Hazard Methodist Church

Pastor V - Hazard United Methodist Church
Pastor Valera Heydenberk

Hazard United Methodist Church - Hazard, Nebraska
Hazard, Nebraska United Methodist Church
With the help of horse team owner Ben Cords, Pastor Val accommodates bride & groom Patty & Richard of Ohio on a tour of the town via horse & buggy after the marriage ceremony. The special occasion took place on the warm summer morning of July 24, 2002.

Photo of the Women Society of Christian Service in 1950
Women's Society of Christian Service

1905 marked the year the Hazard Methodist Episcopal Church constructed a building for worship services. This marked the first church to be built in town. Though a larger church eventually replaced the original, the Hazard United Methodist Church continues to greet visitors traveling in from Hwy 2 and 10. Located near the railroad tracks, pastors and parishioners patiently pause from time to time during services as trains whistle through. Though the smallest church in the community, it is a designated mission church that continues its outreach to those without religious affiliation. The United Methodist Women (UMW - known as Ladies Aid in its early history) provide valuable services for the area.

Hazard United Methodist Church History
Written by Mrs. Marlene Rasmussen - article originally published in Wheels of Time: A Centennial History of Hazard, Nebraska (1986)

The Hazard United Methodist Church building can trace its beginning to 1905 when the Hazard Methodist Episcopal Church purchased lots for one dollar each from Edward and Amelia Munn and the Lincoln Land Company for a building site. The third lot on the north may have been added during the 1925 remodeling of the church. The Hazard Church was part of the West Nebraska Conference until 1913, when through a merger it became the Nebraska Conference Excerpts from Conference minutes were made available by Bernice Boilesen, curator of the Nebraska United Methodist Historical Center in Lincoln and are as follows:
1897 - "...at Hazard we have an active Epworth League."
1898 - "The services at Hazard have been well attended."
1901-1902 - "During the past year Brother J.A. Stevens, a superannuate of the Iowa Conference, has regularly preached to the people at Hazard appointment."
1904-1905 - "A new church has been built at Hazard costing $1500 which is now ready for dedication."
1905-1906 - "A new church has been completed and dedicated at Hazard, free from all dept at a cost of $1592."
1907-1908 - According to the minutes, Hazard, Litchfield, and Boelus were served by Brother L.B. Shallenberger.

Since there was no church building before 1905, service may have been held at the home of the congregation until the building was constructed. Early settlers of Danish Lutheran origin often took turns holding church services in their home and there are some who think that the Hazard United Methodist church was founded by them. although the deed on the building states "Hazard Methodist Episcopal."

The Hazard church has almost always been served by ministers who also served at either Litchfield or Ravenna, but in 1924-1925, W.E. Wilson (who was very English) served only Hazard. Over thirty ministers' names appear on the records as having served the Hazard church. Two of those listed were women: Grace Anderson for a short period of time in 1927 and Lois Payne in 1938. No names were listed from 1913 until 1922 so two possibilities exist: No church services were held during those years, or the records are missing. No minister was listed for 1943, either. The earliest local record found showed that John Boecking (locally pronounced as Bacon) joined the church in 1896.

On May 31st, 1925, a very large number of people were received into the church. 1925 was also the year the church was remodeled. More space was added to the church for the "platform" or "stage" for the pulpit. A vestibule was added to the front of the church and the bell tower which had been held at the side of the church was raised in placed over the new vestibule. A full basement was dug under the entire structure. A much later addition was the front entrance to the basement.

In the early 1970s, several families worked together to do further remodeling. Since the stage was too high and unequal heating was a problem, a new platform for the pulpit was built with heating ducts rearranged. Paneling has also been added to the front and back walls, covering two small windows in the front of the church.

Through the years many people who are not affiliated with any particular denomination have been welcome to use the church for baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Though small in membership, the congregation continues to meet its financial obligations to the local church and to the Nebraska Conference. "Where two or three are gathered in my name" might well be the motto of the Hazard United Methodist Church.

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