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Heritage 2016, www.plaintalk.net Vermillion Plain Talk 7B Hillside Community Church Continues Growth In Service Ministry BY SARAH WETZEL For The Plain Talk On Dec. 10, 1978, the Sioux City Journal reported that members of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church had begun worshipping in their new church which, to a large extent, they had built themselves. The octagonal church, located at 1800 Constance Drive in Vermillion, is today known as Hillside Community Church. A dedication ceremony for the building, which included music, Scripture readings, a spoken message, and prayers, was held Sept. 16, 1979. The Sioux City Journal reported that plans for the new church had been discussed for several years before the congregation acquired the church site in 1967. Money for constructing the church was not easy to obtain, and a new parsonage was also needed. The site for the church was converted to garden plots for church members, and the construction of the parsonage was begun at a location about three blocks from the site of the then proposed church. Members of the congregation did much of the work on the new parsonage, and it was completed in 1972. The mortgage on the parsonage was burned five years later. With completion of the parsonage, attention was turned to plans for the church. Ground was broken on March 13, 1977. Construction might have been an easy task if the congregation would have been able to turn the project over to a general contractor, but bids for the project totaled $240,000, which was well over the small congregation’s budget of $150,000. That latter figure was raised 10 percent in the fall of 1978. The Journal reported that the 40-member congregation, under the direction of Pastor Jay Johnson, decided instead to serve as general contractor for the project and the members pitched in to do a lot of the work themselves. A contractor was hired to construct the framework, but the members also helped with that work. The congregation also employed an electrical contractor, but they did the plumbing themselves. The church was designed by the Sioux City architectural firm of DeWild, Grant, Reckert & Associates. Eight arches of laminated pine rise from the perimeter of the octagonal sanctuary and meet in the center of the ceiling 26 feet above the sanctuary floor. The sanctuary, which has a diameter of 48 feet, has seating for 175 persons. Twenty-two-foot wings which extend from five sides of the octagonal sanctuary house the library, the fellowship area, the kitchen, the nursery, and the pastor’s study. There is no wall separating the sanctuary from the fellowship area and this provides overflow space. The basement houses Member Highlight: Nathan & Heidi DeVries BY SARAH WETZEL For The Plain Talk High-school sweethearts Nathan and Heidi DeVries both attended the University of South Dakota graduating in 2005 and 2004 respectively. “We sort of landed in the departments we’re with now,” Nathan said. “Heidi was already working as a student at the foundation. I was also working as a student in the IT department and they had full-time openings so I just stepped right in. That’s how we kind of got sucked into the DAVID LIAS/FOR THE PLAIN TALK Hillside Community Church, located at 1800 Constance Drive in Vermillion, was dedicated Sept. 16, 1979. It was known as the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church at that time. Sunday school rooms, a Sunday school fellowship area, and a recreation area. There is also on-site parking. The Christian and Missionary Alliance Church Sunday worship services were non-liturgical. The congregation, which was organized during the 1940s, previously worshipped in a church located close to Vermillion’s downtown. In the late 1970s, that church building was sold to the Vermillion Day Care Center. Dedication services for that previous church building and its parsonage, located at the corner of Prospect and National streets, were held Sunday, June 3, 1956, according to the Vermillion Plain Talk. The cornerstone of this church building was laid in 1945 under the ministry of the Rev. J.A. Schmidt. The congregation worshipped in a basement Vermillion vortex here.” Though employment went smoothly the DeVries certainly had some challenges. “About that same time all of our friends were graduating so it was kind of tough to be in Vermillion young and lose all your friends,” Heidi said. “They were moving on and we had both found jobs here.” The Devries were married in 2006. “We bought a house here thinking we’d only be here for five years and now it’s ten years and we’re still in the same place,” Nathan said. “We first attended Hillside because of Heidi’s brother. He was in the band there. That’s probably why we set foot in the door the first place. Then some folks there church on the site of that building for several years. In February 1955, construction of the new sanctuary was begun. Under the leadership of Rev. William Sibley, who began serving as the church’s pastor in the early 1950s, the church, at that time, had grown in all departments, according to the Plain Talk article. Church membership, attendance, and income have all nearly tripled. This church was built by its members at an approximate cost of $6,000. Its sanctuary could seat 175 people with room for extra seating if necessary. The basement was equipped with a fine kitchen and was arranged for fellowship. The basement was also used for the junior department of the Sunday School. In June, 1991, the congregation voted to The DeVries Family made us feel welcome and helped us feel like we belong.” Not only did Hillside help the Devries feel welcome at a time when many of their friends were moving on, they were also able to attend a financial class there which they now teach. change the church’s name to Hillside Community Church. The church remained a part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. In the fall of 1991, the mortgage was retired on the building. Participating in the service were Jay Johnson, Norman Miller, DeVern Ruedebusch, Annette and Richard Oppedahl, Howard Coker, the Rev. Jim Tiezen, and District Superintendent Gary Benedict. In September 1993, Hillside was the first evangelical church in Vermillion to offer a worship service with contemporary music, and in 1995, the first annual outdoor baptismal service was held at Lewis & Clark Lake. Also that year, AWANA was begun, increasing the church’s ministry to children. For the last three years, Steve Walters has been pastor at the church. His predecessor, Jim Tiezen, served as the church’s pastor from 1983 through 2013. For the past 13 years, the church has hosted a watermelon carnival annually that, Walters said, “is viewed as a gift to the community. We have face-painting, inflatables, entertainment, and food, in kind of a carnivallike atmosphere,” he said. The AWANA ministry to children is also quite popular. “The church has been doing that for a number of years. I would say over half the children that come on Wednesday nights are not from Hillside,” Walters said. “Back in the late 90s, and early 2000s, they had a really active international student ministry where they reached out to the international students that attend USD and they would have Bible Study, potlucks and a variety of different ministries to try to help the families and couples and students adjust. Right now we have Chinese Bible study that meets every other week Saturday afternoons,” he said. Chinese Scholar Association festivals are also hosted at the church. “We like to say no perfect people are allowed. I guess if you were to categorize our Sunday mornings it’s real casual,” Walters said. “There’s coffee served and doughnuts. I usually preach in jeans.” Hillside Community Church features a number of journey groups. “They’re small groups that meet in people’s homes,” he said. “They do what we called financial peace, helping people deal with debt and planning for the future,” he said. The church also holds youth program on Sunday afternoons, and vespers on Sunday nights from 8 to 9 p.m. “It was started by college students and it’s pretty much run by college students. There’s no sermon, no offering. It’s just a time for students, singles, married couples, whoever wants to come,” Walters said. “It’s an hour of worship and praise music. It can be low-key acoustic or it can be really upbeat. They play eight to 10 songs and read the scripture. It’s a well-attended ministry to the community.” “That was really powerful for us especially being engaged,” Nathan said. “It really helped us as far as finances went. Then we went on to teach that class at Hillside now for the past eight years.” Both Nathan and Heidi love the college town atmosphere of Vermillion. “There are so many activities going on during the school year,” Nathan said. “You can go to a theatre program with your grandparents and sporting events with your kids. There are a lot of activities and I think a lot of that is attributed to the university.” The Devries currently live in Vermillion with their two children ages four and seven with whom they enjoy going swimming and bike riding with. They also enjoy close proximity to Heidi’s parents and grandparents who also live in town. “It’s wonderful,” Heidi said. “This May we had to put Grandpa in the nursing home but we’re very fortunate because Sanford had a place at the Care Center. It’s been an easy transition for us all.” The DeVries have found home in both Vermillion and Hillside Community Church. “Pastor Steve says he wants Hillside to be a place where you can believe, bless and belong,” Heidi said. “It is a place we can believe and bless others and belong. It was really nice to have a place to belong when all of our friends were moving away.” Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints Local Church Encourages Community Service BY SARAH WETZEL For The Plain Talk Though the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) might not have a historic building in Vermillion, members also known as Mormons were present in the area long before South Dakota was even a state. “Brigham [Young] wanted to send saints westward to kind of investigate a trail west,” said the current president of the Vermillion LDS branch, Chad Newswander. “We had individuals arrive here in Fort Vermillion and stay here for quite a bit of time until they decided to depart out to Utah. So that was the original arrival of Mormons in Vermillion. We had members here in Ft. Vermillion until about 18461847.” According to the South Dakota Historical Society, the Mormons at that time were scouting out a trail west to make way for the mass exodus of church members from Nauvoo, Illinois due to intense persecution. One group led by a member named James Emmett made its way to the Fort Vermillion area and settled at the fur trading post for a short time before joining the rest of the church in Winter Quarters, Nebraska on their DAVID LIAS/FOR THE PLAIN TALK The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) might not have a historic building in Vermillion, however the facility built in 1994, is no less impressive. Prior to 1994 members of the LDS Church made their way to other communities for services, primarily Yankton. way farther West. According to Newswander, a branch of the LDS church was not formed in Vermillion after that until 1994 which is about when the current building was built at 20 Mickelson. “Until then we had individuals who were going to Yankton and were attending church in Yankton,” he said. “Donald Gregg who was a key forerunner in the 1950s, ’60’s and ’70s, helped prepare the way and we built a chapel here in the ’90s. The building was renovated again about 10 years later and we have the finished building now.” Notable members along with Donald Gregg include the Taylor family, Newswanders, Yockeys, Fairholms, Turners, and Barneys ac- cording to Newswander. “There are a whole host of families that work at USD,” he said. “I think the Yockeys go back the longest.” Newswander himself is a professor at the University of South Dakota as leadership in the church is purely volunteer. Newswander has been in the area seven years and has been president of the branch for about six months. The previous presidents were Fairholm and Yockey, both serving about five years, normal term of service for that church position. “The basic message of the church is we teach the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Newswander said. “We invite people to share and live his teachings.” The LDS church makes regular efforts to connect to the community in ways such as inviting other faiths to share in a religious Christmas concert in December dubbed “Christmas on the Missouri.” Members also participate in service activities such as meals on wheels, homeless shelter in Sioux Falls, and The Welcome Table. “We try to be active in terms of helping individuals in time of need,” Newswander said. “We had the massive flood a couple of years ago and we had members out here, in Sioux City and Yankton filling up sandbags.” The public is also invited to church socials which include trunk-or-treating around Halloween and an upcoming cultural night. “We’ve done that in the past where we have individuals talk about different countries,” Newswander said. “I think the previous ones we had people talking about Argentina and Chile, France, Italy, where they served their missions. This time around we’ll have food from those countries. That’s another service to the community.” Mostly Newswander said the church encourages members to become involved in the community on their own. “What the church tries to do is exemplify what it means to be a good neighbor and to be a good citizen,” he said. “We strongly believe in being active in the community and holding a civic spirit so that Vermillion or the state of South Dakota or being a citizen of the United States means something and we have an obligation and responsibility to protect and promote those things we hold in common with the public. So we encourage our members to go out and serve whether it be on the planning commission, city council, school board or being a volunteer coach or volunteering at your child’s school, being engaged in the community matters. A civic life is important to one’s spiritual health. We want to hopefully promote the viability and healthiness of Vermillion by going out and serving in our whole capacities.”
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