First Congregational Church
Forest City


Celebrating 125 Years

First Congregational Church in Forest City will celebrate its 125th anniversary Sunday, April 28. Shown outside the church, Pastor Albert Snyder welcomes everyone to celebrate with the congregation.


First Congregational Church will celebrate 125th anniversary Sunday

A big birthday bash will be held Sunday, April 28, in Forest City. Pastor Albert Snyder and the First Congregational Church congregation is celebrating 125 years. Snyder said that about a dozen church members have been actively involved in preparations for the Sunday celebration.

“I have no idea how many past members will come back,” said Snyder. “ I wrote lots of letters.”

The day will begin with 9:30 a.m. Sunday school classes and 10:30 a.m. worship service. An Iowa Pork Chop dinner will be served at 11:30 a.m., for those who reserved tickets in advance.

A special Celebration Service will begin at 1:30 p.m. with Pastor Snyder giving the sermon. Clifford Branstad of Iowa Senate is scheduled to attend. John K. Hanson and his wife Luise Hanson will also attend and speak briefly. “We’ll read letters from people who couldn’t come,” said Snyder. Charles Grassley has provided a letter to be read during the Celebration Service. Special music will be provided by the Sunday school choir, the men of the church and the Torkelson’s.

Grand finale of the afternoon will be the release of 125 red, white, and blue balloons on the front lawn of the church. The balloons will be released at approximately 2:30 p.m.


Thirty-six pastors have served the church in 125 years. The church was organized in Forest City, April 30, 1871, under the direction of Rev. A.S. Allen of Clear Lake. It was the first English language congregation organized in the Forest City and Winnebago County. Charter members of the church were William W. Taylor, Harriet Taylor, Leora Taylor, John Millington, Mrs. G.E. Millington and Fannie Millington.

The first service conducted in Forest City by a Congregational minister took place when Reverend Littlefield preached during the summer of 1866. Rev. Allen began coming for occasional services in 1869. Services in the first years of the church were held in the courthouse and in the school building. In January 1876, the Rev. J.D. Mason arrived to minister to the group and talk of building a church began. Though the group was small and funds meager, the church was built in 1877. The cost was $2,575 and $1,100 was borrowed.

Gifts were given to the church by many people in the Forest City community at the time of construction. From time to time in the early years, the congregation also received help from sister churches in the eastern part of the United States. The silver communion service was given by the ladies of the Congregational Church of Oxford, New York, in 1882.

Another interesting gift which the church received (when the building was being erected) was a large pulpit Bible from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the well known poet. It was used for many years on the pulpit. It is now being preserved under glass in a specially built memorial stand just outside the church sanctuary. The church bells and large chandeliers were also gifts to the church. The church also houses a group of Bibles, some of which date back to the 18th century. They are in a locked bookcase in the sanctuary.

Improvements to the church in recent years have been building a Christian education wing, enclosing the front steps and entry way, and putting vinyl siding on both buildings.

Pastor Snyder and the members of the church extend a warm welcome to the April 28 activities, to all past church members and friends as well as all churches in town.

~The Forest City Summit, April 23, 1996 – Page B-5
~contributed by Christine Gorball for Winnebago co. IAGenWeb


Church index