Roberts church celebrates 150 years
On Oct. 3, 1863, a group of seven parishioners from the Hammond Congregational Church began the Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ five years after moving from Hammond to Roberts.
Now, many years later, the Roberts Congregational Church will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a special worship service on Sunday, Oct. 27, which will feature a look back at the church's history as well as a look at how things have changed throughout its time in Roberts.
“It is the oldest church in Roberts and these people were truly the first settlers to come to the area, so there weren’t a lot of people or churches around at all,” said Carrie Fisher, a 15-year member of the church. “In 1884, the congregation was big enough to need a building, so they bought one from the Hudson Congregational Church and moved it to Roberts.”
By 1885, the church had grown from its original seven members to 25 members and it doubled its numbers once again by 1890, when there were 50 parishioners. Fisher figures there are around 270 members who are part of the church today, with a number of those people coming from outside of the Village of Roberts.
“There are some deep family roots in this church,” Fisher said. “There are some families who were members over 100 years ago who are still members now. We also have a big outreach which has brought us members from Baldwin and other places nearby.”
After spending many years in its building on Warren Street, a new building was built at 1001 Birch Drive in 2007-2008 and was dedicated on Dec. 7, 2008.
“They had made a commitment to relocate as well as building a new church for themselves,” Pastor Melinda Feller said. “There is a lot of space for the church to grow, but it will require figuring out a way to maintain the older generation of members while also bringing in new people. It will be a challenge but the members of this church have a strong faith which will help them.”
Pastor Feller has only been pastor of the Roberts Congregational Church since February, but she can already see why her new congregation has made it 150 years.
“They have a deep, abiding faith and their lives are deeply rooted inside the church,” Feller said. “It is the center and main focus of their lives, which is something they have been fed and nurtured with for a long time. But they have also realized that as the Village of Roberts continues to change, they must also change to keep people engaged and invested in the church.”
One of the things that drew Fisher to the Roberts Congregational Church was the amount of youth programs offered to keep her kids involved as well as the church's willingness to try new things.
“They had a lot of activities for my kids and a lot of opportunities for youths in general and that was a good thing to see,” Fisher said. “They also seemed to have a lot of stability as a church and were really involved in the community as well. They do a lot of different things and are not afraid to try new things.”
The worship service will be held at 10 a.m., with a potluck dinner immediately following the service.
“All of the things I’ve seen in my short time here really make me believe that this church will be here in the future,” Feller said. “They really seem to understand that there are a lot of challenges to doing ministry these days and they are trying new things to keep up with the times. They are very highly committed to that and that is a good thing.”