SIDNEY — Sometimes, even a good idea takes a while to get off the ground. Such was the case with Nevins Lake Church, which celebrated its 125th anniversary this year with dinner, potluck lunch and a day of preaching featuring several of the church’s former pastors.
The Sidney church’s humble beginnings hark back to 1878, when two Sunday schools were established at the Nevins Lake schoolhouse — one class held in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Both were short-lived, however, and were eventually shuttered due to lack of interest.
According to church member Donna Main, who has studied and chronicled much of the church’s history, the ensuing years saw several attempts at reestablishing the Sunday school there before one actually “took.”
“It was noted in the Stanton Congregational Church history that 1887 and 1888 were years of spiritual growth,” Main relates. “It was at this time that Mr. Charles Wicks and Mr. Phillip Pierson, from the Congregational Church in Stanton, saw the need for a Sunday school here in the Nevins Lake area.”
The two men took to the streets, carrying their message door-to-door, inviting residents to gather at the school house at 4 p.m. on the first Sunday of May, 1888. Only 11 people showed up. The gathering elected Wicks superintendent.
The second Sunday saw a respectable influx of new members, however. Soon, attendance warranted the addition of worship services, once a month at first, featuring ministers “borrowed” from the Stanton church. Eventually, the church earned its own pastor, the Rev. Burns.
An anonymous donation of $500, given in 1902, along with a donation of land, allowed for the construction of the first Nevins Lake Church building.
“It wasn’t until the (church’s) 50th anniversary that it was revealed that Mr. John Pierson was the unnamed person who gave the gift of money,” Main explained.
Over the years the church grew, with electric lights being installed in 1939 and Sunday school classrooms added a decade later. A basement and auditorium went in during the 1960s and a gymnasium was added in the 1970s. More recently, in 2007, an outdoor pavilion was built for the church.
The church obtained its organ in 1891, free of charge in a contest, by carrying the largest wagon load of people to the Greenville fair. The wagon set out from the church and picked people up as it drove to Greenville. A total of 110 church members piled off the wagon when it arrived in town.
Main’s daughter, Vicki Olson, who helped research the church’s history, noted the church has gone through many changes over the years.
“In the 1950s, the church was reorganized as the Nevins Lake Church, an undenominational church,” Olson explained. “In 1965, Nevins Lake Church joined the I.F.C.A. (Independent Fundamental Churches of America). The Lord has blessed.”
On May 5, members celebrated the church’s rich heritage with a day-long celebration featuring 15-minute devotionals from many of the church’s former pastors.
“On our anniversary day, we had pastors there from 1958 through 2013, the present day,” Main said. “They had seven former pastors, their families and many special guests present. It was nice to be able to see everyone again.”
A total of 193 members attended the morning service and 131 showed up for the service in the afternoon.
“The Lord has blessed this church for many years and the Lord blessed (us) with a wonderful day,” Main noted.