Hanover Zion United Methodist Church to close after 132 years

Hanover Zion United Methodist Church Treasurer Carol Dixon stands near the church with her grandson Braedan. Citing declining membership, the church is closing in July 132 years serving the area’s faithful. (Photo by Aaron Brom)

Carol Dixon’s connections to Hanover Zion United Methodist Church goes back to the church’s founder, her great-great grandfather, Michael Schendel.

And so it is with a heavy heart that Dixon, the church’s longtime treasurer, has announced that the church will close in July. The church is hosting its final Ice Cream Social Wednesday, July 12, from 5 to 7 p.m.

“It’s the place where my faith grew,” Dixon said, as she reminisced about the only church she’s belonged to.

HISTORY

The original Hanover Zion Evangelical Church got its beginnings when Wright County “was still young, raw and undisciplined. Saloons outnumbered the churches,” according to a historical overview from the 125th anniversary in 2010. “In the year Hanover’s church was built the sparse population of the county dealt with cases of murder, rape, suicide, larceny, child molestation, assault and abandonment.”

Dixon noted that the early Evangelicals were ” a sect in many people’s minds.” The historical overview said, “They were slow to give up the German language, had few established churches, were served by the stern black-suited, circuit riders, and would not take part in the village dances or Sunday ball games.”

The church’s worship area is nearly exactly the same as it was since its construction in 1885. A Fellowship Hall addition was constructed in 1974. (Photo by Aaron Brom)

Nonetheless, these early German settlers “were hard-working, good people and sustained by their pietistic faith and governed by the German attention to detail, they won the respect of the community.”

Dixon’s great-great grandfather, Schendel, would host the Evangelicals at his home near the present church site on River Road for more than 20 years before, in 1884-85, “they determined to build themselves a church.”

Henry Schendel, Julius Hartfiel and Williarm Siefort comprised the building committee, and with congregational approval, Gustav Kehn was hired to build the church. Lumber was hauled from the Thompson Mill in Rockford for the work. In July 1885 the Delano Eagle reported that the Evangelicals were “building a neat little church north of town.”

The earliest families of this fellowship included Schendels, Borngessors, Bingenheimers, Schneiders, Adelmans, Esterlys, Hartfiels, Mahlers, Shilligs, Schulers and Weiers.

Dixon’s maiden name is Mahler (daughter of Harold and Ruth Mahler), one of the original family names to the church.

Hanover Zion United Methodist Church Treasurer Carol Dixon points out her great-great grandfather Michael Schendel’s tombstone at the church’s cemetery. Schendel helped found the church in 1885. (Photo by Aaron Brom)

Many improvements were made over the years. In 1974, the fellowship hall was added; 1983 the church basement was insulated, paneled and carpeted; in 1988 the historical cabinet was made by Jim Whiteford; in 2000 the Fellowship Hall roof was replaced and the church was connected to city utilities; in 2003 new siding and doors spruced up the exterior; in 2004 the church roof was replaced and air conditioning was installed; in 2008 the lighted church sign was put up; and in 2010 a new wooden altar cross was added.

When Immanuel Church in nearby Corcoran was making improvements, Hanover Zion received the steeple from Immanuel, which was mounted in 2009.

SITE

There are four parcels at the site involved equaling 2 acres.

The cemetery is one parcel, the vacant space for additional cemetery plots is one parcel, the church is one parcel and the attached sanctuary is the final parcel.

The cemetery has many names in it that were synonymous with the founding families, including Michael Schendel’s tombstone.

Preliminary plans for the church include the possibility of the Hanover Historical Society to use the basement portion of the fellowship hall for a future museum/display area.

“If we get the property, we would rent out the tiny church for weddings and funerals so that it meets criteria of remaining a church,” said Mary Coons of the Hanover Historical Society.