One can do nothing less than bow in gratitude in considering the work of God among the local assemblies across the face of the earth. Our blessed Lord taught truth relative to the assembly, so we should stand with convictions from His Word. The Acts and the Epistles confirm the doctrine and practices of the New Testament assembly, and we bow in wonder and appreciation that testimony can still be borne for God.
Wisconsin presently has ten lampstands, the oldest being LaCrosse. They first gathered to break bread on June 9, 1890. The two prominent men in the beginning were Mr. H. A. Redpath and Mr. Alexander Matthews. Mr. Redpath was saved among the Baptists in St. Thomas, Ontario, in 1875, and moved to LaCrosse in 1887. He met Mr. Matthews and saw the truth of gathering to the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. They first gathered in Mr. Redpath’s home and continued there until they acquired a building used by several denominations. The denominations lost interest in the use of the building, and it became the property of the assembly in 1900. It was the gathering place until the move to a more commodious building on Sept 1, 1993.
Evidently, in the first few years of the assembly, the numbers were small. However, in 1895, Mr. Matthews put up a tent in LaCrosse, and a good number were saved and added to the local church. In 1917, Mr. Sam Hamilton and Mr. William Gould came to a conference and afterwards had meetings in Dakota, Minnesota. Again, souls were saved. Mr. Gould had to leave and Mr. Robert McCracken continued with Mr. Hamilton for several weeks. It was at this time that Mr. Hamilton himself stopped his employment and went into full time work for God. The next year he had meetings in LaCrosse with souls professing, one being the young woman who would become his wife. In 1919, a good number were saved as he preached in Woodman Hall in Onalaska, and God blessed in the following year as well, resulting in many being added to the assembly. Our brother was faithful and God used him mightily.
The assembly has about forty in fellowship today. It is commendable that the first conference was in May of 1895, and they continue this annual event with God’s help.
In 1924. Mr. Mick and Mr. Hamilton held the first gospel meeting in Grant County in Cassville, about twelve miles south of Beetown. Souls were saved and baptized. In 1925, they preached the gospel, and God worked. An assembly was planted, and they broke bread first on October 31. 1926. They met in the old town hall until a Gospel Hall was constructed in 1951. Other men who labored in early days were Mr. L. McBain, Mr. Elgie Jamison, whose family was from Beetown, Mr. George Gould, and Mr. Warke. Although many have gone to be with Christ, about twenty believers host a one-day conference on Labor Day.
Mr. Archie Stewart and Mr. Stephen Mick took the gospel to Black Earth on May 20, 1927. They held their first meetings in Woodman Hall in the middle of town. The hall was filled nightly, and nine professed. Later, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Stewart had nine weeks of meetings in the home of Mrs. Luckey and twelve professed. In 1928, they had tent meetings and ten professed. Mr. Jost Hoesli came to see if judgment was being preached. It was his way of determining if the truth was proclaimed, and he was saved during his first meeting. With this series came hostilities, physical violence, and a movement among the people to get the preachers to leave. The first baptism, attended by about 500, saw twelve obey the Lord. Some of the believers traveled to Beetown to break bread. Shortly after ministry meetings by Mr. Warke and Mr. Hamilton in the winter of 1932, twelve broke bread for the first time in Black Earth. A new hall was constructed in 1986. While some have become part of the assembly at Waukesha, thirty-five believers presently are in fellowship.
Five assemblies were planted in nine years in southern Wisconsin. Blue River being one of them. On July 6, 1932 Mr. Stephen Mick and Mr. Charles Summers from Tocoma, WA, pitched a tent in the village. The first saved were Anna Zemlicka and her daughter Marie, who is in the assembly to this day. During those meetings, Mrs. Lucy Studnicka went to the doctor with her son and asked the doctor, “What is going on in the tent?” He replied, “Oh, I guess a couple of men are preaching to empty seats.” Curious, they went to the tent and were impressed. She was heard to say, “This is what I have always been looking for.” God began to work in the Studnicka family. Mr. Summers left the first of September, but the meetings continued until the weather turned cold. Nine professed in the first series. Mr. Mick rented a garage to store his tent. It was stolen but recovered by the sheriff. A wealthy man with influence in the community had arranged the theft and hindered Mr. Mick from using the building he had rented for meetings in the winter. However, Mrs. Zemlicka opened her home for two weeks of meetings. Following this, there were meetings in the Garner building. This series resulted in fifteen professing. That winter, more professed, and on May 21, 1933, twenty-six obeyed the Lord in baptism. They sat down to break bread on May 28, 1933, in the Garner building, which was owned by a sister in the assembly. During the year of 1933, the Studnicka brothers cut logs on the family farm and had lumber prepared for the new hall. They gathered in the hall on February 24,1935. The first conference was held the following November.
A new hall was built and used for the first time on the 23rd of January 1986. There are about sixty in fellowship. Five are of the original twenty-six, and we thank God for eleven fourth-generation believers.
Four brethren brought the gospel to Lynxville in 1932. Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Mick, Mr. Jamison, and Mr. Stewart preached the word, and at least six families were reached with the gospel. It is believed that the assembly was formed in 1933. In the 1940’s, many of the Aspenson family were saved, with a good number of them in the assembly in LaCrosse and Mt. Sterling.
In July of 1977, a large cottonwood tree blew down on the Lynxville Hall. A site was acquired in Mt. Sterling, and the new hall was completed in 1978. The Lord has blessed the assembly with twenty-nine in fellowship. The assembly hosts a two-day Bible reading conference every March. It is much appreciated by students of the scriptures.
A Christian at Lake Geneva, WI, asked Mr. Fred W. Mehl to take the gospel to Brodhead. They had relatives for whom they had a spiritual concern. In March of 1935, Mr. Mehl rented the Dawson community hall, a small facility four miles northwest of Brodhead. Money was limited, and he slept in the community building on newspapers. The gospel made inroads into the religious community. In July of the same year, Mr. Mehl and Mr. Sheldrake pitched a tent in the middle of Brodhead. The town drunk, Orvel Gadow, heard the gospel and was saved and gathered out.
On December 15, 1935, twenty-two Christians broke bread in the Juda area but later moved to Brodhead buying a hall and breaking bread on December 18, 1937. They moved into their present hall in 1966. There are presently thirty in fellowship.
Black River Falls
Mr. Sam Hamilton held gospel meetings in the Pine Hills schoolhouse in 1926 and in another area school a little later, both south of Black River Falls. Others labored in this area as well, including Mr. Elgie Jamison and Mr. Walter Elgies. Brother Elgies had meetings in a Shamrock Hall in 1949 or 1950. He had a heart attack while preaching and went to be with Christ.
The assembly first broke bread in the summer of 1941, in the home of Henry Gaede. On August 11, 1944, a suitable building was found for a hall. It was about nine miles south of Black River Falls and often was referred to as the Pine Hill Gospel Hall. A more accommodating building was purchased in Black River Falls in 1991.
Gospel preaching activity began in several communities around Ontario in 1952. Those involved were Mr. Chauncey Yost, Mr. Alex Studnicka, and Mr. Louis Brandt. As Mr. Yost was to be gone for a while, Paul Elliot was sought out to help Alex. A tent was pitched in Ontario on a Saturday afternoon and a street meeting was held that evening. About seventy-five came and listened. The Baptist minister told Alex he was glad for meetings on Sunday because he sure couldn’t get anyone to come. Lee Stenerson, now in the LaCrosse assembly, came because he thought no one else would come, and wanted to support the preachers a little. He was spoken to by the Two Roads-Two Destinies chart and got “located.” He was one of ten who professed in the first series at Ontario.
The first baptism was August 16, 1953. A second one was held on November 1 of the same year. The work continued, and they broke bread first in an old barbershop on July 5, 1954. Work on a hall was finished in the winter of 1956. Brethren from Blue River and LaCrosse provided a lot of labor. Much blessing in this area has been seen over the years and God has been pleased to add to the assembly.
The gospel was first preached here in Door County by Mr. Lorne Mitchell and Mr. George Patterson in 1988. God came in and worked in several families for His own pleasure. A little later on, Mr. Joel Portman labored in the work there, as well as the three full-time men who labor in Wisconsin. After Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Patterson had a series on assembly principles, the assembly broke bread for the first time. The preachers and eight believers remembered their Lord at Egg Harbor on January 22,1995, in the community center. The little company would value prayers of God’s people for continued blessing.
After Mrs. Stephen Mick’s funeral, lunch was served in the Blue River Gospel Hall. Some of her relatives lived in the Waukesha area and seemed to have an interest in spiritual things. At this time, only her daughter professed to be saved. A few gospel meetings were held at the YWCA building by two Blue River brethren, beginning in June of 1993. Bible readings had preceded the gospel effort. Several souls were restored to the Lord through gospel activity. Other young couples moved into the area. Fourteen were in the Black Earth assembly and drove over ninety miles from Waukesha. In full fellowship with the Black Earth assembly, the believers in the Waukesha area broke bread on July 28,1996.
The assembly is very gospel minded, having a Monday evening children’s work year round and preaching in a health care facility for the elderly. They have appreciated the visits of the brethren who preach the gospel and teach divine truth.
In conclusion, it should humble us to consider God’s work over the past one hundred years. May we depend whole-heartedly on God for preservation, and never have an apathetic attitude like the church at Laodicea, (Rev. 3:17). We need a greater knowledge of the scriptures and a willing and obedient heart to practice truth in our lives for God’s pleasure and our preservation. Ephesus left its first love (Rev 2:4). A measure of our liberty in spiritual things will be lost if we are not loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ. Proof of love to Christ is keeping the Lord’s commandments (John 14:15).