Pastor Scot Schlittler and the congregation of the Madisonville Christian Church are getting ready to celebrate a milestone anniversary with two days of worship, music, fellowship, food, and fun. This year marks the 175th anniversary of the church, which was founded in the spring of 1842 by Elder William Lane with the help of six members of the community.
The congregation, which originally worshipped in the long-gone Bear Brook schoolhouse in Madison Twp., has occupied the current church building since its construction in 1852. Although the building has undergone several updates, mostly to enlarge the worship space and increase the area available for Sunday School and other church functions, the sanctuary of the church remains much as it has been for well over a century.
Harry McClain, 87, is a retired dairy farmer who became a member of the church in 1951. He has a wealth of knowledge to share about the history of the church and the community and is an invaluable source of information about the church’s past. “There used to be horse barns and two outhouses where the parking lot is. There was no running water, and a hot air furnace and a woodstove in the basement. We wore our coats in the pews and didn’t hang them up, but the vestibule was full of rubber boots and Arctics,” recounted Mr. McClain.
He continued, “Mrs. Robinson taught the boys in the kitchen. She said there was no disrespect in keeping warm, so they wore hats, gloves, and coats inside.” Mr. McClain shared other interesting facts, like how the church first received electricity during the 1930’s, how the maple trees that used to stand in the parking lot area were used for making syrup, and how Pastor G. B. Robinson used to pick elderberries to make the church’s communion wine.
Mr. McClain will share additional memories with those in attendance at the church’s anniversary celebration on Sunday afternoon as the two-day event draws to its conclusion. Other activities scheduled to take place during the event include a celebration of the church’s commitment to missionary work and support through the generations, musical performances by several female members of the church, a Sunday School songs sing-along with Rosina Brandon, recognition of current and former Sunday School teachers and Senior Saints of the congregation, as well as a pizza supper on Saturday and a light lunch buffet on Sunday. People are also invited to explore the history room located behind the sanctuary of the church.
In addition to regular worship, several men and women of great and enduring faith will speak, including Rev. Lane Jones, Rev. Emerson Brandon and wife Rosina, Mrs. Penny Comacho, Rev. Gene Kellogg and wife Grace, Mrs. Joyce Eason, Rev. Lee Mead and wife Leida, and Mrs. Joyce Mead. Rev. Larry Thomas of the South New Milford Baptist Church will deliver a special message during Sunday morning worship, and that afternoon, Rev. Kenneth Alt of Punxsutawney and Rev. Romeyne Kipp will speak. Rev. Kipp, currently retired, was pastor of the Madisonville Christian Church from 1962 to 1967 and is the only former pastor of the church who is able to attend the event.
Pastor Schlittler is happily anticipating the anniversary festivities and emphasizes that one need not be a member of the church to attend all or part of the celebration. “The Lord is at work and people are looking towards God. Church is for broken people, and when we get to heaven, it’s going to be packed with broken people,” he said, adding that his is a welcoming, open church.
“If people have a need, and we all do, they can come here and learn about Jesus, about forgiveness, about how to love. I think we have something to offer to people who often fill up their lives with activities because they need something. They can come here and see what we have to offer,” he explained.