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Nebraska City News-Press - Nebraska City, NE
  • Pioneer church along the Missouri River recovers from historic flooding

  • The flood of 2011 becomes a footnote of history as the nation's first federated church of Congregationalist, Baptists and Methodists leads Percival's recovery.
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  • Pastor Blaine Pritchett's message Sunday was titled "The Great and Mighty Day of the Lord" and the flood of 2011 that forced the evacuation of the Percival Community Church, along with all of the town's residents, was not even mentioned.
    Hundreds had turned up over the weekend for the grand re-opening of the village's gas station, hundreds returned for the Wish Ride and the church was busy in much the same fashion it had been since the pioneer days.
    The congregation laughed over whether Sidney's Friday night football victory over Fremont Mills was a joy or not.
    A tremendous goal line stand gave Sidney a momentous victory over the defending state champion.
    The pastor played the role of peacemaker, lightheartedly saying his dad always impressed him not to celebrate too soon.
    "He would say the one who laughs last, last best," Pritchett grinned from the pulpit, noting that the teams might meet again in the playoffs.
    The flood would not have the last laugh in Percival.
    The congregation voiced prayer concerns that include the health of relatives, a girl recovering from a car crash and encouragement for college students. The flood of 2011 had slipped, at last, from the vernacular.
    Donations had helped replace the church's wood floor and carpeting.
    An architect had been hired to investigate a sagging roofline and cables were stretched across the sanctuary for strength.
    The church was part of the mandatory evacuation and was flooded June 30, 2011, shortly after a break in the Missouri River levee 2.5 miles north off town.
    Folks from Thurman, the home of Fremont-Mills High School, were on hand Nov. 22, when the church officially resumed Sunday services.
    The "Count Your Blessings" campaign led by Pastor Pritchett to help families recover from the flood totaled over $23,000.
    Lynn Handy, who tells about the history of the church beginning with log cabins and caring for Indian orphans, said Sunday the church has picked up a bit since the flood.
    The church's origins date back to 1848 at Civil Bend, ground along the Missouri River near modern-day Percival.
    The Union Congregational Church, with its strict bylaws against alcohol and slavery, was founded in 1861. Its members were said to have assisted with the Underground Railroad stations operating in Nebraska City.A pro-slavery mob from Nebraska City is also suspected of burning the church.
    A Baptist Church founded in 1863 and a Methodist Church in 1888.In the 1920s, they combined to be what Handy calls the first triple-federation in the United States.
    The first pastor was a woman.At Sunday's service they remarked together about the beauty of the sanctuary and asked for God's hand in offering their gifts.
    "Make us a force that transforms the world through love," they said.

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