Church: Owen UCC Celebrates (75 Years - 1981)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Owen, Powe, Griebnow, Hotchkiss, Hansen, Wendt, Johnston, larson, Weber, Fritz, Guthrie, Glick, Claybaugh, Ley

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 7/23/1981

Owen UCC Celebrates (75 Years - 1981)

As early as 1894, Sunday School classes were held in an Owen area school house and conducted in English and Scandinavian tongues. At that time Congregational missionaries held camp meetings in Withee and later at Bobb’s Mill. Those early records say, “The people of Owen are liberal in purse and loyal in spirit.”

That congregation at Owen’s United Church of Christ is now celebrating 75 years of existence.

The humor of those pioneer church organizations still can be found. It was in 1906 at an early church meeting that the council was invited by John S. Owen to take a ride on a rain used for logging purposes to a camp where a steam loader was at work. The invitation was unanimously accepted and “the private council session was held in the caboose; all motions being carried at the rate of about 12 miles per hour.”

Also among those early records are orders that the “Ladies aid Society secure its fund; that it cannot consistently solicit means of support from saloons or keepers or from individuals or organizations directly securing moneys by legally or morally questionable means…”

When the church was to be built, A.R. Owen donated the lot. He never did become a member. The church was constructed for the sum of $3,015.43. A parsonage was built in 1921.

In 1908, baptism was done by either sprinkling or emersion in the Popple River.

The sidewalk was paid from the “church furnishings fund.” In 1912, a church tower was built. In 1926, times were improving, and members joined in with the other churches in holding tabernacle meetings. That was the year they bought a lawn mower.

In 1922, the Girls Service Club met in summer and the Christian Endeavor Society was organized.

Church Burns:

A year of turmoil occurred in 1941 after Rev. William P.D. Powe returned to military service; his wife and son remained at the parsonage. On March 16, 1941, both the church and the parsonage burned. The congregation of St. Katherine’s Episcopal Church invited the congregation to use a community hall for services until a church could be built. Although insured for $3,500, it was discovered that a $1,000 grant from the Church Building Society and a mortgage loan for $1,000 were both outstanding. Members had only $1,500 with which to begin reconstruction.

A building committee was organized and immediately authorized to purchase a parsonage. Purchased was the Oscar Griebnow home for $2,700. It has been the parsonage since.

Needing a pastor, Wesley A. Hotchkiss, a student from Northland College, was hired. He spent his first summer as an assistant to the contractor as well as taking care of his pastoral duties. That September he married. Both Rev. Hotchkiss and his wife, Mary Ellen, came from Long Island to take part in the celebration of the 75th anniversary.)

In 1946, the mortgages were burned. Then in 1956 a need for an addition to the church resulted in more room in the sanctuary as well as in the basement. In the years following, the merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church were completed to form the United Church of Christ. It was on May 7, 1961, when the Owen Congregational Church adopted a new constitution.

Twenty-one times during the 75 years, pastors have come to serve the congregation. Several times a pastor returned to take up the duties. Currently the Rev. Margaret E. Sheperd is the pastor.

Celebration Held

During a recent two-day celebration, a Saturday evening service was held following a buffet luncheon. Flowers were presented to Eva Hansen, Tad Hansen, Ed and Harold Wendt, Clarice and Clara Johnston and Martha Larson Weber who had been members 60 or more years. Those who had been members for 50 or more years were also recognized.

On Sunday morning’s service, a prayer by the Rev. Arden Fritz, a former member who is now ordained, was given. Other pastors taking part were the Rev. Clarence Guthrie, The Rev. Wesley Hotchkiss, The Rev. Myron Glick and the Rev. Ralph Claybaugh.

Following the service, dinner was served at the Owen-Withee High School. A song-fest was held during the clearing of the tables. Dr. Ralph Ley, retiring Wisconsin Conference president, was the main speaker.



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