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Hammond church celebrates 150 years

If walls could talk, the Congregational Church of Christ in Hammond would have its share of stories to tell.

As the church building nears its 150th birthday, the congregation itself celebrated its anniversary on July 20.

Throughout its years, the congregation has aided locals in their quest for religion and community.

It's a small church with a small congregation that feels like a family.

Bev Medes, the longest member of the church, said the people are what makes it so special.

"We're known to be a very friendly church," she said, "the people make the church."

The congregation's history can be traced back to the days when Wisconsin was part of the wild frontier. Speculators in Boston secured the land where the Village of Hammond now stands. The land was transferred into the hands of settlers seeking a healthful atmosphere and a beautiful location for farm homes.

The first noted talk of starting a church was in 1857, and the first reverend was put on the payroll on July 1, 1858. Letters of membership from 15 families were presented and they began meeting in a small schoolhouse. The church building as it is now was completed in 1873.

Over the next hundred years, the church saw its share of improvements, including new religious fixtures, rooms and appliances.

Sally Doornick, congregation member, said the church is unique because of its history and look.

"Everybody likes it because of the old style," Doornick said. The building has stained glass windows that were installed between 1881 and 1907. That type of window can't be found in newer churches.

Throughout the church, there are reminders of people from the past who were significant to the congregation or to individuals.

One stained glass window commemorates the town's first settlers and the ones who started the church.

A painting by Don Minks hangs in the dining room in honor of his parents.

New trees have been planted in front of the building in honor of two people.

One Medes planted for her recently passed husband Cliff. She and Cliff joined the church in 1959.

Mementos of current members also give the church its character. Members know where they will sit each week so some leave their things in their pews.

The congregation has always had small numbers. Because of that, people know what's expected of them.

During the church's popular meatball suppers, congregation members typically hold the same jobs from year to year. The suppers are held twice each year, once in the spring and again in the fall.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary, the congregation celebrated with a full day of activities.

In the morning, a service with former pastor Dutch Huebschman was held. During the service, Mary Monson was recognized for painting the mural above the altar that reads "Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace, Good will Toward Men."

A chicken dinner followed the service.

An afternoon service was led by current pastor Gary Core. Additionally, special music was provided. Special guests included past UCC ministers and local clergy.

No matter what physically changes about the church, its spirit remains the same.