Parr United Methodist Church
Thursday, March 23, 2023
The Little Church with a Big Heart

Our History

     A Review of the "Beginnings"
     During the years of 1915 through 1917, Rev. W.B. Freeland, pastor of Grace Methodist Church, walked about Kokomo and recognized a pressing need for a new church in the northwest section of Kokomo.
     For many years, Methodists, influenced by Rev. Freeland, carried in their hearts a dream of founding a church on the northwest side of Kokomo.  However, this did not materialize until the Methodist Social Union was organized in October 1924.  This organization was founded for the advancement of Methodism in Kokomo.  Under the leadership of Dr. F.A. Hall, Superintendent of the Logansport District, Rev. P.E. Greenwalt, Pastor of Main Street Methodist Church, Rev. F.F. Thornburg, Pastor of Grace Church, and Rev. C.M. Fawns of Beamer Church, together with members of their churches founded Parr Church as an outgrowth of the Methodist Social Union.
     The church, that had the greatest influence on Parr's establishment and growth, was Grace Methodist Episcopal Church (now Grace United Methodist Church).  Many of their leaders became Parr's Board of Trustees, many of Parr's new members came from Grace, and their Ladies Aid Society was extremely helpful to Parr ladies in obtaining needed equipment for the church.
     Parr Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church was named for Rev. Wm.D. Parr, a Methodist minister in Kokomo for many years.  Rev. Parr was never the pastor at Parr, however his wife and family gave a sizeable amount of money to the starting of this church building as a memorial to their husband and father.
     Later the name was changed to Parr Methodist Church, when the Methodist Episcopal Church joined with the Methodist Protestants in 1939.  Then in 1968, the Methodist Church joined with the Evangelical United Brethren and Memorial was dropped from the name and the church became Parr United Methodist Church.
     Parr Memorial Church was placed in an area thickly populated, but not within easy distance of any protestant church.  The Rev. Ralph Graham, a graduate of DePauw University, was appointed as the first pastor of Parr, taking charge March 1, 1925.  In fact when Rev. Graham was appointed the pastor of Parr it was only an empty lot.  At the time of his appointment Rev. Graham was a student in the Boston University School of Theology.
     Organization of Parr Memorial Methodist Episcopal was December 6, 1925 on the twenty-ninth anniversary of the dedication of Rev. Parr's pastorate at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church.  Under the direction of Dr. L.C. Bentley, District Superintendent, the organizational service opened at 7:30am.  Dr. Bentley, preached on, "Our Wonderful Christ."  The Pastor, Rev. Ralph W. Graham and Mrs. Graham sang a duet, "Beautiful Garden of Prayer" and twenty-six members were taken into the congregation.
     The formal dedicatory service of Parr Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church was held Sunday afternoon February 12, 1926.  Dr. Bentley announced that the entire indebtedness had been raised, which was $4,000.  Special music for the service was provided by a quartet from Grace Church.
     For several years, 1925-1939, the ministers at Parr had other churches to minister to as well as Parr.  The first eight ministers at Parr also ministered to Trinity, Center, Nevada, and Alto.
     Parr was no sooner born than the depression made its impact on Kokomo.  Only with great sacrifice were the bills paid and the doors kept open.  For only two years (1937-1939) did the church fail to meet the pastor's salary, regardless of mortgage foreclosures, bank closing, and unemployment.
     In the midst of financial and political dilemmas the struggling church had a natural disaster.  The church was struck by lightning!  On August 10, 1934 at 6am, lightning struck the steeple and there was a fire in the attic.  Over the altar area, the ridge pole in the attic still shows the charred evidences of Parr's only serious drama dealing with nature's forces.
     The interior of the church had to be repainted, materials costing $48.60 and labor $53.60.  In 1934, one gallon of paint was $3.15 and the men painted for 134 hours at 40 cents an hour.
     Nonetheless, on October 11, 1936, one of the goals Parr had been striving for was reached, that was the day the mortgage was burned and Parr was free of debt.  Four years later, 1940, Parr finally became a separate charge and no longer had to share a minister with another Methodist Church.  In the fall of 1944 the former parsonage at 817 W. North St. was purchased.
     A basement enlargement was the first structural advance, after the Church's original building.  This addition was directed by Rev. Schmelzer in 1955 at a cost of $22,000.00.  In 1960, an educational unit was placed on top of the previous basement addition with sanctuary changes.  This building project was made under the direction of Rev. Roy Helms which totaled better than $45,000.00.  It was not until April 25, 1965 that Bishop Richard C. Raines, resident bishop of the Methodist Church of Indiana and District Superintendent, Dr. Gerald H. Jones dedicated the debt free educational unit and renovated sanctuary.  The latest building venture undertaken by the people at Parr was the newer parsonage on Judson Road which was built in 1968 and dedicated the same year.