Day 374 - Lansing
In the extreme northeastern corner of Iowa is Village Creek Center Baptist Church, established in 1853. The congregation claims to be the second-oldest Swedish Baptist Church in America and the oldest continuing existing congregation in the Baptist General Conference. This church is ten miles northwest of Lansing. To reach it, take Great-River Road, also identified as County Road X52, west out of Lansing for three miles. At County Road X42 (Lansing-Harpers) a church sign directs the visitor to turn north for six miles.
In 1849 Eric Sandman was sent from Sweden to Iowa to help immigrants, and four years later believers met in his home to organize the Village Creek Swedish Baptist Church. Also in his home were held discussions resulting in the founding of the Swedish Baptist Conference in 1879. Remnants of his house can be seen three-tenths of a mile west of the present church building.
The small congregation purchased a log cabin in 1857. At the 1864 annual meeting at Village Creek, the Iowa and Illinois churches formed the Illinois-Iowa Conference. In 1867 the second church was constructed, and the current structure was erected in 1911 at a cost of $7,000.
The present church is a white-clapboard Gothic-style structure with a short tower. The sanctuary features the folding pews from the second church and some original wall stenciling. Two large, floral-designed, stained-glass windows were given by the Ladies Aid Society The cornerstone reads, “1st Swedish Baptist Church 1853-1911.” Behind the church is the cemetery, which includes the graves of Henry and Gunhild Wingblade; he was a president of Bethel College (now University), St. Paul, Minnesota.
Near the church on County Road X42 is the former Seventh Day Adventist Church formed by a group that left the Baptist Church. The cemetery contains many Swedish graves.
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