Church marks 100 years of service in Craig

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Anniversaries are a special time and 100 years of faith and service to the community is what members of First Congregational Church in Craig will celebrate in 2000.

The kickoff of this anniversary will follow the 10 a.m. service this week the first Sunday of the New Year. Everyone is invited to take part in the celebration. Services Sunday will be conducted by the Rev. Edwin Mendanhall, who has been pastor of First Congretational Church since Dec. 1.

It's a time to reflect on the past and the future of the church.

Don Roth, who works with the 100 Years In Craig Committee at the church, said the church is always reaching out to the public.

"I think the church has been a place that everyone has been made to feel welcome," said Roth, who has been with the church for more than 10 years. "The biggest contribution is the congregation is friendly."

The next millennium will be much the same for the church.

"The church should be a big part of everyone's life," said Roth. "This church will be receptive to any changes the new millennium might bring us and be willing to accept that and work with it. I think they will be flexible and still stay within the doctrine."

According to Roth, First Congregational Church was organized in May of 1900 by an enthusiastic local group of about 16 people. In September of the same year, a formal call to pastor the church was made to and accepted by the Rev. Harold Anderson. The church was chartered on Oct. 7, 1900, with 29 members.

Four lots on the corner of Tucker and Main streets were purchased in April 1901, as the site of the first church facility. A contract was awarded to William Taylor for $2,305 for the building contract. A cornerstone was laid on Sept. 5, 1901. Various improvements and additions were made during the next few years, and in 1904 members decided to buy an organ and bell for the church. Generous gifts from town residents and church members helped purchase the bell. The bell was hung in September 1904, and is still in use.

The church today, located at Sixth and Green streets, was completed and dedicated on Sept. 29, 1959. In 1966 a call to pastor was made to the Rev. Gary Neptune, which he accepted. He served as pastor for more than 30 years.

Upon the passing of Neptune, Ken Forshee served as interim pastor with Tim Osborn as assistant. A new pastor was called in October of this year to replace Forshee. Mendanhall accepted the call and began his duties this month.

First Congregational Church is affiliated with the Rocky Mountain United Church of Christ Conference. The annual meeting will be held June 9-10 in Craig, hosted by First Congregational Church as part of the centennial celebration. Throughout the year various activities will be held in celebration of 100 years in Craig. (Historical information provided by Don Roth.)

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