This picture was probably taken about 1897 as that is when Reverend Joslin was pastor. The building may actually date back to 1842 according to church history. In 1856, the Methodist Society was given possession of the building which they repaired and enlarged. This served as a place of worship until the erection of the new stone edifice in 1898. The wooden church was moved to the north side of Washington Street, one and one-half blocks east of Saginaw Street.
L to R – Mary Shonts, Katherine Shaft, Anna Haviland, Mrs. Reverend Joslin, Eliza Gulick,
Rhoda Sherman, Riley Crawford, Reverend John Joslin, Nicholas Gulick and Edgar Welch.
We are indebted for the first portion of this history which has been taken from old Class Books and Conference Minutes to Reverend Fred Strong, Brother Loren Boutell, Richard Wellman and others who for many years were connected with our church in diligent labors and who shared with others the blessings and difficulties of an infant church in her struggles for the mastery in this frontier of our Missionary Field.
This region of the country was pioneered by Brother Andrew Jackson and organized into what was called the “Shiawassee Mission” in 1836 and was embraced in the Flint River District. Reverend S.P. Shaw was the presiding elder.
The Mission embraced at this time an area of country extending from Fentonville on the East to the Rochester Colony on the northwest, thence stretching south some sixty miles to the northern boundary of the Ann Arbor district, making some 400 miles travel for the minister at each tour around his circuit once in four wheels.
At the General Conference held in 1856 the Michigan Conference was divided and the Byron circuit became part of the Detroit Conference.
It was in 1862 that the following instrument was executed and recorded in the Record of Religious Societies in the County Clerk's office of Shiawassee County: “This certifies that I, J.H. Caster, Preacher in charge of Byron Circuit have this 29th day of December A.D. 1862 appointed Richard Wellman, Nicholas Gulick, Ezekiel Jewell, Chester H. Smith, George Goff, John Sickles and Thomas Culbert Trustees of the Society of the Methodist Church of Byron in the said County of Shiawassee, in the State of Michigan. The said Corporation shall be described and known as the First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Statute in such case made and provided. Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of Nicholas Gulick, Justice of the Peace”.
In 1883 the Byron Charge embraced first the Village itself, second the Green School,, 4 miles west and two miles south, third the Lovejoy Schoolhouse, 5 miles north and also what was known as the Brick School, three miles east.
Preaching was held on every Sabbath, one Sunday in the morning and the next in the evening.
Down through the years we had several different “Out-Appointments”, Cohoctah and Argentine besides the Brick and Green Districts but in 1954 we became a One Church Station with Reverend Kenneth L. Harris being appointed as full time minister.
Some of the records of the church have been lost but the following bit of history has been obtained from various sources. The First Church organized was the Christian Church which held meetings as early as 1838-39. This society built a church in 1842 on the hill just south and east of our present church.
In 1856 the Christian Society having discontinued its meetings gave the Methodist Society possession of the Church Building which they repaired and enlarged and which served as a place of worship up to the time of the erection of the new stone edifice in 1898.
The following account was taken from an old clipping and relates a few facts incidental to the “Laying of the Corner Stone”. An ideal day on the 21st of July 1898 with sunshine and shad and a bracing breeze, gave most beautiful climatic conditions for the laying of a cornerstone of the Methodist Episcopal Church in our village. Clergymen were here from Fenton, Bancroft, Gaines, Linden, Plymouth and Morrice with Bishop F.S. Ninde of Detroit who gave the address.
The Church was completed the following year and the Dedication Ceremonies were held in February 1899. The contractor for the new building was G.C. Shafer of Howell and the cost was $6,000. The stone for this beautiful structure was donated by many of the people around the community from their farms and drawn in while Fred Euler of Howell laid them in place. The cornerstone came from the farm of Herman Meier, who lived east of the village.
Methodist Church (1898)
In 1906, a parsonage was purchased from Mrs. Eliza Gulick for the sum of $1,500. The present parsonage is now located on Bath road just outside the village limits.
To comply with the rules of the General Conference the church's name has been changed from “Methodist Episcopal Church” to “Methodist Church” to “First United Methodist Church of Byron”.
Earliest records do not tell how many members there were at the beginning of the Church.
Soon after the organization of the church the Methodist Ladies Aid was organized. There was no definite plan of membership but every lady who became a member of the church was considered a member of the Aid. At present the Women's Society is made up of 2 circles, each meeting once a month and made up of all ladies in the community who are interested in the church, whether a member or not. A general meeting of all circles is held once a month. These groups add much to the financial support of the church, their money being raised from product sales, fairs, dinners, wedding receptions, suppers and making rugs.
In 1940 the Women's Groups of the Church in accordance with the rules of the General Conference, consolidated in one Society, namely the Women's Society of Christian Service. Mrs. Howard Meier was the first president.
In 1951 a new electric organ was purchased for the Sanctuary. Mrs. Clifford Lewis donated one set of chimes and Lewis Betterly, a former member of the church donated the other set.
In February 1960 the church began its “Venture in Faith” campaign to raise money for a new educational building. On March 9, 1961 the contract was awarded to Bohman Brothers of Byron for the new building for the sum of $59,231.45. Generations to come will be grateful to them for the fine workmanship on this building. All will agree that it is a compliment to our existing stone church. On March 25, 1961 ground breaking ceremonies were held and on June 25, 1961 the corner stone was laid. Consecration Service for the new building was held on January 14, 1962 and the “Burning of the Mortgage” ceremony was held July 9, 1967.
In 1998, the church celebrated their One Hundred Year anniversary of the stone church. There were programs held at various intervals all during the year. Many changes have been made throughout the years in the various activities of a growing church.