The Congregational Church in Lake City, Minn., was organized Aug. 8, 1856. It consisted, according to the Record of the Trustees, of ten members—four brethren and six sisters,—one of whom joined by profession. From the church records it would appear that but nine united at the formation of the church; while the recollection of some of the members would make it appear that but six were present on the day, though the letters of others were acted upon then, and they were enrolled.
There was at the time no other church organization in the place. The Presbyterian Church was formed Dec. 31, 1856.
The place then numbered not far from 300 inhabitants.
Rev. Dewitt C. Sterry was chosen Acting Pastor, and labored with the church for ten years. Ai the close of the first, year the church had increased to more than four-fold its original number, and continued to prosper.
The question of a union between this Church and the Presbyterian Church had often been considered informally by the members of both during the years of their co-existence and efforts had been definitely made in that direction on two occasions but without success. In the year 1887 the membership of both Churches having been much depleted by numerous removals from town, the matter was again made a subject of consideration and after the burning of the Presbyterian house of worship, February 1st, 1888, negotiations were begun which resulted in a temporary union for the summer. This was followed by the permanent consolidation of the two Churches, which was finally completed on Sabbath. November 4, 1888, when fifty members of the Presbyterian Church were received into full membership with us, their own organization having been dissolved for that purpose.
The record reads: "This little church * * * worshipped in various halls and rooms for about one year, and until they had so far completed their house of worship as to use that, which was in September, 1857. The Presbyterian Church worshipped with them till the midsummer of 1859. In February, 1857, Abner Dwelle, Esq., presented to the church Lot No. 10 in Block 27, in Lake City, as a church lot. * * * Henry Collins and Eli Van Vliet were chosen Trustees of said church, and were qualified as such. * * * During the summer of 1857 a house of worship, 30x50 feet, was erected, * * * and opened to worship in September same year."
Jan. 5, 1859, it was "voted unanimously to rent the seats * * * for one year from the 1st of March next, and devote the avails thereof to the support of the Pastor."
Jan. 4, 1861, it was ordered that the Trustees "make and execute a mortgage of the church property to the Pastor, to secure him for certain moneys expended by him in purchase of a bell, repairs, etc.—the Trustees to audit his account, and cover the same by mortgage." One year later they took measures to clear off the mortgage, which were successful.
March 14, 1866, it was decided to enlarge the church, and on the 22d the Trustees reported that they had secured a loan of $750, from the "Congregational Church Building Fund" (American Congregational Union), to be paid in installments. With this money the building was turned partly around, repaired, and opened again for worship Sept. 23.
Jan. 4, 1869, by an extra effort, the church cleared off all its indebtedness, amounting to $1,086.57, and was again free and prosperous. The church property (including parsonage—sec below) was valued at $4,000.
In August, 1872, the question of repairing or building a new church came up, and after several meetings it was decided to repair.
In August, 1873, the outside was repainted.
Jan. 5, 1874, the "Envelope System" was adopted for raising the Pastor's salary, instead of renting slips; which is continued, with good satisfaction, to the present time.
In May, 1879. a subscription was started for a new church and the old church was destroyed by fire on Nov. 5, of the same year just after prayer meeting. January, 1880, the subscription was completed, and a building committee appointed. The basement rooms of the new church were occupied in January, 1881, and the audience room above was used in April for the Easter services. The new church was all paid for and dedicated to the worship of God on the 4th of May, 1881.
In April 1860, a parsonage was commenced on "the south half of Lot 7 in Block 49," which had been purchased for that purpose. During that spring the Acting Pastor moved in. The Record shows that about $1,000 had been expended upon the buildings, and that $500 more would have to be expended to complete the house. The debt at this time was about $450, which was paid Jan. 4, 1869.
May, 1878, the parsonage received several much-needed additions, and during the summer of 1877 was repaired inside.
The parsonage was almost entirely destroyed by fire on the first day of May, 1884. The loss on the building being fully covered by insurance, the house was rebuilt the same summer. The church suffered an irreparable loss in this fire by the destruction of all the books of record covering the period of nearly twenty-eight years from the date of the organization. The first edition of this manual preserved many valuable facts which would otherwise have been entirely lost.
1. "Historical Sketch", Historical Manual of the First Congregational Church of Lake City, Minnesota, January, 1889, page 3-7.
See AlsoLake City First Congregational Church 1889 Manual