PRAIRIE CITY – For 125 years, the Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church has stood tall at its home at 151 60th Ave. From its first pastor, Carl Clark to its current, Willy Mafuta, the church has had generations of people walk through its doors.
According to church patrons, each person left with a precious memory.
“My grandparents came to that church for many years and my parents as well,” Jennie VanWaardhuizen, a longtime member, worship leader and event organizer said. “I actually live in Knoxville, but the Pleasant Hill church has always been my church home.”
This Sunday, community members will be given the chance to share their collected moments at the Pleasant Hill UMC’s 125th anniversary celebration. The festivities will begin with a 10:30 a.m. worship and a potluck-style lunch served after the service.
With the organizers inviting previous pastors and congregational members who attended Pleasant Hill UMC years ago, VanWaardhuizen said Sunday’s worship service will be the perfect opportunity for church-goers to sing some classic hymns and share some their stories.
“After they got married, my mother had to make a pie for a particular church auction. She never made a pie in her life. She told me dad, ‘Whatever you do, you make sure you buy that pie because it isn’t any good,’” VanWaardhuizen said. “All of his buddies decided there is no way he is going to get that pie. They ran that pie up to a ridiculous prize, and she told (the winner) he didn’t have to eat that. They just that it was hilarious.”
Throughout the church’s long history, VanWaardhuizen said has greeted and welcomed hundreds of people. From its 34 pastors to the generations of dedicated patrons, the Knoxville commuter said every person who entered the church’s doors became part of their big family.
VanWaardhuizen said she expects about 100 people to attend the anniversary celebration.
“The people of the church make the church,” the worship leader said. “The people here are part of your life. You want to make those social contacts with these people that you have gone through the years with. That is what makes it special for me.”
She said the church still stands at its original location, situated about seven miles south of Prairie City. The land was donated by William Cowman and the foundation was made from stones from the Des Moines River.
VanWaardhuizen said while the worship facility has been rebuilt numerous times due to fires, there will be several historic items on display during the event. There will also be a book sharing the church’s vast history will be given out during the ceremony.
“There will be photographs from the past congregation ... there will be old newspaper clippings and old record books,” VanWaardhuizen said. “My mother found a really neat old book that was written in the 1940’s that had some really good pictures in it. It got a bound edge and everything. It was the first time I’ve seen it. It talks about different things that happened in the church’s life. It was really interesting reading that.”
VanWaardhuizen said residents who are simply looking for a fun way to spend their Sunday are encouraged to stop by. From the delicious food to the wonderful company, she said community members are guaranteed to have a fun time.
“We will have plenty of food. That is the thing with our church, we overdo it. Every time we have a party or potluck, there will be plenty of food for everyone. If you walk away hungry, it is your own fault,” she said. “Of course, there will be anniversary cake.”
She said she hopes in another 125 years, the members of the church will look back at this celebration, remember it fondly and share some truly wonderful memories from that day.
For more information, call 515-994-2354 or find Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church on Facebook.
Contact Anthony Victor Reyes at firstname.lastname@example.org.