The Church was first built as a Union Church west of its present location in 1880 near what was the home of Daniel Heckart. In 1881 it was dedicated as a Methodist Church. In 1884 the church building was moved during a feud among the congregation in the middle of the night to its present site on Fred Christman’s ranch on Deadman creek. The logs were covered with clapboards and painted white and a small steeple was added at that time. In 1889 the Methodists abandoned the church and for three years no services were held. In 1893 Reverend Franklin Moore took charge of the church and a Presbyterian church was organized, he continued as the Reverend until the early 1900’s (somewhere around 1913). There is also record of a Reverend W.H. Schurman who sponsored Bible Study and Sunday school, meeting in private homes and the schoolhouse. Also, a Reverend Straight and Reverend Hall were ministers here in the 1900’s. The church continued as a Presbyterian church for several years until it became non-denominational. Others who ministered here for shorter periods of time approximately 1913 to 1938 were Reverend Cecil Bear, Reverend Cfichton, Reverend Parsons, Reverend Milnus, Reverend Young, Reverend Reiser, Reverend Holliars, Reverend Heineke and Reverend Elmer Parker. Reverend Marcus Grether and Reverend Herb Grether conducted services in the early 1950’s followed by Reverend Donald Watkins, with Mountain Missions, then Reverend Phil Dunford, Reverend Daniel Arensmeier, and Reverend Tim Arensmeier, Pastor Steve Ratzlaff, Pastor Ken Hall and Pastor Richard Groh. The Church also took great pride in ordaining its own ministers Pastor Bob Spence and Pastor Paul Matosky. The church is blessed to have Pastor Rex Russell as the current pastor. The Congregation recently decided to have a full time minister and return to having weekly services.
A number of people have been baptized in the Church, in the earlier years of the church some insisted on immersion when Deadman Creek carried more water. A cradle roll that dated back to the early 1920’s hung on the back wall of the church with the names of all the children that had been baptized, it was destroyed in the fire of November 2003, a picture of the original now hangs in its place.
The first burial in a cemetery was that of a soldier killed by Indians in the late 1860’s and buried near the Stage Station. A prospector who was found shot on upper Deadman was buried in the 1870’s across from the Christman ranch buildings not far from the church, the third was that of a Mr. Berrie, who was shot in a quarrel about 1885. The first three burials resulted from shootings. It was long the boast of old timers that Virginia Dale was so healthful a place that in order to be an up to date community it was necessary to shoot a man to start a cemetery.
Virginia Dale Community Church in 1879-1880.
Land was donated by Fred Christman.
Services were held to the best of our knowledge each Sunday morning up until the late 1940’s. In the late 1950’s services were changed and held only once a month, and moved to evening services in order for the area ranchers to have adequate daylight to feed the cattle and take care of their stock. Services are now held every Sunday at 4 p.m.
The Church has been maintained and cared for by the congregation of the Virginia Dale Community. The congregation has been as few as 4-6 in the 1970’s and as large as 60-70 in the 1940’s. Our regular congregation now is about 25.
An arsonist fire destroyed the Church on the night of November 15, 2003. With the help of close to 500 cash donors and area businesses who generously donated building supplies; countless hours spent by church members and volunteers who lent their skills and time a new Church was built to a replica of the old Church and services were held again March 14, 2004. Just 4 months after the old Church burned. Many thanks are due to everyone who helped to rebuild this beautiful church, there is no possible way to tell everyone how much we appreciated their help and what it meant to us. The arsonist received a sentence of nine years for his crime.
The first service was a service filled with tears of joy for the blessing of a new church and tears of sadness for a loss of the beautiful old church that held so many memories of ancestry, good times and fellowship for all of us. On April 4th, 2004, the first wedding was held in the new church.
The church has been blessed by a charitable giving congregation that is more than willing to help neighbors here and around the world if the need arises.
As always each church service at the Virginia Dale Community Church is opened with a prayer and our favorite hymn, “Little White Church in the Dale”.