Hope United Church of Christ will hold its 140th anniversary worship service at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday, June 1.
The service will include the singing of some old-time hymns. Communion will be served.
A reception will follow in the Fellowship Hall, around 11:30 a.m.
The church was established in 1874 and is located at 8950 Alpine Road (on County Road H), three miles south of Fremont.
The white frame church is nestled among a cluster of pines and is the center of activities for the congregation of about 250 people.
Due to its setting, the church is known in the area as “The Church in the Pines.”
The history of Hope U.C.C., spans a period of about 140 years, dating back to the 1860s when following the Civil War, many German and Swiss immigrants were moving into the area, primarily on the east side of the Wolf River.
The majority were of the Reformed heritage, and being Calvinists, they preferred a simple style of worship on Sunday.
In those first few years, being without a pastor, they chose those from among their own fellowship who were most adept at leading a worship service to be the shepherd of their flock.
On a rotating basis, those settlers offered their homes to be used as a sanctuary on the Lord’s Day, where they sang their German hymns and heard scriptures expounded in their native tongue.
The immigrants continued that mutual style of community worship with the assistance from the pastor who served the Zion U.C.C. Congregation at Dale for about the first 10 years.
That was until 1874 when the cluster of neighbors took the step to become an official congregation, adopting the name – “Die Reformirte Hofnungs Gemeinde” – The Hope Reformed Church.
But as the congregation grew, there were few homes large enough to accommodate all on a Sunday morning prompting a quest for a building that would serve as their sanctuary.
That goal was realized in 1874 when the congregation dedicated its first church building, a remodeled former one-room school which was located near the present Pioneer Cemetery at the east edge of Fremont (the former Fremont Town Hall and current Fremont Area Historical Society Museum).
In the later 1800s, more of the new settlers were establishing homes on the west side of the Wolf River, and to spare those new members the journey of crossing the river to attend church, consideration was given to relocate to the river’s west side.
The cornerstone of Hope Church is marked “1903” dignifying the year the congregation moved to its present location.
The name “reformed” has always been a part of the official name of Hope Church, emphasizing its Calvanistic heritage.
This congregation, from its beginning, was affiliated with the “Reformed Church” in the United States, a denomination that has always been ecumenical minded, seeking ways to heal the factions that have crippled the unity of the Christian Church.
With each merger came a new title, prompting Hope Church to change its name.
After one merger in the 1930s, it was known as “Hope Evangelical and Reformed Church.”
Then in 1953, following another ecumenical step, it took the name of “Hope United Church of Christ.”
For many of the Fremont natives and the visitors who come to this area, there is no name more fitting than “The Church in the Pines.”
Although Hope Church occupies a rural setting, its worshipping family is made up of people from all walks of life.
Originally, the majority of members were farmers. Today, it only has a few farm families left, but many of its people are engaged in industry throughout the surrounding communities, and prefer to make their home in the rural setting.
Others have their roots somewhere in the Midwest and go there to spend their free time in this vacation land and find themselves retiring in the neighborhood to enjoy their twilight years.
Hope continues to be a modern, multigenerational and diverse congregation.
Its purpose remains the same. It is a church that is excited about its present and its future under the guidance of its pastor, the Rev. Alex Tychkin.
The family of Hope Church invites others to visit, no matter where they are in their journey of life.