On Sunday, June 30, friends and members of The Barn (First Pres Church of Morton) will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special service beginning at 10 a.m. followed by lunch and an open house from 2-4 p.m. Refreshments will be served and the public is invited to help celebrate the occasion.
The barn in which the congregation worships was built by Noah Zobrist in 1923. This dairy barn was an active, working dairy farm on the outskirts of the Village of Morton. The hayloft where the sanctuary is now, is where the hay and feed were loaded from trucks into the loft. This was part of an 80-acre farm on the eastern edge of Morton. It was at one time the largest dairy barn in the area and served Schwab Dairy for many years. After standing unused for a number of years, the Presbyterian Synod of Illinois purchased the property in 1967.
The church began in 1968 as a small group of Christians meeting in Pastor Hastings' home. As this group grew, worship was moved to the Lincoln Grade School. These charter members were the stimulus and core of the congregation that was to become the First Presbyterian Church of Morton. The church was chartered May 25, 1969.
The major renovation was done by N Zobrist & Son, and after hundreds of volunteer hours by the members, the new home was dedicated on May 5, 1974. These many hours of devoted labor by members of the church converted the barn into a church with the second-floor sanctuary located where the hay loft used to be, with the fellowship hall, kitchen, classrooms, office and rest rooms located on the first floor. The second-floor sanctuary was made handicap accessible in the early years by the addition of a lift.
For all but a few of these past 50 years, charter member and music director Nancy Campbell has provided beautiful, traditional and contemporary music every Sunday morning. Mr. and Mrs. Homer Ludwig donated the organ that is still being used today.
The Barn has provided for the needs of those who attend, including adult and youth Bible studies, Sunday School classes, youth groups and mission trips, Christmas programs, Easter egg hunts on the lawn – all the things a small, welcoming church might offer to their family. Several Eagle Scouts and their projects have been vital parts of this church life.
The church also reaches out into the community. Its biggest mission, beginning in 2010 and continuing today, is its community garden. The church established Ada’s Acre in honor of long-time church member Ada Cross. Ada didn’t really like gardening, but she sure could bake the perfect pie.
The garden has produced thousands of pounds of fresh produce which is donated to organizations and families within and around the Morton community. Last year alone, the garden produced over 4,500 pounds of fresh produce.
At the core of the Presbyterian identity is a secure hope in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, a hope that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, empowers all to live lives of gratitude. In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, the church strives to serve Christ and its neighbors in everyone’s daily tasks, and to live holy and joyful lives.
All are welcome to come celebrate with the congregation at The Barn on Sunday, June 30.