Maxwell United Methodist Choir History
Music has been part of all the Methodist Church services since the founding of the church in 1882. We have had congregational singing, soloist, Chancel Choirs, Praise Team (Modern Contemporary style) Sunday School orchestra, Youth Choirs, Junior Choirs and Sunday School classes. In 2006 a children’s bell choir was formed.
The Ladies Aid Society was busy serving suppers in 1884 to raise money for the first organ used in the church. The organ was moved into the Epworth League room after the new church was built in 1913. Blanche Glasgow played the organ for the Epworth League meetings. She remembers how hard you worked while playing that organ.
A piano was used during all church services until the 1950’s when a small organ was purchased in 1968 with memorials and gifts. A new piano was purchased in 1979 with money raised by the choir, memorials, and gifts. The piano used by the Sunday School was given in 1974 by memorials and gifts.
In 2008 a new electric digital piano was purchased with donations from the congregation. One of the old pianos was taken to Red Bird Mission in Beverly, KY, during the summer of 2009 when the Mission Team traveled to Red Bird donating their time and talents for a week.
Many volunteers have sung in the choir over the years. In 1982 the choir members were: Virginia & Wendell Deo, Barbara & Linden Caple, Bonita & Pastor Paige, Grace Erickson, Pat Taylor, Karen McVey, Iris Kimberley, Eunice Mansfield, Kathy Filipiak, Lori Rounds, Dick Mohler and Jim Loonan. Elaine Haley was the organist and Steph Thompson the choir director.
Past and present choir directors have been: Jean Mohler, Francis Hall, Irma McClellan, Steph Thompson, Elaine Haley Petersen, Kathy Filipiak, Rob Bacon and Merrilee Hartzer.
The organist and those who played the piano for church services have been: Blanche King Sherman played the first organ in the first church built in Maxwell; Lula Meyers John played the piano after the present church was built in 1913; Mildred Nelson, Marion Johnson, Eleanor “Toots” Ostrich, Sunday Neglia Antrim, Judy Godby Bothwell, Lori Eatwell Luscombe, Jimmie Ellsworth, Merrilee Hartzer, Kathy Dirschell, Charlotte Laughlin, Denise Meyers, Steph Thompson, Grace Erickson, Michelle Groom, and Marvalyn Kelly.
The green choir robes were first worn in 1978. When new robes were purchased, the old robes were made into woven rugs and sold as mementos.
New hymn books were given to the choir in 1967 through memorials.
The padded chairs in the choir loft were given as a gift from members of the church.
- Some firsts for the choir: Cantata with the union choirs of Church of Christ, Presbyterian and United Methodist Churches.
- Candle lighting service with union choirs.
- Jean Mohler honored for 30 years as choir director. She was a member of the choir for 31 years.
- Combined Yoked Parish Choir presented Christmas Services.
May 10, 1981: Maxwell Parish on TV “Church of the Air.” Taped on May 7 and aired at 10 a.m. on Channel 8 KCCI-TV. Aired on KRNT radio at 7:30 a.m. Directed by Merrilee Hartzer
December 6, 1981: Community Cantata, “God’s Gift of Love.” Directed by Merrilee Hartzer.
December 12, 1982: Joint parish cantata “I Believe, He’s the Son of God” done with accompaniment tape. Directed by Steph Thompson.
December 11, 1983: Community Chorus Christmas Program at 10:30 a.m. at the Presbyterian Church. Directed by Merrilee Hartzer.
December 9, 1984: Community Christmas Cantata followed by soup/salad dinner. Cantata directed by Merrilee Hartzer.
December 8, 1985: Community Christmas Cantata “Forever Christmas” at the Presbyterian Church. Directed by Merrilee Hartzer.
December 14, 1986: Community Christmas Choir presented an inspirational musical presentation at the Methodist Church under the direction of Merrilee Hartzer.
December 13, 1987: Annual Christmas Cantata presented at 10:15 a.m. at the Methodist Church under the direction of Merrilee Hartzer.
December 11, 1988: Songfest at 10:15 a.m. under the direction of Merrilee Hartzer presented by a community chorus followed by a dinner. 112 dinners were served and $211.01 cleared. Dinner – Adults $3.00 and Children 10 & under $2.00.
December 10, 1989: Community choir of over 30 voices presented the Annual Christmas Cantata at 7 p.m. at the Methodist Church. Part of this Cantata was recorded by Channel 8 in Des Moines for presentation on “Church of The Air” at 6:30 a.m. on December 24. It was also shown at other times on cable in Des Moines. Directed by Merrilee Hartzer.
December 9, 1990: Community Chorus Annual Christmas Concert at 10:15 a.m. under the direction of Merrilee Hartzer. A variety of Christmas music was presented rather than a cantata.
December 15, 1991: Christmas Cantata presented at 10:15 a.m. at the Methodist Church by the community choir under the direction of Merrilee Hartzer.
December 13, 1992: 10:30 a.m. Community Christmas Choir presented “Carols of Many Nations” at the Methodist Church. Directed by Merrilee Hartzer.
December 18, 1994: More than 250 people joined together for “Coming Home for Christmas” service. The service welcomed family/friends from as far away as Illinois and as close as across the street. Directed by Merrilee Hartzer.
December 16, 2001: Community Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. at Maxwell Methodist Church.
December 24, 2005: Community Christmas Eve Service led by Pastor Kelly and Rob Bacon. Choir under the direction of Rob Bacon. Vocal soloists: Pat McCauley, Steph Thompson and Rich Wehrman. Cello: Rob Bacon and flute Am Van Maanen. Piano: Merrilee Hartzer and organ Judy Bothwell.”
December 24, 2006: Community Christmas Eve Service led by Pastor Kelly and Rob Bacon. Choir under the direction of Merrilee Hartzer.