Rev. J.F. Grove, then pastoring the German Evangelical Congregational Zion Church at 9th and D Streets, left Zion to plant a new mission in the southeast area of the South Bottoms where a number of Volga German families had recently moved.
On Monday evening, August 16, 1915, a group of men and women, along with Rev. Grove, met to form the new congregation. The group selected German Ebenezer Evangelical Congregational Church as the name for the new church based on I Samuel, 7:12: “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.” They also voted to govern the church according to the constitution in the Kirchliches Handbuch, published in 1902, agreed that women should have equal voting rights with men, and elected H.J. Amen, Henry Yost, J.A. Wiederspan, Henry Weber, and Fred Gies to serve as the first trustees and Peter P. Pabst, William Weber, Conrad Hock, and J.J. Hill to serve as the first deacons.
The founding members of Ebenezer were Volga German immigrants primarily from the villages of Balzer, Frank, and Walter but also from Beideck, Grimm, Huck, Hussenbach, Kolb, Norka, Shilling, and Wiesenmueller.
Land was purchased at 801 B Street and a 42 by 32 foot frame structure seating 200 was erected on the lot for a total cost of $4,540. The church was dedicated on Sunday, February 15, 1916. As the original church building took up less than one-half of the lot, fruit trees were grown on the north side of the building.
It wasn’t long before the little church was bulging at the seams, and the congregation elected to build a new, larger building on the same lot. Alfred W. Woods, a prominent Lincoln architect, was hired to design the building; and H.G. Grasmick was hired as the general contractor. Woods drew up the plans for many churches, homes, and other buildings in Lincoln and throughout the Midwest, including Fairview, home of William Jennings Bryan, First United Methodist Church (50th and St. Paul), and Tifereth Israel Synagogue (344 S. 18 Street). The new brick church in the Gothic Revival style, popular in the U.S. from the late 1800s through the 1940s, was completed in 1927 at a cost of approximately $26,500.
Most German Congregational churches became affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC), which came into being in 1957 with the merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Ebenezer joined the Nebraska Conference of the UCC on September 15, 1963, and the name of the church was changed to Ebenezer UCC. On Sunday, August 25, 2013, the congregation voted to sever its ties with the UCC and is now known as Ebenezer Congregational Church.
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