Methodism began in
Altoona in 1850, with 18 members. She has now, 1909, 3,963 full members and 616
probationers. 1853, her probable value was $5,000.00. 1909, her probable value is $337,200.00.
Present indebtedness, $26,650.00, Since conference Fifth Avenue
has paid $1,000; First Church, $2,300.00. The Italian Mission has a
church valued at $5,000.00, on which $4,000.00 has been paid. This
will explain the difference in these figures and the figures in the conference
Methodism with a clear value of $ 26650.00
She had in 1850, one Sunday school, and the first enrollment was forty with officers and teachers. She has eight Sunday schools now, and an enrollment of 4,310 officers and teachers. She has paid to home and foreign missions and church extension since 1864, to the present time $77020.57
Methodism has grown in Altoona like a young spruce tree in the grove. At first the sky can be seen any place through the distance between the young trees. But in later years the trees grow and spread their branches until it becomes a difficult task to see the sun through the thick masses of limbs, as they over-lap each other. If we were to take an axe and chop the tree down, it would leave a great vacant place in the sky. If we were to try to destroy Methodism in Altoona, we would have to go into every home in Altoona and almost every country under the sun. She has taken her place on every reform movement to better the moral conditions of the city. She has been a strong enemy of the liquor traffic. She was a strong advocate of the abolition of slavery. Mothers have found communion there, and spiritual food to help tide them through the days of care. Fathers have been made better fathers by the influence she has had on their lives. The young men have been brought to see more plainly the real meaning of integrity. The moral standard for young women has been raised higher, by the teaching of the church. Young and old have been saved within her walls, and have gone out into every land, country, and clime, and have been comforting and cheering the hearts of others. She has fed the poor, comforted the sorrowing, lifted the fallen, visited the sick. She has been planting roses where once thorns grew. She laughs with them that laugh, and weeps with them that weep. Hundreds in her ranks have died in mighty faith. She has grown until today the storm of criticism and skepticism can blow their hardest winds upon her to destroy her, yet she can take them in her branches and play with them. The storm of financial stress made a bold attempt in her beginning to dash her from her foundation, only to be hurled back into utter defeat. Methodism passed through dark places, but Christ was with her there. She has passed through the wilderness, and although the struggle was long, the clouds dark, and the shadows deep, yet, under the watchful and tender care of the living Head, she has come out of the wilderness, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as any army with banners.
Oh, where are men and
Of old, that went and came?
But, Lord, thy church is praying yet,
A thousand years the same.
We mark her goodly
And her foundations strong;
We hear within the solemn voice
Of her unending song
Unshaken as eternal hills
Immovable she stands,
A mountain that shall fill the earth,
A home not made with hands.