Then: In 1873, when only seven buildings comprised the entire village of Hastings, seven men assembled on a hot August day to organize a church whose cornerstone was to be "the communal spirit of the plains."
The founding fathers sat on benches made of blocks and scrap wood and listened to founding pastor Rev. James A. Griffes speak from a pulpit crafted from a barrel.
The First United Presbyterian Church was born.
Now: Dark wood paneling, colorful stained glass and gentle sunlight engulfs the main sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church in a spirit of peace that calls to mind the decades of faith-based stories, sermons and memories created in the historic walls.
The stately sanctuary that has housed plays, weddings, college ceremonies, holiday programs and Sunday services for 100 years will once again gather the faithful for the celebration of the church's 140th anniversary on Sunday.
The church will continue the 140th celebration throughout the year by inviting eight of its former pastors and associate pastors back to give sermons. Three associate pastors are scheduled to speak this fall and the rest will visit next year.
"It's a way for us to rekindle those friendships and commemorate the spirit of our community," said Rev. Dr. Bill Nottage-Tacey, the church's current senior pastor who began his patronage in 2003.