Henrietta United Methodist Church

The History of the Henrietta United Methodist Church

By Lena Geissendoerfer and John Baumann as written in 1950 and from the HUMC Website.
Compiled by Grace Boden, Secretary, 140th Anniversay Committee April 2012

It was in the year 1867 that Reverend George Berg, a member of the German Methodist Episcopal Conference, and Mr. John Haueisen and their families moved to Henrietta from Cleveland and each bought adjoining farms. Reverend Berg bought the farm now owned by Mr. Dolk and Mr. Haueisen the farm now owned by Mr. Elmer Portmann on Orphanage Road.

Reverend Berg was a member of the German Methodist Episcopal Conference. After preaching as a circuit preacher for a number of years, he contracted throat trouble and was forced to give up that work. He decided to move on a farm with his large family of twelve children. Being filled with the spirit of evangelism, these two families soon began to look around for more German speaking people. They arranged to have meetings and family gatherings in the homes. It was at these gatherings that Reverend Berg started preaching services.

In 1869 and 1870 several Swiss families came directly from Switzerland. First, the Portmanns and Baumanns and after them several families came from Rockport and Cleveland and settled here. Among them were the Geissendoerfers, Schlecters, Denzels, Ungers, Brickmans, Hilbergs, Volks, Uehles, Grobes, and Deckers. Later the Ladrachs and Wyttenbachs came.

Meetings were now held in the old schoolhouse of District No. 1; the wooden frame building which then stood about where Fred Andresses’ house now stands. It was later moved and remodeled into the dwelling which now stands about seventy-five feet north of its original site, and is now owned by John Baumann.

Reverend Berg had a very kind and friendly personality, helping his neighbors in many ways. In times of sickness, having some knowledge of medicine, he gave first aid. Official doctors in those days were very few. As a preacher he was very convincing and persuasive. Often with tears in his eyes, he preached the gospel of the love of Christ for a lost world, with a burning passion to see sinners saved.

Te Henrietta Methodist Church was officially organized on April 24, 1872, when the members met in the schoolhouse and decided to buy a piece of land for a church and a burying ground. They chose and bought the three quarter acre plot where the church now stands. Five trustees were elected as follows: John Haueisen, Michael Geissendoerfer, Christian Baumann, Sabestian Denzel and George Berg. This act is officially recorded in the courthouse in Elyria, Ohio (Record Vol. II, p. 230 – John Blanchard, Recorder).

About this time the German Methodist Conference sent us a regular pastor, Reverend Wesley Freyhofer who already had two churches, Lake Shore and Vermilion. Lake Shore Methodist Episcopal Church soon closed and the church building was moved to Vermilion. For a long time this was known as the Vermilion and Henrietta Circuit. A parsonage at Vermilion was jointly owned by the circuit. The pastor preached both morning and evening alternating the services; one Sunday he preached in the morning at Henrietta and the following Sunday in the evening. Every Sunday he had a catechism class in Henrietta at 2:30 p.m. He commuted between these churches by horse and buggy. If the weather proved inclement, he remained overnight and returned to the parsonage in Vermilion Monday morning.

On January 21, 1875 the members of the Henrietta Church again met in the schoolhouse and decided to build a church on the aforesaid lot. The size of the building was to be 30 feet by 50 feet at a cost of about $2,000. A short time later a contract was let to Mr. J.C. Borhenn of Birmingham for the sum of $2,165. The stone foundation was let to John Berg of Oberlin at $9.00 per wall cord. The complete cost including stone, sand, and plaster lime was about $165. Other items purchased were the church bell for $186, a clock $5,75, two heating stoves with pipes and hardware for $34.84, the Bible for the chancel for $3.50. The total cost of the church, at the time of dedication, was about $2,500. We must remember that this was a great undertaking, as many pledged far beyond their means. But all were willing and happy to help.

Under the able leadership of Brother Berg and the acting pastor Nicholas Nuffer, the work of the building of the church progressed very satisfactorily. We were able to have the dedication service on September 5, 1875. Dr. C.F. Paulus from the German-Wallace College in Berea spoke in German in the morning, and Reverend J.H. Horst spoke in English in the afternoon to a very large audience of friends and neighbors, who contributed liberally to the cost of the new church.

In 1877 Reverend George Berg with his family moved to the state of Kansas. The Varsaman, Rugarber and part of the Grobe families followed him. This made quite a gap in our congregation for some time. We especially missed our leader and founder. I can best express our feeling when I think of my own father who often said his love for Brother Berg was like that of King David and Jonathan. He said that we need not despair for God still lives and has his plans. Just as the mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha of old, so it was that the mantle of Brother Berg truly fell upon our beloved Henry Haueisen, the son of John H. Haueisen who faithfully worked and preached among us for over thirty years. He was a wonderfully good influence on both the young and the old this it is still felt in our church today. He organized our Epworth League on June 28, 1891 and twenty-two of our young people joined that first night. These League meetings were held in German.

Brother Haueisen served in the church as an ordained local preacher. He was a very thorough well-read Bible student. His deep spiritual life reflected itself in his sermons. Seldom was there a preacher who could make such an impressive altar call to sinners in times of a revival. In 1908 Brother Haueisen moved to the state of Washington for his health, where he took up a charge in the Methodist Conference, served as a regular minister for fourteen years, retired in 1922 and died in 1932 at the age of eighty-four.

In 1880 several more Swiss families came from Switzerland to Henrietta – the Reussers, Meyers, Buchs’s, Schneiders and later the Frederics. Many of these are still very much with us. The Born Brothers came from Germany in 1892. The Bonnetts, Horns and Weidmans came from the South Evangelical Church. Still later the Angersbachs and Emmerichs came to us from the Brownhelm Evangelical Church.

During the year 1901 we made a number of improvements in the church. We took out the old box stoves and long stovepipes and replaced them with a modern twentieth century furnace and replaced the old pews for our present beautiful curved pews. In those olden days the women sat on one side of the church and the men on the other with a low partition between them. Now with the new seating arrangement the whole family sat together; there were no more sheep and goats. The total cost of this improvement was $732.59.

The original church was built with a very beautiful steeple with a weather vane. About 1912 during a severe thunder storm, this steeple was struck by lightning and shattered. It was repaired, but in about two years it was struck again. This time we decided we had better take it down. Now, many feel it would have been better to have put up a lightning rod and kept the beautiful steeple.

Again in 1922 we got the building fever. This time we put a basement under the church by digging out the earth with pick and shovel and hauling it away with a wheelbarrow. Then we raised the church about two feet and put a new foundation under it. This provided a Suynday School room, a kitchen and space for a furnace. Mr. George Krieg laid the new foundation, Mr. Dan Gayer was the carpenter, and Mr. Fred Portmann acted as overseer for the whole job. We found no record of this cost, but as we remember, it was close to $2,000. This new basement was dedicated on July 29, 1922 by our District Superintendent, Dr. John Meyer.

As time went on it became apparent that the Vermilion Church would be closed. Many members had died or moved away. By 1914 we found it necessary to build a parsonage in Henrietta. We bought a lot opposite the church and built it during that summer. The contractor was Mr. Henry Heiderich from Elyria. The cost was about $4,000. Now that we had our own parsonage we became an independent church and remained so until 1932 when our German conference merged with the English speaking conferences. Then we again became a circuit with the Birmingham Church which is still the arrangement.

Early in 1900 the German language was gradually displaced by the English language. There were more and more people, especially among the young, who could not understand German, much less speak or read it. By 1925, all services were held in English.

In 1934 we found that the parsonage did not have sufficient water supply. We called in two waterwitchers. A certain spot was chosen which was supposed to have a strong stream about twenty feet below the surface. Everyone was quite willing to help dig a well and the work went on very speedily. Soon we were far below the twenty feet and still a dry hole, but we did not stop digging until we reached fifty feet. All at once the water came in so fast that we had to call for help to get the wall built. By the next morning the well was half full of very good drinking water. Later this was piped under the highway into the church kitchen.

The Henrietta Methodist Church has always been very mission minded, paying far above the average for missions. Ernest and Ezra Baumann went to South America as missionaries in July 1907. They had to learn Spanish and be able to preach in that language. Brother Christian Baumann was ordained September 1887, Fred Baumann in September 1891 and Albert Baumann in September 1897. Hobart Amstutz left for the mission field in Singapore December 1926 and has served Malaya ever since. Franklin Baumann left as a missionary to Cuba in July 1950.

Again in 1950 another addition was added to the rear of the church for three Sunday School rooms and a basement below for a new oil furnace. A whole redecoration and paint job was in progress with Harry Meyer as carpenter-in-chief, Harold Baumann as manager of labor, John Baumann as chairman of finance, Mrs. Harvey Born as chairman of the interior decorating and Mrs. Paul Portman as chairman of landscaping.

In May of 1951 the Sunday School program, the Methodist Youth Fellowship and the Women’s Society of Christian Service were all flourishing.

Extensive remodeling was done in 1969 -1970 under the direction of Peg Smith, an interior decorator and church neighbor. The church entrance was remodeled and new double front doors added. The sanctuary and basement were carpeted and the church interior was painted. The most recent additions to the church were the carillon and an elevator to make the sanctuary handicap accessible.

Our mission minded congregation has never been large but they have been active. Dr. Hobart Amstutz, a missionary to Singapor for over 40 years was interred in a Japanese prison camp for three and a half years. He attained the high honor of Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Southeast Asia. Franklin Baumann, now a retired minister living in Virginia served in the mission field in Cuba prior to Castro seizing control of the country. After losing her husband to cancer and raising her family, Myrtle Baumann went to seminary and became an ordained minister. The most recent addition to this list is Dr. Ken Ehrman who presently serves as Senior Pastor of the Eden Prairie United Methodist Church in Minnesota. His wife, Dr. Sally Dyck became Bishop of the Minnesota Annual Conference in 2004.

In 2001 the church took a fairly large step of faith and moved from a two-point charge to having its own pastor. Making pumpkin rolls and having a food concession at the local county fair handled an increase in church apportionments that went along with the move to a single charge. People of many ages, families and friends join together to work on these projects which not only meet our financial obligations but also spread our love of God out into the community.

In 2008 with Pastor Ray Ake, the church had several pleasant problems to deal with. Sunday School had outgrown the available rooms and the adult class was meeting in a nearby home. The congregation had outgrown the sanctuary. In April the church chose to try a second service for a year to see if we could attract local people not currently attending church to an earlier 9:00 a.m. service. It has worked out well and we continue to bring new members into the church. We also began partnering with the local school system to meet the needs of its students in hopes of also building a rapport with unchurched school families as a way to looking toward future expansion of our programs into the community surrounding the church.

In July 2011 we welcomed our new Pastor Arman Arellano, his wife Debbie and their sons Shalom (Om-Om) and Arman (Man-Man). And in December 2011 our congregation was invited to experience Simbang Gabi, a traditional Philipine Christmas celebration involving evening service, music and traditional Philipine food.

Also in 2011 the parsonage remodeling was completed. A new heater, air conditioning, carpeting, new bathroom, handicap accessible ramp and addition were added. According to an estimate by Harry Meyer these were done at a cost of $27,000 to $30,000.

Our mission statement is “To Become and make disciples, to serve wherever Jesus calls us.” We continue to grow and evolve as a congregation in our community and endeavor to spread the love of Christ to those we come in contact with each day, to those in the nation’s military, and to the friends we have yet to meet in countries all over the world.



From the Henrietta United Methodist Cookbook

     The Henrietta German Methodist Church was actually the third of the four churches in the community to be founded.  The first church in the community was the Henrietta Baptist Church.  It was organized in 1842 and the building was built on the Henrietta hilltop in 1850.  In the early 1860s, a number of German people settled in the southwestern part of Henrietta Township, known as the “German Settlement”.  They organized a German Evangelical Church and built a little church on Fred Berg’s farm on Green Road over in Erie County but most of the members came from Lorain County.  Other German evangelical Churches were established in the neighboring communities of Brownhelm, Vermilion and Amherst and the Linwood Park Tabernacle was built along the shores of Lake Erie near the mouth of the Vermilion River.  

The first meetings of the German Methodist Church were held in the members’ homes in 1867 and later in the old school house (the white house just north of the brick home on Gore Orphanage Road).  It was surprising how the German and Swiss people joined together in this new little church.  The Portmann and Baumann families joined the Haueisen, Geissendeorfer, Schlechter, Moulder, Volk, Brickmann, Uhlie, Hilberg and Denzel families.  There were a large number of young people of marriageable age in this group and it was not long before there was one wedding after another; almost without exception they were all given in happy marriage and became staunch church members and community families.  Rev. George Berg, a retired German Methodist Episcopal minister, officially organized the third church, German Henrietta Methodist Church, on April 24, 1872.  By 1875, a church was built on a three-quarter acre lot on Telegraph Road and a cemetery was started on the eastside of the church.  The church was completed at a cost of approximately$2,500 and was dedicated by Dr. C. F. Paulus of Baldwin Wallace College in Berea.  The dedication services were held in German in the morning and in English in the afternoon.
The fourth church to be established was of the German Reformed denomination. It was built in the “German Settlement’ on Garfield Road not too far from Green Road in 1873. Before they joined the United Church of Christ, they were on a circuit with the Mitawanda church west of Vermilion.  After the union they were on a circuit with the South Amherst UCC, which is still the current arrangement.  

In 1880, 1882 and 1890, more German immigrants arrived in the community and were welcomed into this faith community.  The Reusser, Buchs, Meyers, Schneider, Ladrich and Fredrich clans joined.  The Angersbach’s, Emmerich’s and Bonnett’s came over from the Brownhelm Evangelical Church.  The Born brothers and their families started attending shortly after arriving from Germany.    Services were held in German until the early 1900s.  In 1925, after most of the German-speaking members had passed away, English became the official language for all services.  The church was often called the Swiss Church. 

The congregation was very mission-minded, sending out a number of their young adults into foreign mission field and into their own home conferences as preachers.  The church’s membership has never been large but they have been an active and spiritually minded fellowship.  In 1907, Reverend Ernest Baumann and Reverend Ezra Baumann both went to South America as missionaries.  Ernest went to Argentina and Ezra to Chile. Brothers Christian, Fred and Albert all became ordained Methodist ministers who served in various capacities in the church.  Their cousin Dr. Hobart Amstutz was a missionary in Singapore for over 40 years. He attained the high honor of Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Southeast Asia.  During World War II he was interred in a Japanese prison camp for three and a half years. Franklin Baumann, now a retired minister living in Virginia, served in the mission field in Cuba prior to Castro seizing control of the country.  After losing her husband to cancer and raising her family, Myrtle Baumann went to seminary and became an ordained minister, who severed several local churches before her passing.  The most recent addition to this list is Dr. Ken Ehrman, who presently serves as Senior Pastor of the Eden Prairie United Methodist Church in Minnesota.  His wife, Dr. Sally Dyck, became Bishop of the Minnesota Annual Conference in 2004.  We hope that this legacy continues to be passed on to future generations of our church.

Over the years several improvements have been made on the building. In 1901, the old box stoves were replaced with a coal furnace, which has since been upgraded to gas, and the present curved pews replaced the original ones.  Air condition was not added until recently.  In 1922, the building was raised and a basement was dug to provide space for a kitchen and a Sunday School room. In 1950, an addition was made to the rear of the church for three Sunday School rooms upstairs and a new kitchen, nursery and restrooms in the basement.  Extensive remodeling was done in 1969-70 under the direction of Peg Smith, an interior decorator and church neighbor.  The church entrance was remodeled and new double front doors added.  The sanctuary and basement were carpeted and the church interior was painted.  The most recent additions to the church were the carillon and an elevator to make the sanctuary handicap accessible.

Up until 1914, the Henrietta German Methodist Church was a circuit church with the parsonage at Vermilion.  When it was apparent the Vermilion church would be closed, the Henrietta congregation decided to become an independent charge.  This meant they would need to provide a parsonage for their preacher.  The church chose to build a parsonage across the road from the church.  A “kit house” was purchased from Sears Roebuck and completed for about $4,000.  The parsonage has often been rented out as the church has been a two-point charge and the preacher has often chosen to live in the other parsonage.

(1970; 1987; 1998 and 2008) Henrietta United Methodist Cookbook
Baumann. J.B.(1964). Then and Now: A Family and Community History. Amherst, OH:  Hoffman Printing.


Henrietta United Methodist Church
To Become & Make Disciples, To Serve Wherever Jesus Calls Us.