One hundred and seventy-five peals of the church bell were heard Sunday morning at Morenci United Methodist when worshippers met to celebrate the church’s 175th anniversary.
Historical displays, an ice cream social and other events marked the weekend observance of the church that started in a log school house in 1836.
The Bean Creek Mission met two miles north of Morenci on Simon Wilson’s property, and a few years later baptisms were held in Silver Creek.
The first Union Sunday School was organized in Morenci in 1850 and a year later land was purchased where the church now stands for construction of small wood frame church.
Due to overcrowding, the decision was made in 1910 to construct the building now in use, at a cost of $20,000. That was in 1914, and the following year a pipe organ was installed that remained in use until 1974 when it was replaced by an electronic organ.
During its 175 years, the church has been served by 64 pastors. Some stayed only months, and others for many years. One pastor was blind, one played the marimba, the son of one fell out of the upstairs parsonage window and broke his arm, and one helped start the Morenci Sportsman Club, which first met at the church.
Many people have added to the rich heritage passed down to the present congregation and some of the names of the those early members still sound familiar, such as Wilson, Atwood, Wakefield, Osgood, Holt, Shapley, Reed, Cawley, Baldwin, Barker, Ranger, Salisbury, Coomer and Smalley.