Sunday, April 08, 2012

Evolution of a Church

This is the story of how a church came to be.

Churches are sometimes founded; they may begin as missions or outreaches. Others evolve.

The Humboldt Methodist Church and the St. Vincent Methodist Church (whose official name was actually the St. Vincent Community Church1, of the Methodist Episcopal denomination) were small congregations, so often shared ministers when the need arose.

The church was in the block directly south of the St. Vincent school, towards its northwest
 corner; Beth Lapp, who was a member, remembers the windows had stained glass in them.
[Image Courtesy:  Marcy Johnson]

Once upon a year, a minister named Reverend Everett Hanson came to the Humboldt Methodist Church. Rev. Hanson eventually instituted a split in the Humboldt and St. Vincent churches in 1949. He took 39 people with him and formed a new church in St. Vincent. People that followed were called "Hansonites". This new church was named Valley Community Church (nondenominational).  The St. Vincent Community Church closed and some of the congregants joined this new church, while others chose to merge with the Pembina Methodist Church.  Several years later, Valley Community Church joined the Evangelical Free Church of America.  In 1969, St. Vincent EFC moved to Pembina, selling the church building (which was the old Green store; it was moved to Hallock to be used as the Masonic Lodge for many years, and is still in-use to this day...)

Rev. Clara Wagner & Rev. Alice Engelbretson, the last ministers of the Community Church...

1 - From the 1936 WPA Survey of the churches in St. Vincent, comes this description of the St. Vincent Community Church, part of what eventually became the St. Vincent Evangelical Free Church:

Name of church:  Community Church.
Location:  St. Vincent, Minnesoa.
Denomination:  Methodist Episcopal.
Date of establishment:  The church was started in 1899.
Charter Members:  Nelson E. Green, John Bernath, and Thomas Ash
Places of meeting:  For about two years after the founding of the church, meetings were held in the different homes.  In 1900, the present church was erected.
Church buildings:  In 1900, the present church was erected and the same year a parsonage was built two blocks south of the track (the same one used for the Free Church pastors many years later...)
First officers:  There are no records showing the early history of the church so the names of the first officers cannot be given.  Present officers:  Mrs. Thomas Ash, president, Mrs. John Monro, treasurer; Mrs. Roy DeFrance, secretary; trustees, Waldo Clow, Clifford Clow, Mrs. R. DeFrance, Mrs. J. Monro, and Mrs. Esther Ash.
Pastors:  Reverend A.A. Meyers, Reverend George Swinnerton, Reverend Charles Flesher, Reverend Benjamin Collins, Reverend John Finscke, Reverend George Powell, Reverend Eli Slifer, Reverend Edwin Trigg, Reverend James, Reverend E.R. Ingram, Reverend Stanley McGuire, Reverend Clara Wagner, and Reverend Alice Engelbretson.
Organizations within the Church:  Ladies' Aid was organized in 1916.  No dates can be found in connection with organization of the Sunday School.
Remarks:  There are no records of the early history of the church available so a complete list of the charter members and pastors cannot be given.

(Compiled by Cyril Cannon, September 1936)

NOTE:  The North Star Church was an associated church for many years.  The North Star Church began as a Presbyterian Church, later having Covenant ministers serving it.  Eventually it was served by ministers from the Valley Community/Free Church.
[Source:  Reynold and Carolyn Ward]