Rock Creek Church of the Brethren to be moved
A more than 130-year-old staple in Sabetha’s history – the Rock Creek Church of the Brethren – is being kept alive by the Albany Historical Society. During their regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 7, members of the Albany Historical Society Board voted unanimously to move the church from its current location at Sycamore Springs Whitetail Ranch to Albany.
Members of the Albany Historical Society Board include Alex Dawdy, Sam Koch, Josh Bechtelheimer, Alan Meyer, Grant Meyer, Shaun Pearson, Don Harvey, Les Whittwer and Gayle McDonald.
The group began working on plans to move the church – which includes raising the funds for the move and the foundation – after they were approached by the new owners of Sycamore Springs – Kent and Molly Grimm.
“Albany Historical Society was contacted about the church not long after ownership of Sycamore Springs transferred [from previous owners Dale and Betty Aue],” Dawdy said. “The Grimm family didn’t see the church fitting in their plans for the grounds and offered it to us providing that we could get it moved in a reasonable amount of time. Albany secured much of the furnishings, decorations, etc., from the church as well.”
Preparing for the move
Since fundraising began in the fall of 2021, Albany Historical Society has raised a majority of the funds to move the church and pour the new foundation, which will be poured by Edelmans Home Center, as soon as they are able. The existing lines including plumbing, water, sewer and gas, will more than likely be completed and rerouted by Albany members.
“Hopefully, we will be able to place the structure such that very little line replacement is necessary,” Dawdy said.
After the foundation is poured and settled, the building will need moved approximately five to 10 miles – depending on the route – to its new location at Albany, specifically between the Rock School and the community building.
However, during the Feb. 7 meeting, board members reported that the moving company hired to move the church – Ensor Movers, Inc., out of Johnson, Neb. – is not able to move the building until after Memorial Day, which is Monday, May 30. The original quote given by Ensor Movers to move the church was $15,000.
As for what route Ensor Movers will take, Dawdy said they will have to look over the project to make final determinations.
“Part of this process will involve them determining what route they can take,” Dawdy said.
With the exact route still unknown and planting season approaching, it is highly possible that the building will need to be moved through a crop field in order to get it out of Sycamore Springs, due to the stone entryway at Sycamore Springs. The stone entryway to the park was built after the church was placed there in the 1980s.
However, the Albany Historical Society board is aware there are still some logistics to work out, but it all depends on the route Ensor Movers decide to take.
The Albany Historical Society plans to face the building to the east, but all entrances will be accessible.
After the move
According to Dawdy, Albany hopes to use the church for church services, as well as weddings, similar to how it was used at Sycamore.
“Albany plans on using this church for their Sunday morning church service during the annual Albany Days,” Dawdy said. “We also hope that young couples will come out to get hitched when starting out their new lives together. With those things in mind, we know the roof needs to be replaced, the organ hasn’t been played in years and will need some TLC [tender loving care] before it can, and we would like to have HVAC and bathrooms in the building.”
Dawdy said the church has seen regular use up until about a year ago, and it isn’t in too terrible of condition.
“We hope to replace the roof and do some cleaning, so that we can hold our first church service in it during this year’s Albany Days,” he said. “The other things on our list will come in time as donations allow.”
The church will be available for services during the spring, summer and fall, and also for weddings and funerals. The Albany grounds are free to use as are their many amenities.
While donations for the project are still being accepted to complete the project, Dawdy said, the Greater Sabetha Community Foundation’s Give To Grow event was helpful.
“The Give to Grow event really gave the boost in fundraising, to make the project happen,” Dawdy said.
Rock Creek Church History
The Rock Creek Church of the Brethren was organized on May 17, 1887, from the territory belonging to the Sabetha Church. The church building was built in 1888, and was originally located in the Berwick Township in northern Nemaha County, Kan. – at the location currently known as 232nd and X Roads.
The church closed in 1979, before it was moved to Sycamore Springs. The church’s records were sent to McPherson College – the church college – where they remain in the library, and the congregation joined the Sabetha and Granada Churches of the Brethren, which had unified.
The Rock Creek Church of the Brethren (German Baptist Brethren) Cemetery still remains where the church once stood, across the road from where the former Rock Creek School, store and gas station once stood.
Rock Creek’s History according to “A History of Sabetha, Kansas and Surrounding Area, 1854-1976”
J.S. Mohler presided for the organization and became its first elder-in-charge. Aiding in the organization were Daniel Fry and Josiah Beeghly.
Charter members included were Ephraim Cober, George Sperline, Cyrus J. Mishler, Wm. M. Lichty, E.J. Beeghly, Ananias Cober, Barbara Cober, Wm. H. Miller, Hannah Lichty, Susan Kaub, Annie Bingham, Lydia Fike, Sarah Sperline, Abigail Sperline, Hattie Mishler, Amanda Beeghly, Delilah Beeghly, Michael Beeghly, John Emert, Lizzie Thomas, Lucinda Carl, Sarah Miller, Wm. Bingham and Susan Hart.
Ministers and elders-in-charge who served the Rock Creek Church were Morton S. Basketba, Ephraim Cober, J.J. Hoover, J. S. Mohler, P.E. Whitmer, Wm. Davis, C.B. Smith, H.D. Bowman, Lloyd McWhorter, Edgar Stauffer, Walter Mason, J.J. Tawzer, LeRoy Sell, Charles Miller, Reverend Dennis Kesler (served for 18 years), Milton Early, Russell Kiester, Glenn Fruth, Jack Gilbert and Garry Plummer.
Student ministers have been: Don Westmoreland, Lyle Dobson, Robert Hess and Gary Frantz.
The church building at Rock Creek was erected in 1888. The present membership is about 40.