By A.J. Christopher
Methodism in the Warners area dates back to 1811 when Henry Cook came
with his family from Pompey and located on the Warners-Ionia state road.
The place today is known as the “White Rock Farm.” Cook was a blacksmith
by trade, but on occasions preached the gospel. One of his seven daughters,
in later years, gave a reminiscence of her father who, part-time, repaired wagons
of the travelers passing by on the journey “west,” and at other moments
established prayer meetings in his home. These meetings were held first in a
log barn, next in his frame house built in 1818 and when the numbers were many
and the weather pleasant, there was plenty of room under a large basswood tree
beside the road.
In 1831, George Hawley I built at Warners the early wooden Methodist Episcopal Church, on land originally belonging to his father-in-law,
Heman Warner. Warner also gave land for the cemetery there. This primitive church was typical of that time, built close to the dirt road running
north and south through the hamlet. Since parishioners from a distance came to church by horse and buggy or sleigh, a multi-partitioned shed
was provided on the south side of the church, to shelter the animals in bad weather.
After the turn of the century a new church was decided upon and the official board, in March of 1903, appointed a building committee to select
a site, decide on plans and finally erect a brick edifice. Six thousand dollars was set for the construction. The committee consisted of Dr. F.R.
Coe, J.M. Mead, L.T. Culver, G.W. Marvin and W.H. Wellington.
The Warners church was built through the year of 1905. Bids were opened for construction in early June. In the same month, the ground was broken. By September, most of the brickwork was up. Plastering was finished by November 30th.
Church pews were ordered from Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the summer. The windows came from Fulton. In December, the ladies of the church went to Edwards and purchased carpets for the floors. To size it up, the church bell was moved from the old building to the new belfry early in November.
At last, on Wednesday, February 7, 1906, the church was dedicated. Four ministers officiated throughout the day and evening.
There being no further need for the old wooden church, the trustees decided to dispose of it, selling the structure to cattleman John Walters in June of the same year. Mr. Walters razed the building for salvageable material.
Original church building on the cemetery side of Canton Street road. Razed in 1906
Brick Methodist Church dedicated in 1906