A Brief History of Wildwood Presbyterian Church

Wildwood Presbyterian Church was established in 1954 by sixty-six men and women to provide for the spiritual welfare of the community. The original meeting place was the Pink Beach House, a community center on the shores of Gages Lake in what is now Willow Point Park. Wildwood was originally the summer home of the Sears (of Sears and Roebuck) family, and in 1955 John and Dorothy Rule donated the old Sears family barn to be remodeled as the first permanent home of the church.

The renovated “Barn” was the location for worship and all WPC activities until a red brick sanctuary was built on the same property in 1974. The “Barn” and sanctuary were linked with a new Christian Education facility in 1994. The church had grown to over 400 members in 1998, making necessary the renovation of the sanctuary to allow more seating space. Community mission projects were begun in this period that continue to this day, including a food pantry, weekday preschool, Alzheimer’s respite care program, and PADS, in which the church served as a homeless shelter one night each week.

The church continued to grow, and leaders considered the bold step of finding a new location. An extensive search for property yielded few possibilities until a representative of J. Emil Anderson and Son, Inc., called with an offer to donate five acres of land less than a mile from the church’s site on Sears Boulevard. This gracious gift led to the construction of a new church beginning in the fall of 2005.

On May 12, 2007, the “Come Build A Church” campaign reached a triumphant moment when an armada of minivans and pickup trucks driven by church folk moved all the church’s belongings in less than four hours to its new home on on Old Gages Lake Road. One week later the first worship service was held in the Fellowship Hall. The new church was dedicated with a grand celebration on Sunday, September 16, 2007.

Benefiting from the building designed to accommodate their needs the ministries of the Food Pantry, Tiny Treasures Preschool, ExtraCare program for families dealing with Alzheimer’s, and PADS homeless shelter all flourished in the new space. Our congregation grew to over 550 members and supported many new and reinvigorated missions from this place. We’ve become a polling place for elections. We offer the congregation and community a place for youth and other congregational and community group gatherings, a monthly coffeehouse with wonderful music, and educational lectures. WPC is home base to a large and growing scouting ministry, and provides space to the Cancer Wellness organization which provides non-medical services for free to cancer patients and their families. Middle School youth and adult mission trips, in addition to the traditional High School mission trips, have been added to our outreach to the world and we’ve supported some international projects such as the Haiti Cite Soleil Community School.

The words above tell a tale of bricks and mortar, but it’s actually a story of flesh and blood people with faith in a living God who calls us to make a difference. That history continues to be written under the steeple on Old Gages Lake Road, where oldtimers, newcomers, and everyone in between seek to be God’s glad and faithful people. There’s always room for more!