Calvary UMC celebrates 150th

STRATFORD — One hundred fifty years ago, a Methodist church was founded in a frontier village called Hooks Point.

Though that town is no longer there, the church is still around. What is now Calvary Methodist Church moved as the population shifted into Stratford, and will hold a sesquicentennial celebration on Sunday.

“We’ve been very blessed and fortunate to be able to keep going,” said Connie Kramme, church member.

The usual worship service will be at 10:30 a.m., with a former pastor, the Rev. Kent Kastler, speaking. A furnished dinner will be served at noon.

South Marion Church will join Calvary to celebrate that day. Both churches are pastored by the Rev. Brian McNamara.

At an afternoon program starting at 2 p.m., a former pastor, the Rev. Gina Spohnheimer, will be the speaker. District Superintendent Harlan Gillespie will also speak.

Special music will be provided by Gina and Alan Spohnheimer, Gwen Hoffman, and the Leeds family.

And there will be plenty of memories shared.

Numerous former pastors will attend and share their memories, and there will also be letters from those who couldn’t make it, Kramme said.

Some of the pastors (or their families) who are coming, include Ellis and Beverly Andrews, Margaret Phelps, Dot Hasler, and lay minister Paul Weirson.

There will also be certificates given out for 50 or more years of membership.

“I’m a transplant. I’m not one of the 50-year members,” Kramme said.

The current church building was built in 1983, she said.

The church is featured in a book of Stratford history by Hannah Nelson. The Methodists first met in a log schoolhouse, she wrote, with Methodists, Baptists and Lutherans using the building in turn every third Sunday.

The Calvary Methodist Church was founded at Hooks Point in 1867, according to the book. The charge was transferred to Stratford in 1881, and the building itself was moved in 1899. The building was used for both church and school in Hooks Point.

The original building was built at a cost of $1,500 during the Rev. Rufus Fancher’s pastorate. His salary was $375 per year.

The old church was remodeled more than once, and was badly damaged by fire in 1933.