|The article below was taken from the 1882 History of Bond and Montgomery counties by Robert R. Bliss.
The early church history of Irving is involved in considerable obscurity, and many dates and interesting facts relating thereto have faded away from the memory of the oldest inhabitants. The early setlers were members of different denominations, and held their public services from house to house for several years. At these early meetings all met on a common level, and left their denominational peculiarities at home. The Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran all united in these meetings without regard to creed or doctrine, and worshiped together the same God in unison and harmony. Many of the early itinerant preachers were men singularly gifted with a powerful eloquence which fired ;the hearts of the pioneers, and many converts were gathered unto the different churches. It is not positively known who preached the first sermon in the township but as near as can be ascertained, it was a Baptist preacher by the name of Jordan. He conducted a series of meetings in a grove near the southwest corner of the township in the year 1829, but nothing definite could be learned concerning him.
The first church organized in the township was the Hopewell Methodist Episcopal Church. The organization was effected in the year 1829, by Revs. Benson and Bastian, two itinerant preachers who came into the county several years before.
Among the original members of this church were the following: John Grantham, Thomas Christian, Elizabeth Grantham, James Grantham and wife, Isaiah Grantham and wife, Silas Kelly and wife, Madison Berry and wife. Madison Berry is the only one of the original members now living. John Grantham was a local preacher. Thomas Christian was the first class leader. The first pastor who had charge of the church was Rev. Lowry, who preached for the congregation two years. He was succeeded by Rev. John Dow, the exact length of whose pastorate was not learned, as the early records of the church could not be found. For two years, the congregation held their public services in the groves, private dwelling houses and barns. These meetings were attended by all from miles around. In the year 1830, a house of worship was erected on Locust Fork, in the western part of the township, and was named the Hopewell Church. Here the congregation worshiped til the year 1856, at which time the organization was moved to a place about one mile northeast ;of the village of Irving. For twelve years, the exercises of the church were conducted at this place. In the year 1868, it was decided by the congregation to move the church into the town of Irving, which was accordingly done. A reorganization was effected the same year and the name of the church changed. It has since been known as the Irving Methodist Episcopal Church.
In the year 1860, the propriety of erecting a new house of worship was discussed by the congregation, and it was decided to begin the building at once. Work was commenced on the new house in the spring of 1861, and it was completed the following autumn. This building is frame, dimensions about 36 by 56 feet, and will comfortably seat three hundred and fifty persons. It represents a capital of about $3,000. It was dedicated by Rev. J. H. Aldridge in the year 1861. Since the reorganization of the church, the following pastors have preached for the congregation: William Taylor, ..... Hutchinson, J. E. Lindlay, James Calric, J. F. Hollowayt, W. F;. Lowe, A. E. Orr, ......Rhodes, D. H. Stubblefield, J. W. Lapham, ..... Schwartz, William Birks, ..... Hamill and W. R. Howard, present pastor. The membership will number at present about two hundred and sixty, one hundred of whom were added to the church during a great revival, conducted by Rev. J. W. Lapham, while he was pastor.
A good Sunday school is supported, and the church is reported in excellent working order.
We do not know when the picture below was taken but it looks the same now (2007) without the buildings on either side.
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