Our History - Eras of Acton U.M. Church
Acton United Methodist Church is one of the two oldest churches in Franklin Township. It was established in 1827, as was the New Bethal Baptist Church.
William and Elizabeth Rector came from Ohio, and settled on the east edge of Franklin Township, near Buck Creek, just north of what was to become Michigan Road, and later State Road 29, then U.S. 421, and now Southeastern Avenue. Four couples met at the Rector's log home, the Rectors, the Tibbitts, the Waldens, and the Burnetts. At one point, the land belonged to the late Byron Repass, a realtor, who said that after a light snowfall, one could still see the outline of the Rector's cabin in the cornfield south of his lane.
A short distance away, on land now lying along Indian Creek Road, the first church stood, a log building, erected in 1827, with the cemetery nearby. Some of the stones from that early cemetery were at that time piled along a fence row. The land had been converted to home sites and the stones had been removed from their locations and thrown into the nearby creek. Later retrieved, they were returned to the area. The remaining stones - a few have disappeared - were moved to the Franklin Township Historical Society grounds for safe-keeping and some have been placed in the church's Bible Garden.
As abstract for the property shows that in December 1846, William and Elizabeth Rector sold their land to Joseph Hamilton, excepting the acre which had been deeded to the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Rectors moved to Iowa and the church declined.
The Second Era of the church began a few years later when the remaining members decided to relocate a few miles south, in the town of Farmersville, being established along the newly opened rail line to Cincinnati. The members met in the school house there until 1885 when their first frame building was completed. In 1853, calling themselves, Farmersville Methodist Society, they held a quarterly meeting in the warehouse of John Daily. With the town renamed Acton - there was already a Farmersville post office - the church changed its name in 1860 to Acton Methodist Society.
As with many small churches, Acton Church was part of a circuit, one minister serving several churches, traveling from one to another on horseback. In 1856 there were nine churches on the circuit. Ten years later, there were four - Acton, Rocklane, London and Canaan.
The frame church served the congregation for 23 years, but was destroyed by fire in 1879. In 1881 a new brick church was completed. The bricks were burned by one of the members, Jonas Hamlyn. He burned the bricks for his own house at the same time. That house still stands on the west side of Acton Road, just south of Maze Road. The congregation met in the Acton Baptist Church while their building was being completed.
The building saw good service for almost 40 years. In the mid-1920s a remodeling project began. A basement was dug and a furnace installed. Rooms were added and the outside stuccoed. The remodeled church was dedicated on April 18, 1926. The Depression years called for many fund-raising activities to meet the payments and reduce the debt such as fish frys and the food tent at the Marion County Fair. With determination and sacrificial giving, the debt was paid and the mortgage burned in 1943.
A few highlights of those years include: In 1953, Acton ended its ties with the London Methodist church and had its own first full-time minister, the Rev. J.V. Bennett. In 1956, a lot on Virgil Street was purchased for parking, the site of the former Catholic Church. In 1959, a new parsonage was built on Seminole Drive. In 1963, the church voted to purchase land for a new building, but added four classrooms and a restroom to their church on Virgil Street.
The Third Era began with the church's 1966 decision to move to their new site on Senour Road. The March 29, 1967 Easter morning service was the first held on the new site. The next month, the building began and the church was dedicated in 1969. After union with the Evangelical United Brethen denomination in 1968, the Acton United Methodist Church became the Acton U.M. Church.
The congregation worshiped in what is now the Fellowship Hall for 20 years. The Church sanctuary was completed in 1991 with much volunteer labor from the congregation. The Hook & Hastings organ, the custodianship of which was given to the church in 1983, was moved into the sanctuary.
The completion of the sanctuary could be considered the beginning of the Fourth Era in the history of Acton Church. Lay leadership is emphasized, a Preschool is in operation, and a United Methodist Women's Group has been restarted. Various Leadership Teams promote missions, children's and youth programs, and there are several Bible Study groups. Sunday morning worship is "Traditional" on one Sunday, "Contemporary" on the next. "Marion County's Biggest Garage Sale" has been held annually since 1995 and the Acton Craft Fair since 1998.
But it is still the members of the Acton United Methodist Church who perhaps best express its purpose by their concern for and support of one another, and, trusting in God's guidance, dedicate themselves to the values and goals of the Christian life.
Written by Sylvia Hendricks
(presented at worship service on Sunday, February 29, 2006 and updated for website in June, 2012)