North Bend Eagle


Cheryl Hammonds preaches at the Ames church
Cheryl Hammond delivers the Sunday message to her Ames Church congregation. The church has regular services Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

Ames church sees resurrection

by Mary Le Arneal
published 10/15/08

The little white church in Ames has worn different labels in its almost 100 years of existence.

Originally the Methodist-Episcopal Church of Ames, the first record found concerning the church was in a 1919 legal paper when someone named Johnson deeded the land and premise to the Methodist church.

Ames Church
The children of the Ames church wait for their parents after Sunday services.

Cora Hasen remembers Methodist serveices being conducted at the church when she and new husband Gene moved to a farm near Ames after they got married in 1949.

From 1949 to 1967 the Central Theological Seminary was housed in what is now Fremont’s May Museum, and the young Lutheran seminarians would go to small rural churches to preach.

Ray Wingate was one of those seminarians. When he noticed all the Lutherans in the Ames area, he began conducting services in the Ames Methodist church.
That’s when Cora Hansen, now 84, started attending church services at the Ames church.

In 1952 the church was deeded to the Lutherans and named the Community Evangelical Lutheran Resurrection Church of Ames. Hansen said the “spirit of the seminarian” showed in the name.

Wingate served the church for five years. Hansen remembers him as full of life and ideas for the church.

“There were 40 to 50 members,” Hansen said. “I taught Sunday school and the largest class I had was 13 children. In the summer 35-40 children from the community would come to bible school.”

Hansen also said they had a choir of ten at that time.

After Wingate left four or five other seminarians filled the pulpit. In 1984 J.O. Bumgardner came and served the church until 1998.

Hansen said the membership was fluctuating and most of the young people were gone, leading to the church closing early in 1998.

The church building was turned over to the Lutheran Synod which sold it to Chuck Kilbourn a few years later who used it as a antique store.

Five years ago Doyle Acker was working in Ames and had forgotten his water jug. In his search for water, he came upon the Ames church, noting that it was for sale.

Acker’s church in Fremont, the Four Square Gospel Church, was looking for a home. For 50 years it had a been in Fremont before its building was sold. It was meeting in a rented building, debating whether or not to build a new building or rent one.

Acker ended up buying the Ames church and doing some remodeling. Twenty to 30 members from the Four Square Gospel church started meeting in Ames.
Acker is pleased with the present church, which now draws half its members from Fremont and about half from the Ames area.

“It’s a good church,” Acker said. “We have lots of different denominations attending and we all get along. We preach from the Bible so we don’t get hung up on doctrine.”

Three years ago a new minister was needed. Rev. Cheryl Hammond of Fremont was one of four to apply and was chosen to minister to the Ames Church.
Hammond, a graduate of Mt. Vernon Bible College in Ohio, had been a youth pastor and taught in a school run by the Four Square Church. She had returned to Fremont and was working at another church when the opportunity to pastor at the Ames church was presented to her.

“I really enjoy the church,” Hammond said. “It is growing as the word gets out. With the price of gas the way it is, people are looking for something closer to home and we are there to offer that.”

The Ames Community Church is not affiliated with any larger organization, letting it emphasize the community of members and their needs.

They have services Sundays at 10:30 a.m. with Sunday school at 11:30 a.m. A kids club for children of all ages is held every Wednesday and on the second Saturday of each month the church sponsors a family night with a meal at 6:30 p.m. and games or bingo following. There is also a Christmas Eve service attended by many in the community.

“We try to make it so everyone feels involved and welcomed,” Hammond said.
Larry Mehrens lives behind the church and has been attending since the latest incarnation of the Ames church began.

“It’s convient,” Mehrens said, “but I probably attend more because of the people. I like the kids.”

Mehrens moved to Ames in 1996 and watched the Lutheran church die, the building be ceaned out and made into an antique shop and now is glad to see it a church again.

“Everyone has really worked hard to build it back into a church,” Mehrens said, talking about the whole structure. “Everyone has donated time to improve it.”

He takes his turn mowing the lawn in the summer.

Merens said the community of Ames is seeing a resurgance, and the Ames Church is the “heart” of the community. When he first moved to Ames, the village had only 9 residents, but not serves as home to 28 people, according to Merens’ count.

“It’s not a bad little town,” Mehrens said. “I have hopes this town will slowly build back up. Having an active church here helps.”

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