The History of Pathways United Methodist Church is actually a history of two Methodist churches in Springfield , Missouri: Dale Street and St. Luke. These two churches merged in July, 2006 to form Pathways. However, each of the two churches has a history that must not be forgotten.
In 1888, a group of believers in northeast Springfield banded together to build a place of worship. There were thirty-one original members led by Pastor William Francis Rhea. The Trustees acquired land on the corner of Dale and Ramsey. The church members themselves cleared the land of brush and oak trees and constructed the small, one-room frame building that was the first permanent church building. When the building was only partially constructed, services were held inside with the congregation sitting on the floor joists. Later the workers constructed handmade slat pews.
In 1890, Rev. M. L. McClure, pastor of St. Paul Methodist Church, recognized the need for this new church to become a mission of St. Paul. He organized it as such and named the church Dale Street Methodist Episcopal Church South. (Following the unification conference in 1939, the church was renamed Dale St. Methodist Church.)
In 1895, a Sunday School was organized. The pastor kept records of the teachers and pupils, scriptures read, songs sung, titles of the lessons, and the weather! Other groups were soon organized: the Epworth League, a choir, Women’s Missionary Society, and Methodist Men. In 1898, the one room building was enlarged with a west wing, known as the Epworth League Room. Previously, the groups had met in homes, but now they utilized the new room.
Church enrollment in 1900 was 171. The congregation continued to grow so they so they purchased adjoining land on Ramsey Street and added more additions and a parsonage. The last addition was dedicated on September 18, 1927 , but before they church could pay its indebtedness, the Great Depression struck. The congregation persevered during these difficult economic times and not only paid off the debt but membership grew to 603. However World War II disrupted church activities. Young men were called into service and families moved. Church members did much volunteer work for the war effort, but the Depression and war years resulted in a neglect of the physical property of the church and the building was badly in need of repairs. Membership dropped to 495 by the end of the war.
With hard work, tithing, and various projects the church began to grow again. Rev. Wesley Hampton led the groundbreaking ceremonies for a new church building in 1956 on the same site. The old church was torn down. The first service in the new sanctuary began with a prayer vigil at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, 1957. The vigil continued all night until 8:00 a.m. the next morning, ending with a service of Holy Communion. The building was dedicated debt free on December 8, 1963. Construction on an education wing began in 1966 and was consecrated on July 1, 1967. Construction on a new Family Life Center began in 1990 and was dedicated on May 21, 2000.
In 1968, the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the word “United” was added to the name so that Dale Street Methodist became Dale Street United Methodist.
The History of St. Luke United Methodist Church
St. Luke Methodist Church was organized in May 1909, by a small group of dedicated men and women. An old newspaper article states there were twelve charter members. Among them were Mr. and Mrs. Oscar B. Cooper, Mr. and Mrs. Earl O. Cooper, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis M. Williams, and Mrs. Ona McKee. The church was under the sponsorship of St. Paul Methodist Church and the first meetings were held in the back of the L. M. Williams’ store building located on the northwest corner of Atlantic and Newton .
Construction was started on the church basement at the corner of Atlantic and Newton and it was with a feeling of accomplishment that the basement was occupied in October of that year. The one-room basement was used for all purposes for three years.
In the autumn of 1912, the St. Luke congregation undertook completion of the church. Much of the work was done by members at night after daytime jobs were finished. The church auditorium was finished and occupied in the summer of 1913, a gala occasion. The minister at that time was Rev. W. G. Pike. It is interesting to note that during the lifetime of our church we had 35 ministers.
Though the initial structure, with subsequent expansion for Sunday School rooms, served as a church home and a beacon for God’s word for many years, the need for expansion for the fulfillment of God’s promised growth became evident. During the pastorate of Rev. R. L. Mobley, in the early 1950’s, a building fund was initiated.
A Certificate of Incorporation was effected, dated March 21, 1958, with the initial Registered Agent being Earl O. Cooper. Prior to this time Methodist churches had not been incorporated. A Building Committee was appointed to develop plans for the new church building to include a sanctuary, with a seating capacity of 300, and an over-flow room seating 60. The building was completed and the first services were held on November 23, 1958. The Service of Dedication was held on June 27, 1965, with Bishop Eugene Frank delivering the dedication sermon. It is a rule of the Methodist Church that a church building cannot be dedicated until all debts are paid.
The St. Luke church continued to grow and early in 1977, plans were begun for an Educational Unit to be added to the sanctuary. It was the belief of the Board that the church should provide more specialized services for the young people and additional class rooms for Sunday School. In addition to the new building several items were included in a remodeling program. Special features included wheel chair ramps to the main sanctuary level and down into the friendship level. New restrooms on the main floor were made handicapped accessible.
On October 22, 1978, a consecration service was held for the new thirteen room addition. The Rev. Bill O’Quinn, District Superintendent of the Springfield District of the United Methodist Church, was the guest speaker.
In the last twenty years of its existence, the church purchased several lots in the immediate neighborhood with an eye toward future expansion in the block formed by Lee Street and Nettleton and Atlantic Avenues. A newer parsonage north of Hillcrest High School had also been acquired.
After the merger of St. Luke United Methodist and Dale Street United Methodist in July 2006, the St. Luke congregation held their last worship service in the St. Luke building on September 3, 2006. The building was put up for sale and sat vacant for almost a year until August 31, 2007, when it was purchased by Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.