A Brief History of Union Congregational Church

In 1900 the Free Methodist Church of Three Lakes was organized and a house of worship was erected on the present church site. But soon the Free Methodists began to move away and about 1910 the Presbyterian denomination picked up the work and organized their church. After four years, due to lack of support, this effort was discontinued. In May 1916 Rev. G. H. Waters, pastor of the Eagle River Congregational Church began to hold services in Three Lakes and occasional services were held for two years.

Signs of growth soon indicated a church should be organized in Three Lakes. Rev. F. N. Dexter, State Evangelist, was called upon to assist in the organization and on a Friday evening, the 26th of April, 1918 a meeting was held of all interested parties and it was voted to organize a Church, to be named Union Congregational Church of Three Lakes.

Tragedy struck September 1924. The tornado, which nearly wiped Three Lakes off the map, destroyed the church. Undaunted, on March 4, 1925 the members voted to rebuild. Application was made to the Congregational Church Building Society for a grant of $1200 and rebuilding progressed. The property was mortgaged for $2500 on May 3, 1925 and on August 2, 1925 the new building was dedicated with Rev. John Wilson, of Appleton, Wisconsin, delivering the Dedication sermon.

During these years several men, Rev. W. T. Hosking, Rev. John Robertson, served as pastors on short term bases, but probably Rev. Daniel Woodward was the first pastor to serve for more than a few months. He was here in 1927-28. Reverend Nobel Conkle was called in the early 1930s to serve as pastor and he served until he retired in August 1940. Alvin Koenig was called in October 1940.

In 1941 the Lutheran congregational began to use our church building for their services. In June 1942 Mr. Koenig resigned as pastor and Rev. Conkle was again called to serve during the summer months. Rev. Frank Tomenendale was called to serve as pastor in 1942, sharing his services with the Eagle River Church. In 1945 Rev. Tomenendale resigned as pastor and Mr. James Williams, principal of Rhinelander Junior High School, preached the services until 1948. Mrs. Margaret Beck was then called as pastor.

April 1961 our congregation voted to join the union of The Congregational and Christian Churches with the Evangelical-Reformed Church and approved the Constitution of “the United Church of Christ”.

Along with this merger was consolidation of the Northern Association so that this area became a party of the Northwest Association. Also, an “Open Church” policy was adopted in 1964 which declares we welcome to our services or membership any one regardless of color or race. Rev. Beck announced her resignation in 1966. Rev. Gordon Winsor was called on September 17, 1966.

The recent Pastoral history:
1981-1992–Rev. Ronald L. McDuffie
1993-1996–Rev. Stephen Rohloff
1996-2010–Pastor Mary Ann Miller
2010-2015–Pastor Gary Gilbert
2015-2016–Interim Pastor William Brown
2017-2019–Pastor Topher Melhoff
2020-Present–Pastor Will Nelson