Old Stone Church
Erected in 1868 as a "free church edifice" it was a citizen movement to provide a place of worship for all denominations in the then Village of Beatrice. It was located at the corner of Fourth and Elk Streets. In later years it was acquired by the Beatrice Public School District and now is now is a part of the middle school grounds.
Besides being the first church built in Gage County, the confirmation of the Episcopal Church was held here in April, 1871 and the first meetings of the Presbyterians were in this building in 1869. The Methodist Episcopal Church conducted services in this historic old church until the spring of 1886, when it dedicated the new church known as the Centenary M. E. Church at Sixth and Elk Streets. This church was later replaced with the present structure.
The Brick Church
The stone used for the Old Stone Church was brought from the quarry at Blue Springs and a number of men pledged the work of their hands until the church was finished.
On June 28, 1885, the cornerstone laying ceremony for the brick church was held.
The brick church, dedicated in July of 1886, was named Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of Methodism in America.
As membership increased, the congregation outgrew that structure. The last services to be held in the old brick church were on May 26, 1929.
Dismantling and tearing down the old building began at once. Sunday School classes were held in the Beatrice Junior High School, the Ladies Aid meetings were held at the YWCA, which was located upstairs in a building that housed Scott's Barber Shop on Ella Street, and church services were held jointly with the Presbyterian Church congregation.
While an entire community responded generously at the time the building program was initiated, many people who had made subscriptions in good faith, found it impossible to carry out their good intentions as a result of the devastating Depression that swept the country and the severe drought that followed.
Efforts to raise the money were taken on by many individuals and groups, including the Ladies Aid, which pledged $12,000 toward the new house of worship. There were three Circles in the Ladies Aid, and each of them was asked to raise $10,000 toward the new church in addition to the $12,000 pledge.
To raise the money for the pledge, the women held an exhaustive schedule of fund raisers. The served faculty dinners, held bake sales, and helped with Nebraska Methodist Youth Banquet, Orange and Black Banquet, Pageant of Brides, Father-son Banquets, Kiwanis luncheons, meals for P.E.O. Conventions, rummage sales, Rotary dinners, and many more.
They also sold new and used magazines, vanilla, sponges, bath salts, cleaners, toothpaste, kitchen tools, and Christmas cards and plates.
Money saving projects were also utilized. Three thousand coffee can lids were collected to receive a five gallon coffee urn.
Ground was broken in June of 1929 for the present church building here in Beatrice. Centenary United Methodist Church is of English gothic design which is characterized by pointed arches, buttresses and sculptured stonework. This style has a central, predominating tower with decorated pinnacles, and a porch entrance off to the side. Wood is used inside and the windows tell stories. Centenary is built of Silverdale, Kansas limestone, erected in random ashlar formation. Half of the stones are smooth sawed and the other half are rough faced. Dedication of the Church was made on June 1, 1930.
It was 18 years later, the day before Christmas in 1947, that the final payment on the church was made.
More information on the history of the church can be found in the Church library.