A “glimpse of the past” of the buildings that our community of faith has been housed in and where they are located today
We have included a brief history of each congregation
To learn more about an individual Ashland congregation,
we suggest you see their websites and, of course,
be sure to worship with them on Sunday morning !

We conclude these histores of Ashland Churches with a ‘church’ that is no longer designated as a ‘church’ St. Stephens Episcopal Church; built in 1872, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 & has been carefully restored

Through the efforts of the Ashland Arts Council this magnificent historical
landmark is maintained, preserved and used regularly for cultural events,
concerts, and art exhibitions. We invite you to request a tour of St. Stephens
We are humbled & proud to share this amazing piece of history with all
. .  We invite you to scroll down . . for a preview – be sure to reserve a time for a personalized tour
EACH and ALL of the congregations and churches
cordially and prayerfully invite you to worship with them
Each and All of these congregations are active members of the
Ashland Ministerial Association, reaching out daily to serve the community

The First Congregational Church 
16th and Boyd

The postcard to the left shows the church with its ‘second tower’ and shows the parsonage to the right.
The first parsonage is at the left of the church.
The ‘second tower’ was removed (date unknown) and the parsonage was destroyed by fire.

The First Congregational, Ashland NE

The First Congregational, Ashland NE
1871 – 2014

On May 24, 1871, the First Congregational Church of Ashland was formed when eight persons entered into covenant and became charter members.  Congregationalists trace their beginnings to the Mayflower pilgrims.  Two months after the church formed, a call was given to Rev. Asa Farwell to serve as the first pastor.  There was no building, no hymn books or collection baskets.  Only a few houses formed the town and conditions were difficult.  In September, 1871, H.H. Shedd came to visit the Farwells and stayed to start a business and joined the fledgling church.  He would serve as superintendent of Sunday School for 27 years.  As there was no church building, the group met in an upper room of the Court house.  It is difficult to comprehend the vision and perseverance of these pioneers who strived to build God’s world on this vast prairie.  An organ was sent out from the East.  Mr. Shedd gathered a choir and played organ for more than 30 years.  Funds were raised in 1878 from members and  from the community to erect a wooden building, which was dedicated January 29, 1879.  The congregation received annual help from the Home Missionary Society until 1887.  A parsonage was constructed in 1889.

W. Carson became minister in 1903 and saw the need for a larger facility to house the growing membership.  So in 1905, the wooden structure was moved and work began on the present building.  Funds were raised from church members and from residents for the beautiful stained glass windows. The church was used by the community for meetings, Commencement exercises, youth canteen, and lodging for refugees from floods.  It has been the deep spiritual desire of members that the church be a service to the community.

In 1952, a renovation of the basement began to include new gas furnace, a modern kitchen, and remodeled nursery/primary room. The Mary-Martha’s furnished the large, modern fellowship/dining hall in 1956.  The year 1961 saw a major upheaval in the Congregational Churches as each church voted whether to join with the Evangelical and Reformed Churches to form the United Church of Christ.  The Ashland church voted to remain an independent Congregational church and soon joined the newly formed National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.

Cecil B Currey served as pastor during this time and was ordained at a special service, June 16, 1963.  Revs. Howard and Inez Lacy served from 1964 – 1972.  Patrick Bryant, Robert C. Fricke, David Lutton, and Kenneth E. Marcy each earned a Boy Scout God and Country Award.

The centennial anniversary of the founding was celebrated May 30, 1971.  (See the Ashland Gazette article of the Centennial celebration . . below )

Fire destroyed the parsonage in 1971 and a new ranch style home was built in its place.   Music was central to Sunday worship and members were inspired by the God-given talents of Peg Lutton at organ and Sally Wagner at piano.

Even though membership had shrunk, baptisms, confirmations, youth camp, Sunday School and Women’s Fellowship kept the spirit alive through the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Rev. Daphne Resch pastored the congregation from 1981 – 1987.  Sunday School grew under the direction of Linda Barnes, Superintendent.  A photo captured the children dressed in costume as they performed music and celebrated their pilgrim heritage.  Members Carl and Edna Anderson helped establish a community Food Pantry at the VFW.

In 1995 Rev. Roy Paterik was called as part time pastor.
On June 2, 1996 a 125 year celebration was held with a worship service conducted in part by former pastor, Rev. Dr. Cecil B. Currey.  An alumni choir was organized with many members of the Peterson, Robinson and Parks families participating.  First Christian Church (Disciples), also in need of a part time pastor, worked out an agreement so that Rev. Paterik could serve both congregations.  A choir consisting of members from both churches formed and sang at both services. Sunday School was merged.  In the summer months, one combined service was held, alternating locations.  Roger Wright coordinated the restoration and conservation of the beloved stained glass windows.

In 1999, a plan was conceived to renovate the historic church structure.  The organ was completely rebuilt in 2000 and a rank of Trumpet pipes added for a total of 500 pipes and eight ranks.

The 2001 renovation, funded by a generous bequest from Jane Grebe Hines, included HVAC, plumbing, fire sprinkler system, handicap accessible restroom and a new fellowship area on main level.  A state of the art video and sound system completed the renovation project.

2003 saw four members join with other Congregationalists in an outreach trip to Mazahua Mission in Mexico.  The congregation dissolved the yoked relationship with First Christian in 2006.  A solid core of modern day pilgrims continues the tradition of the Congregational Way.  Children’s Sunday School is small but vital.  In the spirit of community service, the church is offered to local Christian Athletes for their meetings.

Interim Pastor, Wade Reed, leads Sunday morning worship, adult study, and discussion groups at this writing.  Rev. Abel Sisco was called and installed as the permanent pastor in 2009.  Rev. Sisco, his wife & 2 young sons serve our congregation today, in 2013 Mrs. Sisco formed a group for Pre-School Mothers – MOPS The MOPS group meets twice a month at the church.  Pastor Sisco was called to a ministry in Council Bluffs IA in 2014.

The church is currently served by an interim pastor 


Reprinted from the Ashland Gazette, May 27, 1971

The old church building was moved off the lot (where the present church now stands) the first week in April, 1905.  This building was sold to L. D. Grebe and moved by him to the east part of town.  Here the congregation worshiped during the building of the present edifice.  The first work on the new church was begun May 13, 1905.  The architect was J. H. Craddock of Lincoln and the builder, also of Lincoln, was E. A. Stephens.

On October 29, 1905 the first service was held in the basement of the new church and on Sabbath, Feb. 11, 1906, the first public service was held in the new auditorium.

On Sabbath the 18th of February, 1906 – the following were the speakers: The Rev. T.O. Douglass, D.D., of Grinnell, Iowa; the Rev. C. H. Rogers, Plymouth Congregational church of Lincoln; the Rev. H. Bross, D.D.; and the Hon. J. H. Mickey, governor of the state.  The Rev. Dr. Douglass, in a very acceptable way, performed the duty of raising the balance necessary to clear the building of debt; about $4500 – making the total cost of the new church about $13,000.

On  Feb. 25, 1906 – the formal dedication services were held.  The Rev. Wilson Denney and the Rev. J.E. Brereton, both former pastors, preached and the dedication service was held that afternoon when all the churches of the city were invited to participate.   The opening services were continued on the following Sabbath, when the preachers were the Rev. F.W. Leavitt in the morning and the Rev. Dr. J. E. Tuttle of Lincoln in the evening.

At all these services the choir under the direction of Edith Waugh Shedd, provided special music, which enhanced these joyous occasions.  Through the years the building has met our needs.  It is roomy, well-heated, with comfortable pews, an admirable rostrum, ample Sunday School quarters, a gymnasium in the basement, and dining room and kitchen.  It has a fine organ, a gift from Mrs. McIntyre.  It has beautiful windows, presenting sacred subjects in stained glass that soften the light and mellow the mood.  The one above the altar, the rose window, was given by Mr. Chickering.  The large one on the west wall was a gift by members and friends in honor of Mr. Shedd’s faithful service – his 34 years as organist and 27 years as Sunday School superintendent.  The other windows were given by Mrs. McIntyre, the Sunday School and the Christian Endeavor. The handsome pulpit chairs were presented by Mr. Harford.  The individual Communion service was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Hugo Wiggenhorn.  The generous money gifts of many others have made the other furnishings possible.   The article above is reprinted with grateful acknowledgement to the Ashland Gazette, from their archives.

A. M. E. Church
– now the United Methodist Church

These picture postcards are of 2 different facilities
The original – on the left – was at 19th & Adams Streets
The newer one, constructed at 15th & Adams in 1927, is their current home

This is a view of United Methodist Church Sanctuary & bulding – 2009-2010

Website : Ashland United Methodist Church (Ashland, NE) – Find-A-Church – The United Methodist Church














Soon after the first settlers came to the Ashland area, before the Civil War,Methodists from further east sent circuit riders and traveling preachers to the new territory.  They rode from settlement to settlement teaching, preaching, and ministering to the first homesteaders as best they could.  One of these riders met John Aughe and traveled with him to his dug-out home.  A few neighbors were invited to talk of the community’s religious needs.

The first Methodist class was organized in 1860 with Joseph Throckmorton as their leader. The meetings were held in dug-outs and sod houses for about eight years.

By 1868 the first minister was assigned to the Ashland Methodists by what became the Nebraska Conference.

In 1869 the Rev. T. M. Munhall was sent here, the first ordained minister to preach in Ashland.  A place called Snell’s Hall had been built by this time, and Methodists and Baptists were allowed to use it on alternate Sundays for quite a while, until some misunderstanding resulted in the Methodists being locked out.Pastor Munhall, for lack of something better, then held services in a carpenter shop, using nail kegs and saw horses for chairs and piles of shingles for a pulpit. These arrangements were disagreeable to the little flock who determined to build a church.

The minister appointed in 1870, the Rev. Charles Manson, found no place to hold services nor a place to live.  He built himself a house and held services there for quite some time.  Then the church board was called to plan to build a church.  Not without some objections, the decision was made to build and it was done in the autumn of 1870, the first church erected in Saunders County.  Its location was just north of the present parsonage on North 18th Street.   Pioneer women of the church organized a Ladies Aid, which gave suppers, spelling bees, and various entertainments that earned some money for this expansion.  Hard times prevented getting this first church paid for and dedicated until 1884.  The old church was enlarged in 1903 and rededicated by Dr. T. C. Iliff.  A new parsonage was built in 1907.  When the frame church was torn down, its site north of the parsonage became gardening space.

The present church of brick and stone at the corner of 15th and Adams was begun in the fall of 1928 and the cornerstone was laid December 14, 1928, by officials of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Nebraska.  The Rev. W. N. Wallis, pastor from 1923 to 1933,  held the first service in the new church on May 18, 1930.  Again times were hard and dedication was delayed.  With much planning and work under the leadership of the Rev. H. A. Taylor,  this church was dedicated free of debt July 4, 1943 by Bishop William C. Martin.

In 1962 the old parsonage was sold and removed and a new home built on the site at 1802 Adams.   Its dedication was led by Bishop Kenneth Copeland on March 3, 1968.  A merger of three related denominations in 1939 had changed the title from Methodist Episcopal to the Methodist Church.  A further merger in 1968 with the Evangelical United Brethren Church resulted in the present name of The United Methodist Church.  The church structure looked about the same outside until the family of Wayne Rogers honored his memory with a tall metal Cross and Flame emblem in the front.  Many improvements have been made inside the church.  Four small Sunday School rooms off of the Memorial Room at the rear of the sanctuary have been turned into a library, a kitchenette, and two rest rooms.  Bill Cook, with the help of Delbert Humston, oversaw the installation of the much-used, handicapped-accessible elevator in 1986.  They also insulated the main floor windows and the space overhead in the sanctuary and put in ceiling fans.   These resulted in significant saving of energy, both from the gas-fired furnaces that replaced the original coal-burning units, and from air  conditioning in much of the building.  Stained glass pictorial inserts in the two windows above the choir loft honored the families of Bud Campbell and Claudia and Kenneth Rogers.  The oak baptistery was given by Mrs. Marjorie Bower in memory of her husband, Everett Bower and their son, Seth.  A Hammond organ was installed in 1951 and a piano and an electronic keyboard music is also in regular use.

The audio system has been enlarged and updated; which occurred again in 2010 with the addition of a projection screen, projector & computer Other updates & improvements; glass entrance doors with UMC logo have been installed, concrete was laid for several parking spaces on west side of the building, roof and basement repairs have been made.

 The church secretary’s office has a full line of computing and copying equipment.  Repainting of all the rooms in the church has been done periodically as needed.  Several plaques at the back of the sanctuary list other gifts.  In the basement, the kitchen has been remodeled and tile and carpet laid in the main section, off which is a modern, divided rest room.  For many years the musical talents of members was reflected in a sizable choir with an annual Easter cantata presented during Holy Week.

Beginning in 1997 a tableau called “The Living Last Supper” was introduced to Ashland by the Rev. Bill Armold, and its 10th presentation was given in 2007 before a large crowd.  For six years (1978-1984) a pastor born in India, the Rev. Samuel Rathod, enlarged the global vision of the local church.  He was one of a number of ministers appointed to Ashland who had either been a District  Superintendent or became one later.  The original Ladies Aid Society has continued under names of Woman’s Society of Christian Service and United Methodist Women, including circles.   They can provide a place for receptions after various celebrations and funerals.   Donations of quilts to the children at Epworth Village at York have been a special project, as well as missions globally and locally.   The U.M.W. is also a significant contributor to the church’s annual budget.   For many years the Epworth League was an important part of the relation of young people to the church.  The name later became Methodist Youth Fellowship.  Today somewhat different organizations are available to this age group.  A charter has been granted to Methodist Men, which meet monthly, providing service locally and at Camp Fontanelle, Nickerson NE.

2013 – Reverend Pastor John Ewton serves the Ashland and Cedar Hill congregations Pastor Ewton retired in 2014.

Cedar Hill United Methodist Church    23001 N 162nd Rd Greenwood, NE located about 7 miles West of Ashland – out Furnas St. / Ashland Rd Then proceed 3/4 South on 162nd Street – the church is on your right ( West side of Road ) Additional directions help: Ashland’s Furnas Street becomes Ashland Road at the west city limits; Ashland Road – about 7 mi. W of town – makes a sharp right turn at County Rd 11 (Saunders Cty); You can make a sharp left turn at that corner – which becomes 162nd Street (Lancaster Cty.); proceed South on 162nd Street, 3/4/miles (gravel road), to Cedar Hill United Methodist Church & Cemetery

Stained glass window & B & W photo from the 1950’s or 1960’s are shown below








1888 – 2013

In 1866-67, W. W. Calkins homesteaded about one half-mile southwest of the present location of Cedar Hill Church.  He planted red cedar trees around his farm and later at the cemetery.  So the cemetery became known as the Cedar Hill Cemetery and the community as the Cedar Hill Community.  The early settlers had been here only a few years when they organized a Sunday School at the Fairview School house in 1877.

About 1882 a Christian Church was built a mile north of the county line.  A United Brethren Church was organized in 1884 and built on the county line, now known as Ashland Road.  For a few years the Methodists held services in the Cedar Hill School house.  In 1888 the Methodist Church was built south of the Cedar Hill School house.  This was called the Valley View Church and was the third church to be built within a radius of four miles.  For a good many years all three of these churches had good congregations.  Then people began moving to other places and the vacated farms were bought  by the remaining farmers and the community decreased in size.

In 1904 it was decided to move the Methodist Church to the present location beside the Cedar Hill Cemetery and make it the church of the community.  The church is located on a hill in a farming area west of Ashland, an equal distance between Ceresco, Waverly and Ashland.  Members have addresses and school districts in each of these towns.

2012 – the Cedar Hill United Methodist Church, has among its members, descendents of members of all three pioneer churches, as well as people from many other denominations.  The congregation agreed to build a parsonage in 1921 and have a resident minister.  Farmers of the community donated their time and money to build the parsonage.  Cedar Hill pastors have served Memphis and Greenwood while living in the parsonage.  The present pastor has been appointed to serve the Cedar Hill  congregation and the United Methodist Church in Ashland. (2012)  A committee was appointed in September of 1930 to look at other churches and draw up plans for a new church building.  A carpenter was hired, but most of the rough work was done by the men of the community.  The old church was torn down and most of the material was used in the new church.  By Christmas (1930), work had progressed to the point that the Christmas Eve service was held in the new basement.  For several years, because of the drought and the depression, work on the building stopped and all services were held in the basement.

In 1939 the God’s Acre program was adopted as a means of raising money to finish the church.  The God’s Acre program has continued as a harvest gathering for over sixty-eight years.  The congregation decided to complete the building in 1940 and the church was finished and dedicated free of debt on June 6, 1943.  The women’s organizations have been a big part of the success of the church and the United Methodist Women’s group is still active today.  The church building is modern with a remodeled kitchen and full basement.  The stained glass windows are an outstanding feature of the brick church.  In the 1920s, 30s and 40s the annual August Sunday School picnic, in a nearby grove, was a special event with entertainment and games for the children.  In 1920 the Governor of Nebraska, Arthur Weaver, attended.  In 1944, 1000 people gathered for the evening  activities.  Bible studies, missions and fellowship meetings are an important part of the community.   

The January pancake supper is an annual event bringing people together from  neighboring churches.  The church serves as a gathering place for many functions in the community.  The church has always invited all the children in the community to attend Vacation Bible School, youth groups and Easter egg hunts.  These events have been well attended and blessed both young and old.  The Cedar Hill Cemetery has added nearly an acre of land.  Cedar trees and other new trees have been planted in the cemetery.  The vision, to have a church to fulfill the spiritual needs of the community, has remained the same as the founding fathers of the church envisioned.

Church services are held each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday School is at 9:30 a.m. 

The Cedar Hill Church, located in a beautiful and peaceful rural are, invites you to worship services and activities.  Pastor John Ewton serves the Cedar Hill United Methodist and the Ashland United Methodist in Ashland (2013)

The American Lutheran Church   (ELCA) – 20th and Silver Streets

TOP picture of the church renovation as it appears today The added class rooms and other additions were dedicated August 28, 1994
BOTTOM: picture of the church building completed & dedicated February 25, 1951

TOP picture of the church renovation as it appears today.  The added class rooms and other additions were dedicated August 28, 1994
BOTTOM: picture of the church building completed & dedicated February 25, 1951


2013 – American Lutheran’s Pastor is Rev. Lori Morton


 1946 – In the year that Ashland was ninety years old, a mission congregation of the Central district of the American Lutheran Church was started with thirty-seven people attending its first worship on Sunday evening, September 19, 1946 in the Legion Hall.  The new congregation began worshipping at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ashland on December 1, 1946 and on December 8, 1946 the Rev. Vernon Strempke was installed as the first pastor.  A Sunday School for the new congregation was started.

January 12, 1947, with thirteen children enrolled.  The congregation of twenty-two adults and seventeen children was officially organized, and adopted their constitution on Palm Sunday, March 30.  Formal signing of the incorporation was on June 27, 1947.  In the Fall of 1949, a building committee was organized, and land was purchased on the southeast corner of 20th and Silver Streets, to build their own church facility.  A bank loan and an ALD District Mission loan, totaling $63,000 was received to begin building.  Ground breaking was on September 17, 1950.  The new 60 foot by 30 foot church had a seating capacity of one hundred forty worshippers.  The building was dedicated on Sunday, February 25, 1951.  The Rev. Harold Schmidt was pastor of the congregation.  Membership grew to sixty-two. In October, construction began on a $4,100 parsonage, which was dedicated May 11, 1952.  On February 28, 1960, the church loans being paid off, a burning of the mortgage was celebrated.

In August, 1966, expansion of the church building, at a cost of $30,000 was begun.  Members of the congregation did the finishing work.  Dedication of the addition was on May 14, 1967, with the Central District President, The Rev. Edwin Fritschel officiating.  The Rev. Wesley Brodin was pastor of the congregation.

In 1989, a five-year Planning Committee was formed to gather information on the projected growth of the Ashland area, and to determine the direction of the congregation’s mission in Ashland.  It was concluded that, in order to further the congregation’s commitment to ministry in the community, the building needed to be expanded again.  Primary concern was given to the increase in Sunday School attendance.

A building committee was formed in 1991, and a pledge drive was conducted in 1992 to help finance the estimated cost of $417,000 in renovation and  expansion work.  Members of the congregation, again, performed demolition and finishing work.  A new sanctuary and Sunday School rooms now comprise the church structure to the east side of the original building.

Dedication of the newly expanded church facility was on August 28, 1994.  The Rev. Richard Fangmann was pastor of the congregation.  Burning of the church mortgage was held on February 10, 2002.  American Lutheran Church , Ashland, Nebraska, continues to be a family committed to bringing all people to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, to grow in the Word, and to prayerfully encompass our community with compassion and love.

Word  of  Hope  Lutheran  Church  (LCMC) –    22nd & Ash Street

Word of Hope Lutheran Church was esatablished in 2010, and is now in their new home – 157 South 22nd street (a member of LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ )
Worship services are at 9:30 am each Sunday am.  
Their pastor is Pastor Wilson Metz of Ashland 

The OPEN HOUSE of their facilities, was held February 10th, 2013 at 22nd and Ash; ( ½ block S of Silver Street – 22nd street ) Ashland NE.

Pastor Wilson Metz was ordained and installed at Word of Hope Lutheran Church in Ashland NE on July 24, 2011

Reverend Oliver Olson, President of the Omaha Bible School, presided at the ordination service. Members of the Word of Hope family and visitors participated in the laying on of hands as they gathered around Pastor Metz to pray. In addition to his pastoral duties, Wilson is the director of the Heartland Men of Faith, a field trainer for Man in the Mirror, an Iron Sharpens Iron conference organizer, and works to connect national and local ministries with the goal of equipping men to minister to each other, their families, their cities, and their congregations.
Wilson and his wife Sandy have been married 37 years and have two children and six grandchildren.

Saint Mary Catholic Church – 17th and Adams


 St Mary Parish History

1924 – 2012

St Mary Catholic Church of Ashland was founded in 1924 with a membership of twelve families.

A former Baptist Church building was purchased and dedicated at that time. Initially, Franciscan Capuchins and Oblate Fathers served the parish until 1932 when the priests from St Mary Cathedral of Lincoln took over.  From 1936 to 1949 Msgr. Dennis Barry, pastor of Colon, came to the Ashland parish.

The building pictured to the left, served Saint Mary’s parish from October 29, 1924 until February of 1957, when the current building was completed and dedicated.












The photo to the right, provided by AHS Board Member Pat Proctor, is the Summer School Class of 1947; Sister Loretta was the teacher.  YES, Pat is pictured in the photo   . . . can you find her ? ?

A new rectory was built in 1950 and Ashland had their first resident priest, who also served St. Joseph Parish in Greenwood.

 By 1956 the parish had grown to 60 families who voted to build a new church.  The stone building was dedicated in 1957, seats 325 people and was built for a cost of $60,000.00.   

By 1966 the parish of Greenwood had their own pastor, until 1979 when again both parishes shared the same priest, as continues until the present day. By 1970 St. Mary’s had grown to 85 families.  

In 1980 the bell tower was built using the bell which originally belonged to the old Baptist church, and the Grotto dedicated to Our Lady was constructed, along with the garage and parking lot.  The needs of the growing parish were again addressed in 1981 when the education center was erected.  The center includes 7 classrooms and a library and serves both parishes.  In 2003 -2004 extensive renovations were completed to the interior of the church.  The fall of 2004 saw the construction and dedication of the Monument to the Unborn in front of the education center on Silver Street.

In 2006-2007 the parish celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Church building, and 25th anniversary of the education center.  Recent pastors of St. Mary and St. Joseph include Fr. Zygmund Rydz, 1979-1986;  Fr. Francis Murphy 1986-1998; Fr. Paul York, 1998-2004;  Fr. Gary Coulter, 2004 to present.


Church islocated just west of town about 1/2 mile – Furnas Street becomes Ashland Road – church is on the North side of street/road

( there is no website available yet )


The Ashland Baptist Church was started in 1967 in Ross Johnson’s basement in Kendel Heights.  In 1970 they purchased land half a mile west of Ashland on Ashland Road and began construction on the building in 1971.  It was during this time the church became affiliated with the Baptist General Conference.  2013 – Our current pastor is Everett Greathouse and he has been with the church since 1987.  The church started an AWANA program in 1984 which has evolved into the present-day Cross Trainers program.  Members also help at the ROC Ministries – Ashland Youth Center as volunteers.

The church is also active in the Men In Mission program since 1999, as well as in the community and the Ashland Ministerial Association.  We currently support four missionary couples currently working in the Ukraine, Turkey, Belgium and Mali.
The information provided above ^ was printed in the First 150 years History of Ashland – 150 years publication in 2007

FROM ASHLAND HISTORY– 1870 through 1877

The first missionary who visited Saunders County was Rev. I. A. Martin, who came to Ashland in 1865.  He remained but a short time, but during his stay organized the First Baptist Church of Ashland July 8, of that year which is the first church organized in the county.  The church society was formed mainly through the efforts of Mr Dennis Dean, who was its first & only Deacon for a long time.

The names of the pioneer members are Dennis Dean and wife, William  Anderson and wife, Joseph Arnold and wife, Mrs. Barnhill, Mrs. Biggs and Mrs. Laura Brush.


The 1870 building ^ pictured above ^ was located on the SW Corner of 14th & Ash, the site of Laughlin Electric, today Copyrighted photo above, courtesy of Photos by MJ, for the AHS use only; Prints are available & may be ordered from > Photos by MJ

A short time after its organization, funds were raised to build a church, but the society loaned them to the school district, and after the schoolhouse was constructed held their services in it until the present substantial brick church was built in 1870.  The first resident pastor of the church was Rev. C. A. Miller, who settled at Ashland in 1867, making it the field of his labors until 1873, and under his earnest and careful tuition the church made wonderful advancement. He was succeeded by Rev. J. N. Webb, who presided over the church but one year, being succeeded by Rev. Henry White, whose labors also ended in one year.

In 1875, Rev. G. O. Yeiser was pastor, and after remaining at Ashland for one year closed his labors, and was succeeded by Rev. Sturtevant, who was succeded by Rev. F. M. Williams in 1877,the present pastor. * *

The church property is valued at $6,000, and the society has a membership of 140.  * * ( contents of article above are circa 1877)

Reprinted, with grateful acknowledgement from “Andreas’ History of State of NE”  The “schoolhouse” that was constructed with the funds loaned,  . . . which later burned . . . is pictured below:

This “schoolhouse”, above – betwwen Boyd & Clay streets & 11th & 12 th streets – burned in 1919 The “schoolhouse” was rebuilt in 1921, with the present building on the same site The informaton – Ashland History 1870-1877 – provided above ^ was printed in the First 100 Years History of Ashland – 100 years publication in 1957  The photo of the ‘Public Shool’ is from the postcard collection (circa 1909), donated to the AHS by Dick Harnsberger.

Riverview Community Church    Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA)

Pastor Kyle Ballard, Riverview’s Pastor
Paul Martin, Youth Pastor
Tony Boscarino, Worship Pastor



APRIL 2013 update:
We have learned that the NEW Riverview Community Center
& the Riverview Community Church building is NOW COMPLETED
The congregation began meeting in their new facility April 13th !

GRAND OPENING and OPEN House will be Sunday April 28th
Ashland Gazette article – 25 April > “Riverview Opens Doors”

Their new building is in the Sabre Heights subdivision
with seating for nearly 300 in the auditorium area
2 blocks West of 30th & Boyd Streets
324 North 32nd Street – Ashland NE 68003
Phone: (402) 944 – 6134
Worship services are 10:00 am SUN



A brief HISTORY of Riverview Community Church – Ashland NE

An Evangelical Free Church Starts in Ashland

Riverview Community Church

In the Autumn of 2004 a group of families with common faith met in homes weekly to pray, encourage one another and study the Scriptures to see what God had in mind for their future as a group.  Some were long time residents of Ashland:  Barry and Amy Kitrell, Tom and Sonia Sherman, Steve and Jane Spargen.  Others, Lonnie and Maris Buller, Steve and Carol Herman, John and Ellen Richards, Ted and Carol Tucker, were transplants who had come to love and appreciate the community.  With a desire for a Bible-teaching church and a heart for people with no church home, the group contacted the Evangelical Free Church of America in February of 2005.  Randy Littlefield, Director of Church Planting for the Midwest District, joined their meetings resulting in a vote to affiliate with the EFC and accept their assistance in starting this new church in Ashland.  Resources were pursued inside and outside of the District before a recommendation was made to the Ashland group, ultimately leading to a unanimous vote to call Neal Brower as founding pastor.
Brower previously served at Trinity Evangelical Free Church, Holdrege, Nebraska, after 18 years serving two Evangelical Free Churches in Southern California.  Neal, and his wife, Judy, who serves as “Community Ministries Director,”  moved to Ashland in August, 2005, renovating the former parsonage of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (circa 1883) as their place of residence.  At one of the group’s first meetings a name was selected.  In recognition of the convergence of Nebraska’s rivers in Ashland, and in view of the river of life flowing from the heart of Jesus, and the desire to be fully immersed in the life of the community, the name Riverview Community Church was confirmed.  Joining the original ten families, others soon followed, meeting at the Ashland Greenwood High School facility.  In January of 2006, RCC welcomed Jake Brower to complete the church planting pastoral staff team as Pastor of worship and student ministry.  A vision for regional impact was conceived: prayer for people, the formation and multiplication of small groups, and the planting of new “Life-giving” churches wherever God might open opportunities.  A “mission field” was identified as the area created by a 30 mile radius starting from I-80’s exit 426.  Since November of 2005 to this celebration of Ashland’s 150 years of existence, “Life Groups” multiplied so that now nearly 100 people meet in 22 groups  weekly.  They are young and old; from RCC, other churches, and no church at all; from Ashland and many neighboring towns, as far as Omaha to the Northeast and Lincoln to the Southwest.  In May of 2006, RCC began public worship services, meeting in the recently refurbished building of the First Congregational Church of Ashland.  These gracious people opened their doors to RCC, entering into a sharing of facility and expenses.  The purchase of land and the construction of a facility is planned and was moved forward in 2009 / 2010 with a purchase and gift of land in the Sabre Heights subdivision – 2 blocks west of 30th street @ Boyd, in Ashland.

Ground breaking and construction began in the fall of 2010.

Riverview Community Church took their final steps toward becoming a full member of the EFCA association of churches in the latter half of 2007.At the time of this writing an average of 120 people meet for worship. 50 young people meet monthly for “Worship Project” with a vision for “connecting the I-80 corridor” for the glory of God. The year 2007 will see the establishment of a charter membership and the formation of its first leadership board.

On May 6th, 2007, RCC celebrated its first anniversary of public worship services by introducing church planters who, God willing, will join the staff team for two years in order to form another “Life-giving” church somewhere in the I-80 corridor in 2008/09.  This is the first of what it is hoped history records to be many, all to the glory of God.
Spring 2010 – Riverview announced that they are now meeting each Sunday AM at 9:30 in facilities at the Strategic Air and Space Museum, adjacent to Mahoney State Park, south of Ashland.  The congregation also met at Camp Carol Joy Holling, for a period of time before the new building was completed (See APRIL 2013 UPDATE, above)

The First Christian Church (DOC) 17th and Boyd

Picture below left – a postcard – before the education wing was added
Picture to the below right – after the education wing was added; the steeple was removed later
These structures were destroyed by fire May 17, 1925










The picture above is of the original building and parsonage,
before the education wing was added in 1911-12. (see above right)
The home, to the left of the old church, was the parsonage.
The parsonage was purchased March 31,1902 from Walter J. and Katharine Waltmire.
The photo of the ladies in front of the parsonage was taken in 1905-06
Some of the names from the past, written on the picture are
Atwood, Mrs. Wm Farmer, Mrs. Huyck & Mrs. Ed Hoffman
NEW BUILDING, below, after rebuilding in 1927

The parsonage was sold in early 1960 for $575.00 to make room for the
Education Building to the left of the picture below, and then
moved to 1717 Furnas Street, where it is still a family home (2011)

Sanctuary dedicated 1927 – Christian Education Building built 1965


  1. C. Barrow and D. R. Dungan, prominent evangelists of the early 1880’s were instrumental in establishing the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Ashland in 1883. This little band of Christians met in different homes or other available places until 1884 when they decided to build a church which was dedicated in 1885 at a cost of $2,908.80. This building was used for worship services and Bible school until 1911 when a wing was addedon the west side and dedicated on January 7, 1912 by Charles Colby. Bert Wilson was the minister. At 3:45 a.m., May 17, 1925, the church was discovered in flames. In less than 30 minutes the sacred and tender memories of almost a half century were gone up in smoke. The building and furnishings, valued at $15,000, were a total loss and were inadequately covered by insurance. That same afternoon the decision was made to rebuild.  A building committe headed by Ed Hoffman was elected. Other members were Earl Chamberlin, C. Raikes, Ralph Dean, W. H. Blair, C. F. Steinhaus and E. R. King, the minister. The contract to build was signed June 28, 1926; ground was broken July 4th; and the cornerstone was laid October 31, 1926.The building was dedicated April 3, 1927 and cost $33,582.25.

The original parsonage was built in 1902 at 1718 Boyd Street, just west of the old frame church building.  In the early 1950s it was determined that more facilities were needed for the over-crowded Sunday School.  The parsonage was 50 years old and sitting where a new building would have to be placed, so land was purchased across the street at 1725 Boyd.During the summer of 1956, a new parsonage was built there.  The materials were purchased at a cost of $10,400 and the labor was donated by the men and women of the church.  In 1956 the Crusaders Sunday School class of young adults started a building fund and in 1965 construction on a new education wing, fellowship hall and kitchen was begun.  The building was dedicated in January, 1967.  The parsonage on Boyd Street was sold in the 1990s and the present parsonage was purchased at 307 North 27th Street.

According to the Constitution of the congregation, the name is First Christian Church (DOC) of Ashland, Nebraska. There is good reason that there is confusion over the name because the denomination has been known by several names.  References in early issues of the Ashland Gazette referred to the church as  Christian Church, Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ.  The official name of the denomination now is Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  A number of community services were started by members of the Christian Church.  In 1941 an 11:00p.m. Christmas Eve Meditation was held at the church.  Though it is primarily a service of the Christian Church, people from other churches and the community attend and participate in the presentation to this day.  The Thursday worship services at the Ashland Care Center were started by women of the Christian Church.  Now the services are shared by all member pastors & churches of the Ashland Ministerial Association.  (The services have been expanded in 2010, to include Oxbow Living Center) The Telephone Reassurance Program received its inspiration from people in the Christian Church.  In 1973 a Dial-a-Devotion was installed, and individuals from the whole community call for daily messages of inspiration.  Like all churches in the community, the Christian Church has had its share of community leaders, teachers, Stir-up kings and queens and business people.  (Shirley (Raikes) Hemke was the very first Ashland Stir-up Queen in 1948.)  The first women’s group in the church was known as the Missionary Society and was established in 1891.  In 1896 the Ladies’ Aid Society was organized and both groups served different functions at  the same time in the life of the church.In 1932 the two ladies’ groups merged into the Women’s Council.  In 1949 the Women’s Council became the Christian Women’s Fellowship and carries that title today.  Sometime later, a group called the Young Christian Sisters group was formed.  Today, the Christian Women’s Fellowship (CWF) & the Christian Sisters now serve the the church.  A healthy Sunday School has been the “hallmark” of the Christian Church from its beginning.  The evangelistic spirit of Audra Smith and others kept children attending the Sunday School.  On March 16, 1945, one of the all-time high Sunday School attendance records was set.  There were 238 people in Sunday School that day.Eighty four of them were pre-schoolers.  Along with the Sunday School classes on Sunday morning, the youth usually met for Christian Endeavor on Sunday evening.  In 1959 a newsletter was started by the Women’s Class of the Sunday School to inform and promote the class. Before long the newsletter began to include the church news and was expanded to the total membership of the church.

In 2006 the church launched its ‘Window to Christ’s World’ in the form of a website.  Today more than 300 individuals and families receive the newsletter, via e-mail, from the church.

|* * insert * MAR 2012:  The NEW wesbsite, under development is 

June 29, 2008 the congregation, together with over 200 of its members, former members, former pastors and guests gathered to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the church.  Pastor J. Milton Bryarly, Intentional Interim Pastor, officiated the festivities.  The church website devotes 2 ‘pages’ to the history of First Christian Church,  including many photos of interest – past & present.

* insert – history, etc. not currently available on their website

SUN March 29, 2009: Pastor Michael Njus was called as permanent pastor of First Christian Church (DOC).  “We welcome Pastor Njus, his wife Diane & their family, as they become part of our family and as Pastor Mike becomes our shepherd in the service of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

SUN May 17th, 2009: Pastor Michael Njus was installed as the ‘called’ and permanent pastor of First Christian Church (DOC) Ashland NE, with an installation ceremony, communion and liturgy, led by Rev. Dr. Ken Moore, Regional Minister – Christian Church – NE.  The celebration of Pastor Njus’ installation continued, with a program that included the “burning of the mortgage” of the “Perry & Frances Couch” property, adjacent to the Christian Education building, with a covered dish dinner in First Christian Church’ Fellowship Hall.

November 2011 – The ‘tuck-pointing’ & exterior restoration project was completed.

December 2011 – the congregation unveiled a new large flat-screen monitor for viewing videos, special programs and presentations.

March 2012 – Former Pastor Bryarly, known to the congregation as “Pastor Milt”, passed away June 17, 2011 quite unexpectedly.

Pastor Bryarly was to celebrate his 50th Anniversary of Ordination on Fathers Day 2011 – June 19th.  Valley View Christian Chrurch – Twin Falls ID, where “Pastor Milt” was serving as Intentional Interim Pastor, in cooperation with his family, moved forward with the 50th Ordination in Ministry Anniversary celebration, together with a Celebration of “Pastor Milt’s” life.  A like celebration of “Pastor Milt’s” Ordination, his life & ministry was held June 29th, 2011 at First Christian-Ashland, with his daughter Sharron in attendance.

NOV 25,  2012 – was Pastor Mchael D. “Mike” Njus final Sunday service.  The congregation and the Njus family shared a farewell meal together.

JUNE 2013  – Pastor Lisa Sherman was called to be the Pastor at FCC Pastor Lisa will began her service to the congregation June 1st 2013 Pastor Lisa, her husband Adam (an Ashland native) & their 5 children now make their home in Ashland

JANUARY 2015 – Pastor Lisa Sherman accepted a call to serve as Pastor of Faith Christian Church of Omaha NE.

  Swedeburg Covenant Church      Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) – Swedeburg NE located just about 5.5 miles south of Wahoo NE . . . on ” old HWY 77 ” as the old timers say . . . on what they call ” CR 17 ” now . . . Just a mile south of Hwy 63/66 that comes from Ashland






Swedeburg Covnenant Church was founded in 1885 by Swedish immigrants.

This congregation, and the (ECC), values the Bible as the Word of God, the gift of God’s grace and an ever-deepening spiritual life that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, the importance of extending God’s love and compassion to a hurting world, and the strength that comes from unity within diversity The church revels in its history and sense of place.

 Although the church officially is listed as being in Wahoo, Nebraska, because that is where its Post Office is located.  The website declares, “we’re really in the quaint little village of  Swedeburg NE.” In describing itself, the congregation says; ” We have the very young & some older folks; families & singles; farmers & business types; students & teachers – even the occasional barrister, peddler & sawbones . . . ( kids, ask you grandmother ), a REAL true cross section of small-town America ” There is always “FREE PARKING” . . ( there are  NO parking meters  in Swedeburg )  The ministry of the small-town church can be overlooked, but the Swedburg church notes that it has had a global impact, sending ministers around the world.

Missionaries from within the congregation include Rev. and Mrs. C.J. Nelson (China), Alpha Alquist Anderson, and Dr. Arden Almquist (Congo) A handful of other children from the church eventually served in Covenant ministry, including C. J. Youngren, Edmund Carlson, Ernest Anderson and Lyle Person.

Brian Carlson served as a short-term missionary in Thailand.

1909 Cornerstone of current building

Swedeburg Covenant Church




–  NW corner of 16th and Adams – Ashland NE

View looks North from Adams Street
View looks West from 16th Street






St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church was built in 1872, not long after the declaration of Nebraska as a state (1867) and the incorporation of Ashland as a township. It is an architectural jewel, the oldest church building in Ashland today, the only Episcopal church in Saunders County.  In 1979, thanks to the efforts of town historian Alice Graham,
the church was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places.
Nonetheless, in 1992, after years of struggling to keep the doors of St. Stephen’s open,
the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska closed the church and sold it the Ashland Arts

Council, Inc. (a 501 (c) 3 corporation) for a total sum of one dollar. 

As a result, the church is technically no longer a church.  Instead, it has evolved into a community concert hall, a meeting place, a miniature art gallery displaying the works of some of Ashland’s finest artists.
For more information about St. Stephen’s and the Ashland Arts Council,
the Ashland Historical Society has provided “separate pages” on this site, including it’s history.  Those pages will also provide a schedule of scheduled events and activities at St. Stephen’s
Those page’s “links” are:
LINK >  to AAC Page
LINK >  to  AAC EVENTS  page

ASHLAND is a Marriage Savers Community

The pastors, congregations and community leaders
entered in a covenant to provide pre-marital counseling,
and to support families and marriages, to preserve our community
A copy of the Marriage Savers Covenant is attached for your review: