Both churches were founded in 1871 and are located near each other in a rural area, surrounded by agriculture and small communities. While nestled in a rural setting, we are located less than an hour from Lincoln and Omaha, metropolitan areas which offer all the amenities of city life such as shopping, recreation, and airports.
Each church has a Sunday morning service in which an average of 30-60 people attend. Children's activities are an important part of each church's tradition, including Sunday School; Vacation Bible School; a children's sermon; a Christmas program; and an annual Sunday School picnic with games, food, and fellowship. For small congregations, we are excited to have a number of young families with children, a sign that our churches are showing sustained growth.
Other traditions include hosting an Easter sunrise service as well as community events for fellowship, such as soup dinners and an ice cream social. We also have an active ministry through our local food pantry, which we have operated since 2005. We would love to have you join us. If you have any questions or would like to reserve one of the churches or reception hall for a wedding or other event, please contact us.
History of St. John's Evangelical Church--McWilliams by John S. Robison
St. John’s-McWilliams Church was organized January 2nd, 1871 and adopted the name Evangelical St.John’s Congregation. Having met at a farm southeast of the church’s current location for 14 years land was procured in 1884 and the church building and a parsonage were built. In 1917-18 a number of improvements were made including adding the west wing, a basement was added, a pipe organ and stained glass windows were installed. In 1957 the Evangelical and Reformed Churches and the Congregational Churches merged and formed the United Church of Christ. Other improvements have been made over the years including adding a fellowship hall and kitchen in the basement in 1964. With a decline in rural populations in the 1980’s McWilliams and Osage came together once again to share a pastor in 1990. Improvements continued in 1992 the church was made handicap accessible and vinyl siding in 1998. In 2003 after several years of renting out the parsonage it was sold and moved off of the church grounds. In 2006 the UCC chose to endorse some controversial issues and a vote was taken to decide the church would remain in the UCC. A new position statement was adopted at this time to solidify our shared beliefs, faith, and traditions. In 2014 a vote was taken to remain in the UCC conference but changed our name back to St. John’s Evangelical Church.
History of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ--Osage by John S. Robison
The church at Osage was organized January 1st,1871 as St. Paul’s Evangelical Church. Since the church predates the community of Cook the church became known as the Osage church after the name of the precinct. This church initially shared a pastor with the church at McWilliams. In 1878 funds were allocated and a Church building was established on an eight acre parcel purchased in 1872 for a church and cemetery. In 1880 the church was legally incorporated and on March 1st, 1882 McWilliams and Osage separated with different pastors. Over the years a number of improvements have been made to the church and grounds. In 1892 a schoolhouse was built; Sunday school was taught on Sunday and German language five days a week. A new parsonage was built in 1907 and the current church building was constructed in 1911. The name was changed in the mid 1930’s when the Evangelical Synod of North America merged with the Reform Church of the United States creating the Evangelical and Reformed Church. The name was changed again in 1957 when the Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with the Congregational Church creating the United Church of Christ. In 1990 the churches at McWilliams and Osage again joined together under one pastor. In 1996 Handicapped accessible social hall added to east side of the church.