Flashback Friday: The First Churches in Lincoln, NE

While researching one specific church, I stumbled on a very interesting document.

1889 History of Lincoln: Chapter VIII: Lincoln’s Churches

I am really not even sure who kindly put the chapters on-line, and I would imagine that it took a long time.  I was initially looking just for one particular church and was surprised to find out about so many.   Since many of you may not have time to read through the whole document I am going to include a short excerpt that I think is from page 247.

Lincoln is preeminently a city of churches. As an educational center the city is not equaled in the West. And while this is true, it is equally true that no city in the West can equal this in the number of its church organizations and the beauty of its churches. The present chapter is devoted to historical sketches of the various churches, which number about forty. A former chapter has given an account of the very early church work in the town of Lancaster, and the present will deal with the churches now occupying the field.

I think to study the story behind each of these forty churches would be an intriguing project as they have each gone many diverse directions.  (If only I had the time to do so …)

File:Lincoln, Nebraska First German Congl Church.JPG

This church used to be the First German Congregational Church.  Today if you visit this church on on the corner of First and F Streets, you would find the First Bible Church. (Picture from Wikimedia Commons).

When I think about these fledgling first churches, I cannot help but ponder many things.

1) Did they find the preachers from their midst or did they choose to campaign and convince an Easterner to come?

2) Did they sing a capella at first? Was an organ one of their first priority purchases? Or did lonesome sounds of a fiddle surround the room?

3) How long were the services?  How many times did they meet throughout the week?  Did they gather in homes like the Early Church before their sought out buildings took shape?

4) And a question for today – how many churches have continued to meet from those early days in the Capital City?  How many churches were added here per year?  Did any churches cease to exist or combine quickly with others?  Do any current members remember hearing stories from those first years of growth?

5) Have any of these churches strayed or altered their thinking from long ago?  Has church doctrine changed?  I think I know the answer to that question – from the little I have examined one place in particular, what they believe today seems far different from where they started.

1st Plymouth church

First Plymouth Church at 20th & D

On our trip to Northwestern Nebraska, my favorite buildings to see were definitely the small town churches.  In fact someday when I have time, I would enjoy driving from place to place just to photograph those worshipful wonders from long ago.  (I wanted to stop more on the way up to Fort Robinson, but my silly husband seemed to think we should actually make it to our intended destination at a reasonable hour 🙂  )   But hopefully I will have a Nebraska church photograph collection someday!

St. Mary's Catholic Church in downtown Lincoln

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in downtown Lincoln

I will occasionally be featuring pictures of churches in upcoming blogs (including a Photography Friday one today!).  As many of these buildings took shape during a time when Nebraska was still under progress itself, the architectural detail is a beautiful sight to behold.  Yet I have to say that while I may photograph a sacred building that moves me, by featuring that church building, I am not necessarily endorsing the teaching that takes place inside.  (As a church goer myself, I tend to have strong opinions as to what a church should teach and follow pretty closely to what people traditionally believe about the Bible.  Yet since this is a travel/Nebraska blog, I do not feel this is the place for me to comment.  For one thing, while the Bible is correct, this imperfect person might not be!  So I will make a point to comment only on the architecture and not on church doctrine!)  I am SO glad that these churches chose to build in beauty and not utilitarian form only!

File:Lincoln, Nebraska Ebenezer Congl Church from SE 1.JPG

Originally Ebenezer Congregational Church at 8th & B in Lincoln.  (Now known as Ebenezer United Church of Christ).  Picture source: Wikimedia Commons.

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Categories: Flashback Fridays, Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska History, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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