Seney Methodist Episcopal Church

The Church, its history in text and pictures


Sioux County Herald, Orange City, (Sioux), Iowa, February 12, 1880,
Page 5:

A Welcome Boost.

The Sioux City Journal says "The Methodist congregation of Seney last year
built a neat parsonage at an expense of about $600. About half of this was
raised, and then the grasshoppers took the crop, and a mortgage was given on
the amount yet unpaid. The debt was about to fall due, and the
congregation, in its extremity, asked Rev. J. H. Lozier, of our city, to
assist to raise the amount for which the parsonage was likely to be sold.
Mr. Lozier wrote to Geo. L. Seney, president of the Metropolitan bank of New
York - the gentleman for whom the town was named - stating the case.
Yesterday he received a check from Mr. Seney for $800. Of this $300 was to
pay the indebtedness on the parsonage, the other $500 was to be applied on
the cost of building a new church, when enough was raised to put with it.
Mr. Lozier was yesterday buttonholing J. H. Swan, the attorney of the St.
Paul company, and from him extracted the legal opinion that the company
would donate a lot at Seney on which to build the church."

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
July 18, 1901


The First Methodist church of Seney was dedicated on Sunday, July 14, and
the services were continued until Thursday of this week. The old building
which had sheltered the congregation in its worship for several years was
torn down and merged into the new edifice which was just completed at a cost
of $3500 and the indebtedness of about $2000 was completely wiped out by the
liberal contributions of members of the church and congregation and citizens
who love the teachings of the church and are willing to contribute to its
support until there was a surplus of about $300. The trustees of the church
are John Lancaster, president; John Walkup, secretary; Z. Rayburn,
treasurer; Edwin Lancaster, Elmer Anstine and Jonathan Alderson. The pastor
is Rev. Geo. A. Platts.

The sermons on Sunday were preached both morning and evening by the
presiding elder, Rev. J. B. Trimble, of Sioux City. The Monday sermon was
preached by Rev. G. D. Fulkins, Tuesday by Rev. W. T. MacDonald, pastor of
the M. E. church, LeMars; Wednesday by Rev. L. A. McCaffree; Thursday by
Rev. Robt. Bagnell, of Sioux City. The week has been one of rejoicing
especially in Methodist Episcopal church circles and many LeMars people
have been present during the five days service.

Ground was broken for the new church, January 22, 1901. The building is of
wood, 40x50 extreme dimensions: Auditorium 32x40; League room 18x22. John
Huxtable of LeMars was the architect and builder.

Submitted by volunteer, Viv Reeves:

LeMars Sentinel, Tuesday, March 3, 1925, Page 1, Column 3 and Page 3, Column 2:

Semi-centennial Celebration by
Institution Thursday with
Fine Program
Fortieth Anniversary of
Society in Conjunction

     The Methodist Episcopal church at Seney observed its semi-centenial
(sic--centennial) last Thursday and the Ladies Aid society of the church
celebrated its fortieth anniversary at the same time.  Bad roads
interfered with the many being present, but there was a good attendance
and a splendid program arranged by Mrs. R. A. Hawkins and Mrs. Ray
(sic--Roy) McArthur.  Music was furnished by a ladies quartet and a male
quartette, reminiscences by many who worked with the church and aid in
its infancy contributed to the interest of the program.  Among the
speakers were Mr. and Mrs. A. S. Knowlton, Mrs. Arthur Reeves, Mrs. I.
J. (sic--T. J.) Reeves of Orange City; Mrs. Z. Rayburn.  The talks were
all interesting.  Mrs. Arthur Reeves and Mrs. Knowlton are both unusual
women and were pioneers in the community and the church.
     District Superintendent H. E. Hutchinson and Rev. S. J. Wallace,
the Seney pastor who presided at the meeting, both spoke briefly.  One
felicitous item on th program was the presentation on behalf of the aid
of bouquets of carnations to Mrs. E. M. Lancaster and Mrs. Arthur
Reeves, these two women having the honor of having been members of the
original Ladies Aid organized forty years ago.  They represent the
finest ideals of consecration and service and the society honored itself
in honoring them.  The presentation was made by Mrs. Wallace who
represented Mrs. C. W. Reeves, president of the society.
Greetings are Sent
     Greetings were read from former pastors who recalled the years they
spent in Seney and the inspiration they had drawn from the courage and
devotion they found in their associations in that place.
     Most heartfelt of all was the message from Dr. L. B. Trimble,
former district superintendent and friend of everyone in Seney, who has
been for years an inspiration and aid of the Seney church.
     The chief feature of the evening was, of course, the raising of the
church indebtedness.  This was in charge of the Ladies Aid under the
leadership of Mrs. Reeves, while C. W. Reeves solicited the men and R.
A. Hawkins secured a number of gifts from people in LeMars.   The
success of the campaign is due in large part to the leadership afforded
by the Ladies Aid and the assistance they enlisted in putting across so
successfully the drive for funds.
Has Had Thirty Pastors
     In its fifty years history the Seney M. E. church has had thirty
pastors, which means an average pastorate of less than two years.  In
the first ten years there were twelve pastors, short pastorates then
being common and a maximum term of pastorate being regulated by church
law for a time.  In the following twenty-six years there were thirteen
pastors.  Later years brought longer pastorates and the present pastor,
Rev. S. J. Wallace, is now serving his fifth year.  In the half century
the salary has ranged from $500 a year to $2,000 a year and parsonage,
the present salary.  The greatest increase(s) in salary were paid to
Revs. Skaggs, Wood, Watson and Wallace and the greatest increase in
membership, attendance (? hard to read)  and Sunday School membership
were obtained during the pastorates of Rev. Skaggs, Wood, Empey and
Watson.  The women's departments of work in the Seney church have always
been creditable and are especially so in recent years, the past year
bringing high water mark in this particular.
     The charter members of the church were largely among the Reeves and
Lancaster families and these two families in their various branches
constitute a large part of the total membership today.  Another
influential part of the membership is composed of Holland families, who
have moved into the community and added their sturdy character and
religious life to the strength of the organization.
     The Edward and Wm. Lancaster families and Robert and Arthur Reeves
families are probably the oldest resident members of the church and are
still among the leaders in the matter of church support and loyalty.
     The Seney church now owns a large tract of land on which are
located its church, parsonage, recreation hall and barns.

[This is a nice background piece to the above mention of the Ladies Aid society.]

LeMars Sentinel, Tuesday, May 25, 1886, Page 4, Column 2:
     The ladies of the M. E. church have effected a permanent organization of their aid society under the title of The Seney M. E. Ladies Mite Society.  The following officers have been elected: President, Mrs. Stephen Reeves; vice-president, Mrs. E. Lancaster; secretary, Mrs. T. J. Reeves; treasurer, Miss Bette Smith.  The membership fee is ten cents a month.  The meetings are held on the first Wednesday in each month and everbody is invited to attend.  The first meeting neted (sic-netted) the society about $5 which is very encouraging and we wish the ladies abundant success in this new venture to secure funds for their church.

LeMars Sentinel

May 2, 1974

Railroad Director Named Seney Donated $1000 and Trees

The church building has stood at Seney, Iowa, and served as the Methodist church since 1881 after a group of some 30 Seney area Christians in 1874 organized into a Methodist class and met at the school east of Seney. The church was incorporated in 1876.

In 1901 a room was added to the structure with the parsonage going up a year later. The basement was dug in 1950 and additional Sunday school rooms added at the basement level along with a hallway and separate stairway and entry in 1967.

Some $1000 of the total $1600 for the initial church building was donated by a director of the Chicago-St. Paul railroad, a man named Seney.

Mr. Seney gave trees to be planted and the area later was named the Seney Grove and used for community events and by many families for years. The village was named after this man.


Seney United Methodist Church will mark one hundred years of continuous service to the rural community of Seney and north central Plymouth County with special services this Sunday, May 5, 1974.

Rev. Dr. Edwin C. Boulton, administrative assistant to the Bishop of Iowa, James S. Thomas, will be the principle morning speaker at 11 a.m. He will speak on "Trumpets of Joy."

Dr. Boulton has served as district superintendent of the Dubuque district and has held three previous pastorates in the state including Pocahontas from 1957-64.

Dr. Everett H. Staats, pastor, announces that Sioux City district superintendent Rev. Dr. John K. Moore will participate in the morning centennial.

The day's events also call for a catered dinner at noon .

A 24-page centennial brochure has been prepared for the occasion setting forth the history and describing the present status of the Seney church.

A souvenir plate has been especially designed and crafted as a memento of the occasion.

Arrangements for the 100th Anniversary have been led by a steering committee with Mrs. Herman Schulz, chairman. Committee members are Mrs. Charles Driggs, Mrs. Albert Olson, and Mrs. Delton Gritzmaker.

Seney Methodist Church from the United Methodist Church of Seney, Iowa, 1874-1974 Centennial brochure.

[Contributed by Ardy Stoesz]

Seney Church was first started with about 30 people led by Stephen Reeves, and the services were held in a schoolhouse one mile east of Seney. In 1874 Rev. J. T. Walker, pastor of the Le Mars Methodist Church came out and organized this group into a Methodist class. The church was incorporated in 1876. A Church building was first constructed in 1881 at the cost of $1,600. with a seating capacity of about 175. This is the main sanctuary of the church as it stands today. It is noted that the bell in the church tower weighs 700 pounds.

A man by the man of Seney who worked for the Chicago and St. Paul Railroad was very impressed with this countryside and gave financial help by donating $1000 toward the church. The village was named after the man. Mr. Seney also gave evergreen trees to be set out that formed what was known as the Seney grove. This was landmark for many years and people for many miles around enjoyed its beauty. It was a place that the Seney Church used for many events. Sunday School and church picnics and Fourth of July celebrations were held there, and the young folks had food stands, baseball games and patriotic programs.


….text and pictures written in 1999 in celebration of the 125 th Anniversary of the church

[Contributed by Linda Ziemann]

“The Methodist Episcopal Church of Seney had its commencement by the formation of a class in 1870, which numbered about thirty souls, all faithful, self-sacrificing men and women, with Stephen Reeves as their leader. They assembled at Mr. Reeves' house, where many precious meetings were held for worship. Upon the completion of the school house on section twenty-four, in 1871, they met there.” This would be one mile east of Seney and was the first school house built in Elgin Township .

In 1901, more room was needed in the church and an addition was built, known as the League room. Presumably, this is when the south addition was also built as the altar area.

In the days when people came to church by horse and buggy, it was decided that some protection for the horses was needed. So in 1912 the horse barns, or sheds, were built west of the church, adding a great deal to the Seney Church property. Many people today can remember these. When they finally were no longer needed and were not an asset, they were torn down.

Another important building in the church and community life was the Hall. This originally had been a creamery and home of the Oscar Haviland family. At that time, it had been located about one block north of the church. The exact date that the church bought this building is not known, but the Women's Society minutes of 1914 tell of a program in the Hall. The value of this building to the community living cannot be estimated. This was the voting place for years, and countless chicken suppers, programs, plays, basketball games and box socials were held there. The Hall was sold and moved off the church property when the church voted in 1950 to raise the church and dig a basement. Jack Killeas agreed to buy the Seney Hall in 1957 for $750 and to move it off the church property. In 1962, it was moved about 2 blocks north of the church, where it is still standing in 1999. [transcriber note: and is still standing in 2004]

The church basement was dug in 1950. After extensive remodeling--including cement work, plumbing, wiring, painting at the cost of more that $6,000 a rededication service was held November 26, 1950, with Dr. Harley Farham, district superintendent, conducting the services. One of the first social events in the new basement was the fiftieth anniversary of a double wedding Mr. and Mrs. Frank Becker and Mr. and Mrs. Will Reeves that had been originally performed in the Seney Church in 1900. In 1967 four more Sunday School rooms were added at the basement level with a hallway and separate stairway and entry.

On June 27, 1963 , members of the Seney congregations started a remodeling and redecorating project under the direction of the Board of Trustees and the Women's Society of Christian Service, of which Mrs. Herman Schulz was president.

Spearheading the project were Mrs. Annie Hawkins and Mrs. Grace Albert. They noted the need of repair on the pews, called their families together, and asked what they thought of using for such repairs, the memorial money given by relatives and friends to the memory of Albert Hawkins and LeRoy Albert. They agreed it should be so used. When the group gathered at noon for lunch, the plan was presented to the trustees and all interested persons. They were told it would be financed by the combined memorial fund, if the congregation would do the work. It was unanimously accepted and work began immediately.

Three thousand long and tedious volunteer hours were spent removing dark stain from the pews and refinishing them in natural oak. Seven gallons of varnish remover were used. Sanding and polishing were done by hand. The new pew seats were then padded and upholstered in beige embossed plastic. Although refinishing the pews was the main feature, other work was done to compliment the natural finish. The walls were repainted a sand color, the floor sanded and refinished, and a gray tweed carpet was put down in the aisles. Part of this work was done professionally. A farm project of the church men helped finance the redecorating, with WSCS aid. Meanwhile, services were held in the basement. When Rev. Milo Morris returned from Conference and came to Seney to make preparation for the coming Sunday service, he was surprised to see people all around, with pews and furniture on the church lawn. He later said he thought some major disaster, such as fire, had taken place during his absence. He was relieved to learn what was being done. He often remarked when he left for a few days that he wondered what the Seney folks would do while he was away.

New off-white paneling was installed in the sanctuary in 1974. The basement was paneled and insulated in 1981. Two new furnaces were installed in 1997, the chimney removed, and new electrical wiring put in the basement. New plum-colored carpeting was installed in the sanctuary, entry, and down the main stairs, which were widened in 1998. New front-entry doors were installed at this time, in memory of Vernon Penning and Albert and Norma Olson.

So, from a class meeting in a school room, Seney United Methodist Church has moved forward over a hundred and twenty-five years through gradual progress and improvement to a church that we feel would meet the approval of the charter members and that the members of today can view with pride.

The buildings and physical structures of the church are an important part in the history and memories of our church group. However, a church is more than the building itself. The people doing God's work is the real church.

Our small rural church has a membership in 1999 of ninety, with some of the families going back four or five generations.

Through the years, many ministerial students from Westmar College in LeMars and Morningside College in Sioux City have served to our mutual benefit. Our church has been blessed with good leadership.

In 1974, we celebrated the 100th Birthday of the Seney United Methodist Church . At this time, four members were honored for 50-year membership. These were Floyd Becker, Harvey Buss, Annie Hawkins Chapman, and Rosabelle Lancaster.

Several members were recognized and honored in 1996 for being members of the church for 50 years or more. These included Earl Albert, Genevieve Becker, Robert Becker, Richard and Jean Hawkins, Josie Kunath, Mary Ina Lancaster, Evelyn Moir, Albert Olson, Marjorie Perry, and Marshall and Dorothy Rees.

Our church has always been very active in supporting the Bishop's Thanksgiving Ingathering and, in 1982, Seney United Methodist Church was able to raise enough money for a self-help tractor, which was given to the missions.

The past several years, a very successful project for our church has been a broasted pork chop dinner, craft and bake sale, in the fall as a fundraiser. Families donate pies and salads. In the summer, members of the church freeze sweet corn that has been donated for the dinner. This has been not only a good fundraiser, but a means of fellowship among our members and with the community.

Some Photos as shown in the text of the 125th Anniversary history:

Seney M. E. Church


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