Skip to Content

News

Cultural Heritage Center Program to Focus on Critical Role of Early Churches in South Dakota History

Cultural Heritage Center Program to Focus on Critical Role of Early Churches in South Dakota History

The importance of early churches in the history of South Dakota will be highlighted in a program at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre at 7 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Everyone is welcome to attend the free program.

“Early churches in South Dakota were more than a place of worship. They brought people together and became gathering points in times of celebration or crisis,” said Catherine Forsch, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. The foundation and the South Dakota Historical Society Press are sponsoring the program as part of the History and Heritage Book Club.

The program draws on the book “Early Churches in South Dakota” by Robert W. Sebesta, published in the summer of 2018 by the South Dakota Historical Society Press. The book features photographs and short histories of some churches from each decade from the 1870s to the 1920s, with additional photographs of the more than 650 churches built before 1930 in South Dakota.

Guest speakers will be Brad Tennant, professor of history at Presentation College in Aberdeen, and Liz Almlie, historic preservation specialist with the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Tennant will focus on ethnic influences and early churches in South Dakota, while Almlie will discuss common church architecture as covered in her essay for “Early Churches in South Dakota.”

“During the early settlement of Dakota Territory and South Dakota, it became common for immigrants to settle near others who shared the same bonds of language, customs and religion,” Tennant said. “Consequently, churches played an increasingly significant role in South Dakota’s emerging towns and rural communities. Upon the construction of the local church, community members not only had a place of worship, but the church also stood as a center for many social events. In short, the local church often reflected the ethnic identity of its local congregants and served as a means of preserving their cultural heritage.”

Copies of “Early Churches in South Dakota” are available at the Heritage Stores at the Cultural Heritage Center and the Capitol.

Please call 605-773-6006 for more information about the program or how to join the program remotely.

About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit www.history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.

About the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation
The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation is a private charitable nonprofit that seeks funding to assist the South Dakota State Historical Society in programming and projects to preserve South Dakota’s history and heritage for future generations.