History of Hope

Hope Church was organized as a Reformed Church, without the aid of a clergy person or missionary, on December 19, 1854. On that day, a group of about 40 Swiss immigrants, the descendants of whom still make up a large part of the congregation, met in the home of Christian Schneider to organize the congregation known as Hope Church. These immigrants had sailed across the Atlantic, taking with them their native faith and creed of the Reformed Church in Switzerland, and had landed at New Orleans in May 1854. From there, they sailed up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers until they reached St. Joseph. They bought land from slave owners and settled just northeast of St. Joseph, in the vicinity of a small group of Swiss immigrants who had arrived in the 1840′s.

They first worshipped with another group under a large tree a few miles south of Savannah, Missouri. After organizing in 1854, they met in different homes and were assisted by itinerant evangelists of various creeds, while maintaining their Reformed creed and instructing their children therein. About 1859, a log cabin was built on the site of the present Oak Ridge Cemetery and served as a place of meeting.

In 1865, they heard for the first time of the existence of the Reformed Church in this country when a young minister of that denomination presented himself and discovered that they had organized themselves without any knowledge of there being other Reformed Churches in the United States. Hope Church was incorporated with the Reformed Church. Hope Reformed Church now became known as Hope Evangelical and Reformed Church.

A frame building was built at the present site in 1869 and was replaced by the present edifice in 1914. In 1934, the two denominations of the Reformed Church in the U.S. and the Evangelical Synod of North America merged and became the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Hope Reformed Church now became known as Hope Evangelical and Reformed Church.

The educational wing was added in 1954, and during that year the 100th anniversary of the founding of Hope Church was celebrated. In the year 1957 a merger between the Evangelical and Reformed and the Congregational Christian Churches from the United Church of Christ. This union, rich in tradition and heritage and born out of deep religious streams of European and American history, reaches back to Swiss-German Reforms of the sixteenth century and to the American Congregationalism of the Pilgrims and Puritans in New England. Hope Evangelical and Reformed Church now became known as Hope United Church of Christ.

In 1969 a new parsonage was built to replace the parsonage which had been completed in 1894, and a new front entrance for the church, with the facilities for the elderly and handicapped, was added in 1975. In 1979 Hope Church celebrated its 125th anniversary.

The congregation continues to reflect the robust, industrious, and persevering nature of its founds. All of the church’s major building projects have been dedicated free of debt, and the faithful support of missions by its members continues to be exemplary. Surrounded by dairy farms and rolling hills, Hope U.C.C. cherishes its unique rural heritage while at the same time looking forward to an exciting ministry extending into the future.

We continue to keep up with our ministry and our facility. Our extended ministries and the work of clergy alongside laypersons make Hope Church rich in it’s future.