Blog: Grace Methodist Church Evolves into a New Building (03/14/23)


In a recent blog, we examined the history of Grace United Methodist Church. It referred to the congregation’s move to a new building on Caruthers Avenue in 1959.

As members of the congregation left the old church, various “owners” were removed and transported to the new church. An article about the move listed each item removed from the old church, along with the name of the parishioner and why he or she received the honor. I found it touching how Grace Church linked his past to the future.

Here is the story behind this move.

Published Saturday, August 22, 1959 in Southeast Missourian:

Sunday will be a moving day for the congregation at Grace Methodist Church of Cape Girardeau. The church extends from the building at Sprigg and Independence to the new building at Caruthers with the first church unit being completed. The new building is shown. The old church becomes the city’s police headquarters in mid-September. (Archive from Southeast Missouri)



The stirring words and music of “Onward Christian Soldiers,” sung by the choir as a recession and procession on Sunday afternoon, will herald the move of the Grace Methodist congregation to their stately new spired church on West Broadway.

The occasion will be marked by closing services at the Sprigg and Independence building, the longtime seat of the church, a basket lunch, a dedicatory service, and a recession featuring significant church properties from the old church, the motorcade to the new structure, and a procession and short program there.

Partly complete

Actually, the new building is only part of the final structure that the church will have on its property. The structure is the education building and the main entrance foyer for both buildings.

Future plans call for the construction of the church sanctuary, which stands on Thilenius and extends east and west from the south side of the present building. The choir will be at the east end of this building. Construction of the educational building was recently completed at a cost of $170,000. Land cost an additional $40,000.

The Sunday church program begins at 9.30 a.m. with the last Sunday school classes in the old building. The regular closing service will follow at 10:30 a.m.

services planned

The congregation gathers at 12.30 p.m. for a basket meal on the lawn and in the basement of the old building. This will be followed at 1:45 a.m. by a Desecration Service conducted by the Rev. George Heslar, Rev. George Heslar, and a historical sketch by Arthur F. Deneke.

The minister and Rev. Frank C. Tucker, District Methodist Superintendent, will lead the recession from the building, followed by the choir singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” They will be followed by members of the congregation carrying the various church goods.

John Hunze, who presented the pulpit Bible in memory of his grandmother, Mrs. Antoinette Hunze, founder of Grace Church, will carry the Bible. The pulpit is carried by Mrs. Esther Knehans. It symbolizes the pulpit given in memory of her father, Rev. JH Knehans. During the basket meal, the pulpit is moved.

They will be carried by Mr. and Mrs. Phil C. Haman, who presented the cross and candlesticks in memory of their daughter, Miss Charlotte Haman. The communion service is conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Rethor Macke, communion workers.

The bowl from the baptismal font is removed by Frau Bruno Schultz, President of the Frauenhilfe, and given to the church. The writing will be removed during dinner. A plaque showing the chimes is removed by Mrs. WF Martens representing Ladies Aid who presented the organ bells in memory of Rev. PA Kasey.

move records

Sam Ulrich, Chairman of the Ushers Committee, will carry the offering plaques and Mrs. JW Wilkins, Church Secretary, will have the records. The plaque commemorating members lost in World War II is carried by CW McNeil. The communion service is removed from the original church by Mrs. Louise Bierschwal, who served with her late husband as communion worker.

The keys to the new church are held by HC Wilkening, the retired steward. EO Happel, whose grandfather Theodore Happel gave the church bell, will follow and ring the new church for the first time.

A literature stand is carried by Lloyd Statler, chairman of the official church council. It was given in memory of Mr. Kasey. Flowers from the altar, symbolizing the Sunday school children, are carried by Marsha Haman.

officers attend

Following are these organizers: Mrs. TR Regenhardt, President of the Woman’s Society of Christian Service; Mrs. Floyd Niswonger, President of the Wesleyan Service Guild; Miss Ann Langston, President of the Youth Fellowship; Narvol A. Randol, Sunday School Superintendent; OD Niswonger, President of the Methodist Men; Ted Regenhardt, Chairman of the Building Committee.

All members of the congregation will participate in the recession by picking up hymnals and carrying them to the new church.

With the new structure, Mr. Wilkening will unlock the door and Mr. Happel will come in to ring the bell. This signals the procession into the new building, with the choir again singing the hymn.

A short devotional service follows, during which the district superintendent and minister speak briefly. After a hymn, Mr. Deneke will read greetings and introduce himself. After the blessing, the congregation will tour the building. Members of the youth community will be leaders.

Published Monday, August 25, 1959 in Southeast Missourian:

As pastors and worshipers began to leave the old Grace Methodist Church in Sprigg on Sunday afternoon, they officially moved the church to the newly completed new building in Caruthers, just south of Broadway. The move task will be completed this week. Left to right are the pastor, Rev. George W. Heslar; Reverend Frank C. Tucker, District Superintendent; Rev. Jerry Statler of Bismark, Missouri; Mrs. Tucker; John Hunze and Mrs. Hunze. Mr. Hunze is the grandson of the church planter. (Archive from Southeast Missouri)

As the choir sings, recession members move out of the old Grace Methodist Church on Independence in Sprigg on Sunday afternoon. Items used in connection with church services were moved to the new building in Caruthers, just south of Broadway. In the row from left are: Mrs. John Hunze, Mr. Hunze, Miss Esther L. Knehans, Mrs. Phil Haman, Mr. Haman, Martha Macke, Rethor Macke, Mrs. Macke, Mrs. Bruno Schultz, Mrs. William F. Martens and Nelson Bueltemann. (GD Fronabarger ~ Southeast Missouri Archives)

A portion of the crowd moves to the new Grace Methodist Church in the west half of town. People were dressed to stay cool, befitting the hot August afternoon. Services were held in both the old and the new building. The new building is part of the planned overall church. (Archive from Southeast Missouri)

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