On Saturday and Sunday, September 29 and September 30, the congregation of Maple United Methodist Church will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their church.
The Anniversary Celebration will begin with a gathering in the fellowship hall on Saturday evening at 5:30 where a time line, historical pictures and other memorabilia will be on display. A dinner, hosted by the Methodist Men of Maple will be served at 6 p.m. A large number of invited past and present members, and ministers who have served Maple Church are expected to attend. A more formal service of celebration will be held on Sunday morning, September 30, beginning with a coffee at 9 a.m. in the fellowship hall followed by the Celebration worship service at 10:15 a.m.
According to a history, compiled by the late Hazel Ervin, and which was continued by the late Frances Miner, Methodism began in Cape Girardeau in 1809. At that time, there was a circuit organized known as Cape Girardeau Circuit. This circuit included a vast section of Southeast Missouri.
The work in Missouri grew to such an extent that in 1816, the Missouri Conference was organized. Cape Girardeau was made a mission station with Thomas Wright as first pastor. In 1819, a little church was built near where the River Campus stands now. The second church was built at the corner of Middle and Bellevue Streets and in 1906, that congregation purchased the site of the present Centenary United Methodist Church at the corner of Ellis and Bellevue.
At about that time, two dedicated Cape Girardeans, Captain R.B. Andrews and L.L. Dalton, saw the great need for a church and Sunday school in the south part of the city. Through their efforts, and the generosity of Louis Houck, one of the early leading citizens who owned most of the property in the south part of town, a lot was secured on which to build a church. The location of the lot was on Maple Avenue, on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River. Lumber for the framing of the church was donated by M.E. Leming and William Tibbs who operated a sawmill about three miles south of Cape Girardeau on the C.G.N. Railroad. The sawmill was located in what was then known as the "Swamp." This was the day before drainage ditches and paved streets and automobiles so it was no easy task to get the lumber from the mill to the location that had been chosen for the church. The men interested in building the church had to haul the lumber from the mill to the lot . Much of the carpenter work was done by carpenters who became interested in the church and Sunday school, and their wives joined them in raising money to purchase the finishing lumber and other needed materials. By the summer of 1912, the building was completed and they asked the Bishop and Presiding Elder to send them a pastor.
The Rev. O.J. Ferguson, who was attending the State Teachers College was appointed as the first pastor. Early records also show K.V. Probst as a pastor in 1912, and he must have assisted Rev. Ferguson.
The church remained at that first location until the early part of the year of 1915 when the congregation decided that the church building should be moved further west because of the steady growth of the city in that direction. A lot was purchased at the corner of Maple Avenue and Ellis Street. The basement was dug by the men of the church and a few others who were interested in seeing the church moved. These men did the work mostly after their regular working hours and the little frame church was moved to the new location in the middle of 1916. The South Cape Methodist Church continued to make steady growth in 1941, it was decided that a larger church was needed and the cornerstone was laid on June 15, 1941. On October 4, 1945, there was a mortgage burning and dedication of the church with Bishop Ivan Lee Holt being present for the dedication of the church.
This building was badly damaged by fire in 1958 and it was necessary to rebuild and rededicate it. While this work was being done, services were held in the Old Jefferson School Building on the corner of Jefferson and Ellis Street.
The last charter member of the church, Mrs. L.L. Dalton , died in 1956. Miss Ervin's parents were among the earlier members of the church and her father helped in the construction of the first building.
In December of 1991, a difficult decision to move was again made by the congregation. Although the new Mississippi River Bridge and approach would not actually cut into the church property, 70 percent of the members would have a difficult time reaching the church. Most of the members had followed the trend of the city population moving west.
After much searching and prayer, property at 2441 Jean Ann Drive was purchased from the Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the property at 624 South Ellis was sold to the Cape Girardeau Church of God. The first worship service in the Jean Ann sanctuary was held on Sunday, January 9, 1994. In August of 1994, in a church wide decision, the new name of the old Maple Avenue Methodist Church became Maple United Methodist Church. Dedication of the new sanctuary took place at a service of Consecration of Sunday, September 11, 1997, with the Rev. Jimmie Dace as pastor.
To date, two additions have increased the size of the main church and a spacious fellowship hall has been added to the church property.
Present pastor of the church is the Rev. Bryan Schaefer, who joins the ranks of pastors who have served Maple Avenue Methodist and Maple United Methodist Church for 100 years.