Our History

John Wesley was an Anglican cleric and theologian.  He founded Methodism with his brother Charles and a fellow cleric named George Whitefield.

The Early Years

The first Methodist meetings in Fairfield were led by circuit rider, Jesse Herbert in 1940.  The first church was built in 1848 on the Southeast corner of B and Washington streets.

After a congregational split which lasted seven years, a new building was constructed at 201 North Court Street.  That structure was replaced by the current building and dedicated April 13, 1924.


Celebrating 100 Years in Our Building

After a congregational split which lasted seven years, a new building was constructed at 201 North Court Street. That structure was replaced by the current building and dedicated April 13, 1924.

The Start in Fairfield

In 1839, a survey for the town of Fairfield was conducted. A member of the survey gang, David Bowman, helped in the construction of cabins and probably stayed in one know as Dickey’s tavern.  Dickey’s Tavern, situated where the Tribune Printing Company was located, was a typical inn of the times – a one-story log structure ten feet by twelve feet, containing two rooms – one for men and one for women.  A ram March morning when Fairfield was not yet a year old, saw a pioneer preacher, probably pretty reluctantly, throw his bridle reins over the end of the hitch-rack of Dickeys Tavern. This pioneer preacher, Jesse Herbert, planted the first seed of Methodism in Fairfield in March 1840 when he began to hold “classes” in Dickey’s Tavern.  David Bowman, of the survey gang, became the class leader and began to assist Herbert, a circuit rider, in bringing Methodism to the settlers of Fairfield, Iowa.

Old Zion

In 1844, a church member was motivated to deed Lot 4 of Block 21 to the church. In four years the church building was begun on the southeast corner of what is now Washington and “B” Street. This was one block south of the corral where oxen, ponies, and stage coach horses were housed when covered wagons stopped in Fairfield for rest or repairs. This church, called “Old Zion” was 45 x 60 feet and cost $2,200.00. The pastor and various members built the pews for the church. The pastor constructed the altar from 2 walnut bedsteads brought here from Maryland. The congregation now numbered 200. 

Harmony Church

Everything progressed smoothly for a while, but in less than 20 years, some members got their noses out of joint for some reason and the congregation split into 2 groups, with the new congregation calling itself the “Harmony” church. This group built a frame building in 1869, which stood on the northwest corner of what is now the courthouse block.  The Harmony Church was moved to Second Street, just south of what used to be the city jail when the new courthouse was built in 1891.  The building was eventually destroyed some time later by a fire. The divided church reunited in 1874, and a pastor by the name of H.E. Wing was assigned. The response to this appointment wasn’t exactly joyful, and upon Wing’s arrival a prominent church member announced “A mistake has been made. We did not ask for you, or anyone, and we do not want you. This plainly states our position.” 

Wing’s Folly

Wing was not to be daunted by his lack of popularity, and replied to his critics, “I have nothing against you. I do not want you any more than you want me. But it has been done, so we might as well make the best of it, hadn’t we?” Wing became popular with the reunited congregation, which began meeting in the Opera House on Sundays and at the Episcopal Church at 206 East Broadway for prayer meetings. A building committee was formed in 1876, and a site for a new church was purchased at the corner of Court and Hempstead. This was soon sold and the present location at Court and Briggs was purchased. Wing was a dynamic personality and talked the congregation into building an $18,000.00 structure. This structure stood for about 50 years from 1877-1923. As time progressed, however, things looked bleak and a $10,000.00 debt became an albatross around the neck of the congregation and the church became known as “Wing’s Folly!”

The Rest of the Story

A guest minister, from New York, with a magnetic personality, preached an eloquent sermon on one Sunday, asking for “larger donations” to liquidate the overwhelming church debt, and the collection in that single service was more than enough to wipe out the entire debt!  In 1905, Wing’s Folly was remodeled.

In 1916, a contribution of $22.00 kicked off the campaign for the construction of the present church.  Plans for construction had to be put on hold until after World War One, but in 1922, the impetus for a new structure was revived, and construction of our current church began in 1923 (100 years ago). 

Phased Remodels

There have been several remodeling projects.  The major ones have been divided into Phases.

Phase One encompassed the elevator and tower entrance and new restrooms.  The cost of Phase One was $360,000.  It was completed in the spring of 1983.

By 1993, Phase Two, a heating & electrical projects, kitchen remodeling and new stairwell & entrance to the basement were underway.  Phase Two was completed at a cost of $229,400.

In 1994, planning for Phase Three was begun with construction beginning in March 1998.  The emphasis here was renovating the basement area, along with major changes to the 2nd and 3rd floors.  Construction was completed in December 1998.

Phase Four was the remodel of the sanctuary which started planning in mid 2014.  During this remodel, the sanctuary went from having 2 aisles to 1 center aisle.  This phase was completed in December 2015.

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

– John Wesley