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Salem United Church of Christ celebrates 175 years

by Kaden Quinn | June 7, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Democrat photo/Kaden Quinn Parishioners enjoy a fried chicken meal provided by members of the Salem United Church of Christ to celebrate its 175th anniversary.

A local church celebrated its 175th birthday on Sunday.

The Rev. Russell Cobb stood alongside previous pastors of Salem United Church of Christ (Salem UCC) for a special service to celebrate the church's long life in the community. In his message to parishioners, Cobb said it's important to maintain the "necessary ingredients" members have held to so Salem UCC can last another 175 years.

"Focusing on reading the Bible and fellowship meals...and having the Lord's Supper and praying for each other, and making sure we focus on Jesus," Cobb said.

According to Salem UCC's anniversary program, pioneers arrived in the area to the McGirk area in 1848 and established a small community known as the German Salem Settlement. Although the settlement established a church of its own, settlers rededicated the building. It acts as one of the county's most historic churches.

"The first church was called the North Moreau Evangelical Church. The present church was dedicated in 1858," the program read. "Even though it has been remodeled many times, the frames and roff trusses are still the hand hewn timbers from 1858. They built a church not only for their time, but ours for which we, the members, are grateful."

Several former pastors came to celebrate the event including the Rev. Gary Schulte and interim pastors Dwight Nelson and Howard Ellis. He also said the son of former pastor Marvin Kirchoff, Paul Kirchoff was in attendance.

"We had a lot of representation of past ministers and interims that we're here today," Cobb said.

Cobb said as Salem UCC's pastor during its 175th anniversary because he gets to review all of the church's old history and help tie it together to recent events within a spiral bound booklet commemorating the anniversary.

"It's been really neat to just see all the history, put the new history (together), add our pages to stuff. We updated the booklet, put in everything that we've done..." Cobb said. "And just seeing people together, getting to hear people's stories, and hearing all the past ministers speak about for their time period is really special."

The event continued into Salem UCC's fellowship hall, where members of the church's consistory served a fried chicken meal to guests. Church treasurer Brenda Oesterly said the meal is a great opportunity to see church members, community members and families as they celebrate Salem UCC's 17th anniversary.

Cobb added to this sentiment. He said the most important aspect of commencement is seeing long time parishioners and highlighting their memories and stories of Salem UCC.

"(Salem UCC) is just a special place for people to come and love on one another and encourage one another and learn more about God's word," Cobb said. "That's what they try to do."

Print Headline: ‘A special place for people to come and love on one another’


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