History of Hope Presbyterian Church
Hope Presbyterian Church started with a vision of the New London Presbyterian Church and Spicer Presbyterian Church merging into one thriving congregation. But first, a little history of the two parent congregations…..
New London Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian Church of New London was an active church
for 72 years, from 1896 to 1968. In 1896 Rev. Romeo Drysdale,
who was serving as pastor of the Hawick and Burbank
Presbyterian churches, also held worship services every Sunday
evening at the New London Town Hall. Those were the first
English spoken church services in New London.
In 1897 a petition signed by 25 people living in and around
New London was presented to the Presbytery asking that a
Presbyterian Church be officially organized in New London.
A committee was appointed by the Presbytery to study the
possibility of organizing a church in New London.
In May of 1897, Rev. C.H. Johnson of Willmar and Rev. George C. Pollock of Litchfield investigated the possibility and the result was the organization of the New London Presbyterian congregation. On May 17, 1897, they found a Sunday School had already been organized by the Rev. Drysdale, pastor at large. The New London Presbyterian Church was founded on October 12, 1897 in a meeting of the St. Cloud Presbytery at the Hawick Presbyterian Church.
Land was purchased for the building of the Presbyterian Church in New London on March 24, 1898 for $50 from Charles E. Monson, and work began on the building on July 11th. They had decided to build a brick veneer church. The main auditorium was 35 feet by 40 feet; classrooms were 10 feet by 15 feet, and the pastor’s study was 12 feet by 12 feet. The cost of the project was $2,400. Some of the money was raised by subscription. The building was completed in 1900.
In June of 1930 the Green Lake Presbyterian Parish was organized, a three-point field including the Spicer Presbyterian Church, the New London Presbyterian Church, and Harrison Community Presbyterian Church. This arrangement continued until 1968 when the Harrison congregation dropped out.
The congregation commemorated its 50th anniversary in 1947 and the mortgage was burned. A meeting was called in July 1949 to discuss and lay plans for the building of an annex to the North side of the church. It was built in 1950. In 1964 a new oil furnace was installed, along with new carpeting in the sanctuary. On April 13, 1969, the congregation sold the property and building to the Evangelical Free Church of New London for the sum of $6,000.
Spicer Presbyterian Church
The Spicer Presbyterian Church was organized May 20, 1896 in the old schoolhouse by
the Rev. Thomas Scotton, a Sunday School missionary of the St. Cloud Presbytery.
The original members of the congregation were Frank Stansberry, Thomas Scotton,
Mr. & Mrs. D. Wilson, and Mrs. A.G. Mardin. Mr. Scotton was named elder;
H.S. Wakeman and Hugh Sanderson were trustees. There were 14 communicant members.
A building was erected and completed in August 1896, a wood framed structure 24 feet
by 32 feet with a session room 10 feet by 16 feet. The total cost of the building was
$1,100. This was the only place of worship in the village of Spicer for nearly ten years
and was used by all denominations. It was also used for the first service of the St. Cloud
Presbytery, conducted by the Rev. T.M. Findley, when he was named pastor evangelist of
the Presbytery in 1898. He resided in Spicer for 25 years while carrying on his evangelistic
duties for the St. Cloud Presbytery.
Anna Knudsen, later Andrews, at the age of 12 was the organist. She lived with her
parents on the property next to the church; her father, John Knudsen, was Sunday School
superintendent as well as caretaker of the church. Anna learned to play one hymn, then
soon after one more so the Sunday School as well as the congregation could sing different
songs. In 1956, Anna was honored for her 50 years of service as the organist as well as
Sunday School teacher; she continued to play for about 10 years more.
In April 1922, the congregation voted at the annual meeting to erect an
addition to the church. The building was added to with a loan from the
Board of National Missions for $2,000 with interest to be repaid at $50
per year. The dedication of the addition was held December 10, 1922.
In 1935 the congregation added a basement to the structure. In 1940
it became imperative that if they were to have the services of a pastor
on the field, a manse would have to be procured. In 1944 the property
of the late John Knudsen was purchased. The building on the place
was inadequate for a manse and was rented out for a time. In 1948
it was enlarged at a cost of $7,507.38 and used as the manse.
An arrangement was made in the Parish that the Harrison and New London churches pay rent for the manse. The obligation for building and maintaining the manse belonged to the Spicer church.
In 1953 the church basement was enlarged and modernized. By 1956 new pews, an organ, windows, and a carpeted aisle had been added. The building in Spicer was later torn down for an apartment house.
Hope Presbyterian Church
Looking toward a more meaningful and relevant ministry
in a rapidly changing area, the Green Lake Presbyterian
Parish was dissolved in 1968, and the Presbyterian
congregations of New London and Spicer joined together
and became Hope Presbyterian Church on July 15, 1968.
Following the merger, the congregation worshipped in
both buildings until February 1969 when they moved to the
The congregation of Hope continued to worship in the Spicer building using the manse for Sunday school and offices until the property was sold to the Gronli Construction Company on September 19, 1971 for the sum of $17,260.
The new home for Hope Presbyterian Church came to be through the efforts of many people in the two former congregations. After several meetings to determine the site for the new building, the congregation voted on September 28, 1969 to purchase the Hille property located between New London and Spicer on the banks of the Crow River for the price of $6,500.
With Rev. John C. Kauffman serving as the interim pastor, the congregation had several meetings to observe the floor plans and to determine the type of building they wanted. They made the final vote on April 12, 1971 to construct the new church building with a seating capacity of 250 – vote being 65 to 4 in favor of the building. The contracts were awarded for the amount of $147,740 including the architect’s fees.
Through the Church Development Fund of the Presbyterian Synod of Minnesota, with the approval of the St. Cloud Presbytery, the congregation was able to borrow $25,000, and through the Board of National Missions, the congregation secured $75,000. With the money secured, Breitbach Construction Company of Elrosa, MN, and Ozolin, Gavic, & Gavic Architectural firm of Spring Valley, Wisconsin began to work.
In the spring of 1971, the youth had the great honor of conducting an Easter Sunrise Service, the first worship service on the new site. The groundbreaking was held in May, and the corner stone was laid in place in October of 1971. The congregation held their first indoor worship service in the new sanctuary on December 19, 1971, as a wonderful Christmas gift to Christ. A dedication service was held March 5, 1972 by the dedicatory prayer: “O Father, we come to dedicate this building to your honor and glory, and our lives to thy service. Amen.”
In 1973, Hope Presbyterian Church called it first pastor, the Rev. Raymond J. Larson, who was ordained and installed on February 10, 1974. The Larson family grew up with Hope and continued to serve until June 1988, when Ray was called as the Associate Executive Prebyter of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys. Also serving Hope during Pastor Ray’s tenure was the Rev. Mel Pederson, as a visitation pastor starting in 1980. After Mel’s retirement, the Rev. Jack Anderson became the new visitation pastor, and continued to grace the presents of the congregation for many years until his retirement in the early 2000’s. From September 1988 to June 1989, Paul Martin served as interim pastor.
With a growing congregation, it was voted to build a major addition on to the fellowship hall. This action took place in January of 1979. Through the efforts of many people, the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, and the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, loans were secured from both the Synod for the amount of $52,500, and the General Assembly for the amount of $42,000. The remainder of the money came from the sacrificial gifts of the congregation and the innovative fund-raising projects.
The total cost of the project, which included the remodeling of some areas of the 1971 building, carpeting, demountable walls for classrooms, decorating, general construction, and architectural fees, was $159,276. The total square footage of the addition added another 3,500 square feet to the building. The dedication of the addition was held December 2, 1979.
In 1987, a more permanent structure to house the
Hopewood Chapel (a unique and rustic outdoor sanctuary
on the banks of the Crow River) was added; it has a
seating capacity of 200 people. A gazebo, which was
given to the church, is now located in the space between
the church and the outdoor chapel; it is enclosed and
can be used for smaller groups, up to 50 people.
Before this, the congregation would hold their early service
in the summer in a more temporary area located further to
the Southwest of the new location. The first chapel was
created in 1983.
On April 30, 1989, the Rev. Jeff DeYoe was called to be the
second pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church. He and his
wife, Ruth, with children Christina and Aaron, arrived in
June. Pastor Jeff’s installation took place August 27, 1989.
Ruth became the Christian Education Director, overseeing
all the opportunities and growth of the children of the
The congregation continued to grow, and once again, the people of Hope began investigating the possibility of adding to the church building. In 1994, a building masterplan was developed for future reference when growth again brought the need for expansion. With the demountable walled classrooms no longer being feasible for the growing class sizes, phase 1 of the construction began in 1994, and the Christian Education wing was completed. This addition gave the church 7 permanent classrooms for Sunday school, as well as a Senior High youth room and a new office for the Christian Education director.
September of 1998 brought the third pastor called to grace the congregation of Hope. The Rev. Terry B. Sletto, along with his wife Susan, came to the New London-Spicer area to serve the growing parish.
With the advancement of modern technology, it was decided in 2000 that the church needed to stay with the times and have a website created. Stephanie Bents was approached and created a website to reach all of those on the worldwide web.
In 2003, Pastor Terry and Daryl Taatjes started a new ministry of Hope, a radio station 96.9 fm KGLH. This radio ministry has a broadcast range of 2 miles but can be heard as far as the northern edge of Willmar. The radio station broadcasts 24 hours a day and is the only Southern Gospel station in the area, broadcasting church services and other programming. It is completely funded by donations from the community and congregation.
That same year, a member of the
congregation had a vision and opportunity
come to him. Marv Gulbranson was given
the opportunity to obtain, at no cost to the
church, the military chapel at Camp Ripley
in Little Falls, Minnesota, to be used as the
new youth center of Hope Church. The
building was no longer in use and was
going to be torn down. In September
of 2003, the Session approved proceeding
with the youth building. The people of
Hope took it upon themselves to carefully
tear down the chapel piece by piece and move it into its new home – at the top of the hill behind the church. After numerous volunteer hours by church members and the community, the River of Hope Youth Center opened its doors in May of 2007, with much celebration by all involved in the re-construction of the building.
In 2006, Hope called its fourth pastor and first female pastor, the Rev. Dr. Candace Adams, to the pulpit. Pastor Candace, along with her husband Doug and family: Breanna, Austin, and Mariah, quickly immersed themselves in the life of Hope.
In 2008, the Prayer Garden was added by the Property
Committee to the grounds of Hope just to the Southwest
of the church building. This outdoor space is for all to use –
members and the community. Anyone needing a personal
reflection time with God is welcome. Weddings have also
been held in this space, along with the Hopewood Chapel.
With an aging congregation, the need for an elevator became
clear. In October of 2008, the nursery was moved into the
Christian Education wing, and a wheelchair lift was installed
where the nursery was. Those in wheelchairs or with walkers could now go up to the sanctuary without having to go outside and walk around to the front of church to get into the sanctuary. This soon became used by all.
In April of 2009, Hope started a new ministry to New London-Spicer area – the CARE Pantry. Cathy Plucker and Pastor Candace started this ministry as an outreach resource for the Link.
Christian - Our goal is to show Christ’s love to those in our community, to take seriously the call of Jesus
to serve one another.
Assistance - Assist people by providing items that will help them care for themselves and their family
during difficult times.
Relationships – We desire to build relationships through our CARE Pantry. We seek to serve and connect
with those in our community.
Encourage – To support others in their journey, we aspire to give them the confidence and hope they need
both spiritually and physically to know they are loved by God.
In the beginning, the CARE Pantry gave out both food and household items to their clients. After a few years, the need became apparent for us to focus on giving out personal and household items rather than food, so we shifted gears and added to our personal and household products list. Clients can receive 15 items from our list of hygiene products, baby supplies, children and teen supplies, elderly supplies, and other household items. The CARE Pantry is open every first and third Tuesday of the month starting at noon, with a short devotion from the pastor and a meal followed by product distribution. This continues to be a strong ministry of Hope Church.
The spring of 2018 brought more remodeling. Hope Presbyterian Women (HPW) decided they needed to remodel by expanding and updating the kitchen to a more commercialized kitchen rather than your standard residential kitchen setting. Things were outdated and falling apart, so they contracted a kitchen designer from the Twin Cities to come and draw up plans for a new kitchen. In October of 2019, the kitchen was completed and is much appreciated by all of those using it for various community meals and church events.
After 4 long years of searching for a new pastor, Hope welcomed its fifth pastor in August of 2021. The Rev. Dr. Brian Jones was installed on November 14, 2021. His wife Tyann was also hired as the new Christian Education Director.
Because of the continued aging of our congregation, the restrooms needed to be updated. In 2022, the Property Committee got together with the Restroom Remodel Committee and hired an architect to construct drawings to make the main restrooms in the Fellowship Hall handicapped accessible. Construction will be completed in the winter of 2023.
Together the members and pastors have made Hope Presbyterian Church a dynamic and energetic place to worship and fellowship within the body of Christ.
Pastors who served the Spicer and New London churches:
Rev. S.E.P. White (Spicer) 1898-1899
Rev. Romeo Drysdale (New London) 1896-1906
Rev. H.C. Baskerville 1906-1908
Mr. Robinson (Licentiate) 1909
Mr. M. Court (Licentiate) 1910
Mr. W.H. McEwin (Licentiate) 1910-1911
Rev. H.S. Easly 1912-1914
Rev. T.M. Findley 1914-1928
Mr. Walter Horne 1928-1929
Mr. Wayne Williams 1930-1931
Mr. John Wilson 1931-1932
Rev. Stewart Robertson 1932-1937
Rev. C.J. Auerback 1937-1942
(Mrs. C.J. Auerback substituted as her husband served in the military during WW2, 1942-1948,
with help of Mr. Robert Caine and Mr. John Urey.)
Rev. Ralph Johnson 1948-1949
Rev. Robert O. McLeod 1949-1952
Rev. Wendell D. Wessman 1952-1954
Rev. G. Thomas Friedkin 1955-1958
Rev. Donald Hyer 1958-1961
Rev. John C. Kauffman 1961
Rev. Marvin Kruse 1962-1968
Pastors who served Hope:
Rev. John C. Kauffman (interim) 1968-1974
Rev. Ray Larson 1974-1988
Rev. Paul Martin (interim) 1988-1989
Rev. Dr. Jeff DeYoe 1989-1997
Rev. Dan Johnson (interim) 1997-1998
Rev. Terry Sletto 1998-2004
Rev. John Hill (interim) 2004-2005
Rev. Heather Shoup (interim) 2005-2006
Rev. Dr. Candace Adams 2006-2017
Rev. Leah Elrod (interim) 2017-2019
Kathy Terpstra, Teaching Elder (Gap pastor) 2019-2021
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones 2021-present