“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
In the Beginning (1834 - 1881)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
The Presbyterian work in Minnesota began as a mission to the Sioux nation. Farmers Samuel and Gideon Pond arrived at Fort Snelling and began learning the Sioux language. The Presbyterian Church at St. Peters was organized at Fort Snelling and a third of its members were under commission of the Presbyterian American Board as missionaries.
The Dakota Presbytery was organized in 1844, five years before Minnesota became a Territory and 14 years before it became a State. That same year, 1858, the Synod of Minnesota was founded. Around this time, the population of Murray County was 29. This area experienced the Lake Shetek massacre in 1862.
The Synod of Minnesota divided into the Dakota Presbytery (3 Indian churches) and Mankato Presbytery (11 white churches) in 1897. The County population had grown to 209 by 1870 and a year later the Presbyterian Church of Lake Shetek (now Currie Presbyterian Church) was organized.
In 1880 the country census was up to 3,604 and a railroad had been built from Heron Lake to Slayton and on to Lake Wilson. A year later the railroad was extended to Pipestone. The railroad provided the vehicle to get more people to the southwestern part of the state and to move goods to support the population growth.
The Building (1882 - 1892)
“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1
On September 23, 1882, in the providence of God, twenty-three Christians met in the Episcopal Chapel in Slayton and organized the First Presbyterian Church of Slayton. The Episcopal Chapel was located at 2736 Linden Avenue. The organizational meeting was conducted by Synodical missionary Rev. D.C. Lyon, assisted by Rev. D.C. Smith of Currie. George Richardson, who had been an ordained Presbyterian elder in Scotland was elected elder and William Munco, Thomas Newell, and George Richardson were named as the first trustees. The Lord’s Supper was celebrated by those in attendance.
The church had no resident pastor until the fall of 1891. Seminary students and pastors from pulpit supply served the church during the 1880’s. The first baptism was performed in 1884. The First Presbyterian Church at Fulda was organized in 1885, the same year the town of Slayton was platted. The county records were moved from Currie to Slayton and the village of Slayton was incorporated in 1887. This was the same year Margaret Fraser was received on profession of faith.
“Miss Maggie”, age 17, started teaching Sunday School in 1889. Classes were held in the railroad depot. In 1890, the county population was up to 6,692 and the city had 380 people. At this time, the church bought two lots for a church building, paying $400.00 for the land.
A student at McCormick Seminary, William Lattimore, was serving as pulpit supply and a year later, he would become the first resident pastor of the church.
William Lattimore 1890-1899
On January 3, 1892, the first services were held in the new church building. The building was erected at its present site on the southeast corner of 26th Street and Linden Avenue.
Services were held Sunday morning and evening and a mid-week evening service was also conducted. Sunday School was formally organized and the Christian Endeavor Society was introduced for young people. The church had 45 members.
The Early Days (1894 - 1912)
“Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.”
Reverend Lattimore received a call to Madelia Presbyterian church in 1899.
The Reverend Archibald A. Cardle was called from El Reno, Oklahoma Territory, as the second resident pastor.
Archibald A. Cardle 1901-1902
The Women’s Missionary Society, now known as Presbyterian Women, was organized in 1900.
The county census was up to 11,911 and Slayton had a population of 883 in the 1900 census. The congregation decided to build a manse. It was built for $4,000. The house is located on the northwest corner of 27th Street and Maple Avenue.
By 1902, the church membership was 128. Reverend Cardle received a call to Macalester Presbyterian Church, St. Paul. Reverend William E. Youtsler was called from Tower, MN., but was only with the church for two years.
Pastoral services from pulpit supply were used until the Reverend Walter F. Finch was called from New London in 1908.
Walter F. Finch 1908-1915
The church budget in 1909 was:
Pastor’s salary $632.50
Manse payment $162.40
Taxes $ 49.70
Other expenses $ 75.00
By 1910, the county census was 11,755 and the city had 850 population. A year later, the congregation met at the manse for a mortgage burning. The church membership was 95.
How Firm a Foundation (1913 - 1950)
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6
In 1913 the building was enlarged and a basement was added. Steps and a portico on the west were constructed. The beautiful cathedral windows were donated by Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Dinehart in memory of their son, Clarence.
In 1915, the church booth at the Murray County fair yielded $417.66 in donations. The Iona Presbyterian Church was organized that same year and Reverend Finch was called to another field.
Reverend Dwight D. Tallman was called from Hot Springs, SD.
Dwight D. Tallman 1915-1919
Two years later, the U.S. entered World War I and the church contribution to the Anti-Saloon League was $48.00.
Reverend Tallman was called to Cloquet, MN, in 1919 and Reverend Albert Husted was called from Balaton the next year. At this time the population of Slayton was 1,045 and the county census was 13,631.
Albert Husted 1920-1928
In 1928, Reverend Husted was called to Blue Earth. He was replaced by Reverend Lafayette H. Schock who was called from Jackson..
Lafayette H. Schock 1928-1939
Margaret Fraser’s 40 years service as a Sunday School teacher was recognized in 1929. Among her treasures were the first Sunday school attendance book which she used on that 19th of May in 1887 when she taught the first class. The original attendance book is still in the church library with other special memorabilia.
The next year,1930, the county census was 13,902 and the city population was 1,102.
The church membership was 123 in 1932 when it celebrated its golden jubilee. During the 1930’s, several cantatas were performed by the church choir and a musical pageant was held.
The church ended this decade with the departure of Reverend Schock and the call of Reverend John E. Ransom from Moorcroft, WY.
John E Ransom 1939-1940
The 1940 census was at an all time high for the county, with 15,060. Slayton had a population of 1,587. This same year, the basement was remodeled. The remolded basement was designated “Westminster Hall.” The Ladies Aid Society provided significant help in financing this project.
Reverend Ransom received a call to Fort Street Church in Detroit. Reverend John D. Meyer was called from Blue Earth.
John D. Meyer 1940-1947
Due to gas and tire rationing, the monthly session meetings were abandoned in 1944 and the session met only on call of the moderator until the end of World War II.
In 1947, Reverend Meyer resigned to accept a call to Glen Lake, MN. Reverend Dallas Johnson was called the next year.
Dallas Johnson 1947-1958
A fire damaged the church and destroyed the organ and piano in 1948. The church was remodeled to provide a choir room and a basement entrance on the east. A Baldwin organ was purchased.
The county population in 1950 was 14,801 and the city population was 1,887. The manse was sold to the Southwicks and a new piano was dedicated. In 1952 the church membership had grown to 340. A new manse located on the southwest corner of 30th street and Maple Avenue was purchased from Mrs. H. C. Doms for $12,000.
Moving Outward (1951 - 1973)
“He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 16:15
The mid 1950’s saw growth in the church population and additions to the church. In the fall of 1953, eight infants were baptized during the same morning worship service. The next year, chimes were added to the sanctuary. Soon, a committee was formed to investigate purchasing property to the south of the church. In 1956, a house and 2 lots south of the church were purchased from Mrs. Helen Hirmer for $12,500.
In 1957, the 75th anniversary was celebrated.
The next year, Reverend Johnson accepted a call to Glen Lake, MN. Reverend Paul Holland was called in 1958 from Canton, MN.
(picture to be added later)
Paul Holland 1958-1964
By 1960, the county census was 14,743. The population of Slayton was 2,487. Vivian Schwartz was ordained as our first lady elder in 1961. The early Sunday morning preaching services were held at the Drive-in Theatre during the summer in co-operation with the Assembly of God church.
Church membership was 263 in 1962. A committee looked into purchasing facilities for educational purposes. This option was rejected and the decision to build a Christian Education building was made in 1963. The brick educational unit, Westminster Hall, was dedicated in 1964.
Reverend Holland resigned in 1964 to accept a call to Home and Fairmont, IL.
Reverend Daniel Leighton was called from Randall, MN.
Daniel Leighton 1964-1968
A committee was appointed to look into the purchase of a new organ. A “Conn Artist” organ was purchased for $2,700 in 1966.
In 1968, Reverend Leighton was called to Rapid City, SD. Reverend Moranville was called from Solomon, KS, the next year.
(picture to be added later )
A year later in 1970, the Murray country census was 12,508 and the city of Slayton had a population of 2,351.
By 1972, the church membership was 279. In 1973, the Synod of Lakes and Prairies was formed from what were the Synods of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Reverend Moranville resigned the same year to accept a call to Lone Rock, IA.
Putting Talents to Good Use (1974 - 1981)
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…, let him use it in proportion to his faith.” Romans 12:6
Reverend J. Rollin Haynes was called from Shannon, IL, in 1974.
(picture to be added later)
Rollin J. Haynes 1974-2005
During the remainder of the 1970’s repairs were made to the stained glass windows and approval was given to remodel to provide an entrance to the narthex on the north by joining the sanctuary with Westminster Hall.
In 1980, the county census was 11,507 and Slayton’s population was 2,420. The last railroad train left Slayton this same year. A centennial committee was formed to work on the church’s 100 year celebration to be held in 1982.
Free to Serve (1982 - 2007)
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 In 1983, the church membership was 228. Small improvement and remodeling project were undertaken during the early 1980’s, including tiling around the church foundation and remodeling the church basement. In the mid 1980’s, the front of the sanctuary was remodeled and outdoor landscaping was completed. In 1987, the roof project for Westminster hall was completed. The church membership at that time was 172.
More modernization was made to the church in the late 1980’s, including repairs to the stained glass windows, boiler room updates, and moisture abatement improvements for the basement.
In 1990, the church membership was 178. That year, the heating system was updated and Westminster Hall was insulated. During the next two years, a new sound system was installed, more boiler repairs were made, and new energy efficient windows were added to Westminster Hall. Additionally, wood steps were installed on the west side of the church. The church membership was 193 in 1992.
Reverend Haynes celebrated 20 years of service in 1993. The congregation surprised him with a gift of a trip to the Holy Land for him and his wife. This same year, Alice Magnus retired from her position as organist after 31 years in the position. She continues to bless the congregation with her piano and organ music on special occasions.
In 1994, an elevator lift was installed from the main level (narthex) to the upper level (sanctuary). The next year, a chapel lounge was created in the Westminster Hall, library improvements were made, and new steps into Westminster Hall were added. At that time, the church membership was 187.
1996 was the 82nd year of shared services with the Iona Presbyterian Church. A new Allen organ was purchased. One year later, the church bell tower and trim were covered in vinyl to avoid future painting. In 1998, pew cushions, a music machine, and new carpeting and an RO water system in the kitchen were added. The next year, the church population was 179. The church roof was replaced and a new sound amplifier was purchased.
As the nation celebrated its bicentennial, the church population was 191 and there were 40 students in Sunday School. A computer was purchased for the church office. The next year, internet access was installed and the church could access the world wide web. The basement windows were opened up to brighten events held there.
In 2002, the church membership was 140. Air conditioning was installed in the offices of the pastor and secretary. The sidewalk ramp was replaced with a heated sidewalk and landscaping was added on the north side. The next year, the air conditioning was extended to the sanctuary, the parking lot was resurfaced, and a sidewalk was added on the east side of Westminster Hall.
Westminster Hall was further improved in 2004 with seamless gutters, carpeting in the hallway, and landscaping on the north side.
Reverend Haynes resigned in 2005.
Reverend David Poppen began his interim ministry that same year.
David Poppen 2005-2008
The web site for the church was launched, updates were made to computers, and more roof repairs were made.
Church membership in 2006 was 134. Head Start started renting a room in Westminster Hall for their educational program.
The church celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2007. As the members and guests gathered, it was appropriate to look back and celebrate the congregation’s founding, its history, its ministry to people and to the community. It was a time for serious reflection and spiritual awakening, and it was a time to prompt everyone to reflect on the past and then look forward to the future with renewed vision, hope, confidence, and commitment. The very fact that the church has continued through 125 years says something very fundamental: where two or more are gathered in Christ’s name, God’s presence is assured.
Our Church’s Anniversary
(Fred Pratt Green 1903–2000)
How short a time our church's years in Christ's eternal reign! But God be thanked for pioneers who did not toil in vain: Who served their swiftly-changing age, and its unchanging needs, And left a Christian heritage that still inspires our deeds. What they believed, we still hold fast; their gospel is our own; Yet every age outgrows its past, and new seeds must be sown: For Christ, who is Tomorrow's Lord, shall lead us, when we dare, To find new answers in his Word, a more perceptive care. Come, Lord, your gathered Church endow, in this decisive hour, With varied gifts to serve you now, and Pentecostal power. Our worship, witness, work improve, our fellowship increase; And one, in your undying love, bid us go forth in peace.
Marching Onward (2008 - Present)
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.“ Hebrews 10:23
“God’s family is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15
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