TRAVERSE CITY — One hundred years and Central United Methodist Church arguably remains the handsomest building on the block.
The 1,100-member church will celebrate the 100-year dedication of its place of worship with a neighborhood block party on June 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The rotunda-style church dominates Cass Street in downtown Traverse City. It was originally called Central Methodist Episcopal Church. The congregation was founded in 1857.
The church dedication made front-page news a century ago in the June 23, 1913, edition of the Record-Eagle. A faded copy of the paper is protected in a locked glass case in a church hallway.
The story recounts how a Bishop William Quayle gave a rousing 90-minute sermon, then asked the 1,500 folks (not all were congregants) to help pay off the new church.
“It was like, you're not leaving until you give us money," laughed Kim Burch, the church's communications coordinator.
The article reported that Quayle handed his watch to one of the parishioners and assigned another to handle "subscriptions." The building cost $63,000, and $28,000 was still needed. Within a scant 40 minutes, $25,540 was collected. The bishop asked for donations at a second dedication later that evening and collected $1,838 more.
The article heavily praised the sermon and quoted it at length, including this nugget of wisdom: "Those who have no burdens are no good. ... Play the part of a man, a brawny, brainy, stupendous man. Don't be a butterfly bobbing around here and there."
The church plans to give tours and provide historical materials and displays, said Kathy Palmer, church archivist.
The public celebration will include a performance by the Grand Traverse Pipes and Drums, free food, games and activities for the whole family. A variety of vendors with handmade items and baked goods will be offered for sale at a church bazaar and ministry fair. A dedication ceremony will take place at 6:15 p.m.