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History of Waterloo United Methodist Church

Peter Smith, a wealthy man who owned the General Store in Waterloo offered $500.  seed money and land for a church and cemetery in 1855 as church services were being held in the school house at that time.  There was little interest shown by the towns people so the idea was dropped until February 10, 1859  when complaints started around the village about the poorly heated school and it's inconvenience being way at the end of the village.  Peter Smith renewed his offer to some friends while they were visiting his store.  As they chatted $950.   was immediately raised by these friends to get the church project started.  The corner stone of the church was laid August 9, 1859 and by September 1st, funds had been raised to cover all costs of the building.  The total cost of the church building was $2,993.22, including the 800 lb bell. Although the church was not dedicated until February 9, 1860,  it was opened and the bell first rung for the funeral of General John Smith.  He was the first person to be buried in the church cemetery after his passing on December 22, 1859.

Much in the church is original"

  • The altar was originally to be a fireplace hearth in the home of a Waterloo resident but was donated as the altar instead.  

  • The lighting was provided by the two white, globe lamps hanging on either side of the altar wall along with the chandelier.  They were fueled by kerosene.  The chandelier was on a pulley system to raise and lower it for filling. It wasn't until 1948 that the church was electrified and the side wall sconces were put in place and the chandelier was electrified.  It was then that a furnace was put into the church as well.

  • The pew cushions are original but were not donated until 1879 by Peter Smith's widow. They still hold the original horse hair but were recovered once with muslin and the red corduroy much later. The pews themselves are also original.

  • The altar furniture was not there until after 1860 but is of that time period and was recovered in 2014.

  • When funerals were held, the casket would be slid through a side window as the caskets would not fit in the narthex.  Funerals are still done this way.

  • In the cemetery, there here are many folk who did not attend the church but they were buried here as it was the closest cemetery to many area farms.  The Smith Family plots are set to the right of the church with Robert Smith's stone, being the last to be placed in the cemetery in 2016.   Some of the tomb stones had carvings such as a wreath of flowers signifying the circle of life, the lily a symbol of eternal life and the anchor, a symbol of the deceased being anchored to Christ. There are also many veterans buried here including at least one from the Civil War along side the parking lot side of the church.

The church was the center of the community and today we strive to continue that legacy by staying connected and engaged with our community. Please click here to learn about how we continue to help our local and global community, and how you can help as well!

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