This weekend one of Lancaster’s places of worship will celebrate its 175th anniversary, with events taking place both Saturday, Oct. 12, and Sunday, Oct. 13.
On Saturday, things kick off with a gathering and games, starting at 2 p.m. This will be followed by a church community picnic at 5 p.m., and then in the evening some of the church’s missionaries will share stories of their missions, as well as their time in the church.
On Sunday, there will be no Sunday School, and instead there will be a visitation of members, both former and current, starting at 9:30 a.m., before a special church service beginning at 10 a.m. This will be followed by a potluck meal.
Former members like Pastor Paul Twist, will be back for Sunday’s events, while David Twist will perform during services. David Wilson, who grew up in the church and was a missionary, will be a guest speaker during the services.
They will all be coming together to celebrate the beginning 175 years ago, and all that came in-between then and now.
It was started by Elder Jessie Miles, and intermittent preacher who came from the hills of Kentucky and Indiana. A meeting was held on October 29, 1844, and a resolution was passed to create the Baptist Church of Lancaster.
In 1848, Nelson Dewey, serving as the first governor of Wisconsin at the time – deeded two lots to the fledgling church. The first church was small, built on the land next to the present location of the Bethlehem E&R Church, opening on July 4, 1852.
Notable for this first structure was It was the first church in Lancaster to have a church bell.
By 1919, that little church had outgrown its original building, and the group purchased two lots on the other end of the same block. One of those lots had a house, which became the parsonage.
The second church was built, and was dedicated with the first service being held on April 11, 1920.
The church remains there until 1981, when cost to heat and maintain the old building became too expensive. Reverend Dave Asp lead the congregation to purchase the land where the current church is, and the last service in the second church was held on January 25, 1981
It was torn down in March of that year.
The current church on Old Potosi Road had a groundbreaking on March 28, 1981, designed and built to be expanded when needed.
The modular church and parsonage ready for use by September of that year. In less than a decade, by December 1990, the church had grown enough that an expansion was needed. This work was completed by Easter Sunday 1991, this work included the baptistery.
In 1992, under the leadership of Pastor Don Roberts, the congregation voted to change the name from First Baptist Church to Calvary Community.
Bringing back history, the original bell -which had been in storage – returned to a prominent place in 1998 when it was placed in a tower that had been built especially for it outside the church.
With a focus on the Gospel, as well as missions (both local and abroad) the members of the church have helped to create churches in Prairie to Chien and Cassville, in addition to supporting numerous missionaries to various parts of the world.
Pastor Dave Arevalo came to lead the church in November 2002. He is the longest-tenured pastor in the church’s 175-year-history.
Outside this special celebration weekend, Sundays usually begin with Sunday School at 9:30, and church services starting at 10:30 a.m. Youth also lead worship service once per quarter, on the fifth Sunday. They also work with the Potosi Bible Church on a Christmas Cantata, performed at both churches.