Boeuff Presbyterian Church celebrates 160 years

By: 
Linda Trest
Staff Writer

Boeuff Presbyterian Church was founded 160 years ago, on June 12, 1859. Members selected last Sunday, July 28, to celebrate the event. 

After worship, members and visitors were invited to a special dinner served in the church’s basement. As members hurriedly attended to the meal’s last minute details, visitors passed the time perusing the special displays of historical items set up at the back of the sanctuary. Members of long ago Sunday School classes took pictures with each other. 

There was a long table was full of old photographs, scrapbooks, frayed catechism books, and old documents, all telling the tale of the church’s long history. 

In 1859, seven people were appointed to a committee by the Presbytery, to establish a church in this area. They transferred their membership from the Bonhomme Presbyterian Church at Chesterfield, and became the founding members of Boeuff. The founding members were Squire and his wife, Eliza Fitzgerald, Ann Fitzgerald, Mary Fitzgerald, Edward Fitzgerald, and Joshua and his wife, Emily Boston.

Initially, church services were held in homes, but by 1860 a log church had been built just west of Gerald, near the existing Boeuff cemetery. A second church was built near the cemetery in 1898-1899, and the pulpit from the original church was moved into the new church. 

The building that housed Sunday’s celebration is the third church built by the congregation. Mr. and Mrs. Koetting donated ground inside the city limits, and the church that stands today as one of town’s landmarks was built on that land. The original pulpit was moved to town as well. The building was officially completed in 1914, but has been continually upgraded and added to ever since. 

In 1935, a basement was put under the church. 

The educational building was erected in 1962 and 1963 to provide much needed space for the ever expanding group of children attending Sunday School. 

An extensive update to the sanctuary, annex and vestibule was undertaken in 1994. New ceilings, hanging lights, wall lights and ceiling fans were installed.

The beautiful stained-glass windows were restored and storm windows were installed in 1996. 

A handicap accessible building connecting the sanctuary and educational building was added in 2000 and 2001. 

In 1998, a childcare center was opened in the educational building. The non-profit center provides childcare to any family, regardless of religion, at the fairest fee possible. 

In the past, churches were an important part of the social life of any small town, and Boeuff was no exception. It once boasted of a bowling alley and held regular ping-pong competitions. Graduation ceremonies for the Gerald School were held at Boeuff Presbyterian and St. Paul UCC in alternating years. Very active youth groups sponsored plays, hosted social events, and caroling parties. 

During World War II, the church doors remained unlocked so that anyone who needed to come inside to pray, was able to.

As with many small-town churches, the number of active members has declined. There is no longer a youth group at this, or most other, churches. Yet, the members at Boeuff are determined to find new and unique ways to serve the community. 

Pastor Kathleen Henrion leads worship each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in this historical church at Fourth and Pine streets in Gerald. The church’s phone number is 573-764-3998.

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