Brief History of the Breckenridge United Methodist Church
In 1859, John Yager and his stepson, Barney Swope, built the first log cabin in Wheeler Township. It was located ½ mile west and 1¾ miles north of the present village of Breckenridge on an area known as the ridge. As more settlers arrived to the area, their religious needs were met by ministers known as circuit riders. During the years from 1860 through 1888, eighteen different circuit riders served the settlers by holding services at various sites including private homes.
The two principal land owners within the current village limits of Breckenridge were brothers, Daniel and Justin Breckenridge and Charles Howd. Daniel Breckenridge platted his property in 1874 and this property made up the north side of Breckenridge while Charles Howd owned 240 acres south of what is now M-46. The Breckenridge’s donated plots of land for a school, the Congregational Church, and the Methodist Church, in addition to a site for the railroad depot. A Baptist Church was built on the Howd side of town.
When Rev. A.O. Carmon was sent as pastor, services for Methodists were held at the Baptist Church on Saginaw Street (the present site of the Plank Road Museum). In 1890, it was decided to build a church at the northwest corner of Eaton and Sexton Streets. Bricks were transported by horse and wagon from Ashley and stones for the foundation were brought by “mud boat” from the William Reynolds farm west of Breckenridge. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on April 23, 1890 and the church was finished and dedicated in 1892. The cost of the building was $1,700.
By 1913, this building was in need of a new heating system along with other improvements. Instead of making the improvements, a committee consisting of Dr. Drake, Frank Oberst, and J.E. Hodge sold the building to the school which used it as a gymnasium. The congregation rented the Baptist Church and again held services there as they had in 1890. A new brick building was erected at a cost of $10,000 on Third Street where it served as a location for worship services until 1981. The mortgage for this building was burned in 1919, so the congregation paid the debt off in only 6 years.
In 1980, the congregation voted to accept the architectural plan by Merritt and McCallum Architects from Farmington, Michigan which would trigger the construction of a new sanctuary to be built adjacent to the 1913 building. The new sanctuary was dedicated in June of 1981 and the mortgage for this building was burned in 1986. This is the current sanctuary that the Breckenridge United Methodists currently worship in.
The new sanctuary was beautiful, but the old sanctuary basement still served as the fellowship hall. By 1993 a fundraising campaign was started to build a new fellowship hall. That was the year that the Wednesday night chicken dinners were started. These dinners were served once a month, and raised a total of $70,000 which was used to retire the debt on the fellowship hall once it was built. In 1997, the church broke ground on the new fellowship hall. The old sanctuary was demolished and a beautiful new fellowship hall took its place. Much of the stained glass from old sanctuary was incorporated into the new building which helped to connect the new with the history of the congregation. That debt was paid off in 2005, which brings us to the present time.
This brief history speaks to the physical history of the church and its buildings, but the rich history of the church is not the buildings. It is the people who have worshipped in those buildings. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us to make this congregation the group of caring and dedicated individuals who go forth to make disciples for Christ and minister to our community.