The Steelville Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized under the leadership of the Reverend Mr. John E. Braley. Though various groups held services from time to time, it seems that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was the first church organized in the village of Steelville. For five or six years, the services of worship were held in the Crawford County court-house and, occasionally in the Steelville schoolhouse. In 1850, the church began to use, as a place of worship, the seminary building erected by the Presbytery of St. Louis of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church on the lot where the Community Building now stands.
Then on July 1, 1873, a committee was appointed by the church Session to procure property on which to build a church house. The Session voted favorably on the committee’s recommendation to accept S. B. Brickey’s donation of Lot 40, located at the corner of High Street and College Street (now First Street), in Brickey’s Addition to the town of Steelville. It was not, however, until July 17, 1874, that the Session instructed a building committee to begin collecting the necessary funds and to contract for the building of the church house.
The new building – completed at a total cost of $2,800 – was dedicated on November 12, 1876. This building was re-modeled in 1912 and had a basement dug under it about 1933 (see the Groundhog Supper history). It served the congregation as a house of worship and study until November 25, 1957, when it was badly damaged by fire of undetermined origin. Almost immediately after the fire, the congregation appointed a special committee to study the needs and the financial circumstances of the church, and later, upon the recommendation of that committee, it approved the construction of a new church building on the site of the old one.
The new church, designed by Hunter and Hunter Associates, Architects, was built by Loomis Construction Co., Potosi, Missouri. The church of modern design of native stone was built at a cost of approximately $115,000. The church was dedicated on Sunday, September 13, 1959 in a service of public worship. Between 400 and 500 were on hand for the special services and the Dedicatory sermon preached by Dr. W. Sherman Skinner, pastor of SEcond Presbyterian Church in St. Louis. In addition to those seated in the nave, chancel area and parlor, an additional 100 or better heard the services over the facilities of the public address system in Roper Fellowship Hall.
Roper Fellowship Hall was named in honor of Rev. and Mrs. Sam L. Roper. Mr. Roper served the congregation as pastor from 1914 to 1921 and from 1929 to 1953. “Uncle Sam” as he was affectionately known to both church and community is remembered for his close identification with the life of the people – particularly the youth of the community. His prowess as a fisherman was recognized throughout the area and he used his escapades on the river bank to good advantage, by teaching young people how to fish. He also used the occasion to talk over their problems with them. On the 35th anniversary of Uncle Sam’s pastorate, the St. Louis Post Dispatch carried a half page article entitled “Uncle Sam Fishes For Souls From The River Bank”.
We Dedicate This House
TO THE LORD, The King of Creation;
TO CHRIST, The Head of the Church;
TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, God abiding with us;
TO WORSHIP, Pure and wholehearted;
TO THE WORD OF GOD, Fearlessly preached and humbly heard;
TO THE TRUTH, Honestly sought, and earnestly embraced;
TO WORK, Of the hand and of the heart;
TO SERVICE, Of the hand and of the heart;
TO PURPOSES, Ordained of God through the Church Universal.