St. John’s UCC Bem congregation celebrates 150th anniversary

Roxie Murphy
Staff Writer

St John’s United Church of Christ Bem celebrated its 150 birthday May 5 with a carry-in dinner and music by Glory Bound, a local bluegrass band.

Church members and visitors gathered in the sanctuary for the 10 a.m. services and met downstairs for the 11 a.m. meal, followed by the band playing outside at the picnic stand around noon.

Faye Howard, her husband and his mother, lifetime member Fern Howard, attended the services, dinner and musical event with nearly 30 other celebrators.

“All in all, I think everyone has really enjoyed this history and memories of the way things used to be,” Faye Howard said.

She added that the church has moved their old fashioned picnic and the community ballgame, also part of the birthday festivities, to August.

“At the picnic, I think we will do what we used to do 50 years ago,” Howard said. “Hot dogs, roast beef sandwiches and ice cream.”

She said she remembers when girls only wore dresses to the church picnic and sometimes they would have a new dress for the occasion. She also remembers past church member Armin Kreter bringing cracker jacks, cigarettes and cigars for game prizes and giveaways.

Since the ballgame would have had similar food and beverages, Howard said the church decided to combine the two days.

“The game teams will be made up of 3-year-olds to grandparents, with backyard rules,” Howard said. “And we will have another cemetery walk in July.”

The day started out a bit cool, and the soggy ground outside prevented the planned outdoor services, but it ended with the bluegrass band playing soothingly behind the quiet country church.

A highlight of the worship service included their interim pastor, Heather Arcovitch, talking about the congregation’s 150th birthday to a group of children who joined her in front of the group. The congregation joined them in singing the song “Happy Birthday.”