DAVID CITY — Congregational Christian Church of David City hosted its 125th anniversary celebration in May 2003.
There won’t be a celebration of the church’s 138th anniversary.
The church located at 696 N. Fifth St. is planning a special closing service Sunday at 3 p.m.
Mary Ann Graybill, secretary and treasurer for the church, said it was bittersweet to go through the process of deciding to close. The decline in membership became too great to ignore about a year ago.
She and her husband, Clarence, came to David City in 1963.
“We raised our four children here,” she said. “This is where they went to church, to Sunday school and choir.”
She was able to name about a dozen longtime past members. Some moved away, some got married and joined their spouse’s church, and some died. Over the years, the addition of new members couldn't overcome the decline.
“There’s not that many left,” she said. "We’ve seen a lot of people come and go.”
Church leaders will close the doors Sept. 30. The future of the building hasn’t been decided.
The congregation has roots in Butler County’s original county seat of Savannah, but relocated to David City after the county seat was changed.
The first church, 32 feet by 46 feet, was dedicated in June 1879. Just eight years later it was damaged by a tornado, and the congregation quickly responded with donations for repairs and construction of a bell tower. Contributions came from Illinois and New York to keep the church growing. Electric lights were installed in 1890 and before long a parsonage was built at a cost of $1,200.
By 1916, the church had 100 members.
In 1960, the church approved the constitution of the United Church of Christ. Two years later an agreement was signed with the First Congregational and Christian Disciples of Christ Church for the purpose of providing an adequate pastoral service for both churches.
The two churches shared in expenses, meeting alternately in both buildings. A joint council worked to arrange the sharing of expenses.
In February 1977, the First Congregational and Christian Disciples of Christ became the Congregational Christian Church of David City and services were held in the church at Fifth and G streets.