Merger of the German & English Churches
Reference notes on the merger churches: The St. Paul church and parsonage was built at East Fourth and Locust Streets in 1890 (later Shell station, now Chuckles). First Methodist was built on the present sanctuary location on North Main and Sixth Street in 1905.
The use of German language in churches across the United States fell out of favor in 1918 when the US declared war on Germany. By the 1930s decade the use of German was largely discontinued in America; most German speaking churches were discussing merging of congregations. German speaking churches of several denominations were changing and joining with English speaking churches across America. By early 1933 St. Paul German Methodist Church and the First Methodist Church in Mount Vernon had informally discussed a 2 year merger process in which the churches would become one church in 1934 or 1935.
The 2-year plan fell thru in the summer of 1933 when the Central German M. E. Conference, of which St. Paul was a member, passed out of existence on October 1, 1933 when it merged into other Methodist conferences.
Instead of two year merger period, the Mount Vernon Methodist churches had only 4 weeks to join together as St. Paul had no pastor assigned to them. (The St. Paul Parsonage had been destroyed by fire on February 9, 1933.)
Pastor Edwin F. Shake of the First Methodist Church was assigned as pastor of both churches effective October 2, 1933. On October 8, St. Paul held only a Sunday school on that morning with an evening service where Pastor Shake explained the details of the merger to the St. Paul congregation. A joint Church meeting was held on Thursday October 10; every church board and committee in both churches was disbanded. This allowed for the new church to begin with fresh leadership.
The first worship service for the newly merged church was Sunday, October 15, 1933. Dr. W. E. Patrick, district superintendent, was the speaker. A merger service in form of a marriage ceremony was prepared by Pastor Shake. The service was in the form of a marriage ceremony. Head Ushers from each church; Mr. A. Weilbrenner and E. A. Trousdale, served as the contracting parties and the entire congregations of the two merged churches repeated the marital pledges. The new church was named the Methodist Episcopal Church of Mount Vernon.
The service was supplemented with the rendition of;
“Just As I Am” by the choir and “My Task” by Mrs. Ernest Bishop. The service was closed with communion.
The St. Paul church was made into a parish house for church and community meetings. It was sold to the Church of Christ in 1944. In 1960 it was sold to the Shell Oil station. (The Church of Christ is now located one block west of First UMC.)
The St. Paul members were leaving their lovely church home that some had been worshiping in for decades. This must have been a hardship and sacrifice that may have challenged some deeply. (Only two St. Paul members chose not to move to First Methodist.) First Methodist members were gaining new friends and members and financial support with slight sacrifice.