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Presbyterians celebrate 150 years of services

Staff writer

A dozen settlers helped each other over a fallen cottonwood to reach a log cabin where the first Sunday meeting of Marion Presbyterian Church took place on Aug. 8, 1866.

Those early residents banded together to build the stone structure at 610 Lawrence St. that became the city’s first church.

The gable-roofed building has seen extensive changes in more than a century, but after nearly 8,000 Sundays it still stands as a house of worship.

“There’s a real sense of home here,” Pastor Jeremiah Lange said. “It’s a good church community.”

Lange has been Marion Presbyterian Church’s pastor for 15 years. Born in Arizona, he met his wife in Washington and attended seminary school in Pasadena.

“I went there with the understanding that I would be an assistant pastor at a big church with a thousand people or more,” Lange said. “At the end of three years, God had changed my heart.”

He was matched with Marion Presbyterian after finishing school.

“We hadn’t been in Kansas and we didn’t know anybody who lived in Kansas. We laughed when we got the message,” he said. “Then I said the next day, ‘Well, we have to go.’”

When the family arrived at the church, the carpet, pew cushions, and cross were blue. The congregation had updated its interior in honor of its 100th anniversary.

Pieces from the original church shine through even after multiple building projects. A collection of handmade tapestries by Ruth Vetter hang on the walls. They are changed to match the church’s liturgical seasons. The pulpit, a gift from an Ohio church, has been in use since Marion Presbyterian’s dedication. The communion table and lectern were carved by Reuben Zerger to match it.

“One of the pastors drilled a hole to put a microphone in it, and when we discovered that, somebody almost had a heart attack,” Lange said.

A fifth window and patio furniture dedicated in memory of Rosse Case are recent additions to the sanctuary along with a camera to livestream services.

Lange said the new furniture will be put to good use during an upcoming potluck.

“My parents from Arizona are coming and one of the Cases living in Washington State is coming,” Lange said. “I would anticipate a large crowd.”

The congregation has returned to in-person events after a year of canceled celebrations.

“Prior to COVID, we would do potlucks, kite flies, worship at the park, and worship at the lake. Now I wouldn’t say COVID is over yet, but our numbers are picking back up,” Lange said.

Along with activities, the church supports a summer camp near Fredonia and missionaries in Southeast Asia. It also buys coffee from the Café Justo cooperative in Mexico.

“We buy the coffee from them and pay them directly, to get them a living wage from their coffee,” Lange said.

Marion Presbyterian’s congregation of more than 100 will celebrate its anniversary with “a big potluck dinner” after services, said Alex H. Case, grandson of one of the church’s original trustees.

Last modified July 28, 2021

 

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