First Plymouth Presbyterian Church closes doors

Friday, September 9, 2022
(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk) About 70 people filled the pews of First Plymouth Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Sept. 3, for a worship service of celebration and closing of the church after 150 years. Their voices filled the sanctuary with song and prayer as they remembered all the things God has done for this family of faith.

PLYMOUTH CO. — It was a time to celebrate, to remember and to say goodbye to First Plymouth Presbyterian Church at 16119 Hickory Avenue, rural Le Mars.

The nine active members welcomed family and friends home for one final worship service, gathering in song, word, communion and fellowship rejoice in all God’s hand has done with them through the years.

Julia (Wendt) Dahlke gave the sermon, “Stay Near.”

The sign, pictured at left, which welcomed many to Sunday services, held a final message, “Last Call . . .”

“This is a place to be with God. To talk to God. To listen to God, and to hear the stories of God,” she said.

“I have chosen to preach on God as our Good Shepherd because I think as we celebrate 150 years and prepare to close the doors of Plymouth Presbyterian Church, we will do well to remind ourselves that God is our Good Shepherd,” she said. “He knows and guides, protects and provides. Through 150 years he has known us, guided us, protected us and provided for us, and while this building will close its doors, we are its church and we can be confident that God’s relationship to this church does not change.”

Dahlke grew up in the church her father and brother still call home.

Family and friends of First Plymouth Presbyterian Church share some final thoughts following the activities on Sept. 3. The stairway on the right leads to the organ and choir loft area.

The last resident pastor, the Rev. Randy Knuth, once more said the words of institution for Holy Communion and shared in prayer.

Don Nelson, who conducted services in the last few years, shared scripture.

Special music by Colleen (Toben) Westergard and her mother, member Connie Toben, reminded those attending, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

(Sentinel Photos by Beverly Van Buskirk) The small country church of First Plymouth Presbyterian was founded on the prairie in 1872. The church and cemetery stand as a testament to the faith of many, as does the bell which called many to worship.

Hymns reflected the faith this church family carried out: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us,” closing with “God be With You Til We Meet Again.”

The Rev. Jan Christensen, moderator of the Presbytery of Prospect Hill, recognized the remaining members of the congregation and said, “In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the authority of the Presbytery, I declare this building vacated by the congregation of Plymouth Presbyterian Church and the congregation dissolved.”

Memories were shared over a light lunch, with smiles and laughter, and words of “so good to see you again.”

The nine active members of First Plymouth Presbyterian Church gathered for a picture in the church sanctuary. They are, front row, from left, Phyllis Collmann, Dorothy Gabel, Connie Toben and Judy DeBoer. Back row, Leon Gabel, Colin Collmann, Jason Wendt, Ron Wendt, and Gene Toben.

After lunch, many went back into the sanctuary for a time of reminiscing, reading letters from former members and pastors, and a time to reflect on all that was good.

Sunday school, Christmas Eve services, Easter sunrise services in the cemetery, the music, Vacation Bible School, ballgames, family nights, youth group Halloween parties, and those chicken dinners served years ago, brought smiles and a few tears to those in the pews.

For the remaining members, Ron Wendt, Jason Wendt, Gene and Connie Toben, Judy DeBoer, Colin and Phyllis Collmann, Leon and Dorothy Gabel, even as the doors close, other doors open for them to carry out their faith journey, just as a line from the benediction prayer read, “The memories of this cherlished place remain — for which are are so thankful.”

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: