Isabella County Times News, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
Thursday, September 16, 1943

Center Church Celebrates Fiftieth Anniversary

Day Long Ceremonies Held Last Sunday

     The Center church celebrated its fiftieth anniversary Sunday, September 12.  The all-day program climaxed the
fifty years of services with fitting ceremony.  Three services were held.

     At the morning gathering Rev. J. M. Jensen was the speaker, with special music by Pearson Graham.

     For the afternoon program, Rev. Leroy M. Whitney delivered the sermon and the 19th Century choir provided
the music.  Preston Johnson led in the "Reminiscences," and election of officers and other business was transacted.

     The evening service included the address of Rev. E. C. Finkbeiner, music by the Weidman choir, and the play, "What Men Live By", directed by Harvey Lowery.

     During the day the church received several gifts.  The Christian flag was replaced by a beautiful silk one given by Mr. and
Mrs. Howard Kennedy, in memory of their son, Chester.   A new silk American flag was presented by the brothers
and sisters of the late Earl Johnson in his memory.  A modern florescent pulpit lamp was the gift of Mrs. Earl Johnson and family, in memory of their husband and father, Earl Johnson.

     A handsome service banner and honor roll was bought for the church with a part of a bequest of the late Mrs. Annie
Conner.  Many lovely floral tributes were sent also in the memory of loved ones.

     For the special dinner last Sunday the church basement was decorated in yellow and white.  Yellow streamers formed a
canopy for the tables which were decorated with yellow fall flowers and tall yellow tapers.  Each streamer was tagged with the
year it represented.

     Two hundred persons were served at the mid-day meal.  At the evening meal about one hundred people were served.

     The officers of the Center church as listed in the bulletin are as follows: Raymond J. Wad, DD. LL. D. Bishop, Byron Hahn, District Superintendent, Hilding Kilgren, pastor.

     Church board trustees are: Ripert Schofield, David Lowery, Spencer Stickle, Mrs. Ida Johnson, Orin First and David
Bellinger, Stewards: Mrs. Ida Johnson, Fred Roethlisberger, Mrs. Orin First, Harry Maybee, Mrs. Dan Morrison, Harvey Lowery and Russell Wilson.  Church school superintendent is David Bellinger.

      Committees for the anniversary celebration were publicity, Mrs. Ida Johnson, Mrs. Grace Armstrong, Wilma Bellinger; records,
Spencer Stickle, Mrs. Frankie Johnston, Mrs. David Bellinger; program, Lila Stickle, Mrs. Roy Graham, Preston Johnson, Harvey Lowery; decorating, Myrtle Robison, Eileen Johnson, Beth Robison; dinner, Woman's Society for Christian Service; ushers, Russell Johnston, Darwin Johnson and Duval First.

     For the past two years, Rev. Hilding Kilgren has been the pastor at Center.  His pleasing personality and the zest and enthusiasm of his leadership have been the source of much inspiration to his people.

     The chronological history of Center church follows:

     The Center Church organization resulted from meetings held in the Walton School in the summer of 1886.  Rev. Taft, who preached at Rosebush, also preached at the school house meetings.

     Charter Members included: Mr. and Mrs. N. E. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. M. T. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. H. D. Johnston, Mr. and Mrs. J. Y. Johnston and Mr. and Mrs. Archie Miller.

     The first pastor sent from conference was the Rev. J. O. Snyder who arrived in 1886.  The circuit was composed of Leaton, Rosebush, Vandecar, North Branch and Center. 

     In 1889 the Rev. E. L. Odle became the pastor and it was during his pastorate that the people began thinking about constructing a church building.

     An amusing incident occurred on July 4, during the building of the church.  Dr. Shaw, on his way to the William Conner home, stopped and called out the men, "I'll give you five dollars for the church when I come back."  When he returned he smilingly announced.  "I'll give you ten dollars, it's twins."  They were the first babies baptized on Dedication Day.

     The Rev. W. Earle became the pastor in 1890 and during his three years of service the first frame structure was built.  It was dedicated in August 1893.  During the construction of the building a severe storm arose in the night and the faith of John Y. Johnston ad John Stickle was tested as they worked by lantern light and strengthened the frame.

     Rosebush Center and North Branch united as a circuit and preaching service was held at least once every Sunday.

     The Rev. J. C. Deitrich succeeded the Rev. W. Earle and was followed by the Rev. E. W. Wood. The Rev. G. B. Day became the pastor in 1897.

     On February 8, 1897, the first Epworth League was organized.  The officers were: president, Mr. B. H. Chapman; first vice-president, John Y. Johnson; second vice-president, Mrs. Sarah B. Johnston; third vice-president, Frankie Stickle; fourth vice-president, Millie Chapman; and secretary, Spencer Stickle; and treasurer, David Lowery.  Fifty-two names were on the first membership list.

     The Rev. G. A. Brown arrived in 1900.

     The Rev. George Varion became pastor in 1901 and served faithfully for four years.

     During the pastorate of J. M. Jensen, the church was veneered with cement blocks.  M. E. Johns, M. T. Johnson, J. A. Stickle, George B. Stickle, and John Y. Johnston composed the committee in charge.

     Mrs. R. H. Chapman was elected president of the first Ladies Aid Society that was organized.  The first supper was served in the home of Mr. and Mrs. M. T. Johnson and the price was ten cents and five cents.

     The Rev. Cattoral, affectionately known as the "Little Englishman" served from 1906 to 1910.  In favorable weather he made his pastoral call on a bicycle.

     The Rev. C. W. Holden became the shepherd of the flock and served them for three years.  Then the Rev. W. A. Hinterman became pastor.

     Next came the Rev. C. Brown who was succeeded by the Rev. Milton Benedict.

     The Rev. M. L. Gardiner became the pastor in 1919 and it was during his five years that Center and Rosebush churches and also the parsonage were extensively remodeled.  On March 10, 1922 a meeting was held in the Center Church and it was decided to remodel the church building.   The committee consisted of Rev. M. l. Gardiner, L. S. Stickle, George B. Stickle, David Lowery, John Graham, Frank Johnston, and James W. Walton.  March 14, 1922, work was begun.  The cement veneer blocks were removed from the church in their place was used red brick.  The basement was dug and finished with a kitchen and dining room.  The interior of the church was remodeled and rededicated.  On Sunday, August 31, 1922, the church was rededicated.

     E. C. Warriner of Central Michigan Normal School gave an inspiring address on faith.  Dr. Armstrong, District Superintendent of the Big Rapids district discussed the financial situation.  Already $4112 had been spent and $1600 was still yet needed to pay all the bills.  Within thirty minutes $1500 was pledged and the morning service was dismissed to enjoy a dinner.

     In the afternoon service the Rev. W. W. Whitehouse delivered a sermon on Christian Experience after which Dr. Armstrong presented again the need for more money to finish paying the bills.  An addition $200 was pledged which was more than necessary.  Thus it was a great day in the minds of all the people.

     The Rev. C. A. Metyer became the pastor in 1928 and was followed by the Rev. E. C. Finkbeiner.   In spite of the depression years, the church carried on its great work of serving the community.  The people did not lose faith.

     In 1934, the Rev. J. W. Stanton took over as pastor and he was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas Jackson.  Rev. Jackson was taken ill during his second year and Mrs. Leah Garchow finished the year.  The Rev. W. T. Skinner became pastor in 1940 and remained one year.

     In 1941, H. W. Kilgren, the present pastor began to serve the charge.   The people decided that it was time to redecorate the church, and also install new windows.   In the fall of the same year, Art Glass Windows and a bulletin board were added.  The auditorium was finished in white.  The basement in the spring of 1943 was insulated with celotex.





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