By Cara Pattison
Iva Mae Tredway’s roots run deep in the First United Methodist Church of Yukon. As far back as she can remember, she has attended church there.
When she first started attending services, she was just a four-year-old little girl going to church with her family. And now, at 94 years-old, she has the longest membership in the congregation. She takes pride in watching the church grow and cherishes her many memories and years there.
As a young child, she lived on a farm east of Yukon with her parents, Walter and Blanch Evans, and sister, Ina Fae (Evans) Boettger. Her dad would load the family up in his car and drive them into town each Sunday for church.
“When we lived on our farm, we would all get dressed up each Sunday,” Iva Mae said. “Dad would pick mom and us girls up in his Buick car and take us to church. I remember it was a big, black car.”
Ninety years later, she still has many fond memories of the early days of Yukon’s First United Methodist Church. Her earliest memory involves sitting in the basement with her Sunday School group.
“When we were up in the sanctuary, we were taught to be quiet during church services. But, I remember sitting down in the basement with the other kids at a round table at Sunday School. We were singing my favorite hymnal, ‘Bringing in the Sheep.’” To this day, Iva Mae still loves singing that song and may start humming along if it is mentioned.
As a child, some of her fondest memories took place on the hallowed ground. Her future husband’s parents, S.A. and Isabell Tredway, “were very religious and active members of the First United Methodist Church.” Years later, she would marry their son, Walter, in that very church.
Iva Mae also remembers holidays and annual events as being very special. When a child’s birthday rolled around each year, they were brought in front of the church and recognized by the pastor before being given the opportunity to drop birthday pennies in the offering plate.
Additionally, Christmas was a big event each year. Not only did they have a beautifully decorated Christmas tree and sanctuary, but children were given presents that they might not have received at home.
“The church has always had a decorated Christmas tree and sanctuary, and I’ve enjoyed taking part in decorating it many times. I love looking at that tree. I also remember my sister and I getting some really neat Christmas presents from under the tree at church. One year, as little girls, we got a really neat buggy with a baby doll in it.”
GROWING AS CHURCH FAMILY
But, looking back on 90 years, she’d say that those gifts aren’t the only thing she treasures. Iva Mae thinks the people and family she associates with the church are greater than gold. Many of her long-time friendships started at the First United Methodist Church.
Also, she and Walter raised their two boys, Jim and Arch, in that church. In fact, Iva Mae’s young family of four got to touch the very dirt the new church is built upon.
“We watched the First United Methodist Church grow as a family,” she said. “Around 60-plus years ago, they handed all the kids a shovel to dig the foundation of the new church. Those kids got to work and helped lay the groundwork for it.
“I know they remember it and are proud they were a part of something big. Many of those kids were baptized in the building they helped build and are raising their own families there now.”
The new church was better suited to fit the growing needs of the community. One of the things she remembers about the need for the new church involved the entrance to the church.
“The old church had steep steps going almost straight up. When there was a funeral there, it was a job to get the casket up and down those steep front steps. That has changed for the better.”
In addition, Iva Mae has worked many Ground Hog dinners as a church volunteer. In fact, the church just had their 55th Annual Ground Hog Dinner, and at least one member of Iva Mae’s family has been a part of all of them.
“I’ve washed many a dish at the Ground Hog Dinner,” she laughed. “Can you believe that the first Ground Hog Dinner was in a shed on the church grounds that didn’t even have running water? Who would have thought that? That was a long time ago. We had fun doing it.”
Through the good times and the bad, Iva Mae has seen it all. She sadly had funerals for her husband and son, Jim, in the sanctuary of the church. And while her sharp mind remembers so many details of the past, she loves how much the First United Methodist Church has grown and the things they are doing today.
“Our church has a wonderful choir,” Iva Mae said. “Sometimes I got to sing with the choir. I love the church’s music. Also, I’ve gotten to see my grandchildren baptized there. Going to that church, it’s just what I’ve always done, and it makes me happy.”
While she’s not the oldest member of the church in terms of age, she certainly has the longest-running membership. Now a Spanish Cove resident, she makes it to church several times a year with Arch and his wife, Sheri. She was recently recognized during a church service for turning 94 years-old and for her 90 years of church membership.
Iva Mae didn’t get to drop birthday pennies in the offering plate like she did when she was a child, she is proud of the recognition for her many years of membership and service at the First United Methodist Church.