While we now bear
the name United Methodist - and the first church in Blue Springs
was established and built by the Methodists in 1857, our roots
go back to the Evangelical Association and the United Brethren
in Christ. Both of these denominations saw the need to serve
their people who were rapidly moving westward. To do this, circuit
riding preachers or missionaries were sent by both Conferences
in the late 1860s, 70s and early 80s.
The Kansas Conference of the Evangelical Association established
a Circuit between Hiawatha, Kansas and Swanton, Nebraska with
meeting places in schoolhouses or homes of people who eagerly
awaited these visits and God's messages. The first recorded meeting
dated March 1870 was held in the dugout schoolhouse of District
35, three miles northwest of Blue Springs. Members of this first
Blue Springs Class: Solomon Harpster, Judith Harpster, Louise
Harpster, J.W. Smith, Catherine Smith and Mrs. M.J. Headings.
In March of 1877 a Class was organized in Blue Springs with services
held in the original schoolhouse. In 1877 this Class began building
operations for a church of their own. This church was a rectangular
structure 32 x 50 ft with a pulpit and altar in the north end
and a door in the south end where a double window now hangs.
In 1888 the door was closed and an entry and belfry was constructed
at the southeast side of the building. In 1903 the large double
Memorial Windows were provided by individuals and organizations.
The single stained glass windows were installed throughout the
A Union Sunday School was organized in December of 1877, with
its first meeting held on the first Sunday of January 1878. The
Evangelical Woman's Missionary Society was organized in 1878.
Through the late 1800s
Conference boundaries changed and by 1897 Blue Springs became
part of the Platte River Nebraska Conference. This Blue Springs
charge consisted of two classes, one in town and one in the country
east of town.
The country charge
met in the Union Hall seven miles east of Blue Springs. It was
organized in 1890 and in 1899 this group built a church on the
crown of a hill one mile west of the Union Hall. Since the hill
reminded all of the Scripture stories of Mount Zion, the little
church and the hill were named Zion. Through the next 50 years
the town church and the country church served as sister churches,
often sharing a minister in hard economic times. In 1954, Zion
Evangelical Church closed its doors for the last time and the
congregation joined the Blue Springs Church.
The United Brethren work also began with circuit riders, one
of the first groups met at the Kier School house (District 96)
south of Wymore. A church was built about 6 miles south of Wymore
in 1892 and dedicated as the Zion United Brethren in January
1893. Groups also met in the Sicily area west of Wymore. A commodious
church was built in 1881-82 where the tennis courts now occupy
space in Blue Springs Park. The United Brethren merged with the
Evangelical Association in 1946 to become the Ebenezer Evangelical
In 1968 the United Evangelical Conference and the Nebraska Methodist
Conference merged and took the name of the Nebraska Annual Conference
of the United Methodist Church.
Bottom photos -
Zion Evangelical, Ebenezer Evangelical about 1910,
Methodist (today), United Brethren