Shawnee United Methodist Church KS
Our History

Shawnee United Methodist Church is the result of a merger of as many as five groups.


The earliest record of a Methodist church in what we know as Shawnee is from 1840 when a young Methodist Episcopal missionary from Kentucky named Learner Stateler organized a group of Shawnee Indians to build a log church building at what is now 59th and Bluejacket Streets. In 1845, the national Methodist Episcopal Church split on the issue of slavery and the Indian church in Shawnee, which was sponsored by the Mission Conference, went with the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Three years later, Rev. Abraham Still was appointed by the Methodist Episcopal Church to work with the Shawnee Indians; thus, there were two congregations of Indian Methodists.


In 1856, the community was incorporated as Gum Springs, and white settlers began to arrive in numbers. They formed two more congregations, with the southern group meeting in the Indian log church building. In 1859, a decision was made by the southern group to build a new church building, and in 1860, a small red brick building was completed at what is now 59th and Barton Streets.


With the outbreak of the Civil War, the Southern branch of the church was in disarray and Gum Springs sided with the North. Little is known of either congregation during this time, but we do know that when Quantrill and his raiders burned half of the buildings in Gum Springs, the red brick church was spared. It is believed that the old log church was used for firewood by soldiers. In 1869, through some trickery, the Shawnee were enticed to move to the Oklahoma Territory. Those who stayed merged into the white congregations.


In 1877, the Methodist Episcopal Church South congregation was meeting in the red brick church building. According to legend, they sang so loudly that the walls cracked and it became unsafe to use. They joined with the Methodist Episcopal Church, but we don’t know where they met.


There is a copy of an application for a Kansas state charter for “The Shawnee Methodist Episcopal Church Corporation”. It was dated August 14, 1878, but there is no record that it was notarized or filed with the state. Nonetheless, we celebrate this as the official beginning of our church. A second charter application dated August 15, using the name “The Shawnee Episcopal Church, South Corporation” was filed with the state. Thus, the Methodist Episcopal congregation was chartered as a South church.


At the same time, the trustees purchased land at what was then known as Main and 2nd Streets. That is where our present building is located. In 1880, a new brick church building was completed on this site. In 1888, a group known as the Gum Springs Sunday School, which, up to that time had been an independent group, began meeting in the new church building. They officially affiliated with the Methodist Church two years later.


In 1894, the church was the unexpected beneficiary of the estate of one Martha Ward, who, although not a member, left the church her entire estate, which included the land across the street west of our present church building.


From 1878 to 1913, the Shawnee Church was served by circuit riders, and services were sporadic. One year, there were only 12 services, and the church nearly disbanded. In 1913, the church leaders were able to convince the District Superintendant that they could support a minister of their own, and in March of 1914, Rev. Frank Eddy Madden was appointed as our first full time pastor.


The brick church building was torn down in 1921, and work began on a new stone building, which was completed on July 9, 1922. This is now the western portion of our church building. Also in 1922, the city of Gum Springs was rechartered as The City of Shawnee.


In 1925, Franklin Coggeshal, one of the founders of Gum Springs Sunday School, died and left the Sunday School $1,000 with the stipulation that it be invested and the interest used to buy books for a library. Today that library, which is one of the jewels of the church, is named for him and contains over 2,000 books.


New stained glass windows in the stone church building were dedicated on August 2, 1941.


After World War II, soldiers returning home started a boom in the suburbs and The City of Shawnee and church flourished.


In 1952, 114 new members were added to the rolls and attendance was up by one-third from the previous year. A second worship service was added, and the Sunday School became the second largest in the Kansas City District and 11th largest in the state. The need for a bigger building was evident.


A building campaign began in 1952, and in 1954, as was common at the time, the church excavated a basement, which it occupied while the rest of the building was erected. The present sanctuary was completed in 1957. At that time, it was a separate building east of the old stone church building. By 1959, space had become a major issue when average Sunday School attendance reached an all time high of 635. In 1961, plans were begun to join the two buildings together with an education unit. This was completed in 1963.


Church members gutted the original stone church building in 1972, and it was renovated to provide classrooms and a gymnasium as we know it today.


In 1985, the church began sponsorship of a non-denominational group of senior citizens that became known as the Ambassadors. They still meet at the church once a month for lunch. A new Rogers electric organ was purchased in 1986 and the following year, four octaves of handbells were purchased and a handbell choir was organized. 1987 saw a major renovation of the sanctuary. One week summer youth mission trips were begun in 1987 and in 1990, the church began serving lunch the first Monday of each month at the Argentine Food Kitchen, now known as the Cross-Lines Food Kitchen.


In 1986, an elevator was installed, and the church began awarding college scholarships to graduating high school church members.


In 1996, a fulltime Youth and Young Adult Coordinator was hired, now the Director of Student Ministries. In that same year, a handicapped accessible bathroom was added and an elevator was installed in the church. In 1998, the Trustees sponsored the first spring carnival/auction which was very successful.


In the fall of 2000, the elementary Sunday school was converted to a rotational model which is based on multiple intelligence theory. Children rotate to various theme rooms (art, audio/visual, computer, drama and geography), studying the same subject in different ways.


A third worship service at 9:30 was added in October of 2001. It was called the Praise Service, and featured contemporary music. The same year, the Stephen Ministry program was begun in the church.


The most recent renovation was in 2003 when the church entry way was upgraded, a canopy was installed over the north entrance to the sanctuary, and a playground was added.


In January 2007, a “Remember Your Baptism” fountain was completed and dedicated on the original stone wall of the church part of which was exposed in the entry way during the renovation.


In May 2007, the Church Council voted not to purchase land in western Shawnee “at the present time” and to concentrate instead on capital improvements and expanded programming at the present site.


In May 2009, Preschool Days closed its doors, bringing to an end twelve years of preschool available at Shawnee United Methodist.


In April 2010, a specially called Church Conference voted to adopt Shawnee’s new Mission Statement: To connect people in a growing, engaged, active relationship with Jesus Christ.


Turning a New Page

In 2011, we began to take stock of who we were as people newly called to connect people in a growing, engaged, active relationship with Jesus Christ. It seemed that each work area committee of the church had some things they all wanted to accomplish. These things led our church into a serious dialogue about what could be done. In our business meeting, the question was raised about what we could do. As a group we felt challenged to be led by faith and embarked upon a 3 year Capital Campaign we called “Believing Together.” We set our hearts and spirits to pray, asking what God might accomplish through our gifts. As we prayed, God answered our prayers and in November of 2011, we announced that we had reached our pledge Goal and began the work that God called us to believe in the make God’s temple, our church, a place that would be aesthetically pleasing to those who were seeking Christ. At this point we have completed almost 3/4ths of the projects we had originally agreed to do. The faithfulness of the members is making it possible for us to complete the remaining projects to the glory of Christ.


We have a very bright future in front of us. We’re looking forward to becoming the church that God has called us to be in the community where God has called us to serve, reaching people of all ages, offering them an experience and a relationship with the living God through which they grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. People of faith have been sharing the message of Christ in this community for over one hundred and sixty five years. We’re just beginning a new journey of discovery in which Christ leads us into the brightness of our future together.


Reading Group Thursday, September 24 @ 1:00 PM
Creative Art Ministry Thursday, September 24 @ 6:00 PM
Keystone Class Home Bible Study Group Thursday, September 24 @ 6:30 PM
Diabetes Group Thursday, September 24 @ 7:00 PM
Bible Study Group Thursday, September 24 @ 7:00 PM
Shawnee United Methodist Church 10700 Johnson Drive Shawnee, KS 66203-2846 | 913-631-2280
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