First Presbyterian Church in Glidden, Iowa


History of the First Presbyterian Church

Creation of the Church Congregation April 17, 1870

Construction of the Church Building 

Improvements of the Building/Manse during the years

Celebrations of the Church

Ministers of the Church

Members in Mission, Ministry, and Lay Academy

Activities from the 1970’s to Present

Contact the Webmaster (correction & additions)



The following is  a history of the First Presbyterian Church of Glidden, Iowa, adapted from the Glidden Graphic’s Centennial edition of 1967. Used with permission of the Graphic.  Additional entries by Irma Gordon Hardesty.  Some additions also by this webmaster



 The Creation of the Church Congregation 1870 to Early 1900’s


On April 17, 1870, the Presbyterian Church of Glidden was organized by a missionary of the Omaha Presbytery, the Reverend George R. Carroll, in the old schoolhouse on the site which is now occupied by the Eugene Mereness home. Charter members were: Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Campbell, Mr. and Mrs. William Knox, Mr. and Mrs. Alvah Gee, Nency Pryor, Jane Corbett, Mr. and Mrs. Francis S. Douglas, and Catherine Purves. Mr. Gee was elected and installed as the presiding elder. He preached the first funeral ever preached in Glidden, doing so as a layman, and did a lot of this work in his time.

            Services were held frequently for four years in the schoolhouse until the congregation became strong enough to build a house of worship. At a meeting held January 6, 1874, to consider this question, a building committee was chosen, consisting of P.H. Hankins, S, Campbell, J. E. Mereness, George Ferguson, and S.D. Culbertson. The church, which was the first church to be built in Glidden, was erected and dedicated the following autumn. This building was a landmark in Glidden for many years and was used by the Methodist congregation for services on alternate Sundays until 1878 when they erected a house of worship where the new Glidden Fire Station now stands since the Methodist church built a new church in the north of town.

            In 1888, the Presbyterian Church was remodeled and enlarged, a belfry added, and a bell purchased. Up to this time they had received aid from the Home Mission Board but were not self-sustaining. In 1893, a two-story residence was built in the west part of town to be used for a manse. Later this was sold and the home now occupied by the Elmer Gross family purchased so the pastor and his family might be nearer the church.

            The Sunday School was organized at the same time that religious services were begun in 1868 in the school. Mrs. Glidden was the superintendent. Both Methodists and Presbyterians were teachers as the Sunday School was a union one for a time and continued as such until the M. E. Church was built in 1878.

            The Woman’s Missionary Society was organized September 30, 1884, as an aid and missionary society with nine members. In 1892, the society was reorganized as the Woman’s Missionary Society and the gifts were divided between the Home and Foreign Boards.



The Construction of the Church Building in Early 1900’s


On March 3, 1907, a congregational meeting was called to discuss the possibility of building a new church. It was decided to build and the following committee appointed to secure plans: J. I. Mereness, A. Moorhouse, L. G. Walters, Rev. Booth, Mrs. Lina Cooley, and Mrs. S. T. Waldron. The contract was let in April of 1907 to Nichols and Brown of Panora for $10,250. This did not include the excavating and furnishings. The new church was a duplicate of the M. E. Church at Scranton.

            Work soon began on the light cream colored pressed brick building with the building committee, A. Moorhouse, Charles Sherer, F. G. Rust, W. C. Prill, and J. E. Mereness in charge. $14,000 has been subscribed toward the new church by the time the cornerstone was laid in July. Inside the corner stone is a copper box that contains copies of The Glidden Graphic, Des Moines Register and Leader, Carroll Herald, Carroll Sentinel, a handbook of the church with names of officers and members, also a few coins and some other publications.

            The main entrance to the building is located just as it was in the old building, on the northeast corner. The narthex doors opened into the main auditorium which would seat 100 and with the doors to the adjoining Sunday School rooms open the total seating capacity was 500. The main floor was bowl-shaped. Part of the basement was finished for church suppers and socials. The remainder housed the two hot air furnaces. The new church was lit by gas lights.

            It was hoped to have the new church completed for dedication by the first of December, but several unforeseen things arose during the building of the church. The brick layers went on strike for higher wages and other help was then fired. When the building was ready for plaster, the contractor left for three weeks, leaving just one plasterer to do the work and so it took several weeks longer just to get the plastering done. Then the windows that had been ordered were two months past due and again the completion of the church was held up.

            Dedication day finally came on January 12, 1908, with services in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Robert Campbell, D.D. and President of Buena Vista College at Storm Lake preached the sermon. The total cost of the new church with the furnishings was $14,750 and on the day of dedication about $3,000 was needed to pay all the bills. After about thirty minutes of solicitations the clerks came up with $3,580 so they had a little in reserve. The Presbyterian were proud of their new building and announced that it belonged to the entire community.



Improvements of the Building/Manse during the years


            Sunday October 10, 1926, was a red letter day for the Presbyterians. For a number of years the churchfolk had planned on a new pipe organ and finally a new Esley organ was installed at the cost of $4,500. It was dedicated entirely debt free before the day was over.


Looking into the town’s centennial, a new church sign was erected in April 1967, at a cost of $237.90.  Sadly, shortly before the July observance, the area was hit by a severe storm. The church and manse both sustained considerable damage. The total insurance offered from wind blowing the chimney off the funeral home next door into the church 3wall and windows, and hail damage was $3,710.23. The stained glass windows were taken to Omaha for repair. A protective covering was later placed over the prized Rose Window.


            The manse in the west part of town was sold and in 1951, the trustees of the church purchased the H. W. Porter property to be used as a residence for the pastor and his/her family as it is located just across the street from the church.


            Extensive improvements were made on the basement in 1948 with a new modern kitchen being installed and other necessary improving done. In 1955, a new electronic organ was dedicated.


            It was found necessary to purchase a new organ in 1979. A model 413 AOB was obtained for $17,681.00 excluding tax.


            Maintenance, repair and the upgrading of equipment and facilities in the church, office and manse has been an ongoing responsibility to meet today’s standards.


            The manse was re-sided in 1976. Church restrooms were remodeled in 1979. Carpeting was laid in 1980 and new pews placed. In 1981, a school shop class built a new garage for the manse as a work project. Ceiling fans were installed in the sanctuary in 1982. In 1983 a new sign was approved for the front of the church. The church has been maintained with re-wiring, insulating, re-roofing, bell-tower repairs and tuck-pointing as occasion demanded. A new speaker system for everyone’s benefit was installed in 1990.


            Many dreams came true in 1991 when an elevator was installed with a three-level entry. Necessary changes were made inside and outside the church to accommodate this fine new addition. It has been a great benefit to the elderly or handicapped. The price of this outstanding project was $27,938.74.


Sunday, October 13th, 2002, was a very difficult day for the members of First Presbyterian Church. After services had concluded for the day, Rev. Bob Peters suffered sudden cardiac arrest and passed away that afternoon. He was 61. The church entered a period of mourning for their beloved pastor. Memorial funds given in his memory were used for various purposes, including – new pew bibles, a home communion kit, air conditioning for the church building, and the Hwy. 30 sign listing Glidden churches.


The past two decades also saw a few more changes in the life of the church. In 1999, the old manse was sold and funds from the sale were used to purchase the Fisher property, which became the new manse. The church cared for the new manse until April 2008, when it was sold for $105,000. The church sign in front of the church was updated in 2001 and in 2008 the modern clavinova replaced the church organ. Finally, in 2012, the projector and screen were added to the sanctuary to help facilitate worship.


Just recently, a great burst of new energy has been devoted to the maintenance of our church building. In the latter half of 2013, the church began a Capital Campaign to seal leaks in the roof and to pay for major church repairs. The original goal for the campaign was $75,000 but members responded enthusiastically and over $100,000 was raised for necessary church repairs. Out of these funds the church was able to seal the leak in the roof, tuckpoint the building, restore the rose window, cover the upper stained glass windows with storm glass, repair any water damage, and reshingle the roof. This flurry of activity continues to this day, as members continue to support this church and preserve our historic building.


Celebrations of the Church


Celebration of the Golden Jubilee in 1920

            In April of 1920, the Presbyterians celebrated their Golden Jubilee. Great plans were made for the big day which proved to be a big disappointment as the rain and muddy roads prevents many from attending. On Saturday evening the real anniversary service was held. Various papers were read by the laymen and the audience was taken back to the beginning of the church when eleven men and women portrayed the early organization in the schoolhouse in 1879. Mr. Thos. Leffingwell read the history of the church and Eugene Mereness gave the history of the Sunday School. Rev. W. H. Parker preached the Saturday evening sermon and Dr. S. R. Ferguson of Cedar Rapids was the principle speaker on Sunday.


Celebration of the City of Glidden in 1967

            During the Glidden Centennial the Women’s club held a Period Style show in the church basement.


Celebration of the Centennial Observance in 1970

The church held its centennial observance in 1970, with special emphasis during April and the summer months when former members who had enter the Presbyterian ministry each preached one Sunday.  John Conner preached on June 28, and Manly Mace on August 2. A catered dinner was held on Saturday night, September 19, followed by a centennial program.  C. Wayne Overholser, former pastor, concluded the observance by preaching on Sunday, September 20.


Celebration of Glidden’s Quasquecentennial in 1992

            During Glidden’s Quasquecentennial in 1992 nearly 100 quilts of all sizes, shapes, colors, designs, and ages were displayed in the church’s sanctuary, and a hospitality center offered refreshments and relaxation in the basement sponsored by the Quasi-Quilters of Glidden.


Celebration of the Church Building for 100 years

            In 2008 a celebration to mark the 100 year anniversary of the church building was celebrated.



Ministers who have served the First Presbyterian Church of Glidden



·         W. R. Smith 1870-1871

·         James M. Phillips, 1872-1873

·         Thomas Shaver 1984-1876

·         John S. Dunning 1876-1878

·         John Henry Sammis 1879-1881, author of many hymns, one of which is "Trust and Obey".

·         E. A. McLaughin 1881-1883

·         Dewey Jonas 1883-1884

·         P. Reed 1884-1886

·         W. A. McMinn 1887-1890

·         J.I. Countermine 1890-1898

·         Kenneth Brown 1899-1903

·         George Booth 1904-1910; father of the painter, Cameron Booth

·         W. H. Parker 1910-1918

·         J. T. Thorton 1918-1919

·         Frederick Nichol 1919-1925

·         Wm. D. Jones 1925-1934

·         Wayne Overholser 1934-1938

·         Warren D. Ives 1930-1942

·         Samuel R. Reed 1942-1945

·         Harrison C. Becker 1947-1956

·         Duane Heap 1957-1962

·         E. Raymond Heglin 1963-1967

·         Andrew J. Bosman 1968-1975

·         R. Scott Burkley 1975-1983

·         Gerald A. Riesen 1984-1988

·         Donald C. Cameron, II 1989-1998

·         Robert Peters 2001-2002, due to his death

·         Patricia Summers 2003-2005

·         Mike Fitzsimmons as stated supply June 2006 to 2009

·         Barb Huisman as interim supply in 2010

·         Brian Camara 2010 to 2018

·         Anna Small 2020 to present

Two babies were welcomed into the church family while Scott and Dorothy Burkley occupied the manse.  Phillip Bennett was born January 5, 1980 and his brother Andrew Scott was born September 30, 1982.           


Rev. Tower was the first regular pastor, the others before him being supply pastors. There is quite a lapse between the terms of some of the pastors but usually during these lapses a student was sent out from the seminary in Omaha or a member of the congregation read the sermon.




Members who have Served on the Mission Field, Ministry, and Lay Academy


            Mission Field

·         Miss Elizabeth Read

·         Miss Beatrice Riedesel

·         Steven Moorhouse


            Ordained Pastor  

·         Wayne Gute

·         John T. Conner

·         Manley Mace

·         Steven Moorhouse

·         Darin Seaman


            Lay Academy

·         Carolyn Conner

·         William Crawford, Commissioned Lay Pastor


            John Conner was especially active in demonstration the difference between “have” and “have not” nations. He was in charge of a special program televised by CBS held at rural Glidden’s St. John Lutheran Church in 1975, with area churches, including this one, participating. In 1977, John Conner received the high honor of being elected Moderator of General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church(U.S.A). A Memorial Service was held in this church for John Conner after his death in the spring of 1983.



Church Activities from 1970 to the Present


The church has served its members and the community, lending its facilities to many worthy groups and causes and sponsoring popular activities:

·         The Bike Ride Around Swan Lake was initiated in 1978.

·         Easter Sunrise Service at Swan Lake with the Carroll Presbyterian congregation.

·         Dickson Timber Sunday Church services

·         Golf outings,

·         Fourth of July picnics,

·         Thanksgiving turkey dinner,

·         Rally Day breakfast,

·         Nursing home visits and entertainment,

·         Treats for college students,

·         Community of Concern donations

·         Youth camp

·         New Hope Village store


Several large bequests, many memorials, donations, and labor given (gratefully received) have helped to make many of these activities possible.


            The Presbyterian Women’s Organization (PWO) was organized in April of 1945 and in 1949 it became the United Presbyterian Women (UPW).


Due to reorganization, this church is now a member of the Presbytery of Prospect Hill and the Synod of the Lake and Prairies. United is no long in the church’s title. The women’s Organization is now Presbyterian Women (PW). This church has seven Ruling Elders. All Trustees are members of the Session under the Unicameral System. In the past there were six Deacons, but has been discontinued with duties part of the session currently.



Contact Webmaster


            In reorganizing the previously written history, there are obvious gaps and some incorrect information.  For example the first full time pastor is not in the pastor list.  Also years of the recent pastors are missing.  Please feel free to contact me with both corrections and additions to the above history.  Please send an email to the webmaster.