175 Years

Members of the 175th Anniversary Task Force:  Carol Knight, Chairperson and Book Editor; Cheryl Abbott, Beverly Bergles, Laurel Geschke, Cindi Hansen, Barbara Newell, and Pastor Sue Leih.  They began meeting monthly on March 2, 2016, skipping July and August.

  • Former pastors (including NHLP), spouses, and student pastors were first contacted March, 2016
  • Pastors and members were asked to write something for a proposed book, “We’ve A Story To Tell”
  • Task Force selected the theme of “175 Years of Sharing God’s Love”
  • A list was compiled of 61 couples married at YUMC and still together. Task Force researched the addresses so couples could be invited to Marriage Sunday.
  • A list was compiled of 356 people baptized at YUMC. Those names were further organized by Current Members/plus their Extended Families.  There are too many to invite, so Baptism Sunday was dropped.
  • Pictorial Directory – family photos were taken September 22, 23 and 24, 2016. Thanks to NOW Committee – especially Sylvia Knight, Cheryl Moser and Pastor Sue.

First Event – Marriage Sunday on February 12, 2017

“It was a lovely day of love.”  Pastor Sue led a brief Marriage Vow Renewal and Blessing during the 10:15 am service.  The 23 couples who chose to participate represented a total of 819 years of marriage.  They stood across the front and down the sides of the sanctuary, facing each other and holding hands. Organist Mary Harmann played, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “Canon in D”.  Jodi Klug sang “The Wedding Song (There Is Love)” and Mike Vyvyan sang the Alan Jackson song, “Remember When”.  Everyone enjoyed a guessing game of identifying the couples in the wedding pictures displayed downstairs in Fellowship Hall.  Cake and punch was served.  Appropriately, the drama rotation presented by the combined classes during Sunday School that morning was a puppet show of Jesus’ first miracle, when he turned the water into wine at the wedding at Cana.

Beautiful Symbols of the Celebration

In March a new commemorative stained-glass design quilt banner was hung in a place of honor in the narthex.  There is a dedication patch on the back which says, “In celebration of our 175th Anniversary, this quilt and a coordinating altar cloth were designed and sewn with love by Laurel Geschke, Sherry Gruhn and Barb Geschke.  Special help and artistic touch by Jodi Klug, with long-arm machine quilting by Kitty Friend.  Completed in March, 2017.  The altar cloth is equally colorful and beautiful.

Second Event – All Church Birthday Dinner on March 26, 2017

The Birthday Dinner was an annual potluck gathering held for many years.  Tables were decorated for the four seasons – Spring (March, April, May), Summer (June, July, August), Fall (September, October, November), and Winter (December, January, February), each with a special birthday cake.  Attendees sat at the table of their birth month, and shared a list of reasons why THEIR season is the best!  They also chose and sang a song to represent their season.  Thanks to the NOW (Nurture Outreach Witness) Committee – Sylvia Knight, Cheryl Moser, Cheryl Abbott and Pastor Sue for organizing and decorating.

Deb DeBrabander led five enthusiastic members of the KICK Choir in two songs. Carol Knight told of entertainment at previous Birthday Dinners in 1976, 1977 and 1982.  The party ended with the choir singing the fun song, “All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir”, with the surprise of a little bit of line dancing.


July 4th – Two Floats in Two Parades – Union Grove and Raymond

The theme of a special float was “Let Your Light Shine” with “This Little Light of Mine” playing on a boom box.  Sylvia Knight’s idea was “175 Years of Sharing God’s Love” through local mission (Food Bank), national mission (Flood Relief through UMCOR), and world mission (Rev. Paul Webster, agricultural missionary).  The float featured large maps of Wisconsin, the United States, and Africa., cut out by Don Stephenson.   Parade walkers wore colorful “light bulb” T-shirts with “Shining For Jesus” on the back, and several children wore light bulb costumes.  The float was built by the S. Knight’s, the Leih’s, and the Moser’s.  A second float with a similar theme carried the “Hims of Harmony” men’s quintet.  It also advertised the upcoming Vacation Bible School.  Both floats were built on hay wagons from Moyer Farms and pulled by farm tractors driven by Michael Knight and Andy Knight.

Appreciation Sunday – October 22, 2017

October is traditionally the month when the church observes the anniversary of special events.  On this Sunday, we recognized and thanked all those who have faithfully served in the past and in the present, as well as those who will carry this legacy into the future.  Pastor Sue created an acronym for FISH, which means Faithfully I’ll Serve Him.  Each person received an inspirational lapel pin, “God Is Love”.  In 1935 the congregation thanked the Ellefson family, and in 2017 the congregation thanked the Hoag family. Both families were dedicated church volunteers who moved from the area.

Anniversary Weekend – November 11 – 12, 2017

More than 200 people attended the Saturday night banquet, the musical program, or one of the Sunday morning worship services – and 80 of those attended both Saturday and Sunday events.  What a joy to spend time with former pastors: James Rivers, Carol Hackbardt, Paul & Cindi Armstrong, Gary & Mary Jo Swanson, and Steve & Caroline Polster – plus the surprise appearance of Gary Holmes, one of the student pastors from the New Hope Larger Parish era.

It was an honor to have District Superintendent Deborah Thompson present on Saturday night and Bishop Hee-Soo Jung preaching and participating in all the special weekend events. We were blessed to be served during our banquet by two pastors, Rev. Ebenezer Insor and Rev. Robert Yarborough, plus twelve other volunteers from UMC Circuit Churches in Burlington, Caldwell, English Settlement, and Union Grove.  They hand washed all the dishes used by 155 banquet attendees!!

“Sharing God’s Love – A Sentimental Journey” was the musical program.

The title and words of the songs chosen by each musical group had very special meaning for our anniversary celebration.  Rhythm & Praise sang “We Are Not Alone” (God is with us) and “Upon This Rock” (We’ll build a church).  The 20-voice Chancel Choir sang (Welcome Home – This is a) “House of Grace”.   Don Hawes led the 10-voice K.I.C.K. (Kids In Christ’s Kingdom) Choir in “Hear Us As We Pray” and “Love One Another”. Photos of our parents, grandparents, and beloved members of the congregation who have passed away were shown on the monitors as “I’m On My Way Home” was sung by the Hims of Harmony.  For the musical finale, the Choir was joined by the KICK Choir for the meaningful “Let Us Celebrate” (the journey which has brought us here today).

A skit called “Years of Dinners” was performed by Sherry Gruhn, Cheryl Abbott, Rick Slesar, Julie Boehme and student pastor Chris Van Beek.  They showed the various stresses of the days approaching each Pork Chop Dinner.  However, when Pastor Chris suggested no more pork chop dinners, they protested and said they would miss the dinners, “because they are so much fun!”

Mackenzie Geschke led the Time for God’s Children titled “100 and What??!!”  She did a great job, even with the Bishop sitting on the step beside her, along with the District Superintendent, plus several pastors seated on the floor.  The program was planned by Ellen Jante, Jodi Klug, and Mike Vyvyan.

Dedication of the Bell Tower – November 12, 2017

It was raining quite hard at 10:00 am on Sunday morning, but that didn’t keep Bishop Hee-Soo Jung inside.  He led us all outside to the bell tower, and began singing, “This is the day which the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it”.  He stretched his hand to touch one of the tower’s supporting legs, while holding an umbrella, and blessed and dedicated the bell tower.  The gathered assembly was happy to hear the ringing of the bell multiple times – after being in storage for 18 years since 1999.

Historical Memorabilia on Display

Many documents, programs, photographs, bulletins, hymnals and Bibles were arranged throughout the church. The lighted display case in the narthex contains several sets of dishes used for church dinners through the years, plus aprons and cookbooks. In the Blessing Room there were four easels with tri-fold displays of newspaper clippings dating as far back as the 1960’s, documenting the stories of the membership and the church.  Mark Hancock of Seattle, WA created a display about the Mullion Church in Cornwell, England – which the founders of our church left to sail to America and settle in Yorkville.

A slide show was created with over 500 photos on 295 slides, and background music by some of the musical groups of the church, plus familiar choir anthems and favorite hymns.  Two large scrapbooks contain all the photos included in the slide show and a DVD of the slide show is available.  The 111-page book titled “We’ve A Story To Tell” is also available.  It contains faith stories submitted by 31 members, YUMC remembrances from 13 former pastors, fun and funny memories, and update of church history.

The Blessing of Memorial Gifts

Memorials are often made to the church in honor of a member who has passed away.  Those donated funds are kept separate until they are used for an appropriate memorial.  The desire to properly display the church bell was a goal of this 175th Anniversary celebration.

The Bell Tower Task Force members were Michael Knight, Cheryl Abbott, Betsy Weese, and the late David Vyvyan; with special thanks to Bill Beck and Joe Symoens, co-chairs of the Board of Trustees.  The 25-foot tower and new 7-foot cross were built by Jeff Hoffman of JMH Fabrications in Union Grove.

Memorial Funds were also used for new chapel carpeting and for new blue pew cushions, to replace the red ones installed in 1987.  A generous bequest from the estate of Glee Leet enabled remodeling the church kitchen, with new plumbing, new cabinets in a different configuration and new countertops, installed around our existing stainless-steel sinks, three stoves, and four refrigerators.  Everything is beautiful.

We thank God for the blessings bestowed on this congregation and seek the wisdom to discern his ongoing purpose for us.  May we strive every day to continue “Sharing God’s Love”.

Carol Knight 11/19/2017