A Brief History of Maple United Methodist
In the beginning
Maple United Methodist Church is a historic church on the north side of Battle Creek. It began in 1888 as a mission of First Methodist Church to meet the needs of the expanding near the northeast side of Battle Creek.
Maple United Methodist Church was originally a Methodist Mission Sunday School of the First Methodist Church of Battle Creek. On October 28th of that year, much to the surprise of the team from First church, 105 people gathered to worship, sing hymns and praise the Lord in a house at 193 Cherry Street in Battle Creek.
The church met at several temporary locations including a tent! On August 31, 1890, its first building at the corner of Merritt and Maple Street (now Capital Avenue NE) was completed and dedicated. It was now the “Maple Methodist Church.”
The first 25 years
During its first 25 years, Maple grew in membership and mission. This era included a campaign against the “wet forces” of the organized liquor traffic and support for men stationed at Camp Custer during World War I. The church constructed a 12 room parsonage and completed a belfry.
The next 25 years
From 1915 to its 50th anniversary celebration in 1939 Maple Methodist Episcopal Chapel expanded its work with young people. Boy Scout Troop #4 made its home at Maple. In the 1920’s, several young women went to China as missionaries, teachers and evangelists. A teen group was organized and contributed to the church by planting shrubbery and purchasing the large painting of Christ. To accommodate its increasing membership, the congregation came together to build a new addition. It featured the first church gymnasium to be built in the city of Battle Creek.
The years from 1940-1963
The years from 1940-1963 were marked by growth, building and renovations. The church purchased a new parsonage at 26 Merritt Street. The old one was remodeled to accommodate the office, pastor’s study, nursery and Sunday School rooms. The church belfry was proclaimed a hazard and torn down amidst much controversy. The space above the gymnasium became a children’s chapel and classrooms. The Women’s Society of Christian Service modernized the kitchen. Maple’s 500 members and 200 constituency members celebrated 75 years as a worshiping community in 1963 in a newly decorated sanctuary.
Continued growth and expansion
Maple’s emphasis on youth, service and worship continued into the next 25 years. Active youth groups, participation in city-wide sports programs, vacation church school programs and Methodist Camp sessions were all important aspects of the community’s life. A children’s choir came into being during this time. In March 1974 the church saw the consecration of the new Education Unit. In 1978, the church demonstrated its commitment to youth as it hired its first Director of Youth Christian Education.
Maple sold the old parsonage and bought a new one at 511 Garrison. The community celebrated its 90th anniversary in 1978 with 400 members and 75 constituent members. In 1968, the main bodies of Methodism merged (the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South). Maple officially changed the church name to Maple United Methodist Church.
In 1973, a new addition was started to include an education wing and office area. The addition allowed all of the church activities to be housed under one roof. The beautiful stained glass windows have been preserved throughout all renovations and remodeling of the church.
Into the new millenium
Ministry at Maple is still a vital and outreaching thing. While the neighborhood changes, the commitment of Maple’s people does not. We worship in a building that is debt-free. We continue to seek ways to be of service to our community. And we celebrate God’s faithfulness to us as we continue to seek to serve him.