Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb

Church Histories

First Congregational

United Church of Christ

Arion, Iowa 1903-1978

arion church

In the fall of 1900 the people of Arion came to the conclusion that it would be well to have a resident pastor. Previous to this time there had been a Christian organization, but owing to the lack of a nearby church to aid in supporting a minister they were not holding services.

The Methodist Episcopal church was working with the sister church at Dow City and the M.E. minister from there preached in Arion once in two weeks on Sunday afternoon, and received as compensation from this field $50 yearly.

The Baptists had an organization here working with the Baptist Church of Dow City. Their minister was preaching here once every two weeks alternating with the Methodist, and he also received a yearly compensation of $50. This arrangement gave the people here a service most of the time on Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock. This service was very irregular and unsatisfactory for the reason that, in time of quarterly meeting, revival services or any special service at Dow City, these ministers did not come to the Arion service.

In order to have a resident pastor the former arrangement was discontinued, the people agreeing to support one man as pastor and have him live on the field. To this end, they wrote to the Congregational home missionary society and that society sent Rev. J.C. Stoddard who visited the field.

In November, 1900, the home missionary society sent Rev. A.W. McNeel as a candidate to the field. He labored here one month, at the end of which time at the request of the people and by the council of Secretary T.O. Douglass and E. Douglass an Ecclesiastical Society was formed at a meeting in the home of Mrs. N.P. Underhill on December 5, 1901.

The meeting was called to order by Rev. A.W. McNeel; Levi Green was elected president and W.S. McVey secretary. Articles of Incorporation were presented and read by the secretary which, after being duly considered, were adopted as read with amounts for the pastor's salary fixed as follows: Home subscription $350; Congregational Home Missionary Society $250. A motion to raise $350 for the pastor's salary prevailed. The following resolution was adopted and spread on the records:

Resolved, that until a church is organized: (1)We extend a call to Rev. A.W. McNeel to become pastor of this people, (2) his salary shall be $600 and free use of parsonage, (3) the Trustees, Treasurer, Clerk and solicitor, be, and are hereby constituted a parsonage committee, to raise funds, buy or build a parsonage, or procure a house to be used as a parsonage, subject to the approval of the society.

The name of this Society adopted was "Union Society of Arion" and the officers were the Board of Trustees: President Levi Green, N.F. Stilson, Mrs. W.B. Evans, Mrs. E.P. Wigg, and J.L. Maurer. The society, thus formed, maintained the gospel and the church work for a little over a year.

In January, 1903, Rev. J.C. Stoddard aided the pastor in special meetings to become members of a Church. In response to this wish, on January 14, 1903, the pastor circulated this petition:

Arion, Iowa - Jany. 14th 1903, Convinced that the time is here that we should have a church, and the care of the converts demand it we are willing to identify ourselves with the Church as soon as organized. (Signed) L.C. Butler, Mrs. W.B. Evans, Mrs. W.S. McVey, N.F. Stilson, Mrs. N.F. Stilson, W.S. McVey, Levi Green, Mrs. Levi Green, A.A. Conrad, Henry Doidge, Mrs. A.J. Mackey, V.Talcott, Mrs. V.Talcott, Lottie Talcott, Gertrude Talcott, M.B. Nelson, Mrs. M.B. Nelson, E.R. King, Grace Smith, P.E. Bennett, Mrs. P.E. Bennett, Mrs. J.A. Harris, Carrie Jenkins, Mrs. Eli Malone, Lucie Michels, Milton Doidge, Allen Doidge, A.W. McNeel, Mrs. A.W. McNeel, and E.P. Wigg.

At the evening meeting on January 15th a committee was appointed to draft a form of church laws, confession and covenants. Rev. A.W. McNeel, Mrs. W.B. Evans, L.C. Butler, M.B. Nelson, and N.F. Stilson were elected to that committee.

The committee reported a form which was finally adopted January 25, 1903, also recommending that the following officers be elected: Deacons - Levi Green, three years; Mrs. W.B. Evans, tow years; N.F. Stilson, one year. Brother E.P. Wigg was elected clerk and treasurer for one year and A.W. McNeel was elected Sunday School superintendent for one year. The report was accepted and these officers were elected on the above date.

Rules of order and discipline were adopted January 25, 1903:Name Connection - The name of this Church shall be The Congregational Church of Arion, Iowa. It holds ecclesiastical connection with the Council Bluffs Association and the general association of Congregational Churches in Iowa.

The officers shall be a Pastor, Deacons, Clerk, Treasurer, Standing Committee, and Superintendent of the Sabbath School. Voter's Qualification - All members of the Church who have reached the age of 16 years shall be entitled to vote in all Church meetings. Admission of Members - Any person desiring to unite with this Church, either by Confession or by Letter, may make application to the pastor or any member of the Standing Committee, and those approved may become members by a vote of the Church and by being publicly received into its communion in due form with the right hand of fellowship. Dismission - Any member in regular standing may, by a vote of the Church, receive a letter of dismission and recommendation. Removal of Members - When members remove from this vicinity they shall notify the pastor or clerk of their change of residence; and within a year they shall apply for a letter of dismission and recommendation to the Church where they reside.

A Confession of Faith, Convenant with God, Covenant with the Church, and a Covenant of the Church with the Candidate were adopted January 25, 1903.

In December, 1903, Rev. E. Bashford became minister. It was during his pastorate that the beautiful new church was built. On December 16, 1904, the Congregational church Building Committee met at the bank parlors to pay Mr. Tryon $2,515.50 for building the church and to accept it as it was. All voted "Aye" and a vote of thanks with high uplifted hand was given Mr. Tryon for the efficient way in which he had filled the contract. Pews and church furniture were purchased from Omaha School Supply Co. at a cost of $290, and $5 more if book racks and envelope holders were wanted. The leaded stained glass windows were installed at a cost of 70 cents per square foot for the large window and 60 cents per square foot for the others - all work to be of the best in every particular. Windows came from the Midland Glass and Paint Co. Angle lamps were purchased from the Angle Mfg. Co, New York: one chandelier and four angle hanging lamps plus fourteen globes at a total cost of $37.29.

Rev. Bashford resigned in August of 1905 and Rev. Freedline succeeded him. In September, 1906, Rev. Walcott came to serve as pastor until April of 1907. Rev. Grigsby and Rev. Walsh then supplied leadership until 1910. In 1909 Miss Gertrude Talcott was appointed church clerk, a position she held until her death on January 2, 1962.

Rev. E. Dale Calkins was called on September 17, 1910, to serve as minister; his salary was to be $700 annually with free use of a house. He accepted, and in a pastor's report to the congregation he wrote,

We are proud to be the pastor of a union Church as we have here in Arion; it is one of the pioneers in the union movement in the state and we believe it is one of the leaders in the movement in the right direction. This is especially true of small towns.

During his pastorate in the Arion Congregational Church Rev. Calkins organized the Paradise Center Sunday School group that had a following of as high as 60 members. On July 3, 1911, Louis Carroll, Bessie Marr (Galland), Grace Butler (Kepford), Gladys Talcott (Reynolds), and Lila Lee (Kepford) were baptized by immersion in the Boyer River.

In 1912 Rev. Calkins resigned and answered a call to Castana, Iowa. From 1912 to 1916 Rena Bowers and J. Priestly gave Christian leadership in Arion. Mrs. Iona Brosious came to serve as pastor in 1918 and on October 15th of that year an ordination service was held for her. She was here until January of 1920.

During 1921 and 1922 through the efforts of Rev. Durant the sum of $166.62 was raised by individual subscriptions for the purpose of building a cement wall and sidewalk on the east and south sides of the church; this was finished at a cost of $146.35.

In 1921-1923 the Sunday School was very successful with five organized classes: Bible Class - Mr. N.F. Stilson, teacher; the Star Class - Mr. N.C. Lund, teacher; S.T.S. Class (Young People) - Mrs. A.H. Nichols, teacher; the Junior Class, Miss Marie Marr, teacher; Junior Boys, Mrs. N.F. Stilson, Teacher. The Sunday School had a membership of 60 under the leadership of N.C. Lund, Superintendent; N.F. Stilson, Assistant Superintendent; Vivian Marr, Secretary; Orris Ahart, Treasurer; Marie Marr, Organist; Mrs. O.W. Nelson, Chorister; and Mrs. B.J. Holliday, Assistant Chorister.

From 1922 to 1947 several pastors supplied in Sunday church services, namely Charles Halbut, Mrs. Rena Bowers, Mrs. Anna Williams, Rev. Burlough, Rev. Colby, Rev. Bell, E.L. Patterson, Keith Warner, and Venard McLaughten.

In May, 1947, the Congregational Church of Arion sent a letter of request to the Sioux Association at Sioux City to allow transfer of membership to the Southwestern Association of Iowa, the reasons for this being: (1) The church is too remote form the other churches of the Sioux Association. (2) The rail and bus line service northward are limited. (3) The Southwestern Association has churches within ten and twenty-five miles of Arion. (4) Furthermore, it is quite likely that the church can profit by the assistance of the Southwestern Association Parish and from other types of Association fellowship. The church was transferred from the Sioux Association to the Southwestern Association in 1947.

The Church project for the year 1947 was a parsonage and library room which was originally the "Star Restaurant" owned by Mr. & Mrs. John Thompson.

Rev. Edwin Arnold came from Harlan to supply in the pulpit in 1949, 1950 and 1951. Rev. Carroll Halbert of Castana and Rev. Theodore Manson of the Presbyterian Church in Denison supplied until 1952.

The First Congregational church of Arion received some very fine leadership and excellent teaching and guidance with youth groups from student ministers who came here from various seminaries for eleven consecutive summers. Many worthwhile projects were completed. The summer work included all the responsibilities of a full-time minister in preparing and delivering Sunday church services and all other church activities.

Submitted by Stacy Dietiker.

History addition, November, 2000

On April 19, 1961, the Arion Church voted to approve the "Constitution of the United Church of Christ" with all members present voting "yes."

Reverend Baumgartner of the United Church of Christ in Schleswig gave the church very fine leadership from April 1957 until the autumn of 1964. Other ministers who followed were Reverend Hamlin of Denison, 1965-66; Reverend Robert Ethridge and Dr. Kenneth Miller, both of Midwestern College of Denison, 1966-67; Reverend Fitz of Dow City Methodist Church, 1967-68. Dr. Miller and Reverend Ethridge helped again on special days in 1969 and 1970.

Reverend W.W. Watson, a semi-retired Methodist minister from Denison, came in 1971. During his leadership here he baptized twenty-eight adults and children, received twenty-eight into membership, and performed five marriages. He resigned in 1976 due to ill health. He passed away in December of that same year. He was loved and respected by all who knew him. In 1977 Reverend Moore of Schleswig supplied ministry. Others who served in later years were Douglas Cue, John Ballentine, and Aaron Terwilliger.

There has been an active ladies group through the years, called Women's Fellowship. In 1978 the Congregational Church celebrated its 75th anniversary of the founding of the church in Arion. A large group of friends came to help celebrate the happy occasion. The Women's Fellowship had anniversary plates made that were for sale at the time of the anniversary. In recent years the Fellowship has served the Senior Citizens dinner twice each year at the Dow City Community Building and has also taken its turn at hosting the World Day of Prayer activities at the church.

Submitted by Cindi Simon