For an updated history of Rust United Methodist Church, please go to the history section of the Church's website at http://www.rustchurch.org/OurHistory/tabid/3039/Default.aspx

Methodism in Oberlin has enjoyed a very prosperous growth. This phenomenal growth covering the past 100 years is a result of the dedicated activities of just a small interracial group of consecrated men and women. The names of most charter members of The Methodist Episcopal Church have been lost to posterity, but it was this group that prior to 1872, worshipped in the old "Colonial Hall," later used for the Zoological Laboratory of the College and now is part of the Conservatory of Music site on West College Street.

It is highly probable that the church was organized entirely by white persons and then subsequent to this organization, the invitation to Negroes to join in worship was made.

It was at some time prior to the period of July 26, 1872 that the congregation divided along "racial" lines. The White group continued to occupy the building on South Main Street while the Negro members purchased property on South Water Street. A small frame building was purchased and moved to the South Water Street site. Organizational plans were completed and the group became known as the Second Methodist Episcopal Church.

The newly organized Lexington Annual Conference probably provided a strong influence in the thinking of Oberlin's Negro Methodists. The available records do not tell of any reason for the division except that "Both ... groups felt they could be self supporting."

The first pastor of Second Church was Mrs. Elizabeth Carr. No records remain that would shed any light on her administration.

The names of the first trustees of Second Methodist Episcopal Church are preserved on the Land Title Deeds. John Ramsy, James Houston, Perry Carter, James R. Montgomery, Thomas H. Burnett, Frank Savo and William H. Brown were the first duly elected Trustees of Second Methodist Church.


The Early Years of Second M. E. Church

The historical memories of Samuel King, a member of the Board of Trustees in 1915 and active member of the church in the 1890's, were written by him in July, 1953. These notes were edited by Rev. L. R. Simmons and published in the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram on July 23, 1953. Mr. King's notes tell us that "the colored members purchased a frame building and moved it on the lot on South Park Street which at that time was called South Water Street." The photograph made of the "old" church in 1915 shows a brick construction. A possible explanation may be that the frame building was given a brick veneer between 1872 and l9l5. Recently a picture of the original Rust M.E. Church and parsonage was found and it was indicated under the bottom of the picture that the church was built in 1875 and was razed to give way to a new Church home on July 5, 1915. The picture can be found on one of the pages following this page of the History of Rust.

Mr. King describes the interior of the building thusly: "The floors were made of wide boards with open cracks between them. The heating system was poor. A cook stove was used to heat the Church and 16 oil lamps were used for light.

Rev. J. C. Payne was probably the first conference appointed minister to serve Second Church. Rev. Adam Nunon followed the Rev. Mr. Payne. No specific dates can be assigned to either of these men nor can any specific note of growth be mentioned in connection with their administrations.

A six octave reed organ was the first musical instrument owned by the church. From the tone of Mr. King's words, this organ had seen its best days. A second organ was later purchased at a cost of $90.00. This second instrument apparently was used by the church throughout the life of the "old" building. The kerosene lamps were replaced in these early years by gasoline lamps. These new style lamps gave a better light, but frequently during service used up their air pressure and went out. This necessitated their having to be pumped up again.

Another improvement was the installation of a coal furnace. This seemed to solve the heat problem except during rainy weather. Then the water would fill the basement and put out the fire.

The intervening years, from 1872 to 1906 cannot be accounted for with any degree of certainty. That the church developed so as to become a spiritual influence in the community is quite evident. These were years of hard work and struggle, when as Mr. King states, "The minister received four or five hundred dollars a year". The following account taken from the Oberlin News, dated April 12, 1878 tells something of the fund-raising efforts of the church:

"The Mississippians sang at the First M.E. Church on Saturday...and gave a free concert Sunday evening.. .Monday evening they sang at the Second M.E. Church. They furnished a good entertainment, though there is considerable sameness in all concerts of this class."


The Middle Years of Growth, 1906-1941

In 1906, during the pastorate of Rev. W. H. Renfro, the church purchased the two adjacent parcels of land at a total cost of $700.00. This land was not purchased until May, 1905, but in January, 1906 the following statement was published:

"The Board of Trustees of Rust Church deem it advisable to call general attention to the fact that there is no person authorized to solicit money or any kind of donation or supplies for or in this church or any of its auxiliaries, and you will please refuse to contribute to anyone 'soliciting from you. We are making a strong effort by our own work and our own donations and entertainment to free ourselves from debt. We will thank you to purchase a ticket when duly endorsed and attend our entertainments.

Signed Board of Trustees"

This extract is revealing in several ways. First, it is confirmation that the church was in debt prior to the purchase of additional land; second it indicates the determination to raise their funds or at least the donations for their "entertainments" from members of their own group; third, we may surmise that some incident precipitated the writing and publishing of the article; and fourth, the name Rust Church appears in the record. The congregation charged the church's name to Rust in honor of Dr. Richard S. Rust, one of the post-Civil War white leaders of the denomination, for whom Rust College, a black institution in Holly Springs, Mississippi, is also named.

The earliest information concerning the Sunday School is in reference to an Easter program given on Sunday, April 15, 1906. This date also marked a change in the meeting time of the Sunday School. Previously the school met at 2 o'clock; the time was then moved back to 12:30 o'clock.

The period of outstanding advance, spiritually and physically, began with the pastorate of the Rev. Frank S. Delaney in 1912.

Mrs. Cora Davis, whose father, James R. Montgomery, was a charter member and one of the original trustees, recalls that Rev. Delaney performed a work genius in seven years time. Little is recalled pertaining to the first four years of this pastorate, but when the facts are known of the events beginning July 5, 1915, it becomes an easy task to reconstruct something that would approximate the actual events of the "silent years".

Monday, July 5, 1915, is a significant date to remember in the History of Rust M.E. Church, for it was on that day that the members assembled at 4 a.m. to begin to tear down the "old church building." When asked why the "old" building was torn down before the "new" church was started, Mrs. Nancy Corbin replies, "The building was just no longer fit for worship."

The actual construction of the new building was begun during the summer of 1915. This is the year recorded on the corner stone; the day and month are not recorded.

Mr. King wrote, "some of these veterans mortgaged their homes to help build the church." The sum of $3,500 was borrowed from the Peoples Banking Company. The petition was signed by eight trustees among whom was Samuel King, whose written memoirs are being used.

During the period July 5, 1915, to July 16, 1916, Rust M.E. Church was without a church home. When asked where the congregation worshipped during this time, Mrs. Nancy Corbin, who celebrated her 90th birthday at that time on February 18, 1956 (now she is 106), said, " The church was given permission to use the Centennial Building at the corner of South Main and Edison Streets."

By July 16, 1916, work had progressed enough to allow the congregation to worship in the new building for the first time. This was a great day for the Rust M.E. Congregation. They were without a church home for only one year and eleven days. Such progress and achievement will stand as a monument to Rev. Frank S. Delaney and the members and friends of Rust.

The following news extract is self-explanatory and introduces information known to only a few present members of Rust:

"The dedication of the New Rust M.E. Church on Sunday, October 8, will mark the culmination of one of the hopes which the pastor, Rev. F. S. Delaney, has cherished since he took up his work here four years ago. The new building completed at a cost of $11,000, replaces the original church which stood for forty years as a house of worship for the Colored Methodists of Oberlin.

The dedication ceremonies will be conducted by Bishop W. F. Anderson, of Cincinnati, at 2:45 Sunday afternoon, October 8.

Ministers from other charges are expected here to witness the ceremonies.... "

Mr. King mentions a few of the members who were active in 1916. They are:

Mr. F. Copes

Mr. J. A. Bell

Mr. 0. L. Phillips

Mr. I. Peterson

Mrs. T. Brown

Mrs. Mary Green

Mrs. Mary Hurd

Mr. and Mrs. James Watson

Mrs. Nancy Corbin

Mrs. Cora Copes

Mrs. Moriah Chambers

Two remnants from the old building remain to this day as symbols of the early church: The church bell, which continues to be heard each Sunday morning, and the large rose window at the east of the present building.

The pastorate of the Rev. Delaney came to a close at the spring session of the Lexington Annual Conference in 1917. The Rev. S. H. Sweeney became the second pastor to serve in the new building.

The Rev. Buckner, minister at Rust until the spring of 1921, was succeeded by Rev. J. G. Thompson who served until the spring of 1923.

In 1924, the church still carried an indebtedness of $1,300.00.

It was during the conference year 1923-1924, under the administration of the Rev. L. E. Jordan, that the goal of $1,300.00 was reached.

Rev. Charles T. Parker succeeded Rev. L. E. Jordan in April of 1924. The mortgage burning thus took place during the pastorate of Rev. Parker.

The following is an extract from an article printed July 29, 1953:

"In 1923, the mortgage was burned with Samuel King, the oldest member of the Rust Methodist Church at the present time, lighting the third match. Mr. King served the congregation as secretary for six years."

The ashes from the mortgage have been preserved in a small silver cask donated by Mrs. M. W. Clark. The following names are engraved in the cask:

Rev. F. S. Delarey - 1916

Rev. L. E. Jordan - 1923

Rev. C. R. Parker - 1924

Mr. I. L. Hurd - Treasurer

The cask is kept in the parsonage and is on display where anyone may examine it. The existence of these ashes is not generally known by many of the current members of Rust.

Rev. C. T. Parker retired from the active ministry several years ago and is currently under a special appointment by the Conference. This was true at the time this history was written during the 1958 publication of Rust Church History. He was also employed at that time as a social worker and court worker in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rev. Ferguson (1954-58) met Rev. Parker in the 1930's when the latter was appointed to the Mount Pleasant Methodist Church in Cleveland. Rev. Parker was favorably impressed by the Oberlin Community, and by the continuing good work of the loyal members and gracious friends of the Rust M.E. Church.

Seven ministers served the church between the pastorates of Rev C. T. Parker and Rev. C. B. Copher. They were: Rev. William McMorris, 1925-28; Rev. W. H. Wallace, 1928-31; Rev1 Stennette, 1931-33; Rev. Taylor, 1933-34; Rev. J. C. Hayes, 1934-1936; Rev. D. M. Jordan, 1936-1937; Rev. J. E. Woods, 1937-39.

A note which probably falls historically into the late 1920's or early 1930's is the purchase of a third organ, reported by Mr. King in the previously mentioned newspaper article. This was "a pipe organ purchased by the choir from the Episcopal Church."

The only statistical report available for this entire period covers the conference year 1935-36, during the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. J. C. Hayes. The report quotes the membership to have been one hundred and twenty-three. In comparison to the other charges in the Columbus District, Rust was the ninth largest in membership and paid its pastor $1,000.00, the fifth highest in the district.

The Modern Era


In the spring of 1941, Rev. G. C. Morgan succeeded to the pastorate of Rust Methodist Church, following Rev. Charles B. Copher. Beginning with the conference year 1946-47, the sixth year of Rev. Morgan's pastorate, statistical records of the church are available.

The program of the church under both Rev. Morgan and Rev. Simmons was full and adequate.

Improvements were made in the parsonage in 1950 under the supervision of the Parsonage Committee. The pastorate of Rev. L. R. Simmons was interrupted in September of 1954 by a mid-year change in appointments. Rev. John C. Ferguson of Second Methodist, Anderson, Indiana, was appointed to Rust. This pastor was well received by the congregation on Sunday, September 12.

The church at this phase of its growth was trying to begin the first of a series of projects. Plans have been made to have the stained glass window repaired at a cost of $225.70. Another project was that of installing of a new heating plant in the. church. By November of 1955 sufficient funds were on hand to install a Model 45, Baldwin Electronic organ. The price, $2,210.00.

The Gospel Chorus at the December 6, 1955 meeting of the Official Board presented $500.00 which was to cover the basement floor and to redecorate the basement.

A list of other things done in recent years would include: The purchasing of twenty-five new hymn books by the W.S.C.S., four new brass offering plates, a twelve-inch electric clock for use in the auditorium. The bulletin board now in front of the church was constructed at a very low cost by Mr. Robert Scott and Mr. Lawrence Blackburn. A steel filing cabinet and desk were purchased by W.S.C.S.

The spiritual program of the church has been geared to both a preaching and teaching ministry. Several excellent preachers have been invited to the church to supplement the preaching of the pastors. Christian Education has received a major emphasis at Rust since the arrival of the Schauffler College staff and students. The youth program has had a steady growth. The young people have made a substantial contribution to the church spiritually and financially.

During the modern era the musical groups of the church have rendered service in many of the churches in Ohio. The "Gospel Chorus" is perhaps the most widely traveled group, having traveled as far as Cincinnati, Ohio. The Senior Choir, the Ladies' Sextet and the Junior Choir together with the Gospel Chorus have more than adequately fulfilled the musical needs of Rust.

The Women's work is not to be excelled by any other society in the Columbus District. The men's work at Rust has been rather inconsistent, or seasonal. The Methodist Men, as this chartered group is known, have had several brief periods when they really fulfilled their roles as leaders in the church.

The Annual Conference of May, 1958, produced another chapter in the history of Rust Church. This conference appointed the beloved pastor and family of Rust for four years, Rev. John C. Ferguson, to Werner Church, Cleveland, Ohio. Thus, as history is being written, history is being made. In the midst of preparations for the Eighty-Sixth Anniversary Celebration, Rev. Thomas R. Sumner and his family moved to Rust from Hobbs Chapel, Anchorage, Kentucky. The good fortune of Rust Methodist Church at this time is that its present pastor has been so ably assisted by its former pastors in orienting himself to the church and community at large. This could also prove to be another milestone in the history of relationships among ministers, for it has been an experience of fellowship to a degree heretofore unknown. Indeed, the words written here are from research notes and publications gathered from the files of former pastors and members of Rust Church. Rev. John C. Ferguson's publication, "The History of Rust Methodist" was one of our source of reference. His findings were recorded May 8, 1956 at the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology. Rev. Sumner and his family played an important role in this project too. It is impossible to name all of many roles that the ministers and members played in making the history possible but in a paragraph we will attempt to give some idea of how some of the Church History information was compiled.

Intermingled with the many happy memories of yesterday are the memories of a few sad events. Though we strive valiantly to adopt a purely Christian attitude toward death and though we orientate ourselves constantly with the fact of the certainty of death, its presence always induces sorrow. Though we mourn the passing of our fellow members we are comforted to know that He who hath created us all, hath promised eternal life to all who believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and trust in Him.


This history up to this point was taken and revised from historical statements that was printed in the Souvenir Program for the 86th Anniversary that was held from July 1 to 31, 1958, the first year of pastorate of Rev. Thomas R. Sumner. We are indebted to Rev. Sumner for his part in completing the work so that the history could be published in time for the 86th Anniversary Program.

The present parsonage that is located at 167 South Pleasant Street was purchased during the pastorate of Rev. Sumner. New furniture for the parsonage was also purchased under Rev. Sumner's administration.

Rev. Melvin Bateman, a very talented young man was pastor of the church from May, 1963 to January, 1967. He now is involved in the field of television.

Our present Pastor and his wife, Rev. and Mrs. Moses H. Williams, came to us in January, 1967, and are giving a good account of themselves with us. The debt has been paid on the parsonage and the mortgage will be burned during this Centennial Celebration. Many improvements have been made during his years in office.

The plans for the installation of new pews and the remodeling of the pulpit area of the church were made and carried to a successful conclusion under Rev. Williams' administration. In addition, the basement of the church has been remodeled to be used as a nursery, Day Care Center and for other youth activities. I might add that several members of the church have been inspired by the pastor to give the new pews as memorials. These pews will be dedicated July 16, during this Centennial Celebration.

We realize that the celebration of 100 years of our church's existence is a significant occasion. This Centennial Celebration gives us the opportunity to think about our past history, which grew from a very humble beginning. Ours is a great heritage and we thank God that we have the privilege to begin another century of work in Christ's name. God grant that we may re-consecrate and re-dedicate ourselves so that we may and will accept the challenge to serve the Oberlin community for Christ and His church in a way that will be helpful in true kingdom building. Let us begin the new century by not only saying "We are able", but by showing that we are!



Rev. Sumpter N. Riley, Jr. was our interim pastor for a limited time. He negotiated the sale of the property at 167 South Pleasant Street and purchased the current parsonage at 302 North Prospect Street.

Rev. Shepard Harkness 1975-1978. Rust continued its long range plans of progress as we purchased the rental property on Groveland Street. The first printing machines for the office were purchased and the undercroft was remodeled during his tenure.

Rev. James B. Roberson 1978-1983. Through continued service and faithfulness his leadership helped us to continue seeking our common unity in Christ Jesus. In June 1979 his family was blessed with the birth of their youngest child, Ja-Alycia. We were proud to share this joy with his wife, Wilma and son Jamon. During his tenure Rust was able to have its entire exterior restored by the process of sandblasting.

Rev. Arthur Zebbs 1983-1985. During Rev. Zebb's pastorate at Rust his efforts were concentrated on the faithful service and the willingness of members of Rust to serve the Lord and the community to make the church as she is today. Through his leadership the sanctuary was painted, our doors, and floors were refinished beautifully.

Rev. Sade Davis Reynolds 1985-. "Together we grow and love holds us all together" are the constant sentiments and guidelines that Rust members constantly receive from Rev. Reynolds. Fortunately we have been able to remodel our kitchen, rest rooms, new flooring for the undercroft and new carpeting for the interior steps. There are many more long range improvements for our building and the continuing growth of our christian lives with her leadership at Rust.






RENFRO, Rev. W. H.



DeLANEY, Rev. Frank






BUCKNER, Rev. George






JORDAN, Rev. L. E.



PARKER, Rev. Charles T.



McMORRIS, Rev. William









TAYLOR, Rev. George C.



HAYES, Rev. J. C.






WOODS, Rev. J. E.



COPHER, Rev. Charles B.



MORGAN, Rev. G. G.






FERGUSON, Rev. John C.



SUMNER, Rev. Thomas R.



BATEMAN, Rev. Melvin



WILLIAMS, Rev. Moses H.



HARKNESS, Rev. Shepard



ROBERSON, Rev James B.



ZEBBS, Rev. Arthur



REYNOLDS, Rev. Sade Davis



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