A “Short” History of Staves Memorial United Methodist Church
In 1916, Douglas Aces was a sparsely settled section of northeast Des Moines. There were few cars, no street lights, no city water, no DART bus service, no paved roads, and no church.
Some people who live in the area wanted a church. After some planning, they meet together as a group in Wright’s Grove. At this meeting, a pastor and a conference superintendent of the United Brethren Church were present, and a Sunday School was organized which later became Galilee Church.
Meetings were held in member’s homes. John Adams School (at 29th and Douglas), and a store building. During this time the dream of a permanent church building inspired the congregation to begin a building fund.
A site for a church at the northwest corner at East 28th and Madison was given to the congregation. The group began looking for a building to move to this location. A brown frame school building was purchased for $258.00 and moved from east 15th and University, the present site of Amos Hyatt Middle School. While being moved, it got bogged down in the muddy flats near the corner of Easton Boulevard and Hubbell Avenue and had to be left until the ground dried. Windows not broken in the move fell victim to slingshots of neighborhood children, and could not be quickly replaced. The windows were boarded up and a stovepipe thrust through one of the boards. If the stove smoked too badly, it was carried outside into the yard and the service continued without heat. The basement had a dirt floor and there were issues with the pews. the hard benches (which were cast offs from a richer congregation) were of the folding type and so constructed, that is disturbed, would collapse simultaneously unless enough people were seated.
Growth through the years caused the building to become inadequate. A new building was built on the same location in 1926 at the cost of $8,337.00 and was dedicated on December 5, 1926. It was renamed Sarah J Staves Memorial Brethren Church in memory of a prominent United Brethren laywoman and founder of the Women’s Missionary Society. At the time of incorporation, it was shorted to Staves Memorial United Methodist Church.
In 1946, church members spoke with Dr. Fred Staves about using the recreational grounds for the church as the construction site for a new church. Dr Staves agreed to the change and in 1957, construction of the present church building began. Members of the congregation did much of the finish work on the church. On April 13, 1958, the current church was dedicated. On March 8, 1959, the Grace Staves Memorial Chapel was dedicated.
The 1960s brought a major change for Staves. in 1960, the Evangelical United Bretheren Church and Methodist Churches united nationwide to become the United Methodist Church.
In 1965, the First Evangelical United Brethren Church closed its doors and Staves Memorial United Methodist Church was fortunate to receive many of its members into our congregation. The “new” congregation received $20,000.00 from the sale of the First EUB Church building, and this money was used to start a building fund for the new education wing. The cornerstone for the EUB building was purchased and sits on the Staves lawn. A memorial garden was built in 2002 and the EUB cornerstone has a place of honor in that garden. A parsonage was added to the property in 1965 as housing for our full-time pastor’s and their families. The parsonage was dedicated on September 19, 1965.