History

Round Grove United Church UCC

(United Church of Christ)

History

1901 – 2015

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The Duetchen Evangelischen Friedens Gemeinde (German Evangelical Friedens [Peace] Congregation) near Lewisville, under the leadership of the Rev. Theo Tanner, was formally organized in the year 1901, with William Barfknecht, Fred Wolters, Sr., and Carl Uecker as officers. At the organizational meeting it was decided:

To build a church during the year 1901.

That the President was to buy two acres of land within three months on which to build the church.

That the minister (Rev. Tanner), who lived in Dallas, was to preach at least twelve times a year.

His salary would be $100 a year.

Seven months later the church was completed. Henry Uecker, Sr., gave two acres of land on which to build the church and locate the cemetery.
The charter members were:
William Barfknecht
Fred Wolters
William Thiede
William Dollgener
Carl Uecker
Henry Uecker, Sr.
Henry Uecker, Jr.
Will Lunow
August Barfknecht
Frederick Barfknecht
Paul Berndt
Carl Dollgener
Frederick Duwe
Julius Dollgener
Herman Uecker

The community was called “Round Grove” because of a round clump of trees near the Ihnfeldt and Dollgener farms.

The church building was built by members. The interior of the church was of beaded ceiling, and the outside was of narrow weatherboard. The inside was painted white; so were the windows, inside and out, so one could not see in or out.

Between each group of windows there were brackets for a kerosene lamp. Each lamp had a reflector between the chimney and wall. These lights were used for Christmas Eve programs as well as meetings at night.

The building was heated with a pot-bellied stove, using wood for fuel. It stood in the center of the building. The stove was tall and small enough that people could pass by. The stove pipe looked a mile long, for it extended straight upward through the ceiling.

There was a rather low organ, which had some ornate carving on the shelf or “rest” which held the song books. It had to be peddled. The seats were homemade, with slatted backs and seats and were very uncomfortable. They were varnished or stained red. In the summertime, the men especially, always came home with red paint on their nice white shirts. There was always a pillow on one of the front seats where Grandma Uecker sat. All the men sat on the right, and the women on the left side. At the entrance of the church was a landing or porch, without roof, and a few steps to the north and south.

In 1907 it was decided to buy an organ. In 1909, Rev. Tanner resigned due to ill health. Rev. A. Romanowski was asked to serve the church. The salary was raised to $170. In 1911 it was agreed that a tenth anniversary be held in conjunction with the Mission Festival. Also, it was decided that two church services a month were to be held at the same salary. During the 1912 annual meeting it was decided to purchase a long-handled basket for the collection of offering. It was also decided that cedar trees were to be planted.

In March 1913, Pastor Romanowski asked to be released because the work at his Dallas church demanded his full time. Help was sought from the Fort Worth Church. It was voted to accept Pastor C. Wolff. He was to come once a month, or twelve times a year, at a salary of $180, and to be paid for any extra services.

In 1916 the platform and steps in front of the church were replaced. In January 1919 it was decided that both languages, German and English, were to be used in church services. A new robe was presented to the pastor. In 1921 it was voted to have individual membership, not just families. The pastor’s salary was raised to $200 in 1923. The services were to be held in German in the afternoons and English in the evenings. The first Sunday School class held in English was in 1925 and a raise for $50 was voted for the pastor. It was also voted that November to buy a piano.

Pastor Wolff tendered his resignation at the January 1926 annual meeting effective within three months. The 25th Anniversary Celebration was to be held on September 26, 1926 in connection with the Mission Festival. It appears from the minutes that the Mission Fest was an annual event.

The Rev. T.L. Boesch came to serve the church on October 31, 1926. The services were held in English on the first and fourth Sundays of the month, and no English services in the evening on these Sundays. A motion was made at the January 1928 meeting that male and female could hold office. Pastor Boesch tendered his resignation on December 2, 1928.

At the January 1929 meeting it was decided to pay the pastor $800 and lodging, with the help of the Mission Board. The Rev. Wm. Wuerz came to serve the church. He resigned effective April 30, 1931. In October of the same year, Pastor Wolff agreed to serve the church through 1931. On April 17, 1933 the Rev. R. Uhlhorn agreed to serve the church. On the first and third Sundays the services were conducted in English. A youth group was organized, and the council decided to haul gravel to the church property.

Prior to 1934 the Lewisville congregation was a member of the Evangelical Synod of North America. On June 26, 1934, the denomination was merged with the Reformed Church of the U.S., and for a number of years the congregation was known as the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

At a special meeting in August 1936 it was voted to hold services at 8:30 on Sunday mornings through the summer months. During the annual meeting in January 1937 it was decided to reorganize, revise, and translate the constitution into the English language. The pastor asked for additional financial aid of $2 a month for instruction of Confirmation class. Members of the congregation expressed themselves to the effect that if the congregation was to grow, it would be necessary to have Sunday School and church services every Sunday.

During the congregational meeting on January 1, 1938 whether or not the congregation might be able to finance a full-time minister was discussed. At a called meeting on January 30, 1938 the matter of getting a full-time minister was further discussed. Pledges were taken from those present and a canvas was to be made of all members not present. After the canvas was completed, the secretary reported how much had been pledged. In March 1928 the need of a parsonage was also discussed. Rev. O. Massinger, a student at the Dallas Theological Seminary, came to serve as full-time minister the latter part of 1938.

P4160416A committee was appointed in 1939 to investigate the cost and possibility of getting a loan to repair and remodel the church building. At the congregational meeting in March 1939, it was decided to go ahead with the building program. A new entrance-way was added to the front of the church. An Altar was built and placed in the center at the back of the chancel, and a brass rail with velvet curtains was placed in front of the chancel. The re-dedication of the church was held on Sunday, August 27, 1939, with pastors from St. Paul’s Evangelical Church of Dallas and Zion Evangelical Church in Waco, bringing messages. At a called meeting of the congregation in April 1939 a committee was appointed to see about a location for a parsonage and the cost involved. “Uncle Henry” Uecker donated the land across the road from the church for the parsonage. It was decided to build a four-room building at a cost of approximately $600. The men of the church did the work.

Two members were added to the church council at the annual meeting in January 1943. Rev. Glenn Rorie, a student at the Perkins School of Theology, S.M.U., came during June of 1947 to serve the church. In May 1948 plans were made for new seating arrangements. It was voted to have individual chairs instead of pews. Rev. G.B. Ames, also a student at Perkins, came during June of 1949. During the monthly meeting in July 1949, plans were discussed for a new Sunday School building, or Parish Hall. The building was erected during that year. It was originally an Army Barracks, which was torn down and moved to the Round Grove Church property and reassembled by members of the church.

Rev. Jewel Johnson, also a student at Perkins, reported as pastor during June 1951. A movie projector was purchased during the year. Rev. Duane Hutchinson, a student at S.M.U., started serving the church in May of 1953. On September 13, 1953, it was voted to build an addition to the front of the church and a door on the south side of the church. Two pulpit chairs were given by a member of the church. An addition of two classrooms was added to the Parish Hall in October 1953.

In June 1957, in Cleveland, Ohio, the Evangelical and Reformed Church united with the Congregational Christian Churches to form the United Church of Christ. At an annual meeting in January 1958, the Lewisville congregation voted to change the name of the local church from Friedens Evangelical and Reformed Church to the United Church of Christ.

The Rev. Don Guynes (Perkins student) was elected as Pastor in June 1957. During the January 1958 annual meeting it was planned to establish a “Memorial Fund.” Unless otherwise designated, the funds were to be used in the upbuilding of the church facilities. Plans for the remodeling and enlarging of the front of the sanctuary were discussed. the council was authorized to make the necessary improvements.

Installation services for Rev. Walter Simpson, newly ordained minister from Eden Seminary, were held on September 14, 1958. Rev. Simpson tendered his resignation to be effective December 6, 1959. The Rev. R.F. Buck started serving the church during December 1959 as interim pastor. At the annual congregational meeting in January 1959, it was voted that a new constitution be drawn up, with the help of Rev. Buck.

Mr. Robert Lougheed of Littleton, Colorado, who was to enroll at Perkins in the fall of 1960, was found to be available to serve the church. He was contacted and he came to deliver a trial sermon on June 8, 1960, at which time he agreed to the salary presented. Because of family illness, he tendered his resignation on October 23, 1960.

Dr. Curl of Perkins School of Theology, on November 22, 1960, advised that he had a student, Rev. David Stephens, who would be interested in serving the church. He agreed to come at the salary presented, with a parsonage and all utilities furnished. He would be available on the first Sunday of December 1960. The congregation voted to accept Rev. Stephens’ offer on Sunday, December 18, 1960.

The papers for the incorporation of the church were finalized in December 1960. In January 1961 Hannah Uecker met with the council for the purpose of discussing obtaining land adjoining the church property as an addition to the cemetery. Mrs. Uecker offered to donate up to two acres, a portion to be taken along the east side and the south side of the church property.

The revised constitution was accepted at the annual meeting held on January 22, 1961. It called for nine council members. During the council meeting that February, plans were discussed concerning needed improvements to the Parish Hall, such as additional rooms, modern rest rooms, etc. An air conditioner (window unit) was purchased for the parsonage; a mimeograph machine; a water cooler was donated by a member; and a Baptismal Font was given by children of a family in memory of their parents. Also, altar cloths were given by members of the church. The Memorial Fund Committee purchased a pastor’s communion set for the use of the minister when calling on the sick and shut-in. A set of Interpreter’s Bibles were given by a member in February 1962.

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The rededication of the building was held on August 8, 1963. The pastor of Central Congregational church (UCC) in Dallas gave the morning sermon and the pastor of First United Methodist church in Lewisville gave the evening service. An open house was held during the afternoon with a host of visitors inspecting the church sanctuary.

During the March 1964 Council meeting a committee was appointed to see about improving and remodeling the Parsonage kitchen. In October 1964 Rev. Stephens tendered his resignation effective December 1, 1964. Rev. Robert Davis, Chaplain at Parkland Memorial Hospital, was asked to fill the pulpit the first three Sundays in December, and Rev. DeOliverra from S.M.U. to fill the pulpit during January and possibly through Easter. In May 1965 Rev. Darrel Rundus was requested to come for a trial sermon.

It was decided to paint the parsonage inside and out, and make necessary repairs. During the years 1965 an electric typewriter was purchased; a sign painted; a yard light put on the church yard; and a light on the church sign. Also, the cemetery fence was moved to include some of the new land that had been donated. Rev. Rundus terminated his ministry in June 1966. Rev. Kenneth Pheiffer was installed as minister on September 25, 1966.

During a congregational meeting held on May 26, 1968, it was voted to change the name of the church to Round Grove United Church. White linen Altar Cloths were given to the church in September 1968. Out of the discussion of the annual meeting in 1970 came the decision to expand the education and fellowship facilities of the congregation. It was decided that this expansion should adhere to the existing architectural design. Remodeling included four new classrooms, an enlarged pastor’s office, and an enlarged and modernized kitchen. The kitchen was enlarged and a new stove, refrigerator, and sink were added, together with cabinet and storage space, and a convenient pass-through for serving a large number efficiently. The minister’s office was furnished with restored furniture of the same period. The auditorium seated approximately 125, with a well-lighted stage for programs and served as a large dining room for church suppers and other gatherings. A unique library was included and served as a pass-through to Sunday School class rooms and the nursery. Three large paneled class rooms and the nursery, with custom draperies, were added to the original building. In the fall of 1971 the new facilities were dedicated, free and clear of all debt.

When it became clear that larger and more modern facilities were needed to continue the rebirth of the congregation, a Building Committee was appointed, a Building Fund Committee was created and an architect was selected. On June 25, 1989, a Ground Breaking Ceremony was held on the church property on the north side of Round Grove Road. In May of 1990, the congregation moved into the new and beautiful facility. Several Building Fund Drive Campaigns were held, each with two year giving periods. A member of the congregation, Frank Schreiber, donated a large amount prior to his death and also willed a large amount of his and his late wife’s, Ruby’s, estate to the congregation which was used along with utility easement income to pay off the debt in less than five years after the building was completed. In the past several years the church renovated the Main Facility and added on to the Fellowship Hall which is currently the Youth Room for the Youth of the church.

Round Grove United Church continued to grow in membership and activities following the entry into the new building. The Christian Education and Youth Ministry has also grown. The last Building Fund, which ended in 1997, was used in connection with enlarging the Fellowship Hall and the construction of the new Christian Education Building, which in addition to our use for Sunday School is also leased from us by Childtime Child Care. A sizeable number of children, youth and adults have participated in church camping programs. There are two active youth groups. There are currently nine persons on staff at Round Grove in the positions of Pastor, Choir Director, Children’s Choir Director/Fellowship Assistant, Organist/Pianist, Christian Education Assistant, Youth Staff Person, Administrative Assistant, Nursery Worker and Nursery Assistant. The Fellowship programs have grown through the Women’s and Men’s Fellowship groups as well as the Adult and Family Fellowship activities planned by our Fellowship Assistant. The Stewardship focus of Round Grove has been on the need of the giver to give of finances, skills, time and energy, instead of on the need of the church to receive those gifts. The financial giving and level of volunteer service in the church has grown dramatically since 1984.

Especially since 1996 the church has been able to put more and more focus on helping others in the community and ministering beyond its members. Each year, Round Grove has increased her involvement in supporting the ministries of Christian Community Action. The congregation has been able to give more financially to the South Central Conference, to the wider church and to spend more on Evangelism.

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In April 2009 the Congregation celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Rev. Dr. Byron S. Wells, as Pastor of Round Grove, and of Margaret Wells, Choir Director!

Round Grove United Church UCC celebrated the 110th Anniversary of the congregation on Epiphany, January 6, 2011.  There was an Anniversary Celebration with a catered meal followed by special music from the Chancel Voices on Sunday, May 15, 2011!

God has been gracious to Round Grove United Church UCC! Clearly, our Divine Parent has worked through many of our members during these past 112 years, so that we now benefit from their fruitfulness and commitment! May this heritage inspire all of us to become more open to the Almighty’s gifts, calling and guidance, so we will grow even more in our faith relationships and will become even more effective servants of our Lord, Jesus Christ!

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