Religious Influence Great in Red Oak

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First Baptist Church

The First Baptist Church of Red Oak was the first church un the little village of Red Oak. It was organized August 31, 1856 and thus lacks only three years of reaching the century mark. The church was founded by people of Baptist conviction, who as they migrated westward felt the need of a place to worship. Before a meeting house could be built the members of the newly formed church held meetings in homes, in groves or on the shady side of a settler's cabin. After the platting of Red Oak in 1857 a building site was donated and plans for erecting a building were made. This modest little church edifice was outgrown in a few years.  On January 8, 1888 a new place of worship was formally dedicated. The church served the Baptist people for a period of 40 years. Its outreach during this period extended beyond our own community in the dedication of the Rev. Fred Haggard and the Rev. James Latimer to foreign missionary service. With the development of new methods of religious education this church was becoming inadequate to meet the changing needs.  On May 13, 1928 ground breaking services were held and dedication services held during the  week of April 28 - May 5, 1929. To further enhance the service of music a Hammond Electric organ was dedicated March 14, 1948 with memorial chimes dedicated April 20, 1952. After nearly a quarter century extensive improvements have been made in remodeling the sanctuary and this was dedicated Feb. 10, 1952.

First Methodist Church

The first sermon ever preached in was delivered in 1855 by Rev. James Rand, a Methodist circuit rider from Adams county. It was another Methodist circuit rider, Rev. Samuel Farlow of Clarinda, who preached the first sermon in Red Oak, in the spring of 1857. This meeting was in a log cabin, which was situated near a spring on what is now East Coolbaugh. In 1861 the first Methodist church building was commenced, and was located on the northeast corner of Sixth and Hammond, across the street north of the present location.  In 1869 Red Oak became a station with a regular assigned pastor, and the second church building was erected on the southeast corner of Sixth and Hammond during the years 1874 and 1875. In 1903-1905 the third church was built on the same location, and in 1928 the church was remodeled to provide room for church school classes. At the present time the church is being redecorated, and the new Shepard Memorial organ has been installed.

First Presbyterian Church

On June 13th, 1869, The First Presbyterian Church of Red Oak was organized. This church was brought to Red Oak thru the efforts of the famous missionary, Rev. Sheldon Jackson who later went to Alaska where he became a strong force in the life of that territory. The first services were held in the towns only school house, which stood about where the High School stands today. Early in 1870 a one room frame structure was erected on the east end of the same block. After worshiping for 23 years in this location it was replaced with a much larger building, which was again enlarged in 1912. The present building was erected in 1923, with the dedication service in September when every member marched from the old building on Hammond Street, to the new edifice, forming a procession three block long. The United Presbyterian Church of Pleasant Lawn became affiliated with the Red Oak Church in 1925. During the 84 years of its organization two missionaries have carried the gospel to foreign lands, the Rev. Hugh Taylor to Siam, and Rev. Earnest Whiley to Africa who is serving there with his wife at the present time. 

Congregational Church

Early in 1869 "Father" John Todd of Tabor called on most of the Congregational people in this area. A meeting was held August 8, 1870 in the Baptist Church to plan the organization of a Congregational Church, after which a council convened in October with delegates and ministers from the Council Bluffs District, who advised and assisted in completing the organization. The first church was erected in 1873 with 24 members uniting January 22, 1874. The present building was dedicated December 19, 1915. The pipe organ was given as a memorial for Mrs. H. C. Houghton, Sr. In 1946 several small rooms were made into the Howard Koenemann Memorial Chapel. .......

Mission Covenant

The Mission Covenant Church of Red Oak, formerly the Swedish Mission Church, had its beginning in the early 1870's, when large numbers of Swedish immigrants were settling in this area. A small group of people, known as "Mission Friends" gathered in homes for services with Mr. J. P. Peters as lay preacher until 1891. He was the father of Emil and Luther Peters, Mrs. Arthur Larson and Mrs. Carl J. Anderson, who are present residents of Red Oak.  The first church was a one room house by the riverside.  The "pews" were wide boards nailed all around the room, with the walls serving as back rests. Six bracket kerosene lamps furnished light and a stove stood in the center of the room. A new church was built on First Avenue in 1890, with a larger edifice erected in 1902, this time at the present location on the corner of Third and Hammond Streets.  In 1916 extensive remodeling was dome making the present brick structure. Services were conducted in the Swedish language up to World War I when the Governor of Iowa issued a proclamation prohibiting the use of any foreign language in public services. A missionary spirit has always been prevalent in the church, which was highlighted in 1948 when the Church assumed the full support of Mrs. Maynard Londberg, a missionary in Alaska.   

United Brethren Church

The Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church was organized in 1905, at the annual conference, when mission work was undertaken in the City of Red Oak in connection with Salem Evangelical Church of West Township. Rev. J. M. Bamford of Salem Church organized a class in Red Oak March 8, 1907 with fourteen charter members. In this same year the present church edifice was built at Fourth and Prospect Streets.