Ringgold County Courthouse built in 1884
Ringgold County Courthouse built in 1884
Ringgold County Courthouse built in 1884
Ringgold County Courthouse built in 1884
Ringgold County Courthouse built in 1884

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List of Ringgold County churches
with links to those pages at bottom of this page.

country church.jpg

As soon as the pioneers arrived in Ringgold County, their thoughts turned toward establishing schools and churches. Worship services were held whenever the circuit riders came through. In some communities Sunday Schools and churches were organized even though finanical resources were quite limited.

Reverend W. C. WILLIAMS of Lorimor preached a sermon in the timber of Jefferson Township in 1853. In October of 1854, Reverend Mr. BELL, also known as "Iron Jacket Baptist," rode up from Fairview (Denver), Missouri to conduct services out of Henry MILLER's home. The following year, Mr. and Mrs. Luke SHAY returned home to find a Catholic priest waiting for them at the cabin. He later said the first mass in Ringgold County in the SHAY cabin.

Barton DUNNING, who kept the first store in Mount Ayr, started a Sunday school in 1856 and presented the organization with a Sunday School library which he had purchased one of his business trips to St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. SCHROBER, a Methodist preacher, became the superintendent of this Sunday School and preached the first sermon in the fledgling county seat of Mount Ayr.

Few groups, however, could not afford to erect even humble church buildings. Instead, members of the congregation met in school houses or their homes.

The Irish Catholics of Maloy held services in Luke SHAY's parlor until they built a chapel 1/4 of a mile north of town in 1875. Luke SHAY donated half of the construction cost.

The citizens of Liberty Township decided to erect a church on a tract of land donated by James A. DRAKE's heirs in 1874. With little financial resources and building materials scarce, the people garthered large boulders for the foundation and donated timber for the foundation sills. The Widow CALFEE donated an oak tree that was made into a 40-foot sill. Those who could not donate either materials or money, volunteered to haul logs to the sawmill, lime from a kiln in Decatur County, or shingles and lumber from Leon. Others helped put up the building. When the church was finally completed, it was done so debt free. Elder TODD dedicated the church, named High Point Methodist Church. S. L. THOMPSON noted in the April 21, 1914 edition of The Mount Ayr Record-News, "Those of us who were boys when the church was being built are now men with silver hair. . . High Point Church has now become one of the old landmarks of the early settlement of Ringgold County....standing as a monument to the memory of the loyal, hardy settlers of the surrounding country."circuit rider.jpg

The Palestine United Brethren Church was erected three miles south of Delphos. With more and more people purchasing automobiles, the membership dwindled until the church closed its doors in 1918 when the remaining congregation transferred their membership to the Redding church.

Many of the country churches relied upon the services of circuit riders, clergymen who followed prairie trails from one congregation to another. The circuit riders lived on their horses furnished by the members of their circuit, going from home to home, community to community. Some riders reportedly wore out eight horses a year. Nearly penniless, they were "happy in God" as they attended to members of their flock scattered over the rolling hills of the prairie.

tent revival.jpg Camp meetings and tent revivals thrived in the southern part of Ringgold County from the 1870's until around 1910. The excitement and fervor of these revivals were a welcomed break from the daily routine of life on the farm and drew in large crowds. The strongest evangelist sermons drew the largest crowds. An annual camp meeting was held from 1872 to 1875 on the Isaac MARSHALL farm in Middle Fork Township. Later, these meeting were held on the Luther DENNIS farm, also in Middle Fork Township. Mrs. Anna DAVIS, an evangelist of the Evangelical Church, conducted tent meeting in August on a 40-tract of land John BUSH purchased specifically for religious purposes, then grazing the rest of the year. Old-timers declared that they could hear the amassed singing hymns from two miles away.

Before most of the outlaying villages and towns existed, five churches had been erected in Mount Ayr. The first, the Methodist Church was constructed in 1869 and followed by the United Presbyterian Church in 1870. The Baptist Church was erected in 1873; the Presbyterian Church in 1875, and the Christian Church in 1882.

A log church was erected in Bethel Cemetery, located south of the town of Goshen. This early church was replaced by a frame church which was constructed in 1881. Two loads of lumber for the construction of the new church arrived by rail. Later, the church was moved to Diagonal in 1890.

At one time there were four churches in Benton: the United Brethren, Seventh-Day Adventist, United Methodist, and Christian Churches. There were two churches in Knowlton.

In 1890, there was a new Methodist Church erected in Benton and the Bohemian colony near Diagonal replaced their church situated on the DOLECHECK farm with a new church building. The Goshen church was moved to Diagonal in 1890. By 1895, there were 25 churches in Ringgold County with some of the smaller rural churches already closed with their membership transferred to other larger congregations.

The congregation at Kellerton held services in a schoolhouse. A Christian Church in Tingley was erected in 1882, the first in a group of towns platted out along sites by the railroad. In 1882, a Baptist Church was erected in Delphos; a Catholic Church in Kellerton; a United Brethren Church in Beaconsfield; and an Evangelistic Church at Wirt (later Ellston.) By 1895, two or three churches had been established in each of Ringgold County's villages.

Reverend William BROWN, pastor of the United Presbyterian Church of Mount Ayr, established a mission church at Eugene. The evangalistic spirit swept through the county with four young women stepping forward to dedicate their lives to missionary services abroad: Josephine STAHL went to Darjeeling, India; Helen GALLOWAY went to Chung King, China; Lydia WILKINSON went to Foo Chow, China; and Fannie PERKINS went to Rangoon, Burma.

In 1971, Bishop Maurice DIGMAN established a team ministry of three priests to serve the combined parishes of St. Patrick's of Grand River. These parishes include St. Brendan's Church, Leons, Iowa, both of Decatur County; St. Joseph's Church, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa; St. Bernard's Church, Osceola, Clarke County, Iowa; Immaculate Conception Church, Maloy, Ringgold County, Iowa; Corydon Catholic Community, Corydon, Wayne County, Iowa; St. Mary's Church, Woodburn, Iowa; and in 1978, Sacred Heart Church, Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa, joining the Leon Region of Catholic Community.

Ringgold County History
Complied and written by the Iowa Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Iowa, Sponsored by Ringgold County Superintendent of Schools, Mount Ayr, Iowa. 1942.

Written & Submitted by Sharon R. Becker, 2008

Past and Present

Ringgold County Churches, 1898

  • Adventist Church, Benton, 1894
  • Advent or Evangelical Church, Ringgold City
        torn down in 1939 and materials used to build Assembly of God Church, Redding
  • Assembly of God Church (Family Worship Center, 2015), Kellerton
        Pastor Calvin GREGG (1983-1994); Pastor Charles HUSTED (2009);
         Pastor Barton SHIELDS (2010)
  • Assembly of God Church, Mount Ayr
        Pastor Butch BLACK (2003), Pastor Doug ROHRER
  • Assembly of God Church, Redding
  • Bank of Christ Outreach and Hope Center, Kellerton
  • The Baptists, Early History in Southern & Southwestern Iowa
  • Early Primitive Baptist Church History in Iowa
  • Baptist Convention Notes, 1881 - 1882
  • Baptist Church (Historial), Caledonia, Iowa
  • Baptist Church, Delphos, Iowa
        originally Goshen Baptist Church, moved to Delphos and renamed in 1884
  • Baptist Church, Diagonal, Iowa, 1895
  • Baptist Church, historical, Maloy, Ringgold County, Iowa
        torn down in 1921; materials used for Delphos Baptist Church where Maloy's bell is displayed
  • Baptist Church, Ringgold City, Ringgold County, Iowa
        dismantled and materials used to contruct Assembly of God Church, Redding in 1930's dismantled and materials used to contruct
  • Baptist Church, Knowlton, Iowa
        Contribution by Delbert Spencer
  • Baptist Church, Maloy
  • Baptist Church, Mount Ayr
  • Baptist Church, Tingley, Iowa, built 1884
  • Bethel Church at Bethel Cemetery, Grant Township
  • Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church (Historical), Delphos
  • Bohemian Church, rural Diagonal
  • Campbellite Baptist Church, Maloy
  • Catholic Church, Kellerton
  • Catholic Church, Knowlton
  • Centenary Methodist Church
        was located northeast of the Centenary (Knowlton) Cemetery
        Church building was moved into Knowlton. It was struck by lightning and burned.
  • Christian Church, Benton
  • Christian Church, Delphos, Ringgold County, Iowa
        later Seventh Day Adventist Church
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Diagonal
        merged into United Church of Diagonal, January 1, 1981
  • Christian Church, Ellston

  • Christian Church, Maloy
  • Christian Church, Mount Ayr 
  • Christian Church, Ringgold City
  • Church of Christ Church, Benton
  • Church of Christ Church, Delphos

    Church of Christ Church, Kellerton
        see Kellerton 1st Christian Church

  • Church of Christ Church, Redding
  • Church of Christ, Tingley
  • Church of the Brethren, Maloy
  • Community Bible Church, Redding
         Redding Community Bible Church, circa 1962/3
  • Community of Christ Church
         (former Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints), Mount Ayr
        Co-pastors Tony and Sandy CRANDEL; Pastor Randy DRAKE (2015)
  • Cornwall Chapel, Ellston Iowa
  • Diagonal Bible School, 1978 or 1979
  • Enterprise Methodist Church, Benton, 1870's
  • Eureka Methodist Episcopal Church, Rice Township, 1891
  • Evangelical Church, Delphos
        held services at 1st Baptist Church of Delphos
  • Evangelical Church, Ellston
  • Advent or Evangelical Church, Ringgold City
        torn down in 1939 and materials used to build Assembly of God Church, Redding
  • Faith Presbyterian Parish, Tingley
        Rev. Peter Brantner, 1991
  • Fairview Methodist Episcopal Church, Polen, Ringgold County, Iowa
  • Faith United Parish, Platte Center
        Pastor Bruce GIESE
  • Family Worship Center (former Assembly of God Church), Kellerton
        Pastor Barton SHIELDS, 2015
  • First Baptist Church, Mount Ayr
  • First Christian Church, Ellston
  • First Christian Church of Kellerton, Iowa
        presently Bank of Christ Outreach and Hope Center

  • First Christian Church
        Mount Ayr 
        Pastor John BRILLO
        Pastor Karen L. MOORE (2003-2009)
         Pastor Chris CONKLIN (2009-2015)
         Pastor Darin Dolecheck (2016-2021)
  • First Christian Church, Tingley
        Pastor Al RUSK
  • First Lutheran Church (LCMS)
        Mount Ayr
       Reverend Gregory J. SCHULTZ (1991)
       Reverend Don CRAIG (2003)
        Reverend Gary JAECKLE (2009)
        Reverend Don CRAIG (2010);
        Vacancy Pastor Rev. Jonathan WATT (2012)
        Trinity Lutheran Church, 2014
  • Free Methodist Church, Mount Ayr
        Pastor Charles WEIMAN (2003)
  • Free-Will Baptist Church, Maloy
  • Fry Chapel, Methodist Episcopal Church, south of Mount Ayr
  • Goshen Baptist Church, rural Delphos
        moved to Delphos in 1884 and renamed Delphos Baptist Church
  • Goshen Methodist Church, moved from Goshen to Diagonal in 1890
  • Grant Center Church, Methodist Episcopal, Grant Township
  • Grove Chapel
  • Hickory Grove Advent Chrisitan Church, Rural Ringgold County 
        Reverend Thomas HELMS (2003)
        Pastor Dean EWING; Sherry WILEY, supply pastor (2009)
        Final services June 21, 2015
  • Highland Church, Methodist Episcopal, Maloy
  • High Point Methodist Espicopal Church, Liberty Township
        Reminiscene of the Early Days in Liberty Township
          by Stewart L. Thompson, 1914
  • Immaculate Conception Church, Maloy 
        Father Thomas DOOLEY (2009)
          Father M. J. CULHANE
          Reverend Father Henry V. MALONE
          Sister Bernadine E. PIEPER
          Father John ZEITLER
          Sisters Nan ROSS and Joanna RETTENMEIER, 2009
          Steve SWANK Refurbishes Rectory, 2011
  • Kingdom Hall of Jehovah Witnesses, Mount Ayr
  • Latter Day Saints Church, Tingley
        The Latter Day Saints held Sunday evening church services in the early 1940's in the building
        later [1983] known as the "card shack." Upon the construction of a new church in Mount Ayr,
        church services were discontinued in Tingley.
  • Lee Chapel, 4 miles east of Ringgold City
        dedicated as a United Evangelical Church on December 18, 1898
  • Lesanville Methodist Episcopal Church, Poe Township
  • The Lighthouse Christian Center, west of Mount Ayr north side of Highway 2
        Pastor Doug GREENE, Youth Pastor Darin DOLECHECK
  • Lotts Grove Baptist Church, Worth County, Missouri
        across the state line from Ringgold City; organized in 1884
  • Lutheran Church, Mount Ayr
        Trinity Lutheran Church, 2014
  • A History of the Mennonites and Amish in Iowa
  • Methodist Episcopal Church, Benton
  • Methodist Episcopal, Chariton District Appointments, 1912
  • Methodist Episcopal Church, Caledonia, Iowa
  • Methodist Episcopal Church (Historical), Ringgold City, Ringgold County, Iowa
  • Methodist Episcopal Church, Diagonal, 1911
        present-day United Church of Diagonal
  • Methodist Episcopal Church, Goshen, Iowa, moved to Diagonal
  • Methodist Episcopal Church, Knowlton, Iowa
  • Methodist Church, Ringgold City
  • Middle Fork Methodist Episcopal Church
        previously Rose Hill Methodist Episcopal Church in 1870's
        a.k.a. Middle Fork United Methodist Church
        Pastor Susan A. THOMAS (2003), Pastor Skip RUSHING
        Sunday School Classes and Organizations, Middle Fork Methodist Church
        Bible School, June of 1941    Service Flag Dedication, 1943
        Bible School Picnic, 1951

  • Mount Ayr Restoration Branch Church
        Rob ROLFE, presiding Elder; Alan SMITH, assisting Elder (2003)
        Sherman PHIPPS, presiding Elder;
        Alan SMITH, assistant Elder, Presiding Elder (2015)
  • Mortimer Church, services held in Mortimer Schoolhouse
  • Mt. Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, Sect. 16, Jefferson Tp
         first Church built in Ringgold County; 1858-1871

  • Mt. Zion, Riley Township
  • Nazarene Church, Diagonal
  • Nazarene Church, Ellston, Iowa
  • Nazarene Church, Knowlton, Iowa
  • New Life Family Assembly of God Church
  • Oakland Baptist Church
        located approximately 7 1/2 miles southeast of Mount Ayr
        merged with First Baptist Church, Mount Ayr
        Oakland Cemetery
  • Palestine Church, Redding

  • Pentecostal Church, Redding
        See Assembly of God Church
  • Platte Valley United Presbyterian Church, Grant Township
        active in 1893 with pastorate of Reverend J. W. JOHNSON
  • Pleasant Hill Church, Middle Fork Township, Ringgold County
        Pastor Skip RUSHING
        Pleasant Hill Church Group
                              Contribution by Phillana Smelser
  • Pleasant Ridge United Bretheran Church, Sect. 12, Jefferson Twp.
        First church building in Ringgold County.
        The church was established 1857; used until 1874.
        The church was located at the Pleasant Ridge Cemetery
  • Poe Center Methodist Episcopal Congregation, no church building
  • Presbyterian Church in Iowa, 1876
  • Presbyterian Church, Diagonal
        Merged into United Church, Diagonal
  • Presbyterian Church, Ellston
  • Presbyterian Church, Mount Ayr, Iowa
  • Redding Sunday School Class, circa 1913
  • Regular Baptist Church, Mount Ayr
        Pastor Matthew NOVOTNY (2003), Pastor Charles HAWKINS (2009);
        Pastor Seth DENNEY (2012)
  • Restoration Branch, Mount Ayr
        Sherman PHIPPS, presiding Elder; Alan SMITH, assistant Elder; Joel Loving, Presiding Elder (2017)
  • St. John's Catholic Church, Diagonal
  • Saint Mary's Catholic Church, rural Maloy, 1875-1895
  • Salem Evangelical Church, 1894 - 1975
  • Shiloh Methodist Church, rural Ringgold County, 1870's, discontinued circa 1880's
  • St. Joseph's Catholic Church of Mount Ayr, Iowa  
        Father Thomas DOOLEY (2009); Father Glen WILWERDING (2010); Father David POLICH (2013)

  • Seventh Day Adventist Church, Benton
  • Seventh Day Adventist Church
        former Delphos Christian Church
  • Seventh-Day Adventist Church
        Mount Ayr
  • Siloam Church United Brethren, Washington Township
  • Star Center Church, Methodist Episcopal, Washington Township
  • Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mount Ayr
        former First Lutheran Church, Rev. Jonathan WATT, Pastor John RUTZ
  • Star Center United Brethren Church
  • Union Vacation Bible School, Tingley
  • Union Sunday School, Maloy
        Organized March 8, 1900
  • United Baptist Presbyterian Church, Highway 169, Mount Ayr
        Pastor Peter BRANTNER to 2004;   Pastor Michael MADDY
       UBP builds churches in Nepal
  • United Brethren Church, Beaconsfield
  • United Brethren Church, Benton
        See Siloam Church
  • United Brethren Church congregation, Liberty Center, no church
  • United Brethren Church, Knowlton
  • United Brethren Church, Maloy, 1890's
  • United Church, Sect. 8, Jefferson Twp.

  • United Church
        of Diagonal 
        100th Birthday 2011
        Pastor John BERAN (2003)
        Pastor Ed SHIELDS, 2012
  • United Methodist Church
        Beaconsfield, Iowa, 1950
        Pastor W. T. MILLER (1953)
        Pastor Rick HAWKINS (2009 - 2012)
        Rev. Robin THOMAS, 2012
        Rev. Samuel ANSONG
        Rev. Judy Nolte Davis
  • United Methodist Church, Ellston
        Rev. Geo. C. WISE (1953)
        Pastor Dan FERNANDEZ (2010)
        Rev. Robin THOMAS (2012); Rev. Bruce GIESE
  • United Methodist Church, Kellerton 
        Pastor W. T. MILLER (1953); Pastor Rick HAWKINS (2009 - 2012); Rev. Samuel ANSONG
        Rev. Judy Nolte Davis
  • United Methodist Church, Mount Ayr Larger Parish
        Pastor Susan A. THOMAS (2003), Pastor Skip RUSHING
  • United Methodist Church, Redding
        Pastor Susan A. THOMAS (2003), Pastor Skip RUSHING
        1922 Brochure, Pastor C. C. CALLAHAN
        Vacation Bible School, 1952
  • United Methodist Church, Tingley
        Rev. Geo. C. WISE (1953); Reverend Dan FERNANDEZ (2010); Rev. Robin THOMAS (2012);
        Rev. Bruce Giese
  • United Presbyterian Church, Eugene
  • United Presbyterian Church, Mount Ayr 
  • United Presbyterian Church, Redding, Iowa, built 1889
  • United Presbyterian Church, Tingley
  • Tent Chapel Church of Christ, approximately 3 miles south of Blockton

  • Vacation Bible School
         Ellston Vacation Bible School, 1987
         Tingley Vacation Bible School, 1987
  • Wesleyan Methodist Church, Diagonal
  • Willow Grove School, No. 4, Jefferson Tp
        served as a church in the 1930's
  • Wishard Chapel, Methodist Episcopal
        Rev. Geo. C. WISE (1953)
        Reverend Dan FERNANDEZ (to 2011)
        Wishard Chapel Community Church
        Pastor Thomas RUTAN, 2012
        Pastor Bill ARMSTRONG, 2012
       Wishard Chapel builds churches in Nepal
  • Ministers, Pastors, & Spiritual Leaders of Ringgold County ~ An on-going project
  • "Steeple" photograph by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2009

    Many Ringgold County families and residents are included in Decatur County IAGenWeb-site'sA History of the Catholic Church: Decatur County, Iowa" by Rev. Edward J. HARKIN, pastor, 1956, and transcribed in January & February, 2002 by Nancee (McMURTREY) SIEFERT. This work includes genealogical information, obituaries, and family information.


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