The lines have fallen for us in pleasant places, yea, we have a goodly heritage – Psalms 16:6
The heritage of Community United Methodist Church begins on December 12, 1904, when a Community Sunday School was started in the little farming village of Wintersburg. The Sunday School was located in the armory on Wintersburg Avenue, now Warner Avenue, just east of the railroad tracks. Charles Applebury, seven years old at the time, was a student in the Sunday School. The church building still stands today, on the southeast corner of the Warner/Gothard intersection and is home to a Baptist congregation.
In 1905 worship services began, and Charles Applebury recalled that crates were borrowed from a packing plant nearby, boards were put across them for seats and they were covered with paper, to make them more comfortable. Because most of the worshipers were Methodists, they petitioned the Southern California Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church to send a minister. In December of 1905 Rev. Floyd J. Seamon arrived, having recently transferred from Kansas.
On January 7, 1906, the church held a Quarterly Conference at which five Trustees were elected, including George Applebury, the father of Charles Applebury. The minutes read:
“Upon motion the Trustees were authorized to incorporate.”
The Conference also granted authority for an Official Board to be formed. So Mr. and Mrs. George Applebury, listed as present at the organizational meeting, were Charter Members of Community Church.
At the next Quarterly Conference the following resolution was passed:
“Resolved – That the time has fully come for the erection of a M.E. church in Wintersburg, Cal. And that it is the sense of this body that we proceed to the erection of the said church at once. Moved that we refer all questions relative to the securing a site and building the church to the Official Board. Carried.”
Construction was already well underway when the Official Board minutes of September 18, 1906, reported progress on building and paying for the church:
“Building Comm reports subscriptions received toward building M.E. church $3592.63.
There has been paid on the subscription $2325.08
leaving $1268.55 to be collected.
Also, reports that bills have been paid to the amt. of $2751.20.
And there are bills due $2368.54.
Making a present indebtedness of $1569.99
Total cost of church and lot $5116.74.
Cost of parsonage lot $575.00.
Bal Due on Parsonage $75.00″
The church building “was completed before the end of 1906 and dedicated on March 17, 1907, at which time sufficient money was pledged to clear the church of indebtedness.”
So in just over a year after the organizing of the church on January 7, 1906, the structure on the corner of Warner Avenue and Gothard was built and dedicated. It is my sad duty to report, for those who have not already heard, that Charles Applebury, who was present when our church was founded and was one of our honored pioneers, passed away last Sunday. His memorial service was held on this past Thursday, January 7, exactly 82 years to the day after the founding of our church. So I have been led to build our Founder’s Day message around the story of his life, and three other pioneer families.
Four founding families were important in the life of the early church: Applebury; Graham; Slater and Murdy. These pioneer families left their marks, not only on our church, but on our community. Three of these families have given their names to city streets–Slater Avenue, Graham Street and Murdy Circle. In addition, Senator Murdy is remembered by Murdy Park, Murdy Community Center, and Murdy Elementary School and the Murdy Circle Fire Station. Other members are also commemorated by place names, such as the George Gothard family, who joined our church on July 5, 1914, with Gothard Street and the street where our church is located was named for Vernon Heil, whose name appears often in early Board minutes. Nor could any recitation of members, who made a lasting contribution to our city, fail to mention in our more recent history, Norma Brandel-Gibbs, former mayor both of Huntington Beach and Seal Beach, founder of Interval House and other community services, whose crucial contribution to the building of the Huntington Beach Central Library is described on a plaque in this magnificent edifice. So our history at Community Church continues to widen and deepen in an “…endless line of splendor.”
(This historical message was originally delivered by Rev. Galal Gough on Founder’s Day, January 10, 1988, one week after the death of pioneer member Charles Applebury. Pioneers Ruth Slater and John Murdy were still living at the time)
Curious about the history of the bell in the bell/cell tower?