Lincoln’s Ebenezer Congregational and Havelock United Methodist churches will celebrate milestone anniversaries the weekend of Aug. 15-16.
Ebenezer Congregational Church, on the corner of 8th and B streets, will celebrate 100 years of continuous service. Anniversary activities begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 15 with a breakfast at the church. A tour of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia follows at 10 a.m. On Sunday, former members and friends are invited to attend the 10:30 a.m. worship service and a 2 p.m. service of celebration.
Havelock United Methodist Church, 60th and Morrill streets, will commemorate its 125th year with a 10 a.m. Aug. 16 worship service led by Bishop Scott Jones of the Great Plains United Methodist Conference. A catered meal will follow at 11:30 a.m., with a program at 1:00 p.m.
Ebenezer Congregational Church is one of only two remaining churches established by Volga Germans in the South Bottoms. The founders selected the church’s name from I Samuel, 7:12: “Then Samuel took a stone…and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.”
In 1915, the Rev. J.F. Grove and 57 Volga German immigrants literally raised up their Ebenezer and built a church -- hence the theme for the 100th anniversary, “Raising Ebenezer.”
The original church was a modest frame structure with seating for 200. It cost $4,540 to build. The church was dedicated on Feb. 15, 1916.
But the little church quickly outgrew its building. The congregation voted to build a larger church on the same lot.
Lincoln architect Alfred W. Woods designed the building. He drew up the plans for many churches, homes and other buildings in Lincoln and throughout the Midwest, including Fairview, home of William Jennings Bryan, First United Methodist Church and Tifereth Israel Synagogue.
The cornerstone for the new building was laid on July 24, 1927, with Pastor Ferdinand Sattler presiding over a service attended by 300 people. The church building with seating for 500 in the sanctuary and another 200 in the balcony was dedicated seven months later on Dec. 18, 1927. The cost of the new building was $26,500. The church’s stained glass windows were created at the Lincoln Art Glass Works owned by John “Jack” Teysman.
A member of the German Congregational Conference, the worship services and the business meetings of the church were conducted in German until the 1950s. In 1957, German Congregational churches became affiliated with the United Church of Christ. Ebenezer joined the Nebraska Conference of the UCC on Sept. 15, 1963. On Aug. 25, 2013, the congregation voted to leave the UCC and is now an independent congregation.
In 1890, three years before Havelock incorporated as a city, and two years before the first building was erected, Methodist supply ministers held meetings to open a church.
In 1893, Rev. W. H. Prescott, an assistant at Lincoln’s St. Paul Methodist Church, was assigned to Havelock Methodist. Prescott, with a group of ladies referred to as the “faithful 12," began planning a church building on the southwest corner of 61st and Morrill on three lots donated by the Lancaster Land Company. Excavation began Oct. 20, 1893, and services were held in the new church less than three months later on Jan. 14, 1894.
A new church building, replacing the original, was completed in 1952. This was expanded with a new sanctuary, classrooms and offices in 1967, and comprises the Havelock church today.
Earlier this summer, the church welcomed its new pastor, the Rev. Amy Seifert.
For more information on anniversary events, visit havelockumc.org.