History

Originally the name of the village of Land O’ Lakes was State Line. It was not until 1924 that the name was officially changed to Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin.

From 1907 to 1920, occasional church services were held at the Donaldson School with Congregational, Lutheran, and Seventh Day Adventist ministers coming from as far away as 50 miles to preach. When no pastor could be secured, a Sunday School was conducted at the summer home of Dr. and Mrs. James O. Ely on Black Oak Lake.

In 1920, Rev. Wm. J. Davies, Congregational pastor at Eagle River and Rev. Krusbak, Lutheran Pastor at Eagle River began services at Donaldson school, with each pastor serving one Sunday a month. In October of 1926, the Rev. Claude W. Warren became the first resident pastor of the State Line Community Church.

During the 1920’s, a woman’s club was formed and took as their goal the construction of a building to be used for church services. This Community House was completed in the fall of 1927. The parsonage was also built in 1927. With the new Community House a reality, after February 1928, all services were held there and many denominations made use of the facility.

Early in 1929 a relationship developed between the “State Line Community Church” and the First Congregational Church of Winnetka, Illinois, of which Mr. and Mrs. Frank F. Ferry were members. As a result of their sponsorship, the Land O’ Lakes congregation was officially accepted into the Congregational denomination. On May 12, 1929, 44 residents of the Land O’ Lakes area gathered at Community House to become charter members of the new church.

A call was extended to the Rev. Fred I. Babcock of Milton, WI, in 1935 to serve as pastor. He accepted and served the church until his retirement in 1965.

In 1939, after 10 years of raising and saving money, a church was built along Hwy B in Land O’ Lakes. The members of the congregation, at the annual meeting of August 20, 1939, voted to change the name of the church to Ely Memorial Church in memory of Dr. James O. Ely and his son Lieut. Dinsmore Ely, who was killed in WWI.

On October 22, 1939, Ely Memorial Church was dedicated, and by unanimous vote was taken into the Wisconsin Conference of the Congregational Church. In 1957, the Congregational churches had joined with the Evangelical and Reformed churches to become the United Church of Christ. The membership voted to accept their inclusion into the United Church of Christ at a special meeting on March 15, 1961.

To accommodate a growing congregation and Sunday School, an addition was completed in 1960. During the later construction of the addition of a new fellowship hall in September of 2000, the old sanctuary caught fire and was destroyed. Services were held at St. Albert’s Catholic church across Hwy B until the church was rebuilt in 2001. The first service in the new sanctuary was held on August 12, 2001.

Other pastors serving Ely Memorial Church throughout its history: Rev. David Railsback, Rev. Donald Hinckley, Rev. Hilmar Grunwald, Rev. Warren Turner, Rev. Carla Bailey-Turner (student pastor), Rev. Mark Farrar (student pastor), Rev. Gordon Meyer, Rev. Mary Jane Knapp, Rev. Paul Kirker, Rev. John Nickolson, Rev. Ronald McDuffie, Rev. Ann Pearson Wahlers, Rev. Nancy Zorn Micke, Rev. Gary Wilner.