Alden Presbyterian Church celebrates two centuries of faith
The mass was just the beginning of the church’s celebration plans for this upcoming year. Rev. Katherine Evans said the church will be performing expressions of gratitude for the community each month, and the culminating event will take place in July 2013.
“There will be a concert that we’re offering for the community. The firemen will be treated to a pancake breakfast,” Evans said. “We’re doing a strawberry social for the village. In February, for all those that were married in the church, we will be celebrating those weddings.”
The church historian, Karen Muchow, said the church wanted to reach out and do something special for the community to celebrate the milestone anniversary.
“Our theme for the 200th anniversary is remembering, renewing, rejoicing,” Muchow said. “We want to thank all the people who do things for the community.”
Muchow is writing a book on the history of the church, which she hopes to publish in the fall. The last book about the church was written for its 175th anniversary in 1988.
“There have been three histories written,” Muchow said. “We wanted to make this one better and bring it up to date.”
The book will cover 200 years of information, beginning with the formation of the church in 1813.
“It was started by a missionary preacher sent to the Holland Purchase. His name was John Spencer,” Muchow said. “He organized several churches in the area, and Alden was one of them.”
Evans said there were 12 settlers who also helped form the Alden Presbyterian Church.
“There were six men and six women who decided to form a religious society,” Evans said. “For twenty years they met in each others’ homes and in the little schoolhouse.”
The first building was built in 1833 on Church Street, just a few blocks from the current church. The village discussed building a larger church around 1908, but did not have the funds according to Muchow.
“Then they got a generous gift from Col. Ewell, who gave them the site of the church and half the cost of the construction, which was dedicated in 1910,” Muchow said. “That’s the present stone church now.”
Currently, Muchow is gathering more information on the pastors for a chapter in the book.
“The early histories are really helpful because they had the advantage of having the original minute books to look at,” Muchow said. “I’ve asked members for memories, and these will be interwoven in. I’ve also contacted any of the former living pastors or pastor wives for any memories, too.”
Evans said the settlers’ trust in God enabled the church to withstand two centuries, and that she believes the church’s main accomplishment is sharing that faith with others.
“The settlers certainly had ups and downs over the years, but they had a strong and abiding faith and trusted in God’s presence with them and through them,” Evans said. “Today we’re still trying to be that beacon and witness of God’s light and love within the community.”