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One of Springfield's Oldest Churches Celebrates Its 125th Anniversary

One of Springfield’s oldest churches, Campbell United Methodist Church, is celebrating its125th anniversary on Saturday. To commemorate the occasion, Campbell UMC will host a free old-fashioned carnival, complete with food and games straight out of the 1880’s. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has details.

Founded in 1886, the church has occupied five different locations around Springfield since it began. Starting with the very first “mission” group under the direction of Rev. Dr. W.B. Palmore, the group of congregants met at the Frisco Opera House in downtown Springfield, and then at the Grand Army of the Republic Hall.

Current Pastor Andy Bryan says that he thinks the primarily Southern congregation at the time probably didn’t like the fact that their church was meeting in a hall that held reunions for Union Army veterans.

"They met together, just a handful of people really when it first started, in downtown, and grew very quickly. They had their own building within a year, and they named the congregation after the founding pastor, whose last name was Palmore.”

But Rev. Palmore didn’t want the church to be named after him, and declined the honor. So instead, the church was called Campbell Street Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Given that long name, Bryan jokes that perhaps they should have stuck with the more simple, “Palmore Chapel.”

“And it stood there, the building, for a number of years. In the mid-twenties, they had outgrown their first building and so they had to build a second one, a larger one. In fact, that old building is still standing. It’s now apart of the Assemblies of God National Headquarters.” 

The congregation remained on Campbell for over 60 years.

Linda Carpenter, who has worked as the church office manager for over 30 years, has been a member of the church since 1955. She still remembers singing at the Christmas cantatas and attending the church dinners as a child in that building.

My parents brought me to Campbell when I was four years old, and I’ve been going here ever since. Probably one of my earliest memories is of going to Bible School, and we had Bible School for two weeks back when I was younger. I will always remember that.”

As the population of Springfield began to shift south in the 1970’s and ‘80s, the church decided to relocate in 1984. The decision, according to both Bryan and Carpenter, was risky, but turned out to be a good one. Even though the church no longer stands on Campbell Avenue, the name remains. The church today sits on Republic Road and has about 1,200 members who are excited for the church’s future.

“We have really emphasized that we celebrate and honor our past because it’s a foundation in which we build our future.”

Saturday from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m., the church will host an old-fashioned carnival with games, food, rides, old “tyme” photos, and entertainment at the church’s location: 1747 E. Republic Road. Admission is free, but food and some of the bigger rides cost money. The church invites everyone, not just members, to come and have a good time.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.