The 75th anniversary of the founding of the Vesper Presbyterian church was celebrated Sunday with a church service in the morning, a fellowship dinner at noon, and a historical and memorial service in the afternoon. The occasion was also the 50th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone.
Rev. Louis F. Meek, stated supply [sic], delivered the morning sermon, taking as his text the theme "Partnership in the Gospel." In the afternoon the following program was given:
Miss Darlene Cox, Pianist
Hymn, "Praise Him! Praise Him!"
A word of Welcome, Rev. Louis F. Meek
Special Numbers, "Safe Am I," "The Clock" and "Heavenly Sunshine," the children
The History of the Church, Duane Cheney
Words of Appreciation for the Founders and Memorial Prayer, Rev. John Thorne
The Anniversary Message, Rev. William Pfautz
The Closing Hymn, "Faith of Our Fathers."
The Vesper Presbyterian church, established in 1876 by Dr. Timonty Hill and Rev. Henry C. Bradbury, is a member of the Presbytery of Solomon, the Synod of Kansas, and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church of the United States of America.
From the files of the old Lincoln Beacon of March 10, 1887, the following article is taken regarding the early history of the organization of the Vesper Presbyterian church:
"The first Presbyterian sermon in the county was preached by a Father Morrison of Salina. Next came Rev. Seth Clark and Elder Tayler [sic] and ran what they called a ‘Presbyterian Circus.’ They used a large tent for the preaching services. This was in July 1873. By the time the Vesper Presbyterian church was organized on Sept. 3, 1876, Presbyterians were holding church in Lincoln and Sylvan Grove. The Vesper church was organized in the old Vesper school house located just south of the cemetery on land owned by Robert Lewis and now owned by Mrs. Vesta Block. It then had 12 members with the life doctrine, ‘We, being many, are one body in Christ and every one members one of another.’ -- Romans 12:5.
H.C. Bradbury and Dr. Timothy Hill got this organizaiton going and early day paper files say this about Bradbury: ‘Some time prior to 1873, as a young man just out of seminary, he came here a circuit rider. Some thought him just a little odd at first but as they grew to know him they loved him. He tramped over the country on foot and preached the gospel in log cabin, school house or public places, just anywhere he could gain an audience and preach the word of God in a new country. Few homes he did not visit, leading devotions and giving a word of cheer.
Charter members of this new church were: Jacob and Mollie Middlekauff (grandparents of Bolland M), R.H. Lewis, Lou Lewis and Susan Lewis (all relatives of the late Mrs. J.E. Cheney), Fanny S. Cheney (mother of J.E. Cheney), Anne Cheney (wife of Robert Cheney), America S. Harmon, W.P. Harmon, Lucy Sutton and A.S. Sutton.
In the next few years there was need of a bigger and better church and funds were raised by subscription and free gifts for this purpose. The new church was to be located in Vesper and the building was to be 36x30 with small room 22x18 with bell tower. (The tower has been charged in later years, but the old bell remains intact.) Many sacrificed to give to the building of this church and no doubt many gave who knew they wouldn’t go to church, but knew the need of a house of God in the new community.
The laying of the corner stone of the new church was held on Oct. 21 [could be 27], 1901. The whole neighborhood gathered for the happy occasion and to add to their joy four buggy loads of people from the Lincoln church and one load from Sylvan Grove came to be with them. It was dedicated Oct. 30, 1904.
The ministers who have served the Presbyterian church at Vesper through the years are Rev. H.C. Bradbury and his father, Rev. B.F. McMillin, Rev. S.B. Lucas, Rev. Thomas Price, Rev. John Johnson, Rev. Grantham, Rev. Pike, Rev. A.T. Allen, Rev. W. Clyde Wolfe, Rev. Gordon Lang, Wm. Earhart (student minister), Rev. Louis Kvelisky, Rev. Wm. Pfautz, Dr. R.L. Vance, Bert Hayenga (student minster) and Rev. Louis Meek.
Two hundred and eighty persons participated in the services Sunday. Robert Cromwell was the oldest member of the church persent. The greatest number of attendants were from Vesper and Lincoln, and a good number of persons from Syvan Grove and Denmark were also in the audience. Friends of the church from out of the county included Mrs. T.H. Goodell and Esther McCall Aufdemberge of Kansas City, Prudence Bish of Garnett, Mr. and Mrs. Bert Miller of Hunter, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Cox and family of Council Grove, Mr. and Mrs. Glen O. Spear of Paradise, Mrs. Ray G. Hood of Salina, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. M. Pfautz and family and Rosa Larson of Concordia, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Cromwell and Janeen of Hutchinson, and Mr. and Mrs. Russell McCoy and David of Kensington.