Churches were started as soon as Loyal settlers began arriving
by Cheyenne Thomas
Churches have been, and continue to be, important in the lives of many people living in the Loyal area. Beginning with the first settlers who held services in their homes, each religious denomination has its own history in Loyal and will continue to create new history for themselves in the years to come.
Loyal United Methodist Church
One of the first churches to get a start in the Loyal area was the Loyal United Methodist Church, located today at the corner of Highway 98 and Main Street. The congregation was first established under Rev. Samuel McClain on Dec. 3, 1871. With no church building to start with and with parishioners scattered across the countryside, Rev. McClain traveled on horseback on a circuit to visit groups in Dorchester, Longwood, Greenwood, Christie, Loyal and Riplinger, holding services whenever he stopped.
In 1875, the Loyal Methodists built their first church, which is located on the same site it is at today. This building made by the parishioners themselves was later picked up and relocated to make way for a new brick building that was built in 1895-96. It cost the parish $3,500 to build and was designed by Rev. H.W. McKibben, who had experience as an architect.
The church building remained the same for many years afterwards, while the church community inside continued to grow and flourish. They established many programs for their members during the mid 1920s and changed their name several times to reflect the changes in their denomination. The church was first known as the First Methodist Episcopal Church, then Loyal Methodist Church and finally starting in 1967 as the Loyal United Methodist Church, which it remains known as today.
After many years of no new construction at the church site, the congregation built a new educational unit for its youngest parish members in 1969. This educational unit was later joined to the church itself in the year 2000 when the old church that had been built more than 100 years before was partially torn down and rebuilt into a more modern facility that was handicap accessible. The final change to the church occurred in 2012 when the Grace United Methodist Church congregation merged with the congregation at the Loyal United Methodist Church.
Trinity Lutheran Church The first services to Lutherans in the Loyal area began in people’s homes in 1874 when Rev. A.F.H. Fischer of Zion Lutheran Church in Granton traveled up to Loyal to meet the needs of its people. On March 22, 1883, the church in Loyal was first chartered with 13 members and a building constructed one and a quarter miles north of Loyal on land purchased for $100. The two-story log building was completed on Nov. 13 of that year and was the church they used for 10 years before constructing a new building in 1893 at the site it stands at today in the city of Loyal.
It was another two decades before the Trinity Lutheran Church congregation needed to rebuild again. The building was struck by lightning in August of 1913, with damage to the building being so bad that they had to construct a new church which is the same one still used today.
A few years after the new church was completed, a small red brick schoolhouse was built next to the church for its children. The school was operated from 1919 until 1957 and had eight grades teaching regular school subjects as well as religion classes in both English and German, the language used during services until the early 1940s when World War II broke out.
During the next several decades, the church underwent several remodeling projects to keep the building maintained as well as making necessary additions such as indoor bathrooms and modern lighting. In 1956, the congregation decided to add a new educational facility to replace its old schoolhouse and attach it to the church building. The final large addition to the church occurred in 1972 when a new entrance was made to make the building easier to access.
St. Anthony Catholic Church
The first Catholic settlers began to arrive in the Loyal area in 1872, but services did not begin to be held in Loyal until after the railroad was built in 1891-92 when it made it easier for a priest to reach the village. By 1883, services were being held twice per month in a store in town, leading to the decision to build a church in Loyal the following year. This first church was called St. Balthasar Church due mostly to the donation of land, lumber and high altar by Balthasar Christman.
The church began to grow during the next two decades. A rectory was built in 1903, followed by a school in 1909, which continues to be used today. In 1910, the first nuns came to the church and they later became teachers at the newly created school.
After many years of use, the congregation decided to build a new church at the same site, breaking ground on April 13, 1931. It was given the name of St. Anthony of Padua during its dedication on May 2, 1932.
Between 1938 and 1960, the church had several
Please see Churches, page 10
Loyal’s Trinity Lutheran Church was first built on its present location in 1893. It was then rebuilt after the structure burned following a lightning strike in 1913. Churches,
from page 8
changes as it continued to expand. The school was renovated to add more space for its classes several times and more land was purchased to give the church parking space and a playground area. A convent was also built for the nuns where they lived for many years. The church was also remodeled in the early 2000s to make the church more easily accessible for its congregation.
There are at least two churches in Loyal that used to have a presence in town but today no longer exist. The first of these was the Adventist Church, which had been one of the first churches to be built in the village. It had been built in 1897 and was formerly located on the west side of town. Membership in this church quickly declined after it was built and by the 1930s was no longer used. For a time, the building was used by the Loyal Public School District for some of its classes, but the practice was discontinued after the new school was built in 1938.
The second church that used to have a congregation in Loyal was the New Free Methodist Church. This church was first started in the early 1880s in the Township of York, meeting in area farmhouses for many years. In 1928, their first church was built in Loyal and renamed the New Free Methodist Church to reflect this change. The church was relocated closer to the center of town in 1942 and later remodeled in 1967 as numbers continued to increase. After the turn of the century however, the church went into a decline and by 2008, the church was closed. Today the church still stands on Thomas Street as a residence.