The historic Vesper Presbyterian Church is planning its last worship service on Jan. 6, 2008.
Vesper Presbyterian Church was organized Sept. 3, 1876, by Dr. Timothy Hill and Rev. H.C. Bradbury, with 12 charter members.
Dr. Hill, originally from Mason, N.H., graduated from Dartmouth College in 1842 and Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1845. He became a Synodical Missionary in 1868 and was assigned the responsibility of finding locations, establishing, and nurturing churches in Kansas, the Indian Territory and Texas.
Rev. Henry Chase Bradbury was born in Williamsport, Pa., graduating from Amherst College in 1866 and Union Theological Seminary in 1871.
In 1874 the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions commissioned Rev. Bradbury to take charge of the missions work in Ottawa, Mitchell and Lincoln counties. Wilson and Elkhorn in Ellsworth county were later added to his assignment.
He was known to have walked the 40 miles from his home in Minneapolis to Beloit to conduct services.
Vesper Presbyterian Church was first housed in the original Vesper schoolhouse located next to the cemetery two miles west of Vesper.
The cornerstone for the congregation’s current building was laid in October of 1901, with dedication of the new building in October of 1904. Services have been held in this building weekly for over 100 years.
The Vesper church bell was installed during World War I as part of the war effort, being sounded daily at noon signaling a moment of prayer for troops overseas.
The bell was manufactued in Ohio and weighed 600 lb. The bell tower was 40 feet tall and ten men were needed to put the bell in place.
The tower has ben reconstructed through the years, but the original bell is still intact and sounded every Sunday.
The bell has also tolled at funerals sounding in celebration of each year of life.
Worship services Jan. 6 will be at 10:30 a.m., with a celebration following in the Vesper gym.
The services and celebration are open to the general public. Guests are encouraged to bring a salad or dessert.