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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

Chapter  38 - Eau Claire Churches

Second Congregational Church

(-as transcribed from pages 531 - 533)

At a meeting of the directors of the Y. M. C. A., May 2, 1882, the need for religious instruction in the northwestern part of the city was discussed and steps directed toward supplying the want. Soon, through the efforts of Rev. J. P. Dudley, the honored pastor of the 1st Congregational Church, and others, a sufficient sum was subscribed to buy a lot and erect a building. The lot was purchased by the Eau Claire Missionary Association from Mr. E. W. Blatchford, of Chicago, who gave $50 toward it when informed of the purpose for which the lot was to be used. A mission chapel was soon built and a Sunday school organized in 1883. R. H. Chute was chosen superintendent and V. W. Bayless secretary and treasurer. In 1884 regular Sabbath services were begun and Rev. A. Kidder supplied the pulpit for one year. The whole work was now in charge of Mr. Dudley's church, which contributed generously to its support until it assumed self-support.

In January 1885, F. A. Towne was elected superintendent of the Sunday school. The chapel became too small and a new house was built and dedicated in 1890, free of debt. It was first determined to organize the 2nd Congregational Church of Eau Claire. A council was convened June 30, 1885, and the church organized with 16 members, 8 by letter from various organizations and 8 on confession of faith. Rev. C. A. Payne became the pastor and the church prospered until at the end of the year a severe financial depression affected seriously that part of the city, the sixth ward. Many families were compelled to remove to other places and, as one consequence, the church had members scattered in 12 different towns when it was two years old and for a time it seemed doubtful whether it could live. In the winter of 1887-8 a revival added much to the number and to the strength of the church and was followed by the organization of the Y. P. S. C. Endeavor. In the fall of 1888 it was decided to erect a new edifice. In the next spring the lots and chapel were purchased of the E. C. Missionary Association by the church, the old chapel taken down and the new house begun. It was a difficult undertaking, but was carried on with faith and heroic effort and successfully accomplished. The cost was about $4,000 and it was dedicated, free of debt, on December 29, 1889. It is a fine frame building on the corner of Maxon and Bellinger streets.

Mr. Payne remained with the church seven years, resigning in response to a call to take charge of the institutional work of the Plymouth Church, Milwaukee. He was succeeded by Rev. H. R. Vaughn, who served the church acceptably for five years, when impaired health necessitated his resignation. Rev. D. R. Anderson followed with a three years' pastorate, characterized by patient and persevering labor. Rev. R. Porter succeeded with two years of energetic work, resigning to complete his course at Oberlin. Rev. J. B. Thompson, recently returned from missionary service in China, took up the charge and conducted it effectively for nearly three years, followed by Rev. P. C. Burhans for a year, when Rev. A. J. Arn was called. During his pastorate Mr. Arn took the initiative in the purchase of a parsonage. A desirable location was chosen and the property secured, largely through the personal efforts of the pastor, the people responding generously to his appeals. Compelled by ill health, Mr. Arn relinquished the work and Mr. Vaughn returned to the field, supplying the pulpit for more than a year, during which time he made a diligent canvass of the field, receiving sufficient financial encouragement to warrant the calling of Rev. L. E. Osgood to the church. He remained as pastor three years and largely through his personal efforts, needed repairs were made possible and the church building made comfortable and attractive. Rev. W. B. O'Neill was called to the church soon after the resignation of Mr. Osgood and under his leadership the different departments of church activities are moving with increasing interest and enterprise.

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