RUMFORD – Photographs, memorabilia and parishioners’ clothing figured prominently in the centennial celebration of the United Methodist Church and Virgin Memorial Chapel on Saturday.

Organizers have planned something special every month to commemorate the February 2009 anniversary. This month’s two-day celebration will continue Sunday at the church in Rumford’s Virginia neighborhood.

A 10:30 a.m. worship will be followed at 2 p.m. by a memorial singing of hymns and a service, at which people can donate money in memory or in honor of someone, according to celebration chairwoman and organist Judy Kuhn.

“We want to let everyone know about our church. Everyone is welcome,” co-organizer Marguerite Welch said Saturday.

Kuhn said church members decided to hold monthly events this year rather than conduct the centennial in February, at which time many would be away.

“You can’t hold a picnic in February, so we decided to hold it in September. It was the perfect time for a picnic,” she said.

Saturday’s activities included a picnic, attended by 82 current and former members, an exhibit in Fellowship Hall and a slide show of the past by Bill Hersey. That was followed by skits portraying early members of the church.

“A lot of people came and just stayed a long time. They perused the history scrapbooks and photo displays and the founders’ pictures,” Welch said.

She said the church had Sunday School pictures from the 1960s and memorabilia from The Coffee House. “We also had people write down their memories and a lot of memories came in through the mail,” she said.

The Coffee House was a social event organized by Welch that provided low-cost musical entertainment.

Welch’s grandfather, Leverna L. Niles, built the church and his wife, Carrie, was its first Sunday School teacher and superintendent.

Other early builders and leaders included Charles L. Davis, Virgil Abbott, H. S. Woods, T. F. Kendall and The Rev. C. A. Martin.

“At one time, there were two Methodist churches in Rumford – one on Franklin Street and the other up here (on Linnell Street). Then, when the congregations became too small, they sold the Franklin Street church and kept this one,” Welch said.

Davis’s descendants, sisters Naomi Davis Robertson and Rosalie Davis Walker, created one of the displays, exhibiting old photographs, thin leather shoes and three dresses from the late 1800s that were worn to the church by their grandmother and an aunt.

Those wanting to contribute memories relating to the church should send them to Peggy Welch, 645 Crescent Ave., Rumford, ME 04276 or e-mail them to Jim Robertson at [email protected]

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