The oldest active church in Winterset is now more than 125 years old. Actually, the building is that old, but the church, just a few miles outside of Winterset, began in the mid 1840s.
“There’s never been a break in fellowship even though it’s changed names many times through the years,” Pastor Terry Kerr says.
Kerr has been the pastor for Oak Grove Community Church, which sits just south of Roseman Bridge on Elderberry Avenue, for the past 20 years. Average attendance at the one-room rural church is around 25 people, although it can seat 60 comfortably. If there are children in attendance, Kerr’s wife or another member, Bev Wilson, teach them Sunday school.
Their existence is usually spread by word of mouth. Most country churches like Oak Grove have gone by the wayside.
“I believe the reason our church is going strong is because it is missions minded. We support several missionaries that keep life in the church,” Kerr says.
The parsonage is used monthly for the men’s and women’s Bible studies. During the week, members attend Wednesday night services.
“We are not program-oriented because we are small,” Kerr says. “But the people in the church are neat and compassionate.”
People in the church do things as the need arises for the kids. They have their Christmas Eve service when people who aren’t regular attenders make a tradition to attend.
“People who have grown up in a small church tend to like it,” Kerr says. “Sometimes during camping season or Covered Bridge Days, we get visitors.”
The parsonage used to sit in a different location. It was moved by a team of horses sometime in the 1940s with the current pastor’s wife still inside sick in bed. One year, when they repainted the church sign, they found all of the different names of the church through the years.
Sermons are posted every week on the church website at www.oakgrove-church.com. The site also highlights its missions outreach.
“Our purpose is to build up the body of Christ so the body can go out and do what it is called to do,” Kerr says.
Kerr is also a police department chaplain and performs jail ministry for the Madison County jail.