The historic restoration efforts to the interior of the picturesque “Little Brown Church in the Woods” is now complete and the public is invited to come on out and see the renovations themselves.
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ (UCC) in Delta is celebrating with an open house from 1-4 p.m. on July 23.
Publicity chair Linda Johnson said refreshments would be served and there would be a ribbon cutting around 1:30 p.m., followed by a short dedication service – conducted by the Churches Pastor Phil Mila – at 2 p.m.
While the church building was built over 80 years ago, the members themselves have been meeting together for longer than that, explained Johnson.
“They met in other places out at the Delta community prior to that time … probably homes and small cabins, but the church itself was built in 1935,” she said. “The church had been built and all the insides core had been done at the same time. The gentleman who did it was part of the German ancestors that lived in that area and had donated the land.”
Johnson referenced an article written by Patty Pajtash. Pajtash explained “the first church services in the Town of Delta were held in the open air on Basswood Lake in 1923. Later that year a small cabin was built and served as the first humble church for the settlers of the Pike River area. In 1935 a new church was built on a beautiful knoll amidst the pine trees on Pike River Road. The artwork inside the church reflects the German ancestry of the region. St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church was born, later to become the United Church of Christ.”
Johnson said the members of the church had known for some time that renovations needed to be done.
“It’s been in need for a number of years,” she said. “We finally got to the point where we just wanted to do something to give it a facial lift so we had a professional contractor come from the cities and this contractor does numerous restorations of Churches.”
Johnson said in total, the church’s facelift took about a month and a half because in addition to the historic restoration work, they used the opportunity to complete some additional interior renovations.
“In this process, we had all the pews refinished and … the wood floors refinished,” she said.
Johnson said the historic restoration required very detailed work.
“It wasn’t just painting walls the same color,” she said. “There is a lot of detail artwork on the inside, with all the religious significance and he [the contractor] was able to reduplicate that.”
Johnson noted that the contractor had made stencils.
“It’s back looking the way it originally did,” she said.
In the article, Pajtash noted that the campaign to raise the $25,000 necessary for the church’s interior facelift was started in November 2015.
“When we started our campaign fund it was for the $25,000 for the … printing restoration and then all this other stuff we added later and we’re still in some need of some funds,” said Johnson.
Johnson reiterated that everyone is welcome at St. Paul’s UCC in Delta.
“The church is a small community within the larger community,” she said. “It’s definitely a gathering place for people in the area –whether they’re members or not. It’s open to everyone and the doors remain unlocked.”
Johnson said the church has been and continues to be a site for many weddings, baptisms, funerals and social gatherings for members and non-members alike.
“We have an early morning church service on Sunday, which is eight o’clock in the morning and there is always coffee and refreshments afterwards in our lower garden level,” she said. “That’s always a social time too, because many of these people come from miles away.”
Johnson said they have people who regularly drive 30 to 45 minutes to attend.
“They come from all over, they come from all walks of life, they come from all religions and just have chosen this church to gather in and worship,” she said.
Pajtash noted St. Paul’s UCC has been the only church in Delta over all these years and some other improvements have been made during that time including a basement that was built. The church was also moved onto its new foundation and a rock garden and walkway that were created leading to the basement fellowship hall.
For more information on St. Paul’s UCC in Delta visit them online at deltaucc.org or like them on Facebook at St Paul United Church of Christ - Delta
The Little Brown Church in the Woods is located at 61190 Pike River Road in Mason.