16550 Heron Road
Wadena, IA 52169
563-425-3206 or 425-4256
The Lima Church and Cemetery is a quiet peaceful resting place overlooking the Volga River Valley. Lima Church will be celebrating 130 years in 2012. The church is available for tours, weddings, funerals and family reunions. Located at the east entrance of the Volga River Recreation Area. There is a notable monument located in the Lima Cemetery of John Crawford and his faithful dog "Skinner". It was sculpted in Vermont granite by an Italian sculptor and shipped to Lima by train in 1912. There is also a large boulder at the foot of John Thorp's grave with a plaque stating "I alone could lift this stone."
Rev. S.D. Helms organized the first Lima Congretional Church in 1857, with his wife, and Mr. And Mrs. Ebenezer Hyde and their daughter, Esther. As the community grew, the church membership grew to about 20 members. They met in a small cabin. Later, the church was disbanded. A United Bretheran Church was formed, but that also fell by the wayside.
In 1882, the Lima Church Builders Association was formed with 67 members. The original building was 30 ft. by 40 ft., finished in September 1882 and stood on land deeded to the church by Winslow Stearns. It had originally been planned for the courthouse when it was thought Lima would be named County Seat. When the voted were counted, Lima fell short by 35 votes.
The church was heated by wood stoves until 1910. Rev. Tom Jones held revival meetings boosting the membership. In 1914 a 20 ft x 24 ft addition was added to the east side. Four stained glass windows were installed with the names of four early members: Hensley, Helms, Henry and Stearns. The belfry and bell were also installed in 1914, donated by the church members.
Pastors during that period included John Dawson, Rev. Herrington and T.O. Kent. In the early 1940's, Rev. G.W. Ukena, pastor of the Bethel Presbyterian Church in West Union, conducted Sunday evening services at Lima continuing until 1949. Since then there have been occasional Easter sunrise services, and outdoor summer services. Memorial day services with Wadena American Legion Post #631, providing military color guard, are held every May.
At some time, maybe the 1940's, the ladies began a tradition serving a creamed chicken and homemade baking powder biscuit dinner. All the ladies butchered and cooked the home-grown chickens, taking the meat off the bones and making the gravy. The biscuits were made in homes close to the church with runner stationed at each place.
Sometime in the 1970's the dinners were changed to fall to correspond to the pretty fall leaves in the Volga River Valley and the menu changed to sandwiches, homemade pies and ice cream. Lima Leaf Day is still held the first Sunday in October, serving over 600, with the proceeds used to pay for the mowing of the Lima Cemetery.
The Lima Ladies Aid has raffled a quilt, some made by them, and an afghan each year, sold cookbooks, postcards, poem books and notecards to pay for the upkeep of the Lima Church. Until 1986 this was done with no water at the church. Area farmers filled 10 gallon milk cans with water and hauled them to the church, first with tractor and wagon, then by pickups. By the 1980's the need to replace the outdoor toilets with indoor bathrooms became imminent if the tradition was to be continued. In 1986, a 10 ft x 20 ft addition was built to the northeast corner of the church. A well was drilled and water was piped into the church.
Today the Lima Church and Cemetery continues to be used by the community for special events, funerals, weddings and of course, Lima Leaf Day.