Iowa's oldest congregation celebrates 175th year - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa's oldest congregation celebrates 175th year

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- From meeting in a tavern in 1833, to now, meeting in a church known for its Tiffany stained glass windows, Saint Luke's United Methodist Church in Dubuque has come a long way. On Sunday, the congregation celebrated its 175 year anniversary.

175 years ago, Dubuque was considered a pretty rough place, according to historians. They say the founders of what is now Saint Luke's were the first to establish a congregation of Christian faith in Iowa's oldest city.

In 1833, the congregation's founders first met in the top floor of a tavern, then built a tiny log meeting house. The church went through two more buildings before the current church went up in 1895.

"It's a beacon of hope and inspiration for other churches, not just for United Methodist churches, but for the Christian witness in Iowa," Bishop Julius Trimble said.

The anniversary celebration service included special music, a sermon from the bishop, and photos of years past.

"This has been a year long building up to this. I think the sense of all of the history of ministry that has been done in this place for the last 175 years is just one of those astonishing things," Reverend Diane Mitchell said.

Bishop Trimble says now more than ever, people are turning to the tradition of church.

"The recent presidential election, the things, the instability in the financial world, I think people are concerned that their faith is something that will sustain them particularly during a time of rapid change in the world," Trimble said.

While Sunday morning was to celebrate history, there was also celebration for the future.

"It marks the beginning of the next 175 years. A lot of inspiration for continuing the ministry that so many faithful have carried on all of these years," Reverend Dianne Christopher said.

The St. Luke's congregation is also responsible for bringing the first church bell west of the Mississippi, north of St. Louis.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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