A church building’s past

BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Construction on the Lymanville church began in 1841 when the region’s Methodist followers were in the Oneida Conference. It was dedicated the following year.

In 1855, three years after the Wyoming Conference’s formation, the church at Lymanville was a central flagship church for the old Wyalusing District, an entity that existed in name until 1878.

In its infancy, the old white church at Lymanville was the heart of the region’s Methodism with the circuit-riding minister there serving some 21 outposts including places like the budding villages at Nicholson, Tunkhannock and Meshoppen and even more isolated spots like Craig’s Meadow, Starkville, Vose and Tallow Hill.

As the larger communities got their own churches and modes of transportation improved, time marched on (and some would argue past) Lymanville.

Less than a couple of miles north a ‘new’ Methodist church at Lynn was dedicated in 1883 and to its south another ‘new’ Methodist church came to be in 1891 at Lemon.

A Second Methodist Episcopal Church of Springville was actually built in the early 1890s and dedicated in 1893 in the village of that name and it is a thriving congregation today with Rev. Jane Bensley serving as pastor.

The growth of Methodist church buildings throughout the region in the 19th Century came to mirror that of the country, in which the larger denomination went on a building spurt.

Today, some 166 years after construction began at Lymanville, the United Methodist Church finds itself with more church buildings than zip codes, a challenge in which some have argued has people caring for lots of buildings as well as the hearts and minds of people outside the church’s walls.

The Wyoming Conference at its peak in church building numbers, for instance, had 427 in 1906, but today has just 297.

Those built more than 100 years ago were designed to serve their village in a pre-automobile era. And, people did not worry about such things as indoor plumbing and central heating as they do today.

When the Conference voted to discontinue supplying the Lymanville church in 1998 with Methodist pastors, it did so with a heavy heart.

It knew of the rich history that six generations of Methodists did not want forgotten.