Morgan Hill United Methodist Church

Church History

MHUMC, 1910 postcardOur church was founded in the late 1800s. Land was given to the church in 1893 and the public school met in the church until the school was built in 1894. The parsonage, now our Annex, was begun in 1895. The structure still carries the white clapboard look of many of the buildings built then, and a distinctive molded tin ceiling. In recent years, the Fellowship Hall, kitchen and nursery were added. And, thanks to Redevelopment Funds from the City of Morgan Hill, the whole church was refurbished in the late 1980s.

The church community has been worshiping in the middle of Morgan Hill since before 1890. We have served Christ and the town from its earliest beginnings. Hand in hand with other churches -- we began by meeting with the Baptists -- we still carry our commitment to ecumenical ministries.

Nearly forty Methodist pastors have served this church in its hundred years. (See complete list here.) Thousands of Morgan Hill residents have found a home and a source of spiritual strength in this religious community. And thousands of children have been brought up in the faith.

A Brief Chronology of the Church

1893 C.H. Phillips Land Company donates $50 cash and three lots on Monterey Road for the church building site. Methodists and Baptists share the building, alternating pastors each Sunday. One pastor preaches in Morgan Hill; the other in Coyote. Public School meets in the sanctuary.

1894 Catherine Stone founds the first Ladies Aid group, a precursor to today's United Methodist Women.

Parsonage 1895 1895 Machado School opens; public school no longer meets in the church. Church purchases a bell with $85 raised by the Ladies Aid. Construction begins on the church parsonage. (now the annex)

1896 Mrs. L. P. Walker (the pastor's wife) loses her wedding ring in an unfinished wall of the parsonage. The ring has never been found.

1898 Congregation dedicates the church building and burns the mortgage.

1901 Rev. J. W. Peters starts the church's first youth group, the Epworth League.

1906 The church builds a barn for the pastor's horse. (Later a garage, the barn now houses the early elementary class.)

1913 Sanctuary is extended and a kitchen is added.

Church in 1903 1921 Congregation purchases a pipe organ for $400.

1924 Men's Club begins with 50 members.

1935 Social Hall is expanded.

1950 New Sunday School rooms are added.

1957 Church purchases a new parsonage on Longview Drive.

1969 200 people attend celebration honoring 75th anniversary of the church.

1987 Complete restoration begins. Repairs to the bell tower, foundation, and roof imporve structural integrity. Painting, landscaping, and interior remodeling enhance the church's appearance.

2002 MHUMC identifies itself as a Reconciling Congregation.

2012 MHUMC begins the "Sharing the Bounty" Wednesday night community meal program, working together with Martha's Kitchen food provider.

Some Memories

From a conversation with Anne V. Friebel and Franalee Thompson
Attended M.H.U.M.C. during the 1940's and 1950's

Anne: "...The thing I remember the most about these gatherings was the food. The U.M.W. always outdid themselves when it came to refreshments."

Franalee: "The women would come into the kitchen with boxes and baskets packed with food that was wrapped in layer upon layer of newsprint and tea towels...This was before Tupperware and we were conserving foil during the war. I remember the sound of the paper rustling when they prepared a meal...As a little girl that was so inviting because out of that jumble of paper there always came a wonderful repast...Always had enough for everybody too...And at that time it was all eggs and butter...Very rich."

Anne: "And nut breads spread with cream cheese and butter...Never margarine except during the war."

Remembering The Ladies Aid
(Excerpts from an undated letter by Catherine Stone, 1884-1958)

I have been asked to give a little talk on the organizing of the Morgan Hill Ladies Aid.

My first recollections are of Brother Hester talking with me about organizing a Ladies Aid and he would begin : "Oh, we must have a Ladies Aid...Can't get along without it...they are such a help." This went on until May Day 1894 when we had a picnic in Paradise Valley on the bank of the creek near the Fisher place. Brother Hester called some of us together to talk about the Aid again and the following Thursday (May 6, 1894) was set for a meeting.

I do not recall what we did that year except to start an album quilt. It really was a very attractive quilt when finished. The blocks were square unbleached muslin with pink print. It cost 10 cents to put your name on the oblong blocks and if you wanted your name (The Honor) in the center you had to pay 25 cents. It netted us $60.00. I had worked so hard to get that quilt finished I fairly hated it, but guess no one knew it as the ladies thought I was the one who would appeciate it most and so talked Mr. Stone into buying it for $3.00.

We think we have hard times raising money now, but it doesn't compare with what it was then. I don't think there were more than three people on a salary in town and not the salaries they get now either...Lumber man, Depot Agent and Postmaster...Not one had any money unless they did a day's work...$1.50 for that.

If there was soliciting to do or money to be raised, I always seemed to get my share of these tasks. Brother Crowe was so anxious to finish the inside of the church but could not do it without money, so someone conceived the idea of my going to the Post Office when the mail came in. Even the men from the country called for their mail at that time. Many of them I did not know, so Mrs. Covert, the Post Mistress, called them by name and I stepped up calling them by name and asked them if they wouldn't like to give us one dollar toward finishing the church. I raised $20.00 in a little while, which went a long way at that time.

As ice cream parlors were few and far between, the Ladies Aid bought a five gallon freezer and sold ice cream every two weeks all summer, making about $10.00 each time.