A Brief History of our Congregation
Over the years Oswego Presbyterian Church has built or expanded eight times to meet the needs of the congregation and the community. The Oswego Presbyterian Church was established on March 13, 1853. The first congregation met in a stone building located at the corner of Madison and Washington which is now the current site of the Church of the Good Shepard. In 1857, a new "little white church" was built at the fork of Madison and Douglas Streets, where our long-time parishioner Virginia Campbell lived until her passing at age 101. At the dedication of the building, enough pledges were received to cover its full cost of $700. The article in the Kendall Courier about the church dedication says: "The service was solemn, lively and interesting".
In 1902, the little white church was later moved to a new location at the corner of Maple and Madison. In 1914 it was completely remodeled into a brick church. The "Annex", completed in 1939, was the final addition to the church at this site. This is the current site of Community Christian Church.
In 1958, Mr. and Mrs. G.C. Bartholomew gave five acres of land on the northern outskirts of Oswego to the Presbyterian Church which led to building of the current site on Rt 25. The congregation moved to a new building on here in 1966. In 1991, this building was expanded to add classroom facilities. Since then, the Christian Education and Youth programs have dramatically expanded to include many more education and service ministries - ministries that were able to grow because of the facilities provided by the building addition. In 2003 the Session of OPC formed a committee to explore options for another expansion of our building and facilities noting that our two Sunday worship meetings were full to overflowing and our Sunday school classes had expanded beyond the current classrooms and were being held in fellowship hall and the manse. In addition, Our God's Gifts Preschool had just been started and needed improved facilities to meet state code.
In 2005 our Building in Faith capital campaign was launched and pledges of $1,300,000 plus $850,000 in estate pledges were received. In 2008 we had our ground breaking on the expansion project with estimated cost of $3.75M. On May 23, 2010 we had our Expansion Dedication and Celebration Service. We give thanks for our new and revised spaces for His glory!
A Recent History of our Clergy
In 1983 Rev. Bob McQuilken became the Pastor at Oswego Presbyterian Church and stayed until he retired in 2000 as a much loved minister of God and valued member of the community. In 1996 Rev. Leon Aalberts joined the church as Associate Pastor to help Pastor Bob serve our growing and active congregation. In 2002, Pastor Terrance Hennesy became our first Head of Staff and nurtured the activities of a host of teams and groups within the church including the adult and children's choirs, a growing Sunday School, God's Gifts Pre-School, Puppet Ministry, Pathways for young families and several small study groups. After Rev. Aalbert's retirement in early 2010, Rev. Jack Lilley joined the staff as Temporary Associate Pastor to supplement, complement and lead among the many ministries of the church. In 2012, OPC called Pastor Kim Hulen to serve as the first female member of our clergy, in the role of Associate Pastor. While her service to the church began with a focus on pastoral care and small group ministries, she provided invaluable leadership and stability in the absence of a called pastor when Pastor Terry left OPC to continue his pastoral career in Wisconsin in 2014. In 2015 Pastor Conley Zomermaand came to us from Ohio to serve as our interim pastor while we searched for new head of staff. He was with us through January 2017 when we said a fond farewell. And we bid another fond farewell to Pastor Kim in February 2018 when she went back to her teaching career.
On January 30, 2017 we finally welcomed our latest senior pastor/head of staff, Skip Shaffer. "One of the greatest privileges of being a pastor is that we are invited into the personal lives of the people we serve at very private, often very intimate moments. Joining the family circle for births and deaths, weddings and funerals, anniversaries and other celebrations, means that we not only represent the church, but are ambassadors for Christ as well. Even in larger congregations, most ministry begins on a very personal level.”
As both a pastor and professor, the Rev. Dr. Richard J. Shaffer Jr. has had a lifelong passion for serving Jesus Christ and for helping others to discover how they can more deeply follow in faith. Known as Skip to everyone who has known him for at least five minutes, he is a graduate of Drake University and the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Following seminary, he served as pastor of congregations in Vail, Iowa and Worthington, Minnesota.