Saturday, October 1
I enjoyed a Saturday afternoon conversation with members Pilgrim Congregational Church of Green Bay, Wisconsin (#12), situated on the edge of a commercial district, not far from Lambeau Field. The timing of my visit, as with many things during the fall in Green Bay, was influenced by a Packers game the next afternoon. The church leaders are encouraged by how a newly introduced staggered Sunday schedule has been received. Some members convene at 9:30 in the fellowship hall for an informal service that includes time for dialogue after the sermon. Senior Minister Andy King preaches there and then joins a 10:00 service in the sanctuary which follows a traditional liturgy. At around 10:30, all gather in the fellowship hall for coffee hour. The church is pleased to rent space to St. Joseph’s School and another worshipping community, Grace of Salvation
Thursday, October 6
For about twenty years, the members of First Congregational Church of Elkader, Iowa (#13) have been preparing pies to raise money. It started with just a few for the church members. This year, they sold over 560 pies. I was welcomed by the hardworking crew on their second day and learned a lot about well-organized baking methods and the history of the church.
In her home workshop, one member created a sanctuary cross out of wood from seven continents.
The beautiful membership and baptism certificates that many NACCC congregations use are created by members of this church, a gift to the NACCC that has flourished and changed over several decades.
Friday, October 7
Over 77,000 weddings have been performed at Little Brown Church in the Vale, Nashua, Iowa (#14) which houses the story behind the hymn, “The Little Brown Church in the Vale.” Each August, they host a reunion for wedding couples. Two weddings were scheduled on the afternoon I was there; I got to meet a bride and groom from Des Moines. In addition, other visitors who had learned about Little Brown Church in the Vale in Iowa history stopped by.
Each Sunday, the church hosts a meal in the fellowship hall following worship. Visitors and guests are welcome and often attend.
Just before I left, a church member invited me to pull the bell cord. Every couple who is married at the church tugs the cord in unison to symbolize how they will pull together throughout their life.
Sunday, October 9
Sunday School at First Congregational Church, Marshalltown, Iowa (#15) takes place in the Loft before the service. One class of all ages plays a game together and is learning to memorize the books of the Bible.
The church has been working with the Center for Parish Development. Their efforts have borne several new members over the past year. The culminating gathering was scheduled for a later weekend in October.
La Moille Congregational Community Church, Marshalltown Iowa (#16) is located about ten miles outside of Marshalltown. One member drives nearly an hour from Des Moines while others live close by. The youth leader has a focused outreach at a skate park. They cherish their history as a strong presence in the community and are continuing to reach out to their neighbors.
Following our gathering, I was given the opportunity to ride in a combine. Harvesting corn offers a good metaphor for collaborating and working in harmony.
Saturday, October 15
Allison is the county Seat. Allison Congregational Church, Allison, Iowa (#17) is situated on Main Street, adjacent to the veterans’ memorial and in sight of the county buildings.
The congregation hosts a weekly ecumenical Bible study on Saturday mornings and special, festive meals following worship on months which have a fifth Sunday.
Sunday, October 16
At First Congregational Church of Clear Lake, Iowa (#18) I enjoyed a Bible study on Numbers before worship and a substantive conversation about church growth in the Mayflower Room following the service.
Following a swift successful capital campaign, the congregation recently replaced their roof and renovated their nursery with cheerful paint on the walls and furniture.
Wednesday, October 19
The program at the annual harvest dinner at First Congregational Church of Lake Odessa, Michigan (#19) was a surprise celebration of their minister during pastor appreciation month! This congregation is known for kindness and hospitality in the local community and beyond. Some members drive 40 minutes to attend worship. The Tuesday morning Bible studies are popular with Congregationalists and others.
Thursday, October 20
The courageous resilience of First Congregational Church of Portland, Michigan (#20) is evident in how they rebuilt their beautiful space after it suffered destruction during a tornado in 2022.
Members are kind to one another and thoughtful about reaching out to the wider community. Here too, members drive a distance, over 20 minutes from Lansing, to share in worship and other activities. The congregants were looking forward to a special blessing of pets service to be held on an upcoming Saturday.
First Congregational Church of Laingsburg, Michigan (#21) is well-known for its contributions to the local community. On a chilly Thursday evening, dozens settled in around bonfires for chili, s’mores, and live music. The minister is a member of a three-person band. Their performance inspired a visitor from Wisconsin to join others who danced in parking lot.
Recent renovations make the inside welcoming and versatile. The kitchen and social hall are used by community organizations.
Sunday, October 23
It was Consecration Sunday at Mayflower Congregational Church, East Lansing, Michigan (#22) following a full weekend of hosting the annual meeting of the Michigan Conference of Congregational Christian Churches. During worship, the members and their guests celebrated gifts of time, talent, and other resources.
Musicians from the church provided Friday evening entertainment with varied genres and instruments.
The church has been a Congregational presence in Lansing since 1803. Among other current outreach initiatives, they support a local rescue mission by preparing a monthly meal.