|Scotland United Church of Christ
Merge with Jesus | Scotland, South Dakota
© 2011 Scotland United Church of Christ | All rights reserved.
It's all about merging our faith with Jesus and each other.
First Congregational Church of Scotland
In 1882 Rev. Henry Hetzler, a German Congregational pastor from Muscatine, Iowa was assigned to be a
missionary to the Russian Germans in the southeastern Dakota Territory. Rev. Hetzler was an ambitious
church planter for the German Congregational movement among the Russian German settlers in the
Scotland area. On January 16, 1884 Rev. Hetzler met with a gathering of 16 people to covenant together to
form the Neuburg German Congregational Church. In the evening of the same day, a new church with six
charter members was organized in Scotland under the name First Congregational Church.
Both congregations held their services in the homes of their members for a number of years before they
were able to build their first houses of worship. However, both congregations soon felt the need of a church
home and erected their church buildings in 1887. The Neuburg church was constructed four miles south
and four miles west of Scotland, while the First Congregational built their worship facility in the town of
In the year of their organization, the two congregations associated themselves with three other churches to
form the Congregational Parish of Scotland. These congregations were the Simentahl Congregational
Church near Kaylor, the Hoffnungstal Congregational Church near Tripp and the Petersburg Congregational
Church near Lesterville. The Scotland German Congregational Parish called its first full-time minister, Rev.
Hetzler, who had been most helpful in founding these churches.
Under the parish arrangement, each church received the services of the pastor every fifth Sunday. On the
other four Sundays, Sunday School was conducted and this was followed by a worship service during which
one of the deacons read a written sermon. The worship services were conducted entirely in the German
In 1891, Rev. William J. Schmalle, pastor of the Scotland German Congregational Parish, founded the
Deutsche (German) Congregational Church of Tyndall. In 1894 Rev. John Sattler, (who in 1896 also
founded the Worms Congregational Church near Lesterville) became the church's pastor and oversaw the
construction of its church building in 1897. He served the church until his death on September 27,1925. In
1927, less than two years after his death, the congregation dissolved its ministry, sold its church building,
and most of its members transferred into the Neuburg Congregational Church. The church's cemetery,
established in 1894 and located four miles south and eleven miles west of Scotland, was eventually
abandoned and has come to be known as the abandoned Wittmeier Cemetery. Rev. Sattler's widow, Paulina
Sattler, eventually joined the Scotland Congregational Church where she remained until her death in 1960.
In 1904 the General Conference of the German Congregational Church published the German
Congregational Catechism for use among member congregations for faith instruction. The new Catechism
blended ideas from Luther's Small Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism. The Scotland and Neuburg
churches readily adopted the Catechism into the life of their congregations. The Catechism was taught in
German for a number of years as evidenced by this copy of the Catechism owned by a church member.
Combined Confirmation classes for the Scotland Congregational Parish were held at the First German
Congregational Church in Scotland and were taught by the shared Parish Pastor. The Rite of Confirmation
was held as a joint service at the Scotland City Hall with members from all of the Parish churches attending.
View a photo gallery of the Confirmation Classes held by the Scotland German Congregational Parish.
Music played an important role in the life of the congregations. The Neuburg church had a Men's Chorus
that was especially talented and filled the sanctuary with music and praise.
During the late 1940's it became ever more evident that the Scotland and Neuburg congregations desired to
receive the services of the pastor more often. Consequently the members began considering a union of the
two congregations. Finally, on July 23, 1950, under the pastorate of Rev. Richard Rieger, the Neuburg
congregation voted to unite with the Scotland congregation and together make plans to rebuild and enlarge
the Scotland church building so that it might accommodate the larger congregation. At that point the
Neuburg church building was sold and ground was broken for the new location of the Scotland church on
August 16, 1950. On August 23 - 24 the old Scotland church building was moved from its location on Curry
Street to the new location, leaving the parsonage behind. The dedication of the remodeled and expanded
church facility was observed on May 27, 1951. View the church's sanctuary here.
For many years, worship was held in German, though English eventually became the dominant language of
the congregation. Still, even as late as 1956, the congregation offered a second worship service at 2:30 in
the afternoon for those who preferred to sing in the German tongue, as evidenced by the church sign in this
In 1962, under the pastorate of Rev. Elmer Bettenhausen, the members of First Congregational Church of
Scotland began seriously thinking about reorganizing their church and uniting it with the two other area
German Congregational churches of the Scotland Congregational Parish and Bethany Evangelical &
Reformed Church to form a new United Church of Christ parish in Scotland. In March 1963 members of the
congregation voted to enter into union with their sister churches and the Reformed Church on the condition
that the German Congregational Catechism would continue to remain foundational in the life and teaching of
the new congregation. On March 3, 1965 the members of the Scotland Congregational church united with all
of their German Congregational and Reformed counterparts for the first time in a combined worship service
in the brand new worship facility built by the four congregations to house the United Church of Christ of
The church bell from the old First Congregational Church of Scotland now resides in the bell tower on the
campus of the United Church of Christ. The old church's altar is now located in the lower level of our current
building, while the altar cross sits upon the altar in our sanctuary. The cemetery of the old Neuburg
Congregational Church still marks the location of this predecessor congregation and is owned and
maintained by members of the Scotland congregation. One of the benches from the front entrance of the
church now resides in our current church building. The lawn of the old Neuburg Church property is
occasionally used by our church's youth ministry for camp-outs and other outdoor programming.
View the complete listings of pastors who served the Scotland German Congregational Parish and Tyndall
German Congregational Church here.