Throughout history, small churches do their part

Our story so far: Interacting with folks interested in our church conversion brought us historical information, intel on local contractors and community activities.

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One day just as Tyler finished showing yet another contractor around the church in order to coax a bid out of him, a friendly young woman stopped by and introduced herself as the pastor of the nearby Congregational church. She welcomed him to the village, and invited him to have a look at some of her church’s historical record.

This piqued our curiosity because our Methodist congregation and the Congregational church had been yoked from 1974 to 1985, so we thought the Congregationalists might have some history of our church we hadn’t yet heard.

A few days later, I had the pleasure of enjoying coffee with Pastor Jennie and a couple of friendly parishioners of the Congregational church. They showed me around, and we paid special attention to the historical details of the church (it had been built twenty-six years before ours) and a twenty-foot-long bulletin board detailing the congregation’s history. We also looked into the written record, which provided a few examples of the little churches in our community having to weigh in on far bigger societal and political issues through the course of history.

In one example, the local Congregational congregation (say that three times fast) had been meeting in our village before they built their church and before the Civil War, which stirred up a bit controversy. A newspaper story noted: “In 1857, the American Home Missionary Society decided to withdraw aid to churches whose members were slaveholders. The society paid part of the Congregational church pastor’s salary which prompted the church to go on record against the “sin of American slavery.”

Later, as it turns out, members of the church we were now converting into a home and the Congregational church had started a chapter of the Red Cross in our little village during World War I. Here is the story, as told in the careful handwriting of the Congregational church record:

Year of 1918

With the passing of the year 1918 our church like many others has passed through one of the greatest trials it perhaps has ever had to go through. We can proudly say we have stood the test and are now in as encouraging a position as we have been for some years.

Our pastor with the Methodist minister and a few others were instrumental in getting the Red Cross started here. As the War continued and conditions became more serious more and more people became interested in the great movement until now the village has a fine large auxiliary. In the Red Cross world our church has not failed to do its duty in giving both of time and money. …

We are all very glad we could do as much as we did in a time of great need. We have all learned the lesson of cheerful giving so in the coming year let us do our part.

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Tomorrow: It wasn’t only issues of history our Methodist church had in common with the Congregational Church. They were interested in food, too. Read about it here.

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