In the North Linden neighborhood of Columbus, you’ll see a church near the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Huy Road that’s worth a closer look.
McKendree United Methodist Church dates to 1820, when Henry Innis opened his Clinton Township home to local Methodists for worship. In 1832, Innis founded McKendree Methodist Church, naming it for Bishop William McKendree (1757-1835), a Methodist leader who traveled the country preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. By 1849, the congregation had built a small white frame church with three rows of seats, where men sat on one side and women on the other. A cemetery behind the church provided a final resting place for some of its members.
By 1890, the congregation had outgrown its church, so it raised funds for building a new brick structure on the same site. Ladies of the church’s “Helping Band” made and sold quilt blocks embroidered with the names of buyers. President Benjamin Harrison bought the center quilt block; Ohio Governor James E. Campbell purchased a neighboring square. Another women’s group known as the “Gleaning Band” raised funds for the church’s needs, such as sending flowers to the sick and supplying food and clothing to those in need. The McKendree Gleaners, a Sunday school class, organized musical programs, plays and lectures, using the proceeds to pay for hardwood floors and other improvements to the church.
In 1955, the congregation built an additional building just south of the church for Sunday school and social events. This semi-Gothic structure with an artistic stone entrance provided seats for 500 people in the nave and could accommodate another 100 in the balcony. Russell Heizer, son of a former minister of the church, designed its symbolic stained-glass windows. Another special feature was a “magic carpet” front door that opened automatically, so that young children and older people wouldn’t have to struggle with opening heavy outer doors.
Church ministers and members alike contributed to this close-knit community of faith. Rev. John J. McCabe wrote McKendree, a poem that was printed on cards with a picture of the church on the front. The church used the first line of the poem — “Oh, little brick church at the bend of the road” — as its caption for many years. “The McKendree Hymn” was written by Rev. Wilbur Vorhis during his tenure as minister from 1971 to 1973; it was sung to the tune of “Come Thou, Almighty King.”
During World War II, a newsletter titled The McKendree Home Front kept church members who were in the service informed about church activities. The church also awarded Bibles to elementary school students, hymnals to young people who had completed the requirements for their confirmation classes, and books of worship to high school graduates. The Margaret Huffman Memorial Library was established in the 1960s. Christmas candlelight dinner parties and scouting and youth group activities were other examples of the fellowship that church members enjoyed.
Henry Innis’s eight children and their descendants were all loyal supporters of the church. A pin oak tree from the Innis family’s homestead at 25th and Cleveland Avenues was planted on the church grounds. Mary (Mrs. William) Innis gave its Möhler pipe organ. Henry’s grandson, Lew Innis, kept the church open during the Depression by purchasing coal for heat and paying the staff. His daughters, Grace and Mary Innis, were especially loyal church members. Mary was superintendent of the church nursery, caring for babies so that their mothers could attend Sunday morning church services, while Grace joined a group from the church on a trip to Jerusalem when she was in her 70s. Grace gave a 25-bell, two-octave Flemish carillon with harp, celeste bells and an automatic roll player with 48 selections, which was installed in 1971 in memory of her sister. The evening before Grace fell ill before passing away in March 1982, she hosted a Home Fellowship meeting for the church in the sisters’ Hempstead Road home in Westerville, now known as Inniswood Metro Gardens. Both sisters remembered the church in their wills.
McKendree United Methodist Church’s congregation ceased weekly worship at the church in June. Now, the building at 3330 Cleveland Avenue is home to Ebenezer United Methodist Church.
To learn more about the history of McKendree United Methodist Church, see The McKendree Story: 125 Years of History of the McKendree Methodist Church, 3330 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus, Ohio: 1832-1957. A second volume that was published for the church’s 150th anniversary covers the years from 1957 to 1982.