Beliefs & History

Mission Statement of the First Presbyterian Church of Pardeeville

“Our mission is to be a caring community of God’s people who live by Christ’s teachings,
reach out to others to share the love of God,
and celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, thought, and action.”


The Foundation of the Presbyterian Faith

          Presbyterianism was originally brought about over the struggle to bring the Protestant Reformation to the masses. Martin Luther, nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, largely due to his offense to the indulgences that were being promoted within the Catholic church at that time. Later, John Calvin led the Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland.   

          John Calvin, a 16th century French scholar, was passionate about interpreting the ancient texts. He became aligned with Martin Luther over concerns regarding reformation of the Roman Catholic Church. Calvin gained notoriety in 1536 with his writings the “Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Calvin preached for a time in Geneva and then was a Pastor in Strassburg, France. He returned to Geneva in 1541 and led the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin advocated a "Presbyterian" form of government within the church which meant that it would be lead by a group of "presbyters" or "elders". Under this rule, local churches are governed by the elders that are chosen by their congregation. The churches in a region form a "presbytery". Larger groupings of the churches represent a "Synod", and all together the churches are under the umbrella of the "General Assembly". 


How it breaks down:

Local Church (such as the First Presbyterian Church of Pardeeville)
Presbytery (John Knox in Richland Center, WI)
Synod (Synod of Lakes and Prairies in St Paul, MN)
General Assembly 

          Much of the founding principles laid out by John Calvin still ring true with Presbyterian beliefs, such as the sovereignty of God, the justification by grace through faith and priesthood of all believers, and the authority of the scripture. Presbyterians believe that God is the supreme ruler over the whole universe. Our salvation through Jesus is the result of God's gift to us and isn't a result of our own works and accomplishments.           

          John Knox, a colleague of John Calvin, took Calvin's' teachings back to Scotland with him where it grew and spread, throughout Scotland and into England, France, and Holland and later into the United States into what the denomination is today.

          Today, Presbyterians have much respect for Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox largely due to their paving the way for how we have come to worship Christ today as Presbyterians. Today the Presbyterian Church (USA) has more than 2 ½ million members worldwide.

Our Church History

          On January 6, 1857, a small group of citizens led by Rev. S. H. Barteau, met and felt the need for a regular place of worship. The confession of faith and the covenant of the Presbyterian and Congregational Conventions of Wisconsin were then adopted and it was voted on to organize as a Presbyterian congregation (and the name developed thereafter).

          In the spring of 1857 a Sunday school was organized and they held classes except during the winter months.

          The church itself was erected in 1865 after two years of building, with some areas still under construction due to the men having to leave to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.

          In those early years a great many different preachers and ministers filled the pulpit. Some made only one appearance, some for a year or so, and others made a go of it by preaching at two or three different area churches, traveling via horseback from one to the next.

In 1898 the church hired its first resident pastor in order to have regular weekly services to serve the community and experience growth in the membership.

          Many families can trace their roots back to this church and throughout the years the Presbyterian Church has been a leading force in our community. There has been (and still is) at least one member of this church on the Pardeeville Village Board.

          The building itself has stood as a landmark in the community, a witness to the Christian faith, and often has been the subject of photography or sketching by tourists passing through the village. The State Historical Society designated it as an historical landmark in 1978, and in 1980 it was entered into the National Register of Historic Sites by the Department of Interior, Washington, D.C. for its age and particular type of architecture.

          This history as reported herein showcases just the early start of our church and it is merely the early chapters of a long history yet to be experienced, if it be the Lord’s will.

(The above text was adapted from accounts noted in historical archives located at the First Presbyterian Church.)