On July 1, well over 50 people packed into the Mound Church to celebrate her centennial anniversary. The group was treated to music, memories, and a barbeque afterwards. Mike Bloomgren, Heidi Bloomgren, and Brenda Davis performed “Precious Memories” and “Daddy Sang Bass” for the group. Former pastor Jerry Koetitz shared his memories with the group and recalled how his boys were always excited to come out because they would be well fed. Senior member Howard Merz noted that he has attended the church his entire life and was excited to see the hundredth anniversary. Now in his nineties, he wasn't around for the church's first few years, but does remember in 1926 when a team of horses dragged down the old Jim Banfield homestead to form the kitchen and dining room. Jason Waskiewicz spoke on the history of the church and announced that the church now has a website.
Laurie Elhard, Mission Coordinator for the Northern Plains Presbytery drove from Grand Forks to join in the celebration. She remarked that she has always wanted to visit the church because of the warm feeling it gave her. The idea of having a pot luck after every service made her think of family, especially since the church has no running water to wash dishes. She also expressed her surprise at just how remote the church is.
The Mound Church began among the pioneers of the area. They met in each other's sod homes every Sunday to worship the Lord and to sing the old hymns. In the summer of 1911, Robert Lyle, a student minister, arrived to spend his summer preaching in the area. He circulated a petition to organize a church, and his brother John continued the work the following summer. The Mound Church was formally recognized on July 7, 1912 as the Lyle Presbyterian church in honor of the brothers who organized it. By that time, the church was meeting in the local school.
The current sanctuary was built by 1914 in time to host the Sunday School convention. The dining room and kitchen were added in 1926. After the Great Depression, the area population began to dwindle, and the Sunday School ended in the 1950s. The church has continued in large part because it has good neighbors who support the church in many ways.
Recently, the church has embarked on some badly needed renovations including a new roof, new doors and windows, and a new electrical system. The electrical work led to a complete renovation of the kitchen and dining room. The church hopes to replace the remaining section of roof and to repair and repaint the sanctuary. The church is challenged by the increasing age of its congregation and its remote location, but hopes to remain part of the community for years to come as new people seeking a rural church home join the group.
The Mound Church is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and meets every Sunday at 9:00 am with coffee and fellowship afterward. Visitors and new members are always welcome.
We also completed a short video slideshow of new and old pictures set to the music of our trio at the celebration.