Building the Church
The plans for a church building were set in motion at a meeting of the trustees on September 21, 1909. Bids were let for an adequate structure, and on the 30th day of November, 1909, the following contract was signed:
“We the undersigned agree to furnish and build church as per plans and specifications drawn by M.B. Rife of Kalispell for $244.00 in addition to the former figure of $1,660.00 making a total of $1,904.00.” (signed) Louis Bailey, J.E. Hern
The cornerstone for the church was laid on October 17, 1909. The first pastor left in November of that year and the building operations were overseen by the trustees.
In May, 1910, another White appeared on the scene – the Rev. Edgar L. White came to serve the young Polson congregation. He applied his unusual talents to pushing through the church project, and under his leadership, the church was completed and ready for dedication on July 5, 1910, the day after a gala Fourth of July celebration in the little town at the south end of Flathead Lake.
The church was well furnished on the inside for the occasion, including a pulpit donated by Montgomery Ward & Co., and Epworth Pipetone Euphonic oak-finished organ, new pews, chairs, and light fixtures. This brought the total cost of the new structure to approximately $3,500.
Even boat service was provided on the day of dedication. R. P. Smith preached the dedication sermon and $2,200 was subscribed – a remarkable achievement in those days. Over 700 Indians were in town that summer day nearly 50 years ago, more than the number of whites, and the very air was ozonic with optimism.
The original church still stands and it now forms the south part of today’s building, where the sanctuary is located. At that time, however, the sanctuary faced east instead of north, and the present sanctuary addition was used as a Sunday School room.
The first baptisms in the Polson congregation were on January 6, 1910, when Forrest and Carl Retz received Christian baptism from the Rev. O. A. White. Four months earlier, in September of 1909, the Rev. H. H. Twyford held the first funeral. The Rev. E. L. White performed the first Methodist wedding on August 2, 1910.
The Rev. A. D. Welch became pastor in the late summer of 1910. Immediately they went to work on a parsonage and under his guidance, it was completed within a year.
Before the year 1910 went into the history books, a Ladies Aid Society, now called the Women’s Society of Christian Service, was well started with Mrs. Azora Mizell as the first president. An Epworth League for youth, the forerunner of the present Methodist Youth Fellowship, also became active in this period. Miss Jennie Norris was its first president.
Under the capable lay leadership of William E. Redd and his sisters, work was started in Valley View. There was a Sunday School, church services and a Ladies Aid Society. The latter was disbanded in 1913 and the others followed in later years as they were absorbed into the town church. The Valley View Methodists were a great help to the young church.