|Scotland United Church of Christ
Merge with Jesus | Scotland, South Dakota
© 2011 Scotland United Church of Christ | All rights reserved.
It's all about merging our faith with Jesus and each other.
United Church of Christ
A United Reformed & German Congregational Church Family
The United Church of Christ of Scotland, South Dakota was founded on April 6, 1963 as a merger of four
churches in the Scotland area. It united the Scotland Congregational Parish which included three German
Congregational churches (First Congregational Church of Scotland, First Congregational Church of Kaylor
and Petersburg Congregational Church) and one church coming out of the German Reformed Church
tradition (Bethany Evangelical & Reformed Church).
These churches have a long history which goes back more than a century. During the period from 1876 to
1896 ten congregations, seven of German Congregational backgrounds and three with the Reformed
tradition were founded in this region. By 1951 the churches had consolidated into two parishes.
In August of 1962 the members of these four churches began thinking seriously about reorganizing the four
churches into one united parish. A committee of eight men representing each of the four local churches
held numerous meetings to study the differences and similarities of the two denominational backgrounds.
With determined and historic gesture, each church voted at four separate congregational meetings in March
1963 to reach across the barrier of denominationalism and unite into one newly incorporated United Church
of Christ. The agreement of union specified that the faith traditions of both the German Congregational and
Reformed heritages would be upheld and taught in the new united parish. Thus, the Heidelberg Catechism
and the German Congregational Catechism's teachings on the Apostles Creed remain foundational for
teaching the Christian faith within the life of the congregation. Rev. Elmer Bettenhausen served as the first
pastor of the newly united Reformed and German Congregational church.
From the outset it was obvious that the merger would necessitate the building of a new sanctuary and
Christian education unit. On May 6, 1963 the congregation voted to proceed with plans to build a new
facility. A ground-breaking service was held on April 26, 1964 and the cornerstone was placed on October
25 of that same year. Meanwhile during construction, worship services continued in the four churches with
the two Reformed and Congregational churches located in Scotland holding joint services. Finally, on Ash
Wednesday, March 3, 1965, the long awaited moment arrived and the United Church of Christ held its first
worship service of the four congregations combined in the new facility. The church building was dedicated
on April 25, 1965.
One architect's concept drawing for the new Scotland United Church of Christ building, that had been
published in the Scotland Journal, depicts a brick bell tower, by the front entrance, with all four church bells
from the four predecessor congregations hanging side by side. While this concept did not make it into the
final plans for our church building, the idea of having the four church bells displayed remained a dream of
the church. In 1983, under the pastorate of Rev. Dale Krampe, Memorial Tower was constructed to house
the bells of the predecessor congregations to help members of the church to never forget their Reformed
and German Congregational heritage. The bells were hung in the tower smallest to largest, with the Kaylor
First Congregational Church bell on top and the bell from Bethany Reformed Church hanging at the bottom.
Memorial Tower also features the names of all four founding churches inscribed at it's base.
Part of the 1965 plan for the church's campus was to some day have a new parsonage across the street
from the newly constructed church. That dream was realized in 1973 and was paid in full by 1977.
In 1983 the United Church of Scotland added another congregation to its parish territory when the Ward
Memorial Congregational Church in Lesterville, a church derived from the English Congregational tradition,
closed its doors and its members joined the Scotland congregation.
Under the pastorate of Rev. Del Neumeister the church underwent a number of renovations. New flooring
was installed in both the sanctuary and throughout the fellowship hall and classrooms in 2004. An elevator
was installed in the church in March 2006 making the Lord's House assessable to anyone, regardless of age
or physical limitations, who yearns to worship God, study His Word, and fellowship with other believers.
With the selection of Rev. Ron Shifley as pastor in 2011, the church intentionally went back to its roots,
placing the Bible, the Apostles Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism and the German Congregational Catechism
back at the core of the church's teaching ministry. In doing so, the church reaffirmed its historic DNA as a
"united Reformed and German Congregational church family."
In 2012 the church added multi-media projection to the sanctuary to enable Scripture readings, song lyrics
and video clips to be projected on the big screen during worship. Computer technology was also installed
to provide live video streaming of worship services via the Internet to folks unable to join us for Sunday
worship. The classrooms in the educational area were also completely renovated to equip our church's
Christian education program to teach the faith to children and adults using the latest cutting edge
On May 6, 2018 the members of the church voted to sever their ties with the United Church of Christ
denomination and become an independent congregation, emphasizing their Reformed & German
Congregational heritage, while seeking fellowship with other Bible-believing former UCC congregations in the
Today, the United Church of Christ in Scotland continues to be a united and uniting church, rooted in the
Bible and remaining faithful to our heritage in the Reformed and German Congregational traditions. Yet, like
our Russian-German forebears of over 140 years ago, we, who make up this church, are still pioneers,
seeking to find new ways to express and live out our biblical faith in Jesus Christ so that future generations
might experience the saving grace of Jesus for themselves.
Here is a listing of all of the pastors that have served our Reformed, German Congregational, and united
Reformed & German Congregational church family since 1876.
Celebrate our German Congregational
Heritage with this history trivia game