The history of our congregation tells, in large measure, the story of Decorah as a community. The first immigrants to arrive in this area were English and brought with them their religious traditions and practices. Among their traditions, was the congregationalist movement with an emphasis on local church autonomy and the fostering of a diversity of beliefs under a common commitment to the Christian faith.
In 1854, the Congregational Church, the original name of the congregation, was founded and its first building was dedicated in 1861. After a period of growth, the church decided to construct a new church on the same site. We continue to use that building, which was dedicated in 1896.
Over time, the congregation has experienced many milestones and events. Educational ministry was started, community outreach initiatives began, and adaptations to the life and worship of the congregation continued to help make faith relevant in the lives of parishioners. In 1957, the Congregationalist tradition merged with other traditions to become the United Church of Christ, the denomination of which we are now a part. Also, in 1957, our present Congregational Center replaced an aging gym that also functioned as a fellowship hall. Today, our Congregational Center is used by the congregation as well as the wider community as a place for fellowship, events, and meals.
As a part of our rich history we are proud to be the sponsor of the longest continuously running boy scout group in Decorah and to be a founding congregation for the Depot Outlet. Throughout our history, we have deep commitments to community service, both within our community and in the wider world through summer mission trips, support for undocumented workers, AA meeting site, hunger prevention programs, and the school Backpack program. We also have longstanding ties to ecumenical partnerships and our interfaith coalition.
In 2012, the church completed its faithful process of becoming an Open and Affirming UCC congregation. With this statement of witness, Decorah Congregational UCC publicly and proudly proclaims not only its history but also its hope for the future. We are a church that has been and seeks to be a place where everyone, everyone, everyone is welcome to be a part of its life and ministry.