318 South Kline Street               Aberdeen, SD 57401               605-225-6753             presbyab@midconetwork.com


For us who have every convenience to make it easy to work and worship—for us who meet in the beautiful house of worship that we call “our Church,” it is difficult to imagine the beginning of this Church some one hundred twenty + years ago in the lobby of the Sod Hotel in Aberdeen,  Dakota Territory.


In 1881 the CM. St. P. railroad extended its tracks west from Minneapolis and Aberdeen sprang to life almost overnight.  Because of land grants Eastern families - - and many from the South - - rushed to the prairies and settled in Aberdeen in tents, sod houses, and crude buildings of shipped-in lumber.  Many business buildings were put up, but there was no church.


Reverend H. B. Johnson, a Presbyterian Home Missionary with headquarters at Watertown rode over on horseback, a three days’ journey, and held the first church services the first Sunday in June, 1881, in the morning at the C. A. Bliss store and in the evening at the Sod Hotel. He continued to come over, holding occasional services in Various business buildings of the town, and in August interested the people in building a Presbyterian Church. He secured a gift of $500.00 from the Church Extension Society of his church to help in the project.


Thus the First Presbyterian Church of Aberdeen, completed in the fall of 1882, was also the first church in Aberdeen.  Mr. Johnson be­came its first minister and then after a year of getting it organized, he resigned to return to what he considered the greater challenge and excitement of missionary work.  An early parishioner remembers bitter winter Sundays when the minister wore his cap with earflaps down and his mittens while preaching. In 1882 and 1883 no services could be held in January because of the intense cold and winds.


Ecumenicalism was a way of life in pioneer days.  In 1881 a union Sabbath School was established with an attendance of fifty.  After the church was finished the Presbyterians allowed the Metho­dists to hold services there every two weeks. The charge was $1.25 a Sunday.  The arrangement continued for two years.


The church grew and prospered.  One of its claims to fame might be that the congregation outgrew two church buildings in forty-four years. The second church was built in 1890 and the present one in 1927.  The bell from the first church has been used in all three churches and continues in use. 


Although many changes have occurred over the last hundred years, some things have remained the same.  The church has remained a place where we gather for spiritual growth, sharing, and fellowship just as our ancestors have done throughout the years.


Now we look forward to God's future.  Filled with hope and expectation, we stretch out to touch tomorrow in the knowledge that God will do even greater things through the power of the living Christ.


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