As have so many other churches, the Shiocton Bible Church began as a Bible study. Frank Dexter, later to become its first pastor, led the Bible study. By 1886, the church was officially formed under the name First Congregational Corporation, a name it would retain until 1907. In 1907 the church, after discovering that the former incorporation papers were not valid, was re-incorporated and the name officially changed to First Congregational Church. In 2016, the church rebranded itself as the Shiocton Bible Church to better reflect our beliefs and church community.
A hotel originally stood on the corner of River and Oak Streets, the location of the former church building. After the hotel burned in 1881, Frank Dexter purchased the land and donated it to the church. In 1887 the first building was erected. That church building served our church and community well for 130 years. In 2017, the church purchased the former bowling alley located at the intersection of Hwy 54 and Hwy 187. Renovations began almost immediately and the church has been meeting at the new location since early 2018.
The church served the community in a variety of ways. Lacking facilities of their own, both Methodists and Lutherans used the building. Because the fire hall lacked the funds to purchase its own bell, the church’s bell was used to summon fire fighters. When the high school burned in 1915, the church’s basement housed high school classes and the graduation services were held in the sanctuary. In the 2000s, the church building was used by a Spanish-speaking congregation for their services in addition to our services.
Three special services marked milestones in the church’s history. They included the formal dedication of the newly remodeled facilities in 1907 and anniversary celebrations in 1975 (100 years of existence as a church body) and 1987 (the 100th year anniversary of the building). During the Cornerstone Rally Day service in 1907, documents had been placed in a box and sealed in one of the two cornerstones set in place. Shortly before the 1987 service, the existence of the box was discovered and, during that service, the box of documents in the cornerstone was opened and the contents displayed. Records in the box were updated and replaced in the cornerstone to await re-opening by a future generation of church members.
The history of the church, however, is not a story of people seeking to bring attention to themselves or to perpetuate a building. Rather it is a testimony of their desire to proclaim Jesus Christ and to provide a place to worship Him. The early records portray the struggle of men and women who sought to establish a witness for Jesus Christ in the new community. They worked and they were faithful and they instilled in their children a love for Christ and the church body that has been passed from generation to generation until this present time. The names of the people are different now but the message remains the same: “Because of THE LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)