History

Pastors of Our Church

Centenial Booklet 1841 - 1941  

History of Our Church

Timeline by Eileen Stewart, lifelong church member

 

1840

Our congegation had its beginning in the hearts of pioneer families as an Evangelical Association Church. Con­verted by Jacob Albright on the East Coast, they made their way across the Alleghenies to Oak Creek, Wisconsin. We remember many of their names: ­Schultz, Eggert, Bertke, Wilke, Roemer, and Esch.

 

1840

The first Evangelical child to be bap­tized in Wisconsin was Mrs. Anna Catherine Wilke Esch by Rev. J. Lutz on October 29.

 

1841

Rev. John Lutz, Ohio Missionary, formed the nuclei of our church.

 

1842

Services attended by 100 were held in the Bertke Schoolhouse.

 

1843

Rev. M. Hauert organized the first Sunday school. Ours was the oldest uninterrupted Sunday school in Wisconsin. Sunday school and worship services were conducted in German.

 

1858

After worship in homes and schools, a church was built on land donated by John Koch. The Salem Evangelical Church was a 20 x 30 foot frame structure. (It is now used as a shed at the home of Miss Annie Esch.)

 

1900

A new church was built on the same site for less than $4,000. Benjamin Esch brought folks out from the "Lake Station" with his lumber wagon for the October de­dication.

 

1906

Rev. H. A. Block organized a "jugendverein" (youth group) for young people.

 

1908

Rev. A. E. Happe spent two ener­getic years here.

 

1910

Rev. F. Reichert served for the next year.

 

1912

Folks remembered Rev. G. T. Vieth's stay here until 1915 very well!

 

1919

Rev. C. Wellso organized a Ladies Aid with 13 members. Mrs. Mary Michel was president.

 

1922

No basement existed under the church, so a tent was set up across the road, a stove was put in, and the ladies were able to prepare a meal. Picnics were frequently held in Charles and Lina Freedy's woods.

 

1923

Oak Creek was established as a "mission" and served as such for ten years.

 

1924

The English language was adopted.

 

1925

Electric lights were installed, and a basement was built under the church. Rev. H. J. Droegkamp was here at that time.

 

1931

Rev. H. E. Etffmeyer organized the Evangelical League of Christian Endeavor. The members planned an annual Easter Sunrise Service and Breakfast.

 

1932

Rev. Melvin Simonsen served us along with his regular charge, Memorial Church, during Rev. Erff­meyer's illness.

 

1933

Our church became a "student appointment." Rev. H. E. Zebarth was the first Naperville Seminary student to be assigned to us. A formal choir was orga­nized for regular worship services. Previously, it had sung only for special occasions.

 

1936

Rev. John Koch came to serve. He built a very fine communion table which was not replaced until April 3, 1955. Rev. Koch's table is still in use in one of UMC’s Worship Centers.

 

1940

Choir members invested in robes. Rev. Sol Cramer started a daily Vacation Bible School in 1939 and saw us through our centennial plans.

 

1941

Our centennial year was celebrated the week of September 7 to 14 with a banquet, special services, and a “Send Forth Thy Light” pageant.  

 

1942

Rev. Harvey Schall came to us in June, 1941. He pushed hard to create a building fund that was in a way the birth of future expansion.

 

1945

Rev. Melvin Roehrdanz served both our church and the Memorial con­gregation for two years. The com­bined Youth Fellowship meetings are happily recalled.

 

1946

The Evangelical Association united with the United Brethren Church to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB).

 

1947

When Rev. Herman Siedschlag was as­signed to our congregation, members soon realized that we needed a parsonage. In No­vember the old horse shed was dis­mantled to make way for the construction of a parsonage.

 

1948

A building permit was obtained in March, and the par­sonage was occupied in December.

 

1951

The "expansion" idea was renewed by Rev. Siedschlag when he intro­duced the idea of financial aid for Oak Creek at the Wisconsin Confer­ence. Rev. Lealand Graben joined us in June. On July 11 a community survey was taken with 17 EUB mini­sters assisting. Expansion was re­commended by the Wisconsin Board of Missions. On July 23 the planning committee met with architect Ed A. Erdmann.

 

1952

In July, the congregation purchased a five acre site for a new church, and in October a six foot sign, furnished by the Couples Club, was dedicated to mark the site.

 

1953

The congregation was busy with building plans, meetings, discussions and more plans, meetings, and discus­sions! A parsonage mort­gage note burning service was held on May 31.

 

1954

At 5:20 pm on March 12, lightning struck the church during a fierce storm. In an instant, the 54-year-old church was destroyed by fire. The congregation knew that God's work must go on more now than ever before, worship services were held in the school house. Church members and leadership knew they must build and build fast!

Land was purchased - below is the picture of the field upon which the church will be built.

Less than five weeks after the storm, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1954. A cornerstone laying ceremony took place on June 27. The steeple was raised in August. The first Sunday in October we move into our new church basement.

 

1955

The first worship service in the new sanctuary took place on Palm Sunday, April 2.

 

The 1955 church as it looked in the 1980’s

 

1966:

 

1968

The Evangelical United Brethren Church merged with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church. Our congregation was renamed Oak Creek Community United Methodist Church.

1980

Rev. Ed Johnson served as pastor for seven years.

 

1987

Rev. Gerry Harrison served as pastor for five years.

1992

Rev. David Carlson served as pastor for four years.

 

1996

Rev. Carol Miller served as pastor for eleven years.

 

1998

The west addition was built allowing more space for offices and classrooms.

 

2002

In response to the rapid growth in Oak Creek and surrounding communities, a new sanctuary was built allowing for additional classroom space on the lower level.

 

2004


2007

Pastor Paul Armstrong arrived at OCCUMC.

 

2009

The church steeple was struck by lightning during a summer thunderstorm causing significant damage to the electrical systems within the church.