Susan Seaberg delivered a well-researched history of First United Methodist Church of Dayton to guests of the Sept. 30 monthly meeting of the Dayton Historical Society. Fifty-five members and guests came to hear her presentation.
President Danny Bode welcomed everyone and Program Chairman Larry Wadzeck introduced Seaberg.
Seaberg, a 45-year member of FUMC, gleaned information from several long-time members of the church, from histories written years ago by three respected women of the church (Mrs. J.W. Baker, Mrs. M.W. Ford, and Mrs. Walter Norcross), church records, and museum records. She is married to Dr. Robert Seaberg who is a third-generation family member of the church.
Seaberg began by relating the history of Methodism which had its beginning 300 years ago in England. John Wesley, an Anglican priest sought to reform the Church of England. He never separated from the church and never intended to start a new denomination, but that is exactly what happened. After his death, the Methodist movement spread to America during the American Revolution. Francis Asbury came in 1771 and is considered the leader of American Methodism.
Jump ahead to 1855, which is the date recorded as the first service held in West Liberty (Dayton). In the year 1863, a mission was founded and Dayton’s Methodist heritage officially began. The year 1865 brought the first appointed clergy – William Monk – who ministered to 112 white and 54 black members. Today, about 500 are on the church roll. In 1906, the group built a small frame building on the corner of Hwy 90 and Church Street. Sunday School was organized in 1906 by Mr. Charles Wilson, and in 1908, the first women’s group was led by his wife. The year 1928 brought a new church building – a three-story brick building that served congregation needs until, due to safety issues, a new church was constructed and consecrated in 1995.
Seaberg talked about community leadership exhibited by many Methodist church members and about several prominent multi-generational families of the church who included the Fords, Remkes, Jamisons, Tadlocks, Seabergs, Nelsons, and Sanders. She went on to name many other long-time faithful church members.
She emphasized that Methodists believe they are Christians first, Methodists second.
The next meeting of the Dayton Historical Society will be Monday evening, 6 p.m., Oct. 28 at Parker Hall. All are invited to attend.