In 1867 while Rev. J.M. Walker was Pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Oshkosh, the question was lifted about organizing an English speaking Methodist congregation on the south side of the river. The women members of First Church, living on the south side, organized a “Ladies Aid Society” to raise the needed funds to establish a new congregation.
The Second M.E. Church of Oshkosh was built in 1868 at the corner of Eleventh and Minnesota Streets. Prior to the building of the church the society held its meetings in the Neff Hall, which later became the South Side Armory. Following were the charter members: Mr. & Mrs. H. S. Boynton, Mr. & Mrs. L. A. Rollins, Mr. & Mrs. Whitely and Mr. & Mrs. Silas Jones. Eighteen pastors looked after the spiritual welfare of the Second M.E. Society.
In the early turn of the century our nation was gripped in the fervor of spiritual renewal. It was from these evangelistic efforts that Second Methodist Church continued to grow. During this time Second Methodist and the German Methodist Church began to work cooperatively together for the sake of the kingdom. One such effort was the Sunday school boat excursion up the Fox River where more that 600 men, women, and children (most from the south side of Oshkosh) enjoy a day of fun and celebration on the steamer “Leander Choate.” Rev. White and later Rev. Carr worked hand in hand with the people of the German Methodist church in cooperative neighborhood fellowships.
Along with developing common ministries there were very serious financial challenges facing many of the churches in Oshkosh, especially during World War One. In reality, like the German Methodist Church and Park Presbyterian, it was very difficult to give adequate financial compensation to the pastor. If anything it was this challenge to make financial ends meet that accelerated Second Methodist Church interest in a possible union. One of the leading voices in this possible merger was Dr. Franklin Pfeiffer.
Then came the United Hart and MacGann Tabernacle Evangelistic Campaign which lasted for seven weeks and in was there that Second Methodist, German Methodist, and Park Presbyterian took an active role. As J.P. Koeller wrote of this experience;
“All differences in regard to language or doctrine seemed to disappear as the heat of the battle became more apparent; and before the smoke had subsided the natural, or should I say, the supernatural good sense, suggested that the three struggling churches become one!”
After the Campaign talk over church union began culminating in a vote between the two congregations where over 90% of the laity was in favor of the merger. It was at this time that that transfer of the Tenth Street Congregation to the Wisconsin Conference from the German Methodist Conference. Locally the proper legal steps were taken, incorporation papers signed, new officers elected, and all affairs of the church turned over to the new trustees and official board. When the congregation from the Second Methodist Church came over to Tenth Street, their trustees first rented to and then sold the church on Minnesota and 11th to the Reformed Church Congregation ( later became Bethany UCC) for $5000. Beginning with just 35 people Second Methodist Episcopal Church united with their largest membership of 171 souls.
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