The Lester Methodist Church had its beginning in religious services held in a railroad depot probably in 1889. As the congregation became larger, services were held above stores.

In 1890, the Larchwood, Lester, and Ben Clare, S.D., circuit was established with Rev. S.C. Olds, of Larchwood as pastor. The old church register for the Larchwood circuit states, “The congregation still increased and it was thought best to see what could be done in regard to building a church. Rev. Olds started a subscription the latter part of August 1891. A board of trustees was appointed Sept. 7, 1891.

The first church was built in 1892 on the lot on Main Street of Lester or on the corner of Main and Thomas. Some old timers know it as the location of Chamberlain’s Hardware Store, others as Sunde’s Antique Shop. It served as a place where school exercises were held and other denominations also used it.

A county paper, “The Review,” stated that this church burned on Friday, April 2, 1897.

The second church was built in the northwest part of town in 1898. This is on the west side of the street on the corner of Clinton and Fifth St. or across from the water tower. (At this date it is the present home of August Feucht.)

Lester was on the Larchwood circuit for several years and was later served by student ministers from Morningside College.

There was a long period when the church had no pastor, probably due to a population shift when a large percentage of the active supporters moved away.

But there was a faithful group who deserve great credit for keeping an outstanding Sunday School alive. For some time it was the only religious service for the people of the community. Everyone worked together as officers, teachers or students and everyone was welcome. The attendance was good; the enrollment over 125. In those early days, Miss Emma Schoeleman served as Superintendent of the Sunday School as well as Mrs. Julius Hansen and Mrs. Jennie Vande Vooren. Mrs. Lee Moser (Edna Hansen) and Mrs. George Marnette (Mary Lauck) served long and faithfully at the piano, whereas Ben Hoogeveen and Malcolm Webber served as church organists before the piano era.

In the 1930’s the Methodist church shared with the First Reformed church who used the facility on Sunday afternoons and evenings.

The congregation worked diligently to keep the building in good repair.

During the 1940’s the faithful kept the church going. The Methodist conference took note and united Lester with the Inwood parish. They secured a minister to serve both churches. This is still the procedure.

In November, 1963, the Lutheran church “gave” their building to the Methodists for $25. Pastor James Russell was the current minister. (At the beginning of his term here in the Lester-Inwood community, he was ordained by Bishop Thomas in the Inwood Methodist Church.) Now the Lester Methodists had a new home! The church had dining room facilities, a furnace in the building and plumbing. Quite a windfall!

The following years the “newer” church obtained a Hammond organ; they now enjoy carpeting and various improvements on the building that have been made.

The church is located in the north end of town on Fifth and Thomas Streets near the schoolhouse site.


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