Fulton Church Historical Facts as gathered by Carol Miller, BOA Historian
Isn’t it fitting that on April 21st 1859 what is now our gathering place, or the old church, was dedicated. But the best part was that it was dedicated debt free.
We can only imagine what that meant to a culture that didn’t have credit cards, or bank loans. What they did have was hard working men and women with perhaps different priorities. I’ve come across several articles written about this event and though the authors may vary their emphasis was the same.
Let me summarize:
The Church continued to use the schoolhouse for their meetings; alternating with the Methodists and Baptists as together they strove to complete the red brick building. Everyone pulled together. Some members even secured small sums of $50.00 or less from friends and family back East. But most of the money was raised right here. The projected amount to build was found to be sorely underestimated–by about half. And when it seemed that every last dollar had been given (and for each dollar, two bushels of wheat had to be sold) the walls were erected and the edifice was enclosed just in time for winter, 1857. And even then, most of the contributors were told they would have to double their gifts, but it was done and it was done without murmuring. When the church building was complete, they again found themselves behind on funds to pay bills, by $400.00. Four men (unnamed) gave notes to raise that amount and finally the red brick building named Fulton Congregational Church was dedicated debt free on April 21st 1859.
Interestingly, for the first fifteen years collections were not taken during church services except as representatives for special causes made their annual appeals. A committee was appointed each year to solicit subscribers for the pastor’s salary and other expenses. After the church was built the pews were rented annually. Unfortunately, this left the church continually behind on funds. Therefore, in 1888 the custom of regular Sunday collections was adopted in conjunction with pew rental. Pew rental was discontinued after another ten years relying solely on contributions. This change “was very controversial and was a rock that nearly wrecked the vessel but time proved the wisdom of that change,” for shortly thereafter the books recorded the first surplus at the annual meeting. A $50.00 surplus.
Each author expresses the FAITH this community had. The faith it took to trust God in difficult times.
No matter what the founding religions or changes made to the name of the church over the last 150+ years, the foundation is still Rock solid. For Fulton Church was founded on faith. Faith in Jesus Christ to provide, and a deep understanding that we reap what we sow. Our founders put every seed they had into this Church, and the harvest continues to be amazing!