History of Our Church
Timeline by Eileen Stewart, lifelong church member
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.
The first Evangelical child to be baptized in Wisconsin was Mrs. Anna Catherine Wilke Esch by Rev. J. Lutz on October 29.
Rev. John Lutz, Ohio Missionary, formed the nuclei of our church.
Services attended by 100 were held in the Bertke Schoolhouse.
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.
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.)
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.
Rev. H. A. Block organized a "jugendverein" (youth group) for young people.
Rev. A. E. Happe spent two energetic years here.
Rev. F. Reichert served for the next year.
Folks remembered Rev. G. T. Vieth's stay here until 1915 very well!
Rev. C. Wellso organized a Ladies Aid with 13 members. Mrs. Mary Michel was president.
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.
Oak Creek was established as a "mission" and served as such for ten years.
The English language was adopted.
Electric lights were installed, and a basement was built under the church. Rev. H. J. Droegkamp was here at that time.
Rev. H. E. Etffmeyer organized the Evangelical League of Christian Endeavor. The members planned an annual Easter Sunrise Service and Breakfast.
Rev. Melvin Simonsen served us along with his regular charge, Memorial Church, during Rev. Erffmeyer's illness.
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.
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.
Choir members invested in robes. Rev. Sol Cramer started a daily Vacation Bible School in 1939 and saw us through our centennial plans.
Our centennial year was celebrated the week of September 7 to 14 with a banquet, special services, and a “Send Forth Thy Light” pageant.
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.
Rev. Melvin Roehrdanz served both our church and the Memorial congregation for two years. The combined Youth Fellowship meetings are happily recalled.
The Evangelical Association united with the United Brethren Church to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB).
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.
A building permit was obtained in March, and the parsonage was occupied in December.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Rev. Ed Johnson served as pastor for seven years.
Rev. Gerry Harrison served as pastor for five years.
Rev. David Carlson served as pastor for four years.
Rev. Carol Miller served as pastor for eleven years.
The west addition was built allowing more space for offices and classrooms.
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.
Pastor Paul Armstrong arrived at OCCUMC.
The church steeple was struck by lightning during a summer thunderstorm causing significant damage to the electrical systems within the church.