History of Community United Church of Christ, Elkhart Lake WI
Community United Church of Christ, 174 N. East Street, is the product of a 1937 merger of two churches (Trinity Reformed and St. John’s Evangelical). Both of these churches had their roots in Germany.
Trinity Reformed Church was organized in 1863 when 13 families met for worship in the home of H. Shaeferkort. The following year, the group built a 22’ x 30’ schoolhouse and a 20’ x 26’ parsonage in the Town of Rhine, on the site of the present Trinity Cemetery. This school building served as a sanctuary and a classroom until a new church was erected. In 1898, the congregation decided to abandon this property and relocate to Elkhart Lake. A new two story church was built in 1899 on the lot south of 114 N. East St.
In the early 1800s, a group of Elkhart Lake citizens formed the German School Society (Schulverein). Wm. Schwartz, one of the town’s pioneer businessmen, donated several lots to the society, with the condition that the location be used for educational purposes. On this land, Schulverein members, donating most of the labor and through voluntary contributions, built a simple one-room school. This was erected south of the present church and later referred to as Community Church Hall. The society was the forerunner of St. John’s Evangelical Church, organized in 1886. On November 23 of that same year, a new church was dedicated on the site north of the school. The congregation was served by various part-time pastors until 1916, when membership was great enough to support its own pastor.
No doubt the 1934 merger of the two denominations, Evangelical and Reformed, paved the way for the local merger of Trinity and St. John’s in 1937. Services of the combined congregation alternated between the two buildings, which stood only a few hundred feet apart. In 1941 the two church buildings were joined into one remodeled edifice. The chancel, office, and church school rooms were located in that part of the building which once housed Trinity Church. The official name became Community Evangelical and Reformed Church.
In 1957, when the United Church of Christ was formed, Community E & R church changed its name to Community United Church of Christ. The two original church cemeteries, Trinity on County Trunk MM and St. John’s on County Trunk A east of the village of Elkhart Lake, continue to be owned by Community UCC.
Improvements were made to the church building in 1964 with the addition of a new entry, nursery, and cloak room, along with new furnishings and remodeling of the basement and church interior. To accommodate a large church school enrollment, a new Christian Education wing with Fellowship Hall was added to the lower level in 1976.
A 1985 memorial was designated for the future purchase of a pipe organ. In August 1988, the congregation initiated a capital campaign to raise additional funds; the new organ was installed in 1994.
October, 2013, marked the 150th Anniversary of Community UCC. Throughout the month, commemorative services reminded congregants of the important events and milestones of growth the Church has experienced over the century and a half of its mission. It was also a time to remember the people who built the church in faith and service.
Today, Community UCC continues to grow and to expand its presence within the local community. A vibrant new Youth Group was formed in 2008, pursuing outreach activities such as serving at soup kitchens, work camps, and mission trips outside of the state. Using memorial and dedicated monies, the church has purchased a hearing aid loop, projection screen, and updated audio/visual equipment to enhance the worship experience for people of all ages. As the name implies, Community United Church of Christ is dedicated to serving the community in whatever its needs may be.
Submitted by Ronald Mauk (1995)
Updated by Lei Lund (1999)
Updated by Mary Martin (2011)
Updated by Lei Lund (2015)