The church at Benevola properly begins in the year 1848 with services held in a school house. The membership consisted of some twenty persons.
As membership increased, building proceedings were started early in 1858. The land, including the graveyard, was sold to the trustees by D.H. Newcomer for the sum of $50.00.
Benevola Chapel was a modest brick structure without a tower or bell, and had two front doors. A long porch extended across the front. There were six large windows. The interior furnishings were simple. There was a basement room which was used for Sunday School, Bible classes and singing schools. After 28 years, the walls of Benevola Chapel were so badly cracked that it had to be torn down. In 1886 the new church was erected at Benevola at a cost of $1,300.
Around this time an organ was secured for the church, even though many members believed that an organ was entirely unsuitable in the worship of God.
In June, 1902 a severe thunder storm did considerable damage to the church. The western gable was blown in. The falling debris and rain ruined the furniture, organ and a number of pews. The interior was refinished, new furniture, new carpet and a new reed organ were purchased for about $500.
In 1917, the second church, badly in need of repairs, was torn down to make way for a more modern structure. The cornerstone for the new church was laid September 16, 1917. The year following preaching services and Sunday school went on without interruption in the school house, formerly Harmony Hill.
In late summer of 1957, Sunday School expansion and church renovation was started. In 1958 the church underwent renovation enlarging the Sunday School area, adding a new kitchen and social room on the lower level, and an office and youth room on the upper level.
In 1960, Mrs. Lana C. Long presented her house and lot at the corner of Alternate Route 40 and Benevola-Newcomer Road for use as a parsonage. The house was renovated and first occupied in 1961 by Rev. Charles Lightner and his wife, Hariett.
In 1968 the Evangelical United Brethren and the Methodist Churches became one denomination known as The United Methodist Church. At this time Benevola's charter was updated to reflect our new identity.
In 1973 major renovation of the chancel area took place. This was done in memory of Mrs. Lana C. Long, who was the most influential woman of the church in her time. She was the founder of the Women's guild.
The Yahama piano was a memorial gift to Benevola United Methodist Church in 1975, given by the family and friends of Ruth V. Shifler.
In 1980 a new Moller pipe organ was installed, which required a minor renovation in the chancel area.
A second nursery area and two classrooms were enclosed in 1983 resulting in a smaller area for convening the general Sunday School sessions.
Because the bell tower had been repaired numerous times and continued to leak, in 1979 it was decided to remove the bell from the tower and close in the arched openings. The bell, which could no longer be rung, was stored for several years before finding its way to the platform near the east corner of our present building. The tower was completely removed and a steeple was installed in 1991.
A carillon was installed in 1983, a gift of the United Methodist Women, which brings the lovely music of the Lord over the farm lands around us.
Since 1995, we purchased more land and added a new parking lot to increase parking.
In 1998, a new balcony was built in the back of the sanctuary to increase seating for those who come to be with us.
In 1999 we added a pavilion where numerous picnics and family activities are held.
In April 2002, we broke ground for our new Spiritual Life Center which houses a stage, gym area, classrooms, offices, kitchen and much more for an endless use of activities both for church members and the surrounding community.
As we celebrate nearly 150 years of ministry, we continue the legacy of
We invite you to come and join us as we worship, learn, grow in faith, do mission work, serve the Lord and are amidst the fellowship of Jesus Christ. We hope you'll come to visit soon!