One Last Sermon ---One Last Hymn
By Sheri Perkins
Following one last sermon, a final hymn
and a tearful farewell ,the congregation of the Randolph
Presbyterian Church silently closed it's doors in
the early fall of 2011. A proud history preceded this
difficult decision but an aging membership had left
no other option. The "little white church"
was organized in April of 1874 and was built on land
donated by one of the town's founder. Anson Rood.
Built at a cost of $1,800 the new building was dedicated
in November of 1880. Previous to this, church was
held in the Randolph Train Depot and the Riverside
one room school house, with Rev A, Merwin as minister.
At this time, the church owned a pipe organ valued
at $800 which was the only one of its kind in Fremont
The church building was destroyed by
fire but the people were resilient and rebuilt the
present church and dedicated it in May of 1926. The
last congregation are descendants of those first hardy
settlers. The last minister of the flock was Rev Tom
The church and it's people of farmers,
businessmen, doctors, merchants and homemakers helped
form and settle the town and continued it's ministry
up to the last Sunday. In 1959, the Presbyterian Church
filled it's basement with books creating the Randolph
Public Library with member Mrs. Clara McCord as Librarian.
Now, 53 years later. the same Library resides on Main
Street with over 10,000 volumes for patrons to use
The Ladies Aid of this church played a major role
in the church and the community though their fund
raising events, their ministry, fellowship and dedication
to God's work. Everyone remembers the Election Day
Soups Suppers enjoyed by all. Yearly their Cookie
Plates at Christmas time were a thing of beauty with
such a variety of tasty treats. The plates went to
the sick, the lonely, the elderly and shut-ins. Probably
thousands of dozens of cookies came from the church
and its faithful women. They most certainly benefited
the pecan growers of the South with thousands of pounds
of pecans sold over the years. The community counted
on those pecans to help us with our holiday baking.
Hundreds of beautiful quilts adorn beds
around the country that were quilted by these talented
women. To have such a quilt is a precious gem. These
ladies spent an untold number of hours with the needle
and thread as they stitched their way across rainbow
colored cotton quilt pieces. Some they quilted for
a fee--- some they quilted for themselves--and some
were raffled off to raise money for the church. Known
especially for their pie-baking abilities, their bake
sales drew people like a magnet. Their cinnamon rolls
were a favorite as was the garden produce.
Sadly time marches on and times change.
Rural communities are shrinking in population--- small
farms have disappeared--- children move on to larger
cities where there are jobs. Church doors are closing
in many areas all over the United States. But the
benefits from the presence for 137 years of the Randolph,
Iowa, Presbyterian Church will remain in our community
and with our people for many years to come.