of the Southwestern Iowa Baptist Association say that the Milford
(Grant) Baptist Church was established in July 1862. The group
prospered, and in 1864 organized the Sciola Baptist Church as a
branch of the Milford Church. (Red Oak Sun; 27 December 1901)
is known of the congregation until January 1869 when a preacher
named Smith organized the Sciola Missionary Baptist Church as an
independent entity. It is uncertain if the group met in homes or the
Charter members were Mr. and Mrs. John Yergey, Mr. and Mrs. John
Robertson, Mr. And Mrs. James Whitney, Cornelia Hobson, Mr. and Mrs.
J. Shoemaker, and Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Taylor. (1881 History,
Montgomery County, Iowa)
Seventh Anniversary of the Southwestern Iowa Baptist Association was
held in Lewis in 1870. Villisca and Sciola churches were received as
members. (Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists; page 246)
On 17 June
1871 the church bought land from John Yergey; 14 by 11 and one half
rods, in Section 16, and built a church there, at a cost of $1,600.
The church was built to last with heavy timbers in the framework.
The boxing is on the inside of the 16 foot walls. Square nails were
used throughout. Red sandstone blocks formed the foundation. The
dedication ceremony was held on 30 July 1872.
There were two
doors in the front which was customary for the time: one for the men
and one for the women. And they sat on opposite sides after they
entered. The pews are homemade. They are constructed of several
different kinds of wood and very slightly in size. The pulpit was
handmade, too, but by a competent carpenter. In 1884 the church
purchased a Kimball reed organ.
Baptists, the congregation practiced total immersion. The usual
place for this rite was the dam at Arlington Mill, without much
consideration for the time of year.
In April 1892
the church suffered severe damage from a wind storm. That is
probably when the new windows were put into what is now the west
side. More work was done on the building in the fall of 1901.
Perhaps the balcony was added at that time. The area beneath the
balcony was enclosed as a separate room. One front door was made
into a window and the other was widened to a double door. The
balcony was used as a social hall. The kitchen was back behind the
staircase and the area behind the railing was the dining room. In
December 1901, a rededication service was held.
In 1912 the
west portion of the cemetery property was sold. A general store
stood there for many years.
In 1913 a new
floor was laid over the old wide boards.
In June 1922 a
window was put in the kitchen. By 1927 those stairs had induced the
women to move their kitchen to the room behind the sanctuary.
At times the
church was without a pastor, and by the mid-‘20s radio services were
held at such times.
Association discontinued their work at Sciola, and in May 1928 a
Sunday school was organized by the American Sunday School Union, now
the American Missionary Fellowship.
On 24 July
1929 the Baptist Association sold the Sciola church property to T.T.
Thompson for $250. On 13 April 1945 a board of trustees was elected
to oversee the purchase of the church from Mr. Thompson. The
dedication of the Sciola Community Church was held on 23 June 1946.
In the fall of
1970 the church was moved to the west side of the cemetery so that
US Highway 71 could be widened. When the church was moved
considerable damage was done. The building was placed over a
basement, then it stood, unused, for ten years. In the spring of
1980 a complete restoration project was started.
1981; Red Oak Express: “The Old Rugged Cross” and “The Church
in the Wildwood” rang out from old Sciola Church on the Nodaway
River when a standing-room-only assembly sang those hymns of former
times at the rededication of the church building Sunday…
1983; Express: Sciola Community Center, formerly Sciola
Baptist Church, marked its 112th birthday this
year. Its present was a coveted spot in the National Register of
Historic Places…The Sciola edifice appears on the National Register
to remind present and future generations of the unique importance
the country church played in the lives of the pioneers of Montgomery
The church is
now administered by the Trustees of Washington Township. No regular
services have been held since the building was moved, but it is used
as a community center. There have been six weddings in the church
since the restoration work was completed.