Our History

First United Church of Christ is a member of the denomination of the United Church of Christ. From its founding in 1914 through today, our church has continued to thrive in worship and ministry, both locally and globally. Our members include people from all walks of life and many different denominational traditions. Together, we seek to live out Jesus’ commandment “to love God with all your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

“No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here”

First United Church of Christ in Belleville, Wisconsin was formed by mostly Swiss settlers after a number of mission churches were started in surrounding communities beginning with New Glarus in 1849. The Belleville mission was the fourth to become part of a parish of four churches. Beginning with the assistance of the Board of Home Mission, Rev. A.H. Muehlmeier of Monticello first organized a Sunday School and then a congregation in Dayton. Its forty-four charter members formed Emmanuel Reformed Church at the Dayton Methodist Church on June 29, 1911. Rev. Muehlmeier and a student of the Home Mission, (now Lakeland College), served the group in its first year. By 1912, the Mt. Vernon Mission organized and called Rev. F.H. Hoernemann who settled in Belleville. Mt. Vernon shared the charge – (a charge is the call of a single pastor to lead one or more congregations) with Dayton. After a group of Swiss families from New Glarus and Monticello moved to the Paoli area about 1900, thirty-five of this group founded the Zwingli Reformed Church of Paoli in 1913. This congregation became a third member of the charge in that year. The congregation purchased the present Zwingli Church from the Methodists in 1914. 

In 1914, the Belleville mission joined the charge as First Reformed Church. Fifty-six charter members adopted a constitution and elected their church council on November 24, 1914. Between 1914 and 1928, the congregation met in the Presbyterian Church in Belleville, now the American Legion Hall. At the end of 1918, thirty members of the Dayton Church joined First Reformed Church, closing Emmanuel Reformed Church. First Reformed Church's strong ethnic character was revealed by their use of German in the annual minutes until 1921. The worship services were conducted in German only until 1925, and then alternated weekly between English and German until 1932.

In 1923, the Mt. Vernon Church joined the Verona Church to form their own charge until 1981. The Albany Church joined the Belleville/Paoli charge in 1929 until joining with the Monticello church in 1953. From 1953-1997, First Church and Zwingli Church, Paoli continued to share a charge, yoked through the ministry of a shared pastor. Now all of our congregations carry out their own vibrant ministries with pastors in full or part-time charge. However, our connections with one another remain strong, and in covenantal relationship through the Southwest Association of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ.

In 1957, two national denominations – the Evangelical and Reformed Church, and Congregational Christian Churches – merged to become the United Church of Christ. With that merger, First Reformed Church in Belleville adopted a new name, First United Church of Christ.

Pastors who have served First United Church of Christ

Rev. Laura Davison Kolden

2019 - present

Interim Pastor Laura Crow

2018 - 2019

Interim Rev. Kenneth Schaub

2017 - 2018

Rev. Heide Walker Hackman

2005 - 2016

Interim Rev. Beryl Melcher

2004 - 2005

Rev. William McIntyre

1999 - 2004

Interim Rev. Michael Campbell

1997 - 1998

Rev. Donald Nelson

1987 - 1997

Rev. Howard Beil

1953 - 1986

Rev. Harvey Norenberg

1939 - 1952

Rev. Carl Flueckinger

1929 - 1939

Rev. Victor Grosshuesch

1924 - 1928

Rev. George Grether

1922 - 1923

Rev. Fred Hoernemann

1914 - 1922

The congregation and pastors of First Church faithfully seek to serve God. Through the years the church building has grown to meet the changing and growing faith of First United Church of Christ. The original church was built in 1927, the corner stone was laid in September 1927. The new building dedication occurred on January 8, 1928. In 1955 to 1956, the church was remodeled with a furnace, restrooms and a pastor’s study at the entrance of the church. In 1960, a Christian Education wing at the rear of the church was added. The new wing included the remodeling of the sanctuary, church school rooms, a storage room and a new pastor’s study. Between 1964-1985 stained glass windows were installed throughout the sanctuary through memorials. The present organ and carillon were installed in 1977. In 1988, the sanctuary was remodeled through memorial gifts. Completed in 2001, the church added the Rev. Howard Beil Fellowship Hall and elevator to make the church building fully accessible. Our beautiful sanctuary seats 140 worshippers on the main level and 30 in the balcony.

We continue to make improvements to our building so that it will be a welcoming place for our congregation and community groups to gather. In recent years we've installed a new state-of-the-art kitchen, added a baby grand piano to our sanctuary, designed an outdoor Prayer Garden, and renovated our Sunday School spaces.

In March of 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic prompted us to imagine new ways of connecting with one another. New technology enabled us to worship together online and eventually transition to a hybrid worship format. Looking forward, we continue to grow into new ways of coming together as Christ's church.