Famers planted seeds of new church near Eyota

There's a well-known saying: "When two or more farmers are gathered together, there'll be an argument."

I wonder if there was any level of disagreement when a few neighboring farmers, all members of Eyota's Faith Evangelical United Brethren Church, joined forces in the field for God. It happened in early June 1949 when Pastor C.W. Moore and a few members felt the need to build a new church for the expanding congregation of 120.

The questions started coming: "Where do we go?" "Who will give a season's crop to the church?" Finally, Ray Logan, a farmer about three miles southeast of Eyota, said he would like to share his farm for the church. His young son Ray (today, Pastor Ray Logan in the mid '80s) had answered a call to the ministry and was away soon to Northwestern Bible College in Minneapolis.

"Besides," said Ray, "it's impossible for me to farm 200 acres alone. I'm not allowed to ride a tractor any longer."

In April of '49, several church members turned out to plant oats and flax. Later, nine tractors and operators planted 50 acres of field corn and 30 acres of sweet corn. A picture in the June 8, 1949, edition of the Post-Bulletin shows five men with tractors and two or four-row cultivators working a field of "checked" corn. Those men were David Bush, LaVaine Pries, Kenneth Lamb and John Fuchs. The fifth farmer was Moore, himself a farm boy in Indiana. Writer of the Post-Bulletin story, John R. Finnegan, said Moore could keep up with the best of them on tractors.


So how did the 140 acres of crops turn out? Was it a great project to start a new church? Simply answered, "yes," as today's United Methodist Church in Eyota was finally built in 1953. When those crops were growing in 1949, Moore said, "We'll build the church when we get the money. I don't know when that will be, but we all hope not longer than a few years."

The Rev. Mark Woodward has served the Eyota United Methodist since 2000 and has seen growth from 120 in the early 1950s to 280 today. Mark told me the original '53 Evangelical U.B. Church actually merged with Eyota's Methodist Church as early at 1962, a half dozen years prior to the 1968 Uniting Conference in Dallas. That joined 10 to 11 million Methodists with approximately 750,000 members of the Evangelical United Brethren Churches in America.

Back in the 1930s, the building fund began for Faith E.U.B. Church, and following the merger, "Faith" kept on in the church's name. Mark said the ministry of the Eyota church goes all the way back to the 1860s and that a church has been on this particular block in Eyota since 1865.

Two bells ring at Faith United Methodist Church in Eyota today and those bells come from the two steeples before the merger. Mark tells me, "Those bells are rung joyously every Sunday."

It's a "lively" congregation, recently adding a praise band. The church coordinates its own summer camping ministry at Star Lake near Pequot Lakes, Minn. They do heavy support of worldwide and local mission projects and ministries.

Mark Woodward, filled with farm memories and his red Farmall tractor, is a graduate of Hamline University and Garrett-Evangelical Seminary. He says, "serving in mission and ministry with the people of Eyota is a tremendous joy and privilege."

Next week: Former Rochester church organist now in Leisure World, Ariz., still at the organ.

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