Largely through the efforts of Mrs. William Hedrick, Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Talbott and Mr. and Mrs. M. F. Lamb, the First Christian Church was organized in early 1925 with forty-three charter members. We were incorporated under the laws of South Dakota and granted a charter under the name of First Christian Church on March 23, 1925. Brother C. B. Osgood helped us to get started and we met in the large assembly room in the court house.

Our first pastor, Brother David Graham, was called July 1, 1925, and we bought the skating rink-dance hall for $4,000.00. Dividing it in half, we used the front half for a church and the back half as social room for Christian Endeavor parties, church and Sunday School conventions and revival meetings. We served many banquets there, cooking on the old black ranges, using wash boilers for coffee, boiling potatoes, and heating dish water. Through it all we enjoyed the fellowship with each other. Young and old worked hard. If more room was needed down came the partition and we could serve 500 by setting up a kitchen on both ends.

The rink served us well until a hailstorm in 1933 wrecked the flat roof. Men, women and children tore it down, cleaned the lumber and nails up, and built the "Little Brown Church" from the plans drawn up by Ira H. Barclay and L. L. Fox. Miss Celia Brown was our pastor through this building period. The Little Brown Church served the congregation for twenty years. We decided to build a basement church on the front of the lot and turn the Little Brown Church into a parsonage, so that our minister's family could move out of the one room they occupied and have a home. The basement was used as our church until 1953, when our unpredictable weather sent a wind and hail storm that once more destroyed the roof for us. Repairs would be expensive and would go a long way on the church we dreamed of. We decided to go deeper into debt and with help from outside of the church we built the beautiful building we have today. It is best said by the contractor Harry V. Jorgensen, a church member, on the day the corner stone was laid, July 16, 1961: "It is a beautiful house of worship, though simple in line and design, proving that the element of cooperation and unity for which our brotherhood has always strived, and because many people even outside the church contributed money as well as work."

A very special day for us was the day we dedicated the new sanctuary of the First Christian Church, on October 28, 1962. Rev. Bill Snook worked tirelessly for the new church and served as our minister for seventeen years. Rev. Gene Jones was our minister on our Golden Anniversary, when we burned the mortgage. Free of debt at last. It was a joyous and prayful experience after fifty years of a debt of some kind.

Arlo Snodgrass was our minister in 1970, when our Christian Women's Fellowship (CWF) began hosting an Easter Prayer Breakfast for women of area churches. The first breakfast twenty-five ladies attended, the last one over 200 attended. Breakfast is served in the basement and followed by a program of song, reading, prayer and praise, put on by the ladies of the church in the Sanctuary.

In 1980, with guidance from the South Dakota Presbytery and the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest, we joined with the Ideal Presbyterian Church to form the Winner Ideal Parish. It has worked very well for both churches. Each church has individual Sunday services at 9:00 A.M. or 11:00 A.M. (each church changes times in February and August). We have some special Sunday services together and enjoy fellowship with each other on special occasions.

Ken Fells was called as our pastor when the parish was formed. He was from the Presbyterian denomination. It was under Pastor Fells direction that our church started the Winner Food Pantry, which was later moved to the Community Thrift Shop on Main Street. Tom Gosser served as the pastor of the parish for five years, followed by a "home town boy" A. L. Fritz Zimbleman. He was born and raised in the Millboro area and graduated from Colome High School. He was a local business man before entering the ministry and had served Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) in Iowa and Independence, Missouri. He reaches into the area to help those who do not have a church and is very active in the Winner Ministerial Assn. Gordon Horgen, a member of the Ideal Presbyterian Church, is now a certified lay minister. He recently joined Pastor Fritz as co-pastor of Winner Ideal Parish. Again we say "God has richly blessed us".

Picture and information courtesy of the
Tripp County Historical Society Archives

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