Church Photos

History of CUMC Oakdale (1977 to 1985), by Arline Seals

In the autumn of 1977, a second task force was organized to spur action on construction of a new church house on the church-owned property at 1480 Poplar Street. Vernon Winger chaired the committee, composed of Margaret Garat, Robert Chicou Jr., Elizabeth Helt, Peggy Shelton, Ron Keeler, Jack Roberst, Robert Washburn, Carol Faust, Wendell Johnston, and Rev. Drumm. A theme, "Building Now Through Faith for Faith" was adopted. Mr. and Mrs. William Perry of the General Conference were contracted to appear and arouse enthusiasm among the members. Members responded generously. On April 18th, 1978, the sixty-one year old stone face building was offered for sale. The trustees determined the sale price to be $150,000. In 1979 the Christian Reformed Church accepted the asking price and purchased the building.

By mutual agreement, some things close to the hearts of the Methodists were reserved for transfer to the new church, notable the huge, stained glass window in the north upstairs wall of the church dedicated to E.G. Gatlin, two stained glass windows from the West Wall dedicated to Annie Ferguson and Thomas Roberts, the brass bell from the dome of the church, the weathervane, the cornerstone, six pews, several pictures and some minor objects.

On May 4, 1978, the committee accepted preliminary plans for a 7200 square foot structure that included two offices, a library, six classrooms, a chapel, kitchen, rest rooms, storage rooms, a large centrum and a covered walkway. Landscaping and parking area completed the unit. On May 18, 1978, the congregation concurred with the committee's selection.

Jim Slade of Turlock was the architect and B.J. Rommel of Modesto the contractor. On November 2, 1978, the United Methodist Development Fund authorized the application for a loan of $220,000 with interest at 8 1/2%. Only $155,000 of that sum was used, and of that loan, $110,000 was repaid within months. It was December 17, 1978, at 12:30 p.m. when the congregation gathered for the ground breaking, braving high winds and inclement weather. Construction began within a week. Volunteer labor among the members roofed the building and cut cost in other places. A few years later, volunteer labor also erected the recreational/storage shed east of the main building on a portion of the four acres reserved for church use.

On September 9, 1979, transfer was launched with a parade from the granite-faced church to the newly completed sand-colored edifice. Reverend Gerhard Drumm and Claude Nave led the congregation down the streets with banners swaying aloft. Other members followed swinging banners, carrying Bibles, flowers, artifacts, souvenirs, or just nothing, until the parade stretched for blocks. Cheering erupted when the final participants arrived and the centrum was entered for the first service and a special program.

Members appreciated the modern, convenient structure, but there was a longing for a spacious sanctuary. In 1982, a serious campaign was initiated for a sanctuary. A building committee was named, chaired by Richard Stokes, and including Wendell Johnston, Carol Faust, Elizabeth Helt, Phyllis Pottle, Leonard Rice, Don Black, Nancy Podolsky, Margie White, Caluse Nave, Margaret Garat, and Rev. McKinsey. The architect was Ernie Yoshino and Associates of Turlock. Again B.J. Rommel of Modesto was the contractor. Again, the United Methodist Development Fund granted a loan in late February, 1984. This time for $100,000. The building at this time was partially constructed, financed with contributions by members and friends. It was on February 13, 1983, when the congregation filed into the designated location for the ground breaking, facing wildly inclement weather. Clouds hung darkly overhead, winds swished and hummed, tossing the dozens of multi-colored balloons aloft from the excited crowd. Construction began the next day.

The 6400 square foot sanctuary includes a large Narthex, a 155 seat Nave, plus room for a 45 member choir and expansion space, a classroom, ladies lounge, music room, rest rooms, a sacristy, storage rooms, numerous closets, and a port-co-chere. With expansion space in the Nave, and adding the Narthex, a total of 225 persons may be seated.

The rare stained glass window, removed from the granite faced church, was repaired and installed in the eastern wall of the new Nave, on October 5, 1984. The future window for the northern wall is under construction by Nancy Podolsky, Marie White, and Elyse Dowdy. The stained glass, octagon shaped window, overlooking the patio and featuring a white dove with a twig in its mouth amid a background of pastel shading, was created and donated by Phyllis Pottle in memory of her mother and Rev. Kenneth Pope. It was emplaced and dedicated October 21, 1984. Another window designed and lovingly set by Charles and Frances Sherrick, will be installed in the ladies lounge in memory of Frances' mother, Mary Langford.

Memorials and donations helped to furnish the new church. Dozens of folk contributed to the purchase of the 153 seat in the pews. Several supplied the lectern and pulpit, the altar, baptismal font, tables, chairs, and plants. Contributions drifted in for the 40 choir chairs. The communications system, speakers, two amplifiers, the power unity, and one miser were donated by Floyd Nave. Floyd and Claude Nave donated their labor in the installation of the system. The cabinet that houses the speaker controls was constructed by Bert Post.

In appreciate of the love bestowed on them by fellow members, Mary Rozel and Mary Himes each bequeathed $1,000 to the church; Dr. Eleanor Scown willed $25,000; Marden and Emogene Ross presented a Kawaii grand piano; Wes and Norene Michener directed that their $1,000 buy sliding glass doors for Book Shelves in the Pastors Study; Ken and Rita Pinkerton designated that their $1,500 in memory of their son, Wiley, be used to build a volleyball-basketball court; and $10,000 from an anonymous donor was welcomed. Numerous other gifts have accumulated, mostly by unidentified benefactors, and each is held in high esteem.

Reverend and Mrs. Mahoney specified that the $38,000 from the sale of their home be used to purchase a carillon and install it in a tower at the church. The carillon is a Maas-Rowe Symphonic Chronobel with Westminster Chimes and three all-weather speakers. It cost $19,000. It was installed in walnut grained cabinets in December 1984. The tower, erected in 1985, bears a plaque stating, "Carillon and Tower, a gift of love from Rev. James and Gladys Mahoney 1984." The chimes peel across the church yard from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. The brass, "Thomas Roverst Memorial Bell", purchased in 1901, by the membership, was removed from it's belfry in the former church and housed above the all-weather speakers in the spring of 1985.

The beautifully landscaped yards are credited to Charlotte Waggoner, who devoted hours of labor planning and planting the flowers, shrubs, trees, and lawns. Many of the plants are memorials to loved ones now departed this earth.

The well-stocked library invited each and everyone to read and study the best in Christian literature. Dr. Eleanor Scown and Fay Wright spent many days cataloguing and arranging the books in the library now housed in the Scown Room of the Sanctuary Building. Dr. Scown furnished some cabinets and shelves for the room She and Fay financed other additional supplies. A few pieces of furniture were brought from the library of the former church building.

On July 24, 1983, the cornerstone from the former church building was reset into the outer wall of the new structure. Plans are to imbed a plaque with contemporary dates above the cornerstone. A capsule, donated by Amerine Irrigation Systems, was sealed on June 10, 1984, into the interior wall of the nave, just to the right of the front doors.


In the winter of 1980, Rev. Drumm concluded that he had accomplished his goals during his eight years in Oakdale, and he preferred to move on. Members feted him and his family at dinners with a largely attended farewell dinner on his final Sunday.

On July 1, 1980, the succeeding minister, the Rev. Richard McKinsey and his wife Ellen and their son Wesley were welcomed. Rev. McKinsey presided over the church, guiding for five yeas In the spring of 1985, he offered his name for transfer, Members hosted farewell dinners for Rev McKinsey and his family.

July 1, 1985, the Rev. Bryan Wilber, and his wife Glennis and their sons, Carl and Glenn, joined our church family.