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THE EARLY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

One can only speculate as to the origin of the early Presbyterian Church of Marion Junction. There are no available church records; no former members (as far as we know) and no one who was aware that such a church even existed until an Abstract of the Title of Lots 5 and 6 of Mack’s Addition to the City of Marion supplied the information. Further research has uncovered the following information.

As early as 1880, a Reverend T. A. Shaver was preaching at Bridgewater and circuit preaching at Salem, Marion and Cameron, a small community near Canistota. On April 28, 1882 the church of Marion organized with four members, three of whom were received on Certificate of Transfer and one on profession of faith. The church was then in the charge of a Reverend John A. Smith. The church statistics later showed an increased enrollment of eight.

On August 17, 1882, J. A. Smith and A. E. Ashoroft initiated Incorporation papers and these were filed August 22, 1882. Information found in the abstract states that Ernest Reiff deeded Lots 5 and 6 to the Presbyterian Church of Marion Junction on September 12, 1882. The trustees were W. W. Nutting, C. H. Flowers, and J. A. Smith. This same Ernest Reiff was a charter member of the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in 1889.

On December 2, 1882 they borrowed $667 from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. It is assumed that it was to pay for the property and to build a church. From one source we quote, “Very few churches were fortunate enough to have a minister like J. A. Smith. Bro Smith …. was architect and general manager of the Marion and Bridgewater churches, both of which he also built…” From an article found in the Parker New Era dated November 14, 1885, in a write-up about the town of Marion, “The Presbyterian building is one of the prettiest churches in the country…”

In 1883 General Assembly statistics indicated there was a membership of 11. In 1886 Ludwig Figge served the Marion Church as well as the First German Church at Lennox. In 1888 the membership was down to three.

On April 5, 1888 the clerk of the church was instructed to sell “for at least a sufficient amount to satisfy the claims of the Board of Church Erection (of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church)… and to disband the church.

Finally on October 23, 1888 “John A. Smith, President of Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Church of Marion Junction, Griffith Evans and Wm. J. Hill, Trustees to Methodist Episcopal Church of Marion Junction, Turner County, Dakota Territory sold the church for $300.00.” The building had been sold to the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Six months later the organization of Emmanuel German Presbyterian Church began.

SHARED MEMORIES from CAROL NELSON

Pastor Bob Johnson had 2 favorite stories he always enjoyed sharing with us when he returned to fill our pulpit after his interim pastorate.

We had decided to undertake a large project for our church – moving
our manse behind the church to our east Wiens property, and then building a large fellowship hall to the west of our church building. Well, the day came when the manse was lifted and ready for its eastward journey. Soon a few people came to see the eventful move. Then the few became more and more, until a large crowd of Presbyterians and Marion townspeople was standing at the destination spot. This sparked an idea in the mind of John Tschetter “With a crowd like this, we need to take an offering.” So, he took off his hat and went through the large crowd taking an offering for the church treasury to use for the moving and building project. It was definitely a “moving” experience!

The second story involved a Sunday worship service and communion bread. When it came time for the distribution of the bread, the elders had quite a surprise. Upon uncovering the silver bread plates, the minister found 4 empty plates. Someone had entered the church after the serving elder had set up the
communion table with bread the night before, and the intruders had taken all of the bread.

Marianne Smith, one of the elders standing at the table, turned around and went down the aisle to the usher standing in the vestibule. The usher was Bernell Nelson. She immediately asked him if he had any bread at home, to which he replied, “Yes, I think Carol made some in the bread-maker last night.” So, Bernell quickly ran home to fetch the bread, while the minister stalled waiting for the return of the bread. Now upon Bernell’s arrival at home, he found that there was no loaf of homemade bread on the counter. To the breadbox he went, to find only a new package of bread cube croutons, the kind used for turkey dressing. Well, with the bag in hand, Bernell ran back to the church. He handed the bag to Marianne telling her that was all he had found. Marianne tucked the bag under the jacket of her dress and walked up the aisle to the front of the church. Soon a tinkle, tinkle, tinkle sound of the crisp bread croutons dropped upon the silver plates was heard throughout the sanctuary. The croutons were blessed and
the congregation was served. The congregation was not told of the exchange, and the communion service was finished. It was only after the congregation was leaving the church sanctuary that the story unfolded. Evidently, someone had entered the church the night before and had helped themselves to the communion
bread. All of us who were there that day can attest to the fact that we have never had a crunchier communion service since that day!

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