having a house of worship of their own, but could not agree on a location. Some of them favored building on the site of the present City Hall at the corner of Fourth and St. Ann Streets. Others opposed this, giving as their reason that it was too far out of town. However, they finally agreed on a location at the north side of Main Street between Lewis Street and Daviess Street. In 1851, this small group numbering 35-40, ten of whom were men, built a small gray brick church. There the Methodists worshipped for about thirty years.

By the year l878, the members now numbered over 300, and they once again began to feel the need for a more spacious house of worship. After much prayer, the property at the corner of Fourth and Daviess Streets was purchased for $2,550 and a new building was erected. The old church and lot were sold for $3,000.

Settle Chapel was built on this lot in 1880 during the second pastorate of H.D. Settle, for whom the church was named. The total cost was $13,900. Dr. G. C. Kelly pastored Settle Chapel from 1891-1895 and it was during that time that the lecture room was built at the rear of the church. The Sunday School Classes had always met in the Sanctuary, and now there were individual classrooms and an auditorium for general assembly. The large stained glass window has in it a reproduction of Munkacsy’s “Christ Before Pilate” and was prized by this small congregation.

In 1904, Dr. Frank M. Thomas came to serve Settle Chapel and it was during that time that the congregation again felt the need to expand their worship facilities. Settle Chapel was razed and replaced by the present magnificent structure. The church building was completed and formally opened Sunday. November 17, 1907 at a cost of about $75,000.

If we could place that small gray brick church on Main Street beside the beautiful stately structure that we enjoy today, it might seem small and insignificant. But, we should remember that what we are and have today, has been made possible only by the loyalty, spirituality, devotion and integrity of those early Methodists. They have lighted the torch that stands high on our steeple. Today we carry that torch to generations to come.

By: Cora Lee Webb, 1935

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