Johnson township First Plymouth United Presbyterian celebrates 100 years

First Plymouth United Presbyterian church was organized 100 years ago this month. Today the congregation worships in this new church dedicated in 1968. Centennial worship services are planned this Sunday in the church located in Johnson township.

The First Plymouth United Presbyterian church of rural Akron is proud to announce that it will be celebrating its centennial anniversary Sunday, Aug. 13. Everyone is welcome to come and share this day.

Morning worship will be held at 10:30 a.m. and the afternoon service is at .2 p.m.
There will be a dinner at noon in the church fellowship hall. All members, relatives and friends are invited to attend.

Aug. 11, 1872, in a small vacant house, northwest of Le Mars, 15 persons gathered and passed a resolution asking that a Presbyterian church be organized, pledging their loyalty and support to such a church and making application to the Presbytery of Fort Dodge to be taken under its care.

For the first several years, services were held in vari­ous school houses — the Calhoon, Wilcox and Crawford schools as well as in homes.  Thus was the beginning of the First Plymouth United Presbyterian church.

Several different ministers served the church during the first years.  In 1876, Rev. Charles W. L. Ross became pastor and together with the elders resolved to organize a Sunday school with Mrs. Gibbs as the superintendent.  There were 35 enrolled.
The railroad company which owned several tracts of land in the territory in 1879 conveyed for a nominal sum the NE¼ of NE¼ of section 1, Johnson township to Plymouth church for a cemetery and other public purposes to encourage settlement within the territory.

The cemetery was plotted, in 1895, although several graves had been made in the plot prior to this time.

Soon after the land was obtained, Rev. D. W. James set out to erect a house of worship. After a general visitation’ to ascertain the mind of the people, April 8, 1880, the session met in the Wilcox school, at which time the resolution to begin active work was passed.
On the ground obtained from the railroad, a house of worship was built and Nov. 4, 1880, it was dedicated, free of debt, having cost the total sum of $517.56.

It was dedicated “to the worship of almighty God according, to the mode of public worship and teachings of the Presbyterian church.”

Material for the church was hauled, some of it by oxen team from a saw mill near Elk Point, S.D., and stone for the foundation from the Missouri river near the ‘same town.
The labor was nearly all donated, the farmers doing much of it by kerosene lantern light after their day’s work on the farm was completed.

For a time one minister served both the Plymouth and Merrill churches at a salary of $50 a month, each church assuming responsibility for half of the salary each month.
In 1892 it was decided to abandon the work at Merrill and Rev. A. Z. McGogney agreed to give some time to Plymouth along with his duties as pastor of the Le Mars Presbyterian church.

With the close of the church year for 1908 and 1909, the records come to an abrupt close and the next written records being dated 1924.

By this time a manse had been built and Rev. A. F. Porett accepted the pastorate, this being the first family to occupy the new manse.  He remained a little over a year.  Following this Rev. George Albright then served two years.  In November 1928, Rev. W. E. Smith accepted the call as pastor and a year later the wheels were set in motion to erect a new house of worship.

July 20, 1930, the new church was ready for dedication.  At this afternoon service, the financial appeal was responded to in cash and pledges, enough being secured to cover the remainder of the building cost which totaled approximately $14,000.

This was a beautiful brick building, with a basement for Sunday school class rooms, built north of the cemetery.

Rev. Smith moved to another field in 1938 and Rev. Theodore Seibert accepted the call in 1939, remaining for eight years.

Rev. Robert Rushing came to Plymouth from Ohio in 1948 and served until 1952.
The congregation was without a resident pastor, Rev. Ed Miller, Westmar college, Le Mars, conducted the worship services until 1954 when Rev. Charles R. Kruse accepted the call and remained until 1971.

In 1965, the congregation felt a more modern building with more efficient Sunday school class rooms was needed.

To use the present building, much remodeling would be necessary and after considerable study the congregation voted to build a new church on a new site between the cemetery and the manse.

The present church was dedicated, June 23, 1968. The total cost of the building (5,500 square feet) including tree removal, dirt work, gravel, sidewalks, water and sewer, identification marker, bell tower, furniture, appliances and draperies, was approximately $99,000.

The entire building is of brick and block construction with Georgia snow stone and white aggregate trim.

The entire building is carpeted with industrial carpet with the exception of the kitchen and rest rooms.

A built-in speaking system services the sanctuary, fellowship hall, mothers’ room, kitchen and two Sun­day school rooms.

The building was constructed by Dohrman Construction Co., Jerry Wood, designer.
Rev. Kruse requested dissolution of pastorial relations in February 1971 and the present pastor Rev. James Offrink, a June graduate from California semi­nary, returned to his home church in Michigan to be ordained. He was installed as pastor at Plymouth in August 1971.

Thus has Plymouth church come through a century of Christian progress.  The following taken from a small folder used for a service in 1893: “Our regular presence in the House of God is: 1st — A duty: “Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my Sanctuary.” Leviticus 26:2. 2nd — A delight: “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy House, for a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand dwelling in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:4, 10.

The early pioneers must have kept these two Bible scriptures in their hearts and minds to have started a church and kept it alive these many years.

Even though a few years ago reports were that rural churches were dying, First Plymouth United Presby­terian church is very much alive with Sunday school and worship services every Sunday, and active United Presbyterian Youth, United Presbyterian Women and United Presbyterian Men organizations and two choirs.

Source: LeMars Daily Sentinel (LeMars, Plymouth County, Iowa) of 09 August 1972.

Submitter: Bruce Atkinson



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