Hope United Methodist Church History

For our 50th Anniversary we created a video and a picture compilation. They are still available to view below. They include pictures of the history of Hope United Methodist Church, and testimonials from previous pastors and members. Below that is a brief history of Hope, and just some of what we have accomplished over the years. As the church continues to advance and expand we can look back and remember some of those accomplishments that have helped grow our church over the years.

An Overview of Hope UMC's History

    June 20, 1971 was the date that Hope held its first church service. Four
hundred fifty people attended the first service with 349 becoming charter

    Reverend Bob Bell was Hope’s first pastor and served as such
until 1979. Reverend Don Johnson was Hope’s pastor from 1979-1986. In
July 1986, Pastor John Riebhoff came to us and stayed til June 1991.
Reverend Leonard Schogren became Hope’s fourth pastor serving from July
1991- 1999. Hope has been served by two Assistant Pastors. Pastor Beverly
Bell served from 1991-1994 and Reverend Richard Jenkins served from
1994-1995. Pastor Charles Curl joined Hope’s ministry from July 1999- July
2004. Pastor Scott Lothe served as Hope’s minister from July 2004-2013. In
July 2013, Pastor Nan Smith came to us and continues as our pastor today.


For our tenth anniversary, a symbol was designed by Catherine Lester and
was chosen to represent Hope Church. The symbol represents “Hope in Life,
Life in Hope” and the never-ending circle of God’s love and the circle of faith
we share with fellow Christians. The dove’s flight symbolizes covenants,
promises, commitments to the future—as the rainbow was God’s covenant to
Noah and to all mankind. Traditionally the dove is associated with peace and
hope—the dove carrying the olive branch was Noah’s sign of hope that the
flood waters were subsiding. The lower semicircle of laurel leaves completes
the design. The circle is full: we go in peace carrying within us the ultimate
symbol of peace, Jesus Christ.

Over the years Hope has grown in membership and building size. The
original Charter Members worshiped in what is now the Fellowship Hall.
Additional space was soon added to include Sunday School classrooms and a
new worship space. Construction on a permanent sanctuary began in 2003.
In April 2004, Hope held a service to consecrate the new sanctuary where we
worship to this day. The stained glass windows installed reflect the Rainbow
and Dove from our symbol to remind us of God’s love, covenant, promises
and commitments to Hope and people around the world.

Hope UMC in 1971

Pastors of Hope United Methodist Church

Dani Musselman

July 2022 – Present

Nan Smith

July 2013 to July 2022

Scott Lothe

July 2004 to July 2013

Charles Curl

July 1999 to July 2004

Leonard Sjogren

July 1991 to July 1999

Richard Jenkins

September 1994 to July 1995

Beverlee Bell

July 1991 to June 1994

John Reibhoff

July 1986 to June 1981

Donald Johnson

July 1979 to June 1986

Robert Bell

May 1971 to June 1979

History of the Acquisition of our Pipe Organ

    In 2003 Pastor Curl encouraged us to form an organ committee and explore an installation in the new sanctuary. June 16, 2003 the committee looked at the organ in the UMC at Stuart, IA that Pastor Curl had installed while there. July 8, 2003 the committee toured the Reuter Organ Factory in Lawrence, KS. August 5, 2003, Carma Lou came to church to plug an electric Rodgers. October 2003 The committee went to Minneapolis to view a Reuter installation, and John Devlin went the next weekend to hear a service there.

    The organ committee found a great pipe organ in a UMC destined for demolition in Le Mars. The committee went to see it, and expressed interest in the $10,000 price but a Wisconsin church doubled the bid and obtained the organ. On May 1, 2004 the committee went to Chicago to see a hybrid organ installation by the George Buck organ company of Grand Rapids, MI. Choir director, Jolene Kubli knew George Buck and connected them with us. Funds did not allow any further movement on this for the time being. On June 22, 2006 we met with a Rodgers Organ Representative at the church with a bid of about $70,000 for a good electronic instrument. We went to Ames to see an installation of a Rodgers there. We then contacted Buck organ company to say we could not afford their pipe organ.

    On June 30, 2007 Buck Organ Co. asked John Devlin to travel to St. Joseph, MI to see a fairly new (within about 30 years) organ that a congregation was going remove in favor of a “State Fair Special” that had off-set keyboards, stick pedals, and a lot of lights. The organ (which we now have) was what we wanted. We paid Buck to remove the organ and store it until we had funds to proceed. On April 3, 2007, The organ committee presented a plan to Leadership and received a go-ahead. The met again with the Leadership on Sept tember 7, 2007.

    On Jan. 2009, with prodding by Pastor Scot Lothe to either move on with the organ plan or wrap it up, return the donations, and sell the organ in storage. More meetings were held with the Leadership on July 14, 2009 and October 6, 2009. Oct. 10, 2009, a church conference was held between services to seek approval for a bank loan to enable the organ project to be finished. Approval was given and the committee moved forward with their plans. On March 21, 201, the organ chambers were built by Brycom over a period of 3 weeks. On May 12, 2011 the organ arrived at the church, filling the narthex and assembly was completed on June 14, 2011. The organ was used for the first time in worship on June 19, 2011 and a commissioning service to dedicate the organ was held on September 18, 2011 with guest organist, Chad Mussing.

    About the Organ: The George Buck organ used pipes and console from a Barton pipe organ and Buck added pipes and augmented voicing using Hauptwerke digital voices making the two manual with concave pedal board a very useable instrument for all styles of organ music. The instrument effectively has 41 ranks on 4 divisions with full couplers, 22 pistons, 5 toe studs, expression on Swell and Antiphonal, Crescendo, Sforzando, and midi in and out. The case was refinished to exactly match the wood in the sanctuary. Dave Beane built a platform so the organ could easily be moved to any part of the platform. Technology has enabled the digital to remain in tune with the pipes if there are temperature variations causing pipes to change pitch. The organ chambers are at the rear of the church with the antiphonal voices which are all digital, expressed in the front.

Testimonials From Hope Members

Our first Sunday to use the new sanctuary was on Palm Sunday. We started in the old sanctuary (now the rainbow room, library, choir room, and youth room) for the first part of the service. We had a big processional with palms and music to move to the new sanctuary to complete the rest of that worship service. 


I will forever be grateful that God planted a seed and we checked out this funny looking church on the south side of Marshalltown called Hope United Methodist Church. This is where we found a church family that has supported us through the years in the good times and during life’s struggles. Thanks be to God.


Mission trips are some very fun memories at Hope UMC. On one mission trip while helping Habitat for Humanity a group of us (not just from Hope) moved a garage!  There were boards running across the middle and the whole group of us all grabbed a spot and lifted and walked.


Being involved in service, especially at the House of Compassion, has been very important in my life. Not only did I learn about the needs in our community, but I cultivated relationships with so many Christians dedicated to serving others. Many people have moved or passed away, but they are still inspiring memories for me.


When we moved here we asked a pastor friend who knew the area if he could recommend a church. He said he thought Hope would be a good fit for us and he was right. We’ve appreciated the worship experience here and the fellowship we’ve found.


I remember leaving town as a First E.U.B. member to return 4 years later to find Hope UMC was now my new “home” church. Disappointment was heavy on my mind but a large number of the congregates were the same and soon the excitement alive in our new church took hold and I began to feel at home. My sons and I grew with the church and I trust the experience stays with them. One of my best memories is the day we met in our new sanctuary.


I feel the support of prayers from our Hope family. The time of joys and concerns is very special to me. The music is wonderful and so meaningful to me. I especially love how we close, by turning towards each other as we sing, “Bind Us Together” or “Shalom”.


Members of Hope UMC reached out to me in times of grief (six deaths); I wanted to be nowhere else than with my ‘family’ at Hope UMC. The Adult Sunday School/Book Studies have strengthened my faith. Community events like the Chili Supper, Trick or Trunk/Harvest Fest, and helping with our Chuck’s Free Little Pantry have been important. Also, Church events – UMW rummage sale, Hayride, Game nights, Christmas/Lenten services have been important to me.