Some events that were precursors to the founding of Armada United Methodist Church in Armada, Michigan were: help for those in need a preaching service and held in the home of Elijah Burke, a Christian of the Methodist faith; and Methodist classes organized at Armada Center in 1934 by Rev. Leonard Hill of Romeo, and reorganized in 1939 by Uriel Day at West Armada.
On February 19, 1859 the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Armada was organized, and trustees elected. Rev. R. E. Crane was the first minister. Property was deeded by Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Bannister and the organization decided to raise funds to build a house of worship at Burke’s Corners, later named Armada. The church became part of the Detroit Conference in the fall of 1860. Uriel Day, a longtime member, assisted in building the church.
In 1876 it is recorded that the Armada church became part of the Port Huron District; formed as steady church growth in the area deemed it necessary. There was no parsonage until Mr. & Mrs. Oscar Conger deeded their house, west of the church, to the church in February of 1896. Pastors served the church for mostly one or two years at a time from 1859 to 1957, with only a few pastors serving for three or four years.
The church building was remodeled and on Sunday, November 25, 1926 it was rededicated with Bishop Thomas Nicholson officiating. The church was then called the S. E. Warren Methodist Episcopal Church in memory of Pastor Warren who served the church 1869-1871, 1888-1891, and possibly 1891-1892. Homer Warren, the son of Rev. Warren donated a new pulpit and other furnishings in memory of his parents after 1901.
At the time of the unification of Methodist churches in 1939 the church was renamed Armada Methodist Church. On February 19, 1942 the church building, records, and all the contents burned. Neighboring churches and townspeople provided places to hold worship services for the time.
Under the pastorate of Rev. John Adams, who served five years, the men of the parish rebuilt the church, and the building still in use today was dedicated on August 3, 1943 with Bishop Wade officiating. There is a DVD with footage from the construction project, and the church boasts still having a couple of members who remember the building project.
The women were organized into the “Ladies’ Aid” and “Home and Foreign Missionary Societies.” These societies were merged and became the Women’s Society of Christian Service of the Methodist Church in 1940. In 1943, a Wesleyan Service Guild was organized by the young women of the Armada church and worked in conjunction with the Women’s Society of Christian Service. This group has continued to be a crucial part of the work of this church ever since, and became Armada United Methodist Women. Many of the women taught Sunday School classes, Bible School, and participated in various worship services. The women have raised money for missions, and parsonage repair; made and collected items for various mission opportunities and organizations; provided funeral luncheons; sponsored guest speakers and retreats; and participated in activities for the community’s Care Center.
December 19, 1948 the parsonage on Prospect Street was dedicated at the Sunday morning service. Bishop Marshall Reed conducted the dedication, and the district superintendent, Dr. E. Ray Wilson, read scripture.
From 1941 until 1953 Armada was on a three-point charge with Berville and Omo Zion. During this time period there was a very active Sunday School with several children and adults involved. There was a combined choir that performed a Christmas concert.
From 1953 it was a two-point charge with Omo Zion and Armada until 2000. There was a very active Sunday School and joint Vacation Bible School. Armada members have been active in the Community Choir and Ecumenical Services for many years. There have been active youth groups on and off but not consistently throughout the years. There was an active young adult/family group that had weekly gym nights, and camping/canoe trips in the later ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. There has been a church co-ed softball team since then.
Armada UMC has had a prayer chain active since at least 1980. In the early ‘80s attendance was growing and there were thoughts of expanding the facilities. Plans were drawn up and building fund pledges were secured. There was a pastor change in 1983 and the new pastor, Rev. Bob Thornton, assisted in scaling down the plans. Therefore, the money was pretty much in place when the addition was built. In 1986 the Memorial Wing, with first floor restrooms, pastor’s & secretary offices, choir room (now used as a coat room), and conference room, was dedicated. Alcoholics Anonymous began to use the basement for a meeting place. Rev. Thornton was pastor for 17 years and he and his wife did all of the secretarial work and planning for the last few years of his service.
In 1998 Mr. Geno approached the church about purchasing his house with property adjoining the church to the east. The house was purchased and became the new parsonage after some remodeling, as the parsonage on Prospect Street did not have enough bedrooms for a family. The house on Prospect Street was sold. Armada was a single pastorate church from 2000-2003.
In 2003 Armada UMC and West Berlin UMC became joint pastorate churches and continue that way through the present. Beginning on Easter Sunday 2004 a Praise Service, with a band comprised of drums, guitars and keyboard, was held on Sunday evenings. It grew in attendance to about 30 and then dwindled to the point it was discontinued after almost four years.
Except for those few years, there has been one worship service at 9:30 in the morning for more than 30 years, with the occasional Sunday evening program. The service was traditional in format but has become more “blended” over the years. Sunday School has been held during the worship service for the past few years and is well attended. There have been several couples that take turns with the lessons so no one misses the worship service every week.
The youth group has been meeting on Sunday afternoons every other week. Pastor Curtis Clarke, who received assignment to Armada UMC in 2011, and a group of young people went on a mission trip to “Mountain T.O.P.,” and are planning to go again this year.
Bible study groups meet: after church (which presently is a book study titled “Wired Word;” two different times during the week; and on the internet. The women’s group and the men’s group meet once a month. The men’s group has just recently begun serving meals at the Ronald McDonald house. In recent years a few other community groups have been meeting at the church. The church hosted several informative presentations for the community with a free dinner in the past year.
Families have been going on a camping trip once a year in the summer for a few years. There are many activities throughout the year for people of all ages to become involved.
Members and others active in the congregation have been striving to make every event that takes place an opportunity to witness to the community and anyone we touch about the love, comfort, and strength of Jesus Christ through our actions and our words.
** Information collected from a narrative “History of the Armada Methodist Church” by …., church records, directories, interviews with church members Jean Mills, Mona Wood, and reflections by Marjorie Rienas.