St Paul History Now
Celebration of Grace
(From a 2001 Church Publication, transcripted as originally written)
On, September 21, 1952, seventeen people had a dream of starting their own church. Led by Rev. Walter E. Brown they pursued that plan and began meeting on the lawn of Rev. Brown’s home. By October, the group had grown to thirty-five persons. During that same month, the women formed a Women’s Society of Christian Service. This women’s group is still active although their name was changed to United Methodist Women in 972. Four and one-half acres were purchased at 36th Street and Sterling by the Kansas City Missionary and Church Extension Society for $8500. Sunday school and worship services were being held at Pitcher School, 9701 E 35th Street, starting on November 16th, 1952. The name “St. Paul” was selected for the new church name. In February 1953, the church was officially chartered and fundraising began. Gifts came from individuals and other churches. Linwood Methodist and Country Club Methodist each gave $1000. Watson Memorial Methodist, Cleveland Methodist and First Methodist of Independence each gave $100. The General Missions Board of the Methodist Church approved a loan of $20,000. The ground was broken for the building on December 20, 1953.
Harry L. Wagner was selected as the architect and plans were created. By April 1954, the congregation held services in their new building. Moveable partitions made the one large room adaptable for Sunday school classes and worship services. In August 1954, the founding pastor, Walter E. Brown, passed away and the building was named in his honor. Plans for a sanctuary led to various fund-raising activities. On May 30, 1956, the congregation held a barbeque picnic in the church parking lot where the men had built an open pit grill. There was a carousel, pony rides, and the Toonerville Trolley. Over 2,000 people were served and a profit of over $1000 was made. A pledge drive followed, and a second church barbeque was held on November 1, 1958. On May 17, 1959, the ground was broken for the sanctuary. On Easter Sunday, April 17, 1960, the first service was held in that new part of the building. The youth of the church saved money to buy the round stained-glass window for the sanctuary in May 1960. The debt for the project was ended and dedication was held on September 22, 1974.
A church parsonage was purchased and was conveniently located on 36th street, just across from the parking lot. More Sunday School classrooms were needed. In 1986, moveable dividers in the Fellowship hall provided 3 additional classrooms. The young adult Sunday School class sponsored a pig roast in 988 to build a fund to purchase a church van. A used van was purchased in November 1988 and later replaced with a new one in May of 1997. A garage was constructed on the south end of the property in 1990.
The Pig Roast continues to be an annual event to maintain the van. The first food booth at Santa-Cali-Gon Festival was constructed in 1988. Profits from that annual project provide income for various church expenses. A larger parsonage was purchased on 51st St in 1989. A new Rodgers organ for the sanctuary was acquired in 1994. A playground was constructed in 1996 and was dedicated at Art Night in June 1996. Breakfast Haven, a young women’s group of the church, held their fundraiser called the Basement Sale in 1996 which became an annual event. A new heating and cooling system were installed in 1997.
In May 1999, a large renovation project began to install an elevator in the building, enlarge the Narthex, make all restrooms handicapped accessible and to remodel Brown Hall. The front driveway was adapted to handicapped parking and landscaping improvements were started. This huge undertaking was mostly finished in October of 1999, surprisingly. Paper recycling began in May 2000 as a fundraiser for the Boy Scout troop #253 who had met at our church for decades.
Our church has been blessed with a congregation that is loyal, committed and generous. Fellowship is an important part of our heritage and our Sunday morning service. Christian Misson is practiced whole-heartedly. John Wesley said it best, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”
From a 2001 church historical document
So what does the future hold?
A completely renovated sanctuary, brand new audio and visual systems. Also, exhilirating, relative, uplifting and life-altering order of worship and songs......oh yeah, and YOU!