Our History
CHARTER MEMBERS

C.C. Brush
Mrs. C.C. Brush
C.H. Copley
J.N. Dickerson
Mrs. J.N. Dickerson

Olive Dickerson
August Flint
Mrs. August Flint
Caroline Flint
Mrs. Jessie Lyman

Ada Patterson
R.J. Percival
Mrs. R.J. Percival
Lizzie Percival
Alex Percival

The first hundred years: 1892 to 1992

Taken from the First Presbyterian Church Centennial Book

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

So begins the history of our universe, humanity and our church which we must preserve for future generations and spread God's Word and work in our area.

First Presbyterian Church of Lake Park was organized in 1892. Ten years earlier the Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Northwestern railroad had come to the area and soon the town of Lake Park was founded. A school and post office were established, businesses flourished, a doctor came, and a news office began printing a local paper.

The beginning seeds of Christian faith were planted by Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics. Before there were enough Methodists or Presbyterians to form their own church, they met together in the town's one room schoolhouse. This soon became too small and denominational lines were drawn in 1891, with the Presbyterians meeting above Henry Meyer's Blacksmith shop on Main Street.

"According to appointment, a Committee of the Presbytery of Fort Dodge, consisting of Rev. C. E. Freeman, Rev. S. W. Steele and Elder Dodge together with Rev. T. S. Bailey, Synodical Missionary for Iowa, and L. O. Sutherland, Sunday School Missionary for the Presbytery of Fort Dodge and Sioux City, met at Lake Park, Iowa." (Congregational Meeting Minutes of December 15th, 1892.)

The following 16 charter members began to organize and build a church: C. C. Brush, Mrs. (C. C.) Ella J. Brush, C. H. Copley, Mrs. Jessie Lyman, R. J. Percival, Mrs. R. J. Percival, Lizzie Percival, Mrs. E. D. Thomas, August Flint, Mrs. August Flint, J. N. Dickerson, Mrs. J. N. Dickerson, Olive Dickerson, Caroline Flint, Ada Patterson, and Alex Percival.

The original building located on the corner of Avenue A West and 2nd Street was built in 1895 with the aid of The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America's Board of Church Erection, and under the direction of the Board of Home Missions. They paid the pastor's salary of $200.00 per year for several years.

Rev. M.T. Ranier and his family.Sunday, January 25th, 1896, the first church service was held in the new church. The day was very pleasant and a nice crowd was on hand for all the special activities that were planned. Rev. M. T. Rainer opened the service promptly at 10:30 A.M. Rev. T. S. Bailey, D. D. Superintendent of Home Missions for the Synod of Iowa from Cedar Rapids, preached at this service since he was the church's organizer. He is described as a veteran and hero of the War Between The States.

The financial statement from the building committee stated the entire cost of $2,100.00 (furniture and insurance included).

Pledges already given were as follows:

  • Fort Dodge Presbytery: $200.00
  • Ladies Aid Society: $200.00
  • Bank of Lake Park: $100.00
  • Pastor: $100.00
  • G. B. Knox $125.00
  • Sunday School: $25.00
  • Other Friends: $75.00
  • Youth of Church: $75.00
  • Three Members: $100.00

The Presbyterian Church and Parsonage prior to the addition.This totals: $1,000.00, leaving $1,000.00 yet to be provided. The Presbyterian Board of Church Erection agreed to pay $500.00 if the rest could be raised and paid yet that day. In a remarkably short time and during the morning service $387.00 was pledged, leaving a balance of $213.00. After singing another hymn, the congregation was dismissed to meet at 7:30PM. The evening meeting was opened with prayer and several voluntary musical selections and anthem by the choir. At the close of the scripture reading, the pastor's two young children were baptized by Rev. Bailey. By the close of the evening service the balance of money had been raised. Considering the unprecedented hard times and closeness of money, it was remarkable with what cheerfulness and ease the money was pledged. Rev. Bailey led the dedicatory service. Rev. Rainer closed with prayer. Everyone rejoiced that the beautiful new Presbyterian Church was all paid for and had the respect of the entire community. The church bell was purchased in 1897 for $75.00. Installation labor cost: $8.50. By 1898 the church membership was increased to 51 members.

The first recorded funeral was for Mrs. E. D. Thomas, a charter member, who died on January 15th, 1894. The first recorded wedding was of E. A. Latamore and Martha M. Hoppe on June 12, 1914 with the Rev. O. H. Frerking, officiating.

During the early history of the church, the women carried the financial responsibilities for maintaining the Church. The first regular meeting of the newly formed Missionary Society was held on January 28th, 1903, at the N. R. Millard home at their ranch on Silver Lake. The third article of the original constitution read "any lady may become a member by promising to pay monthly dues of 10¢ for the pastor's support." In 1904, the ladies were busy sewing candy sacks for the Christmas tree. For many years quilts, and aprons were made and sold at Hansen's Store to raise money needed to pay pastor's plus janitor's salaries and to make necessary church repairs. Mrs. J. G. Chrysler was Ladies' Aid Treasurer for 28 years since 1900.

The Sunday School was begun in 1896, with Mrs. M. T. Rainer as Superintendent. At the first meeting there were 2 teachers, 4 officers, and 15 students and the offering was 28¢. In 1898 Mrs. Annie M. Nicholas became superintendent.

The church's first youth group was formed in 1896 during Rev. Rainer's pastorate which was known as the Christian Endeavor Society. Karl Chrysler was the first president.

Evidence of the church 's social concern and involvement emerges as the Loyal Temperance Legion was organized for a short time in 1905.

The original Presbyterian Church building and manse.

The first manse was built in 1907 on church property just east of the church. It was sold and moved off in 1951 when the Ernest McDowell home (201 Ave. D, East) was purchased.

The Rev. Ambrose S. Wright became the pastor in 1911. It was during his pastorate that lot No. 43 of Knox and Van Steenberg's Addition to Lake Park (lot north of the church) was purchased for $50.

The original church building was located across the street to the north of where the elementary school stands today.An extensive remodeling of our church was undertaken in 1916-1918 under the direction of Rev. O. H. Frerking. Electricity came to the church and manse in 1916. This addition included the west wing and the unusually deep basement which was used as a recreation center. The Missionary Society paid $500 toward this and also bought the circular pews for $307.20. Mrs. Chrysler also went to Chicago by train to get new carpet for the church. Many gifts were given to the church over the years . A couple of especially interesting gifts were the center lights in the church, given by the young men's Sunday School Class. Also the communion table given by Mrs. Verly Byers Sunday School Class. The Eager Beaver group of young people cleaned the church and were paid $15 by the Missionary Society. During Rev. Frerking 's pastorate, the Christian Endeavor Youth Group reached its peak.

Many cafeteria dinners were served to help pay expenses from 1921 until 1924. Despite especially difficult times financially for all during the 1920's and 30's the church maintained its ministry sometimes with a struggle other times with ease. In 1927, when the church was without a pastor, consideration was given in church minutes of a community church. In 1928 the membership stood at 153. G. W. Shafer was recognized for 20 years as Clerk of Session in 1936. Rev. Ron Blue had a severe car accident in May, 1937 preventing him from performing his ministerial duties for much of that summer. The church celebrated its 45th Anniversary by purchasing new hymnals. Eighty-year old A. L. Stapleton was baptized.

By 1938 during Rev. R. J . Blue's pastorate 50 members were added bringing the membership to 144. Rev. Blue was also a seminary student pastor during 1909.

Ladies Aid at Mrs. Vern (Celia) Schwarzenbach's home.In 1940, the Rev. Carl Sinning came to be our pastor. Rev. Sinning left to serve in the U. S. Army from 1942-46. During his pastoral absence, the Rev. L. H. Shock served as our interim pastor. Due to Rev. Shock's failing health in 1944, the session petitioned the Army to release Rev. Sinning in order that he might return to his pastoral duties. In 1946 the Missionary Society became known as the Ladies' Aid, according to plans suggested by the National Council of Church Women.

The Youth became known as Westminster Fellowship in 1944, of which there were Jr. and Sr. High groups. The first Daily Vacation Bible School was held in 1945. In 1952, Session approved of the organization of a chapter of Presbyterian Men. The married couples in the congregation became organized as the Mariners in 1953.

The church had another enlargement in 1955 with an addition to the east and completely redecorated. The new 28' x 30' addition is used by the choir and pulpit, with the basement for the choir to assemble and as a music room. Seven new cathedral windows changed the appearance of the sanctuary. Many memorial gifts have also been given to beautify our church through the years.

In 1957-1962 during the Rev. Marvin D. Kruse's pastorate our church had a remodeling project in the sanctuary. The metal siding was replaced with sheetrock and new light fixtures were installed. The Presbytery also underwent some remodeling as it changed its name to the Presbytery of Northwest Iowa. In 1962, Paul Vetter ended his service as Clerk of Session which he been since 1943.

At a congregational meeting in January of 1967, with Rev. Ray Willemssen as pastor, the building of a new church was discussed. In July, 1968, the session considered purchasing the property to the north of the church. At a special meeting in October, this was voted down and it was decided instead to do remodeling again. A new furnace was installed, the belfry removed and the roof repaired. The vestibule was extended to the south and two glass front doors purchased. Redecorating of the sanctuary with paint and some wood paneling gave our church a new look. Red carpet runners replaced the old ones in the sanctuary and in the vestibule. The church exterior was repainted. The complete project cost $10,000. The Sunday School attendance averaged around 130 in 1963, and in 1964 with 145. On August 19th, 1967, Rev. Willemssen's daughter, Lora was married to Barry Brandt in our church.

Rev. LeRoy Sankey came to minister in 1970. In 1972 the first women elders Helen Piper and Mabel Schroeder were ordained. In 1973, Jean Krebs, the first youth was ordained as an elder. In 1973 stained glass windows were added to the fellowship hall. On July 27, 1976, members of fifty or more years were given special recognition. In 1977 came the decision to sell our manse or build a new one. Again it was decided to remodel the manse with congregational help, but in 1978, the manse was sold.

A worship service held in 1979 in the original church building.In August, 1977, Rev. Douglas R. Ganyo came to minister right from seminary. We hosted his ordination in our church. They decided to build their own home and receive a housing allowance. The small class room directly off the sanctuary was remodeled and decorated into a cry room. On July 20, 1978 our Pastor Doug and Judy had a baby girl, Naomi, who was the first baby born to a minister while serving our church. The class of 1980, our Sunday School had an enrollment of 83. Church active membership was 265.

Since 1950, talks of building a new church were ever present. In the fall of 1978, word was received that the Ray D. Smith Estate left a sizeable gift to our church. An ad hoc Committee was appointed to investigate the use of such monies. At the January, 1980 congregational meeting , it was recommended that the money be deposited for the highest interest rate and be used for the purchase of a new church. In May, 1980, during a Sunday morning worship service, Mrs. Alma Smith presented the church with a check for $131,694.88. On August 17, 1980, the church was again blessed with a gift of $150,000 by Mrs. Irene Byers Arnold of Spencer in memory of her parents Vivian and Cora Byers.

At the February, 1980 session meeting a building committee was formed and elected a chair to investigate the cost of a new church and location. In November of 1980, the congregation voted to purchase the property north of the new Lake Park Care Center. The architect firm of Beuttler, Olson and Lee was hired. All of the stained glass windows from the old church were used in the new structure. With the professional guidance of Dr. Clarence Richardson of Storm Lake, Iowa, a very successful fund drive was held on June 28th, 1981 with $179,300 in monies and pledges. By August 2nd, 1981, the general contract had been approved and a special 2 PM ground breaking ceremony was held and those participating were as follows: C. E. Lawrence and Alvin Wiese, chairs of building and finance committees, respectively; Ethel Johnson, longest member in service at 71 years, Frieda Jansen oldest active member at 91 years, Carol Jensen, youngest session member at 14 years, Dr. C. C. Richardson, fund drive director; Rev. Harold Stepanek, Stated Clerk of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, Rev. Douglas Ganyo, pastor. Many others turned over some sod and then all sang "Bless Be The Tie That Binds" and Rev. Ganyo closed with benediction.

Groundbreaking ceremony held on August 2, 1981, for the new Presbyterian Church building. Shown here are Ethel Johnson, longest member of the church (1914); Carol Jensen and Freida Jansen, youngest and oldest members of the congregation; C.E. (Skeeter) Lawrence, Building Committee Chair; Alvin Wiese, Finance Committee Chair; Rev. Harold Stepanek, interim pastor; C.C. Richardson, stated clerk of the Synod; and Rev. Doug Ganyo, fund drive director. (Photo from the Aug. 6, 1981, Lake Park News.)From August 11th, 1981 until October, 1982 many hours were spent by various committees looking into many important items for our new church. The building committee had to convince the architect of the importance of using the stained glass windows from the old church. What beauty they add to God's house.

The Presbyterians were the talk of the town. During this time Rev. Ganyo decided to leave Lake Park and the Rev. Harold Stepanek came to be our interim pastor. In March, 1982, the Rev. Frank Elliott was called to be our pastor. Excitement grew as the completion day of the new building drew near. Church services continued in our old church even though windows were boarded up, and later the organ was moved.As time went by, the building construction progressed, committees met, discussions were held, and decisions were made, approved, and carried out. Sidewalk superintendents went by each day to check progress.

Sunday, October 2nd, 1982 services began in our old church and after singing a hymn, a congregational procession left our old church. Pastor Elliott lead the way carrying the cross and Bible to our new church. Others carried offering plates. The choir carried their music, and the congregation sang and carried their hymnbooks. A caravan of arranged cars drove to our new Lords House to finish our morning worship. Dedication Sunday was October 24th, 1982. The church was filled with members, families, friends, former pastors, and visiting clergy. All participated in the celebration.

Later the old church building and remaining contents were sold at an auction, putting the finishing touches on another piece of the history in the life of Lake Park Presbyterian Church. The old church building was torn down.

From March, 1982 until January, 1989 Pastor Elliott led our church and during this time the church grew. The By-Laws of the church were written to formally add standing committees. Pastor Elliott celebrated his 25 years in the ministry in 1982 and received his Doctorate of Ministry degree in April, 1984. In April, 1985, another important event took place as a bell tower made of steel beams was erected and the original church bell came out of storage where it had been since 1964.

In July 1985, the Building Fund Treasurer, Kedric Wunder, announced that our new building was debt free just three years after completion. The bank note was burned during the morning worship service and Dr. Frank Elliott danced down the church aisle.

In January, 1989, Dr. Elliott asked to be relieved as our pastor and preached his last sermon at the end of the month.

In 1989, the married couples fellowship group, the Mariners, changed their organizational status and became known as the Merrymacs.

Rev. Ronald and Jean Hawkins came to serve our church as our interim pastor in June of 1989 until February, 1990. It was during his ministry that once again the issue of purchasing a house for a manse was considered. On February 15th, 1990, the Rev. Randall Knuth and his wife, Brenda and two children, Christopher and Elizabeth, came to serve. Our church has grown in fellowship and spiritually. The roll has increased to 295. During this time, the Budget and Finance Committee became a standing committee of the By-Laws.

Harvest festivals, Christmas fairs, auctions, men's turkey dinners, craft items, and youth candy making have helped support our church. One can't forget all the apple pies made and sold by the ladies. We are the church and everyone must serve in his or her own way, giving thanks always for God's many blessings. The church has been active in mission work by supporting church-wide mission programs. In addition, we have provided support for Mac and Kathy Patterson for their work in Mexico, for Margo Heuer in her work with tentmakers in Haiti, and for Tammy Leader who was part of a peacemaking team which went to Russia in 1985. Through the years the church has worked in various ways to carry out missions locally by assisting families in times of tragedy and need , by hosting suppers, bringing meals, doing field work, collecting clothes and food for Upper Des Moines Opportunity Council and the Sioux City Gospel Mission, providing meals and transportation for transients, delivering Meals on Wheels, and participating in hunger drives.

This church was organized by the Presbytery of Fort Dodge and later became associated by the reorganization of presbyteries with Northwest Iowa Presbytery in 1962. Since 1977, we have been part of the Presbytery of Prospect Hill. We have had the privilege of hosting Presbytery and its meetings on April 23, 1953, January 19, 1960, and April 26, 1983.

Longest continuous active member: Mrs. Celia Schwarzenbach who became a member July 11, 1914.

Members 100 years of age and 90 years plus:

  • Frieda Jansen
  • Mabel Rehder
  • Ethel Walker
  • Agnes Clausen
  • Lily Stoltenberg
  • Faye Robey
  • Celia Schwarzenbach
  • Dorothea Ruser
  • Ella Smith
  • Agnes Vetter

Rev. Ralph Rowe was the only son of our congregation to go into full time gospel ministry. His father was Charles Rowe, who was a brother to Leslie Rowe.

What 16 members started almost 100 years ago, has taken a lot of faith to do the Lord's work, and to bring us to this point and time. The Lord's work is not done yet. We have much to continue to do as we minister in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

History Committee:
Helen Piper, James Kessler, Beth Brandt, Bonnie Clark, and Celia Schwarzenbach

The next hundred years: 1993 and beyond

In 1995, Rev. Knuth would leave and be replaced by Rev. R. Michael McDowell on an interim basis. A permanent replacement would join the church in 1996 with the calling of Rev. Kenneth MacLeod. Rev. MacLeod would be with First Presbyterian Church until 1999.

In 2000, the First Presbyterian Church would call its first female pastor. Rev. Donna Gray would serve as pastor for eight years, before leaving in 2008. For nearly two years following, the pulpit would be filled by lay people and guest ministers.

In January, 2005, we again hosted a meeting of the Prospect Hill Presbytery.

In 2010, Rev. Duane Queen, who was Honorably Retired from the First Presbyterian Church in Storm Lake, came to Lake Park. What started as a six-month contract with our church wouldn't come to a close until after 22 months when the church called Rev. Tim Harmon. Rev. Harmon started his duties as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church on February 26, 2012.

In April 2012, the church launched a website, www.fpclakepark.org, thereby creating an online presence to keep members informed with announcements and an online calendar of events.

120th Birthday Cake120th Birthday CakeIn October, 2012, the Church would celebrate two birthdays: The 120th birthday of the church and the 30th birthday of the current building.

In the summer of 2013, the Buildings and Grounds Team began researching options to replace the building's 40+ year-old furnaces. After consulting with various local businesses, fundraising efforts got underway with a goal set of $57,000 to replace the furnaces, air conditioning units and thermostats with more energy-efficient units. By the end of 2015, over half of the needed funds were raised. At the annual meeting in January, 2016, the members of the church approved obtaining a loan through the Presbytery/PCUSA to complete the project. By February, the new furnaces were being installed.

Files:
Timeline: 1892-2012 HOT
Date 2016-05-02 File Size 66.49 MB Download 193 Download

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