Manannah church to find new home at fairgrounds

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 5/12/98.

The Manannah Union Church is headed to a new home, the Meeker County Fairgrounds Pioneer Village.

The church was built in 1897 and has sat empty since 1985. Esther Hegg, a native of Meeker County, didnít want to see her home church fall to ruin like so many rural churches. She had a plan.

Hegg had found a good core of support from her family and friends. All were one-time members of the church and now theyíre all part of a group on the Century Church for the Fairgrounds Committee.

Donna Laidlaw recalls bailing the water out of the church basement the morning of her wedding.

Jeanette Braatz remembers when she was a young girl in Sunday school, it was the practice to put a table over the puddle that always seemed to be on the basement floor.

Hegg still shakes her head in amazement at how they ever managed to serve chicken dinners from the church, lacking hot water, they had to fetch it in cream cans from the creamery across the street.

Perhaps that explains why Hegg had no qualms about buying the church at an auction in October.

The church trustees sold the building to a man who planned to open an antique and collectible store in it. He packed the church basement and first floor with the discarded treasures of yesterday, but became ill and died before he could ever open the store. Then Hegg got word the church was to be sold at auction. ďIt was our last chance to save the church,Ē Braatz said.

Sometime this summer, they will move the 101-year-old church to a new foundation on the Meeker County Fairgrounds. There it will undergo a face lift. ďThe church is still in pretty good shape. A few repairs here and there and a new coat of paint will do wonders,Ē Hegg said. She is confident restoring the church for the village wonít take too much time or money.

Hegg is hopeful that one day arrangements can be made so the church can be reserved for special occasions such as weddings and family reunions.

The church committee is readying a letter to be sent out to former church members, asking for donations to help cover the cost of restoration and moving.

Century Church for the Fairgrounds committee members include: Ardis Anderson, Jeanette Braatz, Earl Allen Brown, Helen Arbogast Gresko, Brent Haugen, Doug Hegg, Esther Hegg, Shirley Hegg, Ethel Towler Hemingson, Chet Holmberg, Galen Houk, Gordon Houk, Diane Karg, Don Lehman, Warren McQuary, Jeanne Sellen, Irma Magnuson and John Braatz.

People who wish to donate funds for the project may send them to : Century Church for the Fairgrounds, Box 956, Litchfield, MN 55355. Donations are tax deductible.

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