The first organizational meetings were held in a small one-room school house near the home of John Hubbs, located in a hamlet later called “Hubbs”, now known as Elnora.
There on December 11,1826 a church was organized at a meeting at which one Ethan Allen and David Powers presided. Three trustees, Eliphalet King, Isaac Garnsey, and William Betts were elected. A resolution was made that the “said trustees and their successors would forever thereafter be called and known by the name or title of The First Methodist Episcopal Church in Jonesville.”
In October 1828 Mary King, a girl of fifteen years, gathered the children from the surrounding community and organized a Sunday School in her farm home.
At a quarterly conference meeting early in 1829 a committee of seven- S. Voluntine, Dodridge Smith, J. Westfall, Henry Davis, Samuel Young, and the preachers- J. Denniston and E. Goss were appointed to buy or build a parsonage house. The deed of settlement to be “according to the form of discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church.”
The 1841 Quarterly Conference reports that “the Sabbath School is in a tolerable flourishing condition.” In 1842 Jonesville became a full-fledged Station and the list of Pastors recorded began to grow. The 1842 report includes two schools having 18 officers and teachers, 190 scholars, 6 Bible classes with 215 volumes in the library. This report was followed by a still better one the next year giving the number of teachers as 21, scholars 241, and volumes in the library 424.
In 1847 a house given by R. R. Kennedy was moved onto the parsonage lot, and a plan for providing a residence for the sexton of the church was approved.
The first church was used until 1855 when the building was moved across the road from the present parsonage to become a dormitory for Jonesville Academy and later a private dwelling. A larger building was erected in its place by George Higgins, builder. That building was dedicated in November with the Rev. Sandford Washburn preaching the dedicatory sermon. This church, the present building, had a large auditorium with side and back galleries to provide ample room for students attending the “Academy” located across the road.
In June of 1872 the Envelope System of raising money for church expenses was successfully introduced.
Records about 1898 show a profit of $50 from a clam bake; the next year a motion was formally recorded to have a clam bake. This became an institution in Jonesville. The Fiftieth Anniversary Bake was celebrated in 1950 as a few bakes were omitted during war years. The last church clam bake was held in 1964.
The first mention of Epworth League chapter 14419 was made in 1900. In 1911, a Junior League was organized which met each week in the local School District building at the close of the Friday afternoon session. These groups are the forerunners of our present Methodist Youth Fellowship.
After nearly two years of deliberation and study concerning building or repairing the old parsonage, resolutions were made to sell it and have it moved from the lot which would allow the church to build a new parsonage on the same site. The present parsonage was completed in 1911 during the pastorate of Charles Edwards. The old parsonage was sold to Edward Kelly. It was divided and made into two dwellings by adding an addition to each half.
In 1921, a well was drilled and a bathroom installed. In 1937 the chancel was removed from the chapel as the room was used for all purposes and it seemed more fitting to remove it.
Our church has continued to receive gifts. Several have provided legacies. The children of the Rev. Franklin D. Weed presented a Baptismal Font as a memorial to their father and mother. A pulpit Bible and Hymnal were given in memory of D. D. Hubbs and daughter Agnes. A Cross for the Communion Table was made by Rev. Louis Henck, later to be replaced by a memorial Cross and Candlesticks presented by the Sunday School in 1947.
From memorial gifts, a Baldwin electronic organ was installed. The balcony was remodeled as a new Primary Department of the Sunday School through volunteer labor and gifts of church groups and friends. (c. 1950)
Major renovations to the church took place at the end of the 1950’s. The sanctuary floor was raised from ground level to its present height (~10 feet above ground). The stained glass windows were split at this height to give the church a “band” around it. The “basement” floor was raised to form a full height “lower level” with classrooms and a new kitchen. The true basement became a furnace utility area. Even the outhouse behind the church was removed.
During the 1960’s various structures were removed including the parsonage barn. Also at this time, the Northway and Van Patten housing projects brought many more new people to the area and to the Jonesville United Methodist Church.
In the 1970’s, Vacation Bible School became popular, and there were many people who were introduced to the church in this manner. More land was acquired to the south in anticipation of a new building project and larger parking area. A house on this property was destroyed by a controlled burn with the Jonesville Fire Department. It was near where the drop-off is at the point of the divider between the main and overflow parking lots. Additionally, the front entrance vestibule was added with its red double doors.
As the 1980’s progressed, the most radical changes took place at the church. In 1987, a large upgrade and expansion project took place. The rear wall of the sanctuary was removed and all structures behind it demolished. Before this was done, the current Fellowship hall was constructed behind the church to the edge of the drop-off. Once this building was complete, services and activities took place there while the rear wall of the sanctuary was removed and expanded. The sanctuary grew about 30’ in length, had another stained glass window and stained glass “emergency” exit door added. The north wing was entirely remodeled, where the Upper Room, Choir Room, Associate Pastor’s office, stairway and handicapped elevator are located. Additional men’s and women’s rest rooms were added, along with a janitor’s closet with sink. A brand new, fully furnished kitchen and a nursery were also part of the upgrade. The parking lot was expanded out from the church to the south property line.
In the 1990’s, a congregation was needed to fill all the new spaces at church. Programs like Disciple, Alpha, Covenant Disciple Groups, and many adult Sunday School series brought people into the church who were both curious and serious about understanding God’s Words. Children had both Sunday School and Children’s Church where they could learn and socialize. Choirs were active with such groups as Joyful Noise, Youth Choir, Senior Choir, Women’s Choir, Chime Choir, and Bell Choir. Many people have helped with Habitat for Humanity, Volunteers in Mission, and many other outreach activities.
Here in the 2000’s we celebrated our 175th anniversary of the Jonesville United Methodist Church. We are still making an impact on our community and the world. An additional building has been added on the church grounds to house the Helping Hands Food Pantry. The senior MYF has participated in several Work Camp projects across the country. We have sent mission volunteers in Cuba, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, and Nicaragua. And we have also supported missionaries in China, Russia, and many other places in the world.