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Paynesville Press - July 21, 2004

Hawick United Methodist to hold centennial celebration next weekend

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Hawick United Methodist Church, founded in 1904, will celebrate its centennial on Sunday, Aug. 1.

The Hawick church will hold a special worship service to celebrate its centennial at 10:30 a.m. that Sunday, it will hold a dinner following the church service, and it will have a centennial service at 2 p.m. (The centennial celebration also includes a song fest on Saturday, July 31, at 8 p.m.)

Hawick was founded when the Great Northern Railroad passed through the area in the late 1880s. While much of Roseville Township was settled by German Catholics and Scandinavian Lutherans, the Hawick area included many "old-time Americans" from Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New York, and Wisconsin, according to the church history, "Fifty Years of Service to Christ and Community 1904-1954: The Hawick United Methodist Church."

Settlers - both Methodist and Presbyterian - worshipped together at a schoolhouse on Long Lake near Hawick. The Presbyterian members joined with a church in New London, while the Methodists shared ministers from Paynesville.

church In 1904, bolstered by some new Methodist families from Iowa, the Hawick Methodists started talking about building a new church, having outgrown the schoolhouse. Soon a lot was purchased, and a church was built in Hawick.

Hawick United Methodist Church - shown in 1938 - was founded in 1904. The congregation will celebrate its centennial on Saturday, July 31, and Sunday, Aug. 1

The church in Hawick was done, but the congregation still needed to do some work inside before services could be held there, according to Foster Hudson, whose grandfather was a founding member of Hawick United Methodist Church. When members went to the church to do the work, they found it padlocked. As it turned out, laughed Hudson, the carpenter hadn't been paid the $300 he charged for building the church, so he wouldn't let anybody inside.

Members quickly paid the bill and took possession of the church, but no stairs had been built. "It wasn't in his contract," said Hudson, "so the guy never built the steps." Members quickly built steps, too, so the church could open on time.

Besides the Hudsons, only one family remains of original church members. Harley Caldwell's grandfather was also a founding member of Hawick United Methodist.

school Over the past 100 years, the membership of the Hawick United Methodist Church has stayed small. The current adult membership is 45; the largest enrollment was in the 1980s when the rolls recorded 100 adult members.

Hawick United Methodist Church - which has a current adult membership of 45 - had nearly two dozen kids in Sunday school in the 1950s.

Even though Hawick United Methodist is a small church, it still does big things, according to Barb Jones, a lifelong member of the church. In spite of its small stature, the congregation enjoys hosting large events and productions.

One recent addition to the church's productions is the live nativity, hosted by the church every Christmas since 2001.For two nights each year, the front of the church is transformed into the manger in Bethlehem, complete with donkeys, llamas, cows, and other barnyard animals surrounding a live "baby Jesus." Members of the congregation portray Mary, Joseph, wise men, shepherds, and angels.

It takes about 30 people each night to enact the live nativity, no small feat for a congregation with 45 adult members.

In 2001, more than 600 people attended the live nativity, according to church records, and attendance has grown each year since.

The live nativity is grew out of a yearly children's program that the church used to hold. While Hudson doesn't remember much about his earliest days in the church, he remembers vividly the Sunday School programs and the Young People's Society.

From the mid 1930s through the 1950s, the Young People's Society was the center of the social lives of most of Hawick's teenagers, said Hudson. Members of the society met on a regular basis to play games, to go Christmas caroling, and for sleigh rides and other outings, according to Ollie Hudson.

Maybelle Bye, 97, also remembers Christmas caroling and playing organ at Hawick United Methodist for many years. Bye, the daughter of a Methodist minister from Belgrade, married a Hawick man. Because he was Lutheran, she couldn't go to church with him. Instead they went separate ways each Sunday, he to Zion Lutheran and she to Hawick United Methodist.

The Hawick United Methodist Church's Young People's Society was also responsible for cleaning and maintaining the Roseville Cemetery in the late 1940s, according to Hudson. The group organized a massive clean-up effort involving the whole community in 1949, according to church records. The group continued to maintain the cemetery for many years after, added Don Jones.

"This is the only church I've ever belonged to," said Barb Jones, "and it's been a welcoming experience."

According to Barb, the numerous activities the church sponsors is a way to draw people to God. "We're called to be a light in the darkness. If you do something, people will know you're there," she explained.

Social events at the Hawick United Methodist Church also include a regular potluck dinner and short song fests.

Because of the popularity of these song fests, the centennial celebration will include a song fest on Saturday, July 31, at 8 p.m. where participants can "shout out" their favorite songs for the group to sing.

The centennial worship service will be held on Sunday, Aug. 1, at 10:30 a.m. with dinner afterward at the church. The centennial celebration service will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1.

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