180th Anniversary Celebration - March 15th 2020

On Sunday, March 15th at 9am, the church will be celebrating their 180th birthday during worship service, with refreshments to follow afterwards.
You are invited to join us in this celebration.

 

Did you know…….????                                                                                                          

Our church was started in 1840 by the Shumway, MacPherson, Ellis and Upham families.

The original name was Mt. Pleasant Congregational Church since the area was called Mt. Pleasant at that time. Their Sunday services started in their homes, then later in the local schoolhouse when attendance was increasing. Most of these pioneers are buried in the Oak Grove and MacPherson cemetery which are identified on gravestones. They adopted Articles of Faith which was copied from those used in an Aurbridge Mass. church, since that’s where the Ellis and Shumway families were from.

Daniel MacPherson was chosen to be the first minister of the new church. He was a layman and lived on a farm in the area. He was later ordained as pastor and received a salary of $50/yr. plus donations of wood and other commodities from members.

In 1846, a proclamation by Governor Dodge named the area Black Hawk. This act was repealed soon after and then the township was called Raymond, named after area pioneer residents Alvin and Elisha Raymond. Also in 1846, members started building a church on a lot donated by Henry Jennings at 7206 5mi.rd.(just east of Hwy U). It was completed in November 1848 and dedicated in January 1849. In 1848, the church was renamed Raymond Congregational church.

In 1850,   Rev. Theron Loomis was elected pastor at a salary of $400/year. At that time, many of the baptisms were done in the Root river on the 5mi. rd. east of the church.

In 1851, a 5 member “Vigilance Committee” was formed to inquire into any bad reports of members which were contrary to God’s teachings. This included: consuming alcohol, absent from church services, refusing to pay bills, dancing, stealing, swearing, among others. If the member confessed and showed repentance, they would be allowed to stay a member, otherwise they were removed.

About 1871, an organ was purchased for $122.50 and gas lamps were also purchased to facilitate evening services or gatherings.

In 1878, the church structure was razed to form a stone foundation. It was remodeled to include a new entrance in 1942.

In 1883, a parsonage was built next to the church at a cost of approximately $600. That building still stands today. However, the old church has since been dismantled. A picture of that church is hanging on the west wall above the bubbler in the coffee/meeting room.

In 1886, Raymond church and Franksville church united to allow hiring a full-time pastor.

In 1918, Raymond and Yorkville churches united to help financially hiring a full-time pastor. This was difficult task since the 1st world war was going on and many ministers were called to active duty.

In March 1940, a centennial celebration was held for a several days with many gatherings which included many past ministers, former members, friends, and Raymond residents. The total membership then was 88.

In 1944, the annual budget was set at $1,313.

In 1950, the church had 143 members with the average Sunday service attendance of 79. Raymond yoked with Union Grove Congregational from 1947 to 1956.

In 1955, the need for an expanded facility was recognized, so a committee was formed to study the feasibility of building a new church. A gift of 4 acres on Hwy G was given by Mrs. John Schmid. A building fund drive then started.

The new church building (now fellowship hall, kitchen, bathrooms, and meeting room) was started in 1957 and dedicated in September 1958. The total cost was $68,740 including furnishings. It was estimated that 10,000 hours of volunteer labor hours was donated by church members.

In 1960, the church had 184 members with an average Sunday attendance of 110. 

In March of 1965, the church celebrated 125 years with several gatherings which included several past ministers, former members, friends, and Raymond residents.

A merger of the Congregational and Evangelical & Reformed churches resulted in the new name United Church of Christ. Our church was then renamed Raymond United Church of Christ.

In 1973, the New Hope Larger Parish yoke was formed which Raymond joined. Included were 4 Methodist churches (Yorkville, Paris Corners, Ives Grove, and Union Grove) plus Union Grove and Raymond UCC churches. Three pastors were hired to share in the ministries of the 6 churches. This yoke lasted 17 years.

On March 18th 1990, a 150th celebration and rededication service was held which included several invited past ministers, and Raymond residents.Rev. Henry Hendricks was the pastor then. 

On January 1st 1992, Raymond joined in a Yoke agreement with Union Grove UCC which is still in effect today.

In 2001, members voted to change the name from Raymond United Church of Christ to Raymond Community Church UCC.

Throughout the 180 years, the church has had approximately 82 part-time, fulltime, and student pastors. There have been many active church groups including Ladies Aid, Busy Bees, Priscilla Circle, Men’s Club, Youth group, and Young Couples. Also, a preschool was started in the fellowship hall, operated by Jeanne Demjen which was in operation for 17 years.

During this long period, there have been numerous dedicated stewards serving our church. Some of the more recent committed family names you may recognize include Drought, West, Swan, Hansen, Stephenson, Scott, Dawson, Braund, Hunter, Jones, Wishau, Paulson, Boettcher, DeMoulpied, Sutton, Sorrenson, among others. Their commitment and dedication kept our church alive, strong, and moving forward.

With the dedication of our members and Rev. Kelsey Beebe’s leadership, the future of our church will remain strong and vibrant.

On Sunday, March 15th at 9am, the church will be celebrating this birthday during the service and with refreshments afterwards. You are invited to join us in this celebration.

Researched by Church Member, Vern Baumgart

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Article from the 175th Anniversary Celebration
Held on March 22, 2015!

Journal Times Article

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