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Lord's Acre Day celebrated at Archer

By Renae B. Vander Shaaf
agripen@live.com

Date Modified: 11/28/2012 8:34 AM

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ARCHER, Iowa — A tradition has continued for 61 years at the United Methodist Church in Archer. Most often celebrated the last Saturday of October, Lord's Acre Day begins with a worship service, continues with a dinner, bazaar, silent auction, parade, children's fishing pond and a bidding auction.

About a dozen members who were at the first Lord's Acre Day were present when the 2012 event was held.

Ninety-year-old Carl Akeson attended the first one.

"It started as a fund raiser with the intention of raising money for a remodel job,'' he said. "But instead we decided to go all the way and build a new building."

It was agreed that farmers would set aside the profits of one acre for the church. Most members were involved with agriculture at that time.

Farmers brought wagons filled with ear corn town. After the church service and meal, a parade included the tractors pulling full wagons. Other participants shelled corn and delivered it to the elevator.

Corn shelling took place at the Orlin Henspeter farm west of town said church member Shirley Thornton. The 80-year-old says the menu has never changed in all the years — chicken, buns, beans and pies.

Betty Johnson, age 87, says farmers chose the acre that would be set aside in the spring. Others donated hogs or sheep. The minister would bless the soil and seed.

Akeson remembers bringing pigs in a pen on the back of his John Deere A. He spent a lot of time watching the latch to make sure the young boys didn't open it. The town locker donated the butchering.

Church women — then and now — still bring embroidered dish towels, knitted and crocheted wash cloths, afghans and scarves, baked goods and more for bazaar and silent auction. Quilts made by women of the church are auctioned off with other donated items.

A new church was built in 1961 after a decade of fund raising. Lord's Acre Day has continued. Some years it is used for missions, special projects; last year for new windows and other major maintenance on the church building. This is the major fundraising event for the church.

This was Cory Flanigan first experience as minister of the church. She came on staff July 1 and serves the church jointly with The United Church of Primghar.

"It is good to take a day out of the year," said Flanigan. "To thank God for the blessing we have received. All our gifts from God. There is one God. The best gift of all is eternal life that is found in God alone."

Included in the church service is a presentation of gifts: Soil, grain, livestock, labor, garden produce, homemaking and talents.

Laura Ledger, Cedar Rapids, is just one of many who comes back every year.

"It is a homecoming for many of us,'' she said. "It is a wonderful place, a close-knit community. It still feels like home."