Aplington Baptist Church
1 Corinthians 3:9


The history of the Aplington Baptist Church is an unfolding story of God's dealings with a people redeemed by Him, who lived and labored for Him. During the years of 1869-71, a number of the members of the congregation of the Ostfriesen Baptist Church of Silver Creek, Illinois (now Baileyville), moved to Iowa and settled on farms in Pleasant Valley Township, in Grundy County south of the present town of Aplington. In a desire for closer fellowship, these Christian brethren met for services in various homes; but soon these meetings were held in the district schoolhouse called Pleasant Valley #4 also known as the "Dreyer School" in section 18 of Grundy County. In 1872, this group of 37 baptized believers met and decided to unite as a mission station of the Silver Creek Church in Illinois. By 1874, the number had grown to 71 and they met on December 12th to organize as an independent self-supporting church under the name of Baptized Christians of Pleasant Valley Iowa. A Sunday School was started and Harm Dreyer, Sr. served as Superintendent for many years.

In the early days of the congregation, able men from the group carried on the preaching services, but the need was felt for the ministry of a regular pastor. In 1877, Rev. J. Croene accepted an invitation from the congregation to serve as their pastor on a part time basis. He would conduct preaching services every third Sunday.

During those early years families moved about and into different locations. Such was the case for this infant body at Pleasant Valley. In 1876, 17 members living in the vicinity of Steamboat Rock asked for letters of dismissal to organize a church there. Other families who had relocated to South Dakota were dismissed to form a new church at Emory. In 1877, another group of families were granted letters of dismissal to form a church at Buck Grove.

During Rev. Croene's ministry the Iowa Convention was organized in Aplington in 1880. Rev. Croene was succeeded by Rev. G. C. Englelmann in May of 1882. A new church edifice was constructed in Aplington and dedicated in February 1883. The name was then changed to German Baptist Church of Aplington Iowa. A mission station was maintained at the schoolhouse in Pleasant Valley to serve the members there.

In 1885, Rev. Engelmann began a mission work north of Aplington in the area that later became Kesley as well as a mission in the town of Parkersburg. Rev. Englelmann resigned his post in 1888 and was followed by Rev. William Paul.

Rev. Paul labored in this field until 1894. During his ministry the church had grown to the point that it seemed advisable to remodel and enlarge the building and to purchase a parsonage. During the years 1892-93, Rev. Paul conducted meetings at Sheffield and baptized five converts. A mission work was started there and continued until 1894, when 15 members organized into a church. William Swyter, Sr. acted as interim pastor in Aplington between the pastorates of Rev. Paul and Rev. C. Tietge who came in April 1895. Rev. Tietage remained 2 years. During this time letters of dismissal were granted to 15 members in the Parkersburg area to organize the mission work into a self-supporting church. A son of the church, Carl Swyter, was set apart for the work of the ministry during Rev. Tietage's pastorate. Brother Swyter served as home missionary and conducted services at Hitesville, Allison, and Alden.

The Rev. William Pfeiffer came to Aplington in June of 1897 and remained until January of 1901. A new parsonage was constructed next to the church during his tenure.

In June of 1901, Rev. L. Wiesley came to Aplington. Kesley was accepted as a mission and in January of 1904, sixteen members were granted letters of dismissal to organize an independent church in that community. A revival took place while Rev. Wiesley ministered at Aplington. After evangelistic meetings were conducted by Rev. Grimmel, Pastor Wiesley was privileged to baptize 39 people on one Sunday. A total of 57 believers came into the church by confession of faith or baptism during his relatively short ministry. During this time the original building was again remodeled and enlarged. Rev. Wiesley passed away in 1904.

In December of that year, Rev. Dettmer Koester assumed the ministry and continued his work until 1920. These were difficult years for the church as their building would be destroyed by fire in 1912. A new structure was completed and dedicated later that year. The country was in the midst of W.W.I. and another difficult issue would surface in the church. Anti-German sentiment was high during those turbulent years, and the church was not exempt. A transition from an all-German church to a bilingual speaking church also took place during Rev. Koester's ministry. The Women's Benevolent Society was formed in March of 1912. Rev. Henry W. Wedel succeeded Rev. Koester in 1921. It was at this time that the services were discontinued at the schoolhouse in Pleasant Valley as transportation had now improved considerably.

The Rev. Herman Lohr began his ministry in Aplington in 1927, and remained until 1935. Another blow would strike the congregation during this time as the church building would again be destroyed by fire on February 7, 1934. A new modern brick structure was erected and dedicated in October of that year on a new site at 1003 Nash St.

Rev. Fred Lehr became the next pastor in 1935. The new Moeller pipe organ was installed and partial support for Miss Carrie Swyter was taken on. Rev. Lehr carried the church through the difficult years of W.W.II when the lives of four sons of the church family were claimed. In 1941, the name was changed to Aplington Baptist Church. In 1946, all German language association was dropped. Rev. Lehr resigned in August 1951 due to ill health, and the Rev. Venenga began his ministry in January of 1952. A new parsonage was built in 1953, on the site of the old church building. Rev. Venenga concluded his ministry in 1956, and was followed by the Rev. Donald Patet. In 1960, a new educational facility was added to the existing building. The church has had an ongoing missionary interest all through the years, and a number of its sons and daughters have gone on into full-time Christian service. The Women's Evening Circle was formed in 1965. In 1974, the entire building was renovated in preparation for the 100th anniversary. Rev. Patet retired from the pastorate in Aplington in 1988 and holds the honor of the longest serving pastor in Aplington. Rev. James L. Renke took up the reigns in July of 1988 and ministered until July of 1992. Pastor Renke had a strong evangelistic outreach and progressed into the church planting ministry after his departure from Aplington. Pastor Rod Thompson served as interim pastor from September 1991 until April of 1993 when Rev. Marlin Mohrman became our pastor. A number of remodeling projects were completed during his ministry. A new elevator was installed in 1994, which now makes the church handicap accessible. This project was completely paid for within one year after completion. A new heating and air conditioning system was installed in 1997, and 1998 brought new restrooms and a renovation of the fellowship hall in the basement. An AWANA ministry was started in the fall of 1995 and has developed into a multi-church community program with a very large attendance. We continued to enjoy God's blessings and His faithfulness as we celebrated our 125th anniversary in 1999. Nineteen ninety-nine brought a number of new projects as well. A monetary bequest to the church provided for a much-needed roof replacement, a new sound and video system, a new piano and repairs to the parsonage along with the addition of a Youth Pastor. Two years later the Youth Pastor's ministry developed into a multi-church ministry and outreach called the Student Connection.

Pastor Mohrman accepted a call to a church in Wisconsin in the summer of 2002. Dan Smith began providing pulpit supply in January 2003. The search for a senior pastor continued, with the search committee asked Dan to submit a resume in late spring of 2003. He was confirmed as senior pastor by the congregation in the Summer of 2003 and was ordained in January of 2011. Later in 2011 Dan moved on and Pastor Allan Gerber served as our interim pastor from August 2011 to June 2012.

Pastor Elton LaBree accepted a call to Aplington Baptist Church in April 2012 and began serving in June 2012. The church started a Facebook page in June 2013. The church engaged in several outreach events including delivering over 1000 Christmas cookies to homes on Nash Street, handing out candy filled Easter eggs on Nash Street, distributing bibles on Nash Street and an ice cream block party. The church sent a mission team of 9 people to Romania in July of 2017 to help NAB missionaries with VBS. The church hired a part-time Children's Ministry Coordinator in June of 2019. The church initiated Fill the Gap; a program to support needy families through the Aplington-Parkersburg (AP) public schools. The AP counselor notifies the church when there is a need for food, clothing or school supplies. The church also initiated Free Snack Fridays; a program where free snacks are set outside the church on 10th street for students to pick up after school.

Covid 19 spread through the United States in 2020. As a result, the church began Facebook Live services and Zoom Sunday School for adults and children in March of 2020. In-person services started up again on May 31, 2020. The Facebook Live service still continues. In-person Sunday School classes and AWANA began in September 2020. Pastor Elton Labree resigned in May of 2021. On his last Sunday, June 13, he baptized seven people.

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