Asbury United Methodist Church, the third Methodist Church in Sioux Falls, was organized in 1950 as the result of a rally of about 200 Methodists from First Methodist and Wesley Methodist Churches. District Superintendent W.R. Peterson read the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-10) to twelve selected people as they sat together with Dr. and Mrs. J.P. Hauser who were appointed to pastor the church.
Seven couples met during that year to plan for the new church. They were Earl and Mildred Hewlett, Neil and Georgie Goodwin, Leonard and Rae Young, Bob and Persis Flint, Don and Mary Jorgensen, Harlan and Irene Hight, and Ed and Marcella Greenough.
The first Sunday services were held on September 3, 1950 in the old chapel on the Sioux Falls College campus. A church school was organized and the first session in which 39 students attended was held the same day as that first worship service. By December 31, 1950, there were 69 charter members.
Mrs. Donn Driver was the first pianist/organist with Robert Gregory as a frequent soloist. Later a men’s quartet was formed with Earl DeVault, Bob Flint, Bob Gregory and Neil Goodwin as members. In the spring of 1952 a choir was started.
Mrs. Mildred Hewlett became president of the Woman’s Society of Christian Service in September of 1950 and by the spring of 1951 there were two circles with a total of 33 members. Since its start, this organization has given substantial help to the growth of the church through gifts of hymnals, silver, kitchen equipment, tables and chairs, as well as pledges to missions, the Building Fund, and the parsonage.
Visitation evangelism to seek out unchurched persons was instituted in November of 1950 under the direction of Rae Young. A Methodist Men’s Club was organized in 1952 with Donald Friess elected the first president. Mr. Hight served as treasurer from the beginning of the church and faithfully held the position for many years.
1952 to 1966: Growth of a Mission Project
Though itself a mission project, Asbury looked beyond itself. In the very first year, members contributed to Dakota Wesleyan University, World Service, and other benevolences. To this day, the church has continued to be faithful in its conference responsibilities and ministries beyond its own doors.
In 1952, the Rev. Lloyd Grinager became the pastor as Dr. Hauser moved into retirement. A church home was a primary concern of the members of Asbury. In April of 1957, a committee headed by Dr. Hewlett was formed to seek out a site and at the same time a Building Fund was started. A full city block from 31st to 32nd Streets and Western to Jefferson Avenues was approved as a church site. In the spring of 1953, this site was purchased for $8,000. Three-year Building Fund pledges for slightly over $60,000 were received at this time.
In 1957, the Rev. Robert G. Vessey became the third pastor. The first service in the new church was March 2, 1958, with a membership of 351.
In 1963, the Rev. Stanley Mueller became the fourth pastor. In 1964, the congregation approved plans for expansion and remodeling the first unit of the church to provide an educational unit. The second unit was dedicated on January 31, 1956, debt-free, with a membership of 504 members.
1966 to 1995: The Established Asbury United Methodist Church
The church supported several refugee families beginning with a large family of Laotians and others who came to us through Lutheran Social Services from Ethiopia. Asbury continued as an active local district, conference, and world-wide influence. The Rev. Ronald Hartung served from 1968 to 1972, the Rev. Richard Fisher from 1972 to 1980, the Rev. Hank Kor from 1980 to 1990 and the Rev. Don Veglahn from 1980 to 1995.
1995 to 2007: Building Again!
In 1995, the Rev. Dar Berkenpas became the ninth pastor of Asbury. On June 22, 1997, ground was broken for an $850,000 addition to Asbury. The addition changed the main entrance from Jefferson Avenue to Western Avenue.
All remodeling and renovating was done according to the code for handicapped accessibility. The newest addition included a new kitchen and a larger fellowship hall; refurbishing the sanctuary; changing classrooms to benefit Sunday School and United Day Care operations; adding a chapel, office area and restructuring the narthex to include a hospitality area with a fireplace. In the summer of 2000, the parking lot was resurfaced, lights installed and new signs added.
2007 to Current: Growth
In 2007, the Rev. Peter Kip Roozen became the tenth pastor of Asbury. Improvement projects include roofing, carpet replacement, tuck pointing, furnace replacement, resurfacing the parking lot, worship screen and projector and upgrade of the sanctuary sound system and lighting. Asbury hosts three Sunday morning worship services, Sunday evening worship and Wednesday night chapel. Asbury offers active programs in music, education and fellowship for all ages. Asbury also reaches out beyond our walls in mission and ministry to the community and around the world. In addition to our own Vacation Bible School, Asbury has hosted Sidewalk Sonday School in northeast Sioux Falls for the last three years. Asbury Volunteers In Mission have traveled to the ‘Tree of Life” in Mission, SD; New Orleans; Washington, DC; and Haiti. Locally, Asbury supports such ministries as The Banquet; Union Gospel Mission; Lunch is Served; SIGH (Stepping Into Good Health) and the Sunday Night Watch Canteen. In 2010 Asbury partnered with other area churches in “The Apostles’ Build” to construct a Habitat for Humanity home.
What will be the Future of Asbury United Methodist Church?
Asbury has always looked to God’s leading. Some of the early literature states boldly, “Christ works through us. Today was planned yesterday. Tomorrow must be planned now.” Missions, evangelism, youth and children’s ministries, and spiritual growth opportunities are an integral part of this church’s being. Unique methods of service and worship are continually pursued.