By Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon




Not unlike the birth of a child, country or nation, the birth of a Church rarely comes about without a struggle.  The Neillsville Assembly of God was no exception.  For many years the infant Church fought for survival, battling low attendance and lack of finances to support a full time pastor.

For approximately six years between 1949 and 1955, the Church existed only with the help of pastors willing to come from various areas to fill in.  Some came only on Sunday evenings, while others eventually moved to the Neillsville area only to leave after a relatively short period of time.    .  During the summer of 1949 Rev. Maurice Anderson of the Marshfield Missionary Alliance Church came to Neillsville and began by holding evening services in the Congregational Church, which was located on the site where the Mid Wisconsin Bank now stands.  Rev. Charles Butcher from the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Stevens Point took over from Rev. Anderson during the winter of 1949.  In 1950 the Rev. Carl Petty of Souls Harbor Church in Minneapolis moved to Neillsville and served the church for about one year.   The congregation was small and funds were low, and soon Rev. Petty moved back to Minneapolis, but he continued to serve as pastor, driving back and forth to Neillsville each Sunday to hold services for a very small group of mostly women. 

The meetings were then taken over by Rev Darley of the American Sunday School Movement, and offered to be our pastor but only remained a short time, when in 1951, he transferred out East and once again the Church was without a pastor.   Somewhere along in this time span, the meetings were held in the V.F.W. Hall on Court St. in Neillsville, for several years.  Discouraged but still determined to get a full gospel Church established the Rev. Melvin Hanson of Black River Falls was contacted.  Through his efforts Rev. Charles Nutter of Alma Center, Rev. Milford Gilbert of Veefkind and Rev. Tutor of Marshfield and himself, Rev. Hanson began coming to Neillsville one Sunday a month to fill in.  This arrangement continued from August of 1952 through September of 1953.

Rev. Eric Sjolberg and Delbert Baise came from Minnesota to oversee the work in 1953 until the summer of 1954, but being unable to find work they returned to Minnesota.  At this time we were receiving $25.00 support from the Assembly of God headquarters.  During this time plans were made to erect a church building on Division St., but these plans were abandoned due to a parking problem with the city and the congregation continued to meet in the V.F.W. Hall.  Soon after that Rev. Delbert Ulfing came from Chicago, Illinois to assume the pastorate and worked at Van Gorden’s Elevator until he took ill, and he returned to Illinois, having served for about a year.  Supply pastors from nearby churches again conducted services until September of 1955, when Rev. Bob (Jean) Friesen from Marshall, Minnesota, became pastor until July 7, 1957.  Rev. Mander  (Bonnie) McPherson of Minnesota then became the pastor until the winter of 1959.  Now again, the Church was without a pastor.

After the resignation of Rev. McPherson, the Rev. Norman Peterson of the Bethel Temple in Eau Claire conducted services on Sunday evenings in the rooms below the Neillsville Bank until January of 1960, when Rev. Verlyn W (Bertha) Nelson assumed the pastorate.  In the spring of 1963, the congregation was set in order as a Home Missions Church under the supervision of the Wisconsin Northern Michigan District of the Assemblies Of God, and the church building at the corner of West 5th and Clay St was purchased from the United Reformed Church.  Now being an official Assembly of God Church, a membership drive was launched and several became members.  Some of the original charter members who preserved and were instrumental in starting this Church were, Grace Giloy, Addie Redeagle, Albert Mohr, Meta Hanby, Allie Bonskold, Edward & Elizabeth Francis, Andreas & Adele Lutz.  The building was dedicated in the fall of 1963. 

Rev. Verlyn W Nelson resigned the pastorate in the summer of 1965 and again supply pastors conducted the services until the Rev. D.E. ‘Gene’ (Patricia) Sprague of Eau Claire became pastor in May of 1966.  Before being ordained into the ministry, Rev. Sprague was a teacher in Neillsville High School and he with his family had attended the church when Rev. McPherson, and Rev. Nelson were pastors.  For income to support his family, Rev. Sprague continued to teach at Neillsville High School as he served the congregation.  It was during his tenure that several parcels of land on East 15th Street were purchased and a new parsonage was built.  Seven acres of land were purchased on Highway 73 North with the intent of building a new Church on it someday.  In May 1966 the congregation purchased a parsonage at 114 Oak St. and in 1969 the church was set in order as a sovereign church with a three members board.  Those serving on the board were Gordon Hameloth, secretary, James Dunlap and Andreas Lutz.  Mrs. Dolores Novak served the congregation as Treasurer, and held other offices in the church and Sunday school.  In the fall of 1970, an organ was given to the Church, in memory of Rudolph Novak, given by his family.     

During the early 1970’s God blessed our Church with a glorious revival.  Many were saved out of the hippie movement, some of them receiving a call to the full time ministry and obedient to the call, established houses of worship and places of prayer where God continues to pour out His Blessing.

In the latter years of Rev. Sprague’s tenure Steve and Jan Ware, and later, Mel and Judy Fedder served as youth pastors in the Church.  Rev. Sprague resigned in the spring of 1982 and Rev. Lloyd Hohn became the pastor, purchasing the parsonage on East 15th Street from Rev. Sprague.

During Rev. Hohn’s tenure in Neillsville much maintenance was put into the Church building and grounds.  The exterior was painted, a new roof was installed, insulation was added to the ceilings, the kitchen area was remodeled and a new sidewalk layed, to name just a few things.  The original parsonage on Oak Street was sold making possible the purchase of a new piano, a used organ and a church van.  Rev. Hohn resigned in November of 1986.

The Church board then contacted Rev. Douglas Bjerke who was living near Fairchild, and he agreed to come on a temporary basis, but was soon elected to serve as Pastor in 1987 and continued to serve until the fall of 2004.  During this tenure the Church was repainted inside and out, new carpet installed on the main level and the basement concrete floor replaced.

In December of 1996 the former Masonic Temple at the corner of Hewett and 4th Streets was purchased and used for Youth, Sunday School and other special activities.  Then in May of 1999, all the services were moved from the Church building at West 5th and Clay Streets.  In January 2002 the Church building was sold to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, making it possible to upgrade the Hewett street building with insulation in the attic and a new roof plus paying off the mortgage in full.  Praise the Lord.

For a few months Interim Pastor Marvin Juve filled the pulpit, until mid March of 2005 when Rev. Joe (Dawn) Weiers became the new pastor.



(From the reunion bulletin)


It is with great joy that we welcome you here today.  Of special pleasure is the presence of a number of our former Pastors, wives and families to share in this celebration of Remembrance: 

Pastor & Mrs. Mander McPherson (1957-1959)

Pastor & Mrs. Verlyn W Nelson (1961-1965)

Pastor & Mrs. D E (Gene) Sprague (1966-1982)

Pastor & Mrs. Lloyd Hohn (1982-1986)

Mark Petty representing his Dad & Mom, Rev. & Mrs. Carl Petty (1950-1951)

It is with deep appreciation and sincere thanks that we honor these men and women of God and their families, for their faithful obedience and selfless sacrifices as they served Christ and His Church in the Neillsville area.  We humbly acknowledge our debt of gratitude, the prayer of our own hearts being, “Lord, May those who follow along behind us find us faithful.” 



We have one Charter Member with us Mrs. Adele Lutz, and family members of others who were a strategic part in the founding of our Church.  We will unveil our “Remembering the Faithful” plaque and read the names of those who have been glorified and recognize their family members who are here today.


Harold Schlinsog, Leona Bryan, Clara Gloff, Shirley Elmhorst, Dorothy Wallace, Harold Prosser, Andreas Lutz, Grace Giloy, Edna Perrine, Palmer Bjerke, Judy Bloch, Delbert Schnabel, Ernest and Pauline Baughman, Allie Bonskold and Albert Mohr.


(The above Church history information was gleaned from a Reunion bulletin from the Church (no date given but was 2002 or 2003), and the history was also known by myself, the transcriber, as I attended the church from 1952 until the summer of 1975 and my father Albert Mohr (d. 2000) faithfully attended the Church until a few years before his death when he did not drive any more.) 

Related Links


Assembly of God Dedication - 1964

Name change - 2005



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