Out of Russia
Schill, Rev. Victor. "Out of Russia." Prairies 7, no. 7: June/July 1984, 90-110, 113.
Since the history of St. John’s and St. Andrew’s of
Zeeland and St. David’s of Ashley are intertwined, a general
introduction will serve for all three parishes. With the limited
space, history is necessarily sketchy. Yet the history of any parish
would seem incomplete without some consideration of the causes and
events which led to its beginnings.
With the degeneration of Christianity in Europe, many unfortunate
things led to the split of Christianity in the 16th Century, followed
by the Hugenot Wars in France, the revolt in the Low Countries,
the 30 years of civil war in Germany, and the struggles for the
British Isles, with the numerous squabbles and persecutions. With
Christianity weakened and nothing to hold them in check, the rulers
became absolute monarchs in the 17th century, recognizing no authority
but their own, which led to further suppression of Christianity,
the rapidly growing forces of atheism, and still more wars among
the various rulers.
In the 17th century came the godless French Revolution with its
attempt to suppress all religion, followed by the Napoleonic Wars
which terrorized all Europe. People were simply fed up with the
constant devastating wars, the increase in poverty, religious suppression
and confusion, which gave them great incentive to immigrate to the
new land of America. With America’s establishment of independence
and the guarantee of religious freedom and freedom of speech, a
new nation was born which offered a new life to the downtrodden
and already overpopulated Europe. Vast numbers emigrated from Europe
in search of a new life in America, and before too long the land
east of the Mississippi was largely populated.
In the meantime, for almost four centuries, the Russians had fought
many bitter battles with the Mongols who invaded Russia from the
east, and eventually forced them to return to their own territory,
which left vast areas of land with few inhabitants to the southeast.
By the tame Catherine II came to the throne of Russia in 1762, overpopulated
Europe needed more living space. She offered large areas of land
north of the Black Sea for colonization, and the European countries
Catherine II offered each married couple about 160 acres of free
land (single males, 80 acres) with the option of buying more. To
those who were too poor to move, she offered government loans with
low interest and 20 years to pay to provide transportation and to
buy the basic necessities to get started. As an added incentive,
they would become full citizens of the Russian Empire. They could
form their own local government, without Russian interference, and
would forever be free of military service. To avoid religious conflict,
each separate colony would be formed on the basis of religious persuasion.
With few exceptions all the original villages were either Evangelicals
(mostly Lutheran), or Catholic, or Mennonite, plus a few smaller
groups. This arrangement enabled them to retain their faith, culture,
and language in peace. That trait they brought with them when they
settled in colonies in America.
For many Europeans, this seemed to be an ideal opportunity and
the young were encouraged by their families to make use of it. Consequently,
as many Europeans were migrating to America, many of their blood
relatives chose to go to southeastern Russia to settle in the regions
north of the Black and Caspian seas, with miles and miles of open
land. Little did they realize that their lives in cultured Europe
had left them ill-prepared to start a new life from scratch in an
In their early years, they suffered extreme hardships, and by sheer
necessity were compelled to work together in mutual support. During
the course of a century they came to flourish, build up excellent
farms, orchards, homes, and cities, which were the pride (and later
the envy) of Russia. The Catholics who settled in the Volga and
Odessa regions were mostly from the Palitinate, Alsace Loraine,
North Baden, and Swabian regions.
Through their correspondence with blood relatives in both Europe
and America, they learned that the Great Plains in North America
were open for settlement, and some South America countries were
also advertising land for settlement in the newspapers of Europe.
By the middle of the 18th century, the whole attitude of the Czars
and Russian people had changed towards the Russian-Germans. With
one stroke of the pen, all the guaranteed privileges were cancelled.
In June of 1871, Czar Alexander II issued a decree that the Russian-Germans
would be exempt from military service for only ten more years. In
a later order, the drafting into the military service was to begin
in November of 1874. Although usually shorter, the military service
could last up to 20 years. With the appointment of Russian judges
and magistrates in each village, many of their civil rights and
freedoms were lost. The Russian attitudes were that if these people
didn’t like it, they could pick up their belongings and move
out. That is just what many of them did.
In the spring of 1874, emissaries from both Catholic and non-Catholic
colonies were sent to both Americas in search of land settlements.
Many chose to move to the more moderate climates of South America,
especially in Argentina. The emissaries to North America came to
New York, and received directions to go west. Since these people
liked the arrangements they had in Russia, they sought large tracts
of land to resettle in closed colonies with their own churches and
schools. Finding no large tracts of land available east of the Mississippi,
they came by the southern railroads to the more moderate climates
of Kansas and Nebraska.
In the fall of 1874, 162 Catholic families settled in Kansas, where
their numbers reached to a quarter million within a few years. A
large group of Mennonites settled in Nebraska; and a large group
of Lutherans south of Yankton, South Dakota. Aberdeen became a great
Catholic settlement. In the summer of 1874, some moved to Menno
and Freeman, South Dakota, a town which had just started as a result
of railroad construction. Some Mennonites had already been settled
in that area. Those first groups encouraged others to follow them.
It was nothing unusual for 25,000 people to leave Russia in a single
year. In the meantime, the Scandinavians had also established themselves
in central South Dakota.
Although there was some truth in it, the malicious reports about
the desert of Dakota Territory, with the highly exaggerated
reports about its extreme temperatures, it being the
natural home of the American Indian, coupled with
the vicious reports of General Custer at Fort Lincoln
at Mandan, discouraged early pioneers from moving
north until the land of the Southern states had been
taken. As the immigrants continued to come in ever-increasing
numbers, the new settlers were forced to look for
land west and north of Ipswich, South Dakota, which
at that time was the end of the railroad.
Some settlements were made in Greenway, Roscoe, and Artas, South
Dakota, almost reaching the site of the future Zeeland. Some settlements
were made around Ashley and Wishek in 1886. At least three early
pioneers had settled just south of Zeeland in the fall of 1884,
namely Christian Bauers, Freidrich Ellwein, and Heinrich Haffner.
The first Catholic families that moved into the Zeeland area in
1884 were Peter Mitzel, Carl Fischer, John Senger, John Werlinger,
and Marcus Veigel. In the spring, they were joined by 30 other families
who had wintered at Menno.
When North Dakota became a separate state in 1889 and offered three
quarters of free land, instead of the usual one quarter
offered by the southern states, the new immigrants
rushed into North Dakota. As a result, North Dakota
received about 85 percent of the new wave of Catholic
immigrants. This brings us to the beginnings of the
city of Zeeland.
The town site of Zeeland is part of the pre-emption claim of the
above-mentioned Heinrich Ellwein, which had been sold to Christian
Bauers on December 3, 1897. The Milwaukee Land Company platted the
town site and conveyed the right-of-way to the Chicago, Milwaukee
& St. Paul, and the Pacific Railway Company. The railroad was
brought in from the terminal at that time, Eureka, to Zeeland. By
the time the railroad got there, some business places had already
been established. Zeeland was organized into a village in 1905,
when it received its first charter. The first Catholic church was
built the same year. The first town board consisted of Frank Kraft
(Catholic), Adolph Boschee (Protestant) and Adolph Feinstein (Jew).
At a special election on January 29, 1946, the village voted to
be incorporated as a city under the council form of government.
In April, Martin Braun (Catholic) was elected its first mayor. The
village population in 1906 was around 400.
Church of St. John the Baptist
The Catholic Church in this area did not have its beginnings in
Zeeland, but in the country church of St. John the Baptist, five
miles north of Zeeland, which is constantly referred to as the “Mother
Church.” The real immigration into North Dakota began around
1885 when a group settled around the railroad terminal of Ipswich.
From there, they expanded to the north and west.
Although many others too numerous to mention were involved, we
must mention Abbot Martin Marty (later Bishop of Yankton, South
Dakota) of St. Meinrad’s Benedictine Abbey in Indiana and
his few companions who came as missionaries to work among the Indians
at Fort Yates, North Dakota, in 1876. They were joined a few years
later by Benedictines from Conception, Missouri, who took over the
Fort Yates mission within a few years. Among the Benedictine Fathers
who played an important role among the Catholic Russian-Germans
in this area were Bede Marty, Marin Kenel, Claude Ebner, Bernard
Strassmeier, and Francis Gerschweiler.
For over a year, the German settlers were without a priest. They
gathered in private homes to recite the rosary and litany, sing
some religious hymns, and read the Sunday Scriptures. Their presence
became known to Fr. Martin Kenel (Superior) at Fort Yates, who sent
Fr. Bede Marty to see if the people were really Catholics. In July
he found the community, stayed a few days, celebrating Mass, preaching,
giving instructions, and administering the sacraments. On July 7th
he baptized Catherine Jangula, the first known Catholic child born
in McIntosh County, plus several others. In September of 1886 Fr.
Bede made a second visit, lasting 13 days, and baptized another
12 infants. Better days came when Fr. Bernard Strassmeier, beloved
by both Indians and Germans, who became popularly known as “Good
Fr. Bernard,” took the German settlement under wing and baptized
15 infants on November 1-3, 1887, and made six visits in 1888, seven
more lengthy visits in 1889, and frequent visits in 1890, with the
number of baptisms increasing from year to year.
During those first years the people were extremely poor and suffered
great hardships, living under a wagon box until they got their small
sod houses built.
They were able to break up from five to 10 acres of sod, which
yielded 12-15 bushels per acres, and selling for around $1.65 per
bushel. In 1886, a prairie fire destroyed many of their feed. In
1887, a fierce cyclone destroyed many of their sod houses, and grass
hoppers devastated much of their late crops. In the fall, another
prairie fire destroyed much of their hay and straw. The courage
for them to persevere came from good Fr. Bernard, who made his first
visit in November of that year. He organized St. John’s parish
and promised to visit them every two months. The winter of 1888-1889
was one of the hardest winters they experienced, with a super-abundance
of snow and terrific three-day blizzards.
However, the people were blessed with a good harvest in 1888 and
were able to recuperate from some of their former losses. Now immigrants
greatly increased the number of Catholics in St. John’s area.
Gathering in a few small homes became impossible. The limited time
that Fr. Bernard could spend with them made it next to impossible
to give reasonable service to all in the small private homes. The
people realized they needed a church, and promised to build one
in 1888 if the crops were good in the fall. They kept their promise.
Adam Jangula offered ten acres of land for the church and cemetery.
Balthasar Hoffart, an excellent carpenter, was put in charge of
the construction. The lumber was hauled in from Eureka, about 30
miles away. The 30 x 50 ft. building got under roof that fall and
finished in the spring at the cost of about $1,500, with all labor
donated. At that time, it was the largest and best building in McIntosh
County, which inspired other settlements to build churches, and
also schools until public education became available. St. John’s
Church was solemnly blessed by Fr. Bernard on May 12, 1889, amidst
Bishop Marty from Yankton had promised to come for confirmation
in October 1889. It was a great disappointment when he failed to
arrive. While en route, the good Bishop received an urgent message
to return to Yankton immediately. That year, North Dakota became
a separate state, with its own diocese under Bishop John Shanley,
located at Jamestown. That change of events was part of the reason
for Bishop Marty’s return to Yankton.
With the year of 1890 came a complete crop failure with extreme
suffering, which would have been far worse if Fr. Bernard had not
gone to Iowa to beg for food, clothing, and seed grain. He returned
with great supplies and about $1,200 which carried them through
the winter. The federal Congress also appropriated some money for
the purchase of seed wheat and a few bare necessities.
Suffering from the loss of territory, hunting grounds,
and the drought, the Indians also became very restless
at this time, with a great danger of an uprising,
which might easily have happened if some government
agents (inexcusably) had not killed Sitting Bull.
A Painte Indian, Wovoka, had developed a mysterious
cult among various Indian tribes, which seemed to
have involved some satanic forces. He posed as a “Red
Messiah.” According to Wovoka, by faithfully
following his cult, the Indian and the Buffalo (through
the work of the Great Spirit) would replace the white
man and his cattle, leaving the white man annihilated.
He had a large following. Although Sitting Bull had
just been released from two years of imprisonment,
the white man still considered Sitting Bull as a real
power among the Indians. It seems very possible that
Sitting Bull was considering using the cult to his
Whatever the case may be, an attempt was made to arrest Sitting
Bull a second time. He refused to surrender peacefully and was suddenly
killed in gunfire.
Although the uprising never took place, the rumors and fears were
so great that the settlers around St. John’s all fled to Eureka,
except for one woman who had bread in the oven and couldn’t
leave. Although this may seem silly today, it does highlight the
extreme poverty and pricelessness of a loaf of bread at that time.
On October 15, 1891, Bishop Shanley came to St. John’s and
confirmed 220 children and adults. By addressing the congregation
in the German language, he endeared himself to both young and old,
who fell in love with their new Bishop. They also had a good crop
that year. Bishop Shanley was so impressed when he saw the large
number of settlers that he would gladly have sent them a resident
pastor, if he had one to send. At that time he had only 32 priests
in the whole state and 21 of them were from other dioceses who could
leave at any time.
A resident pastor at St. John’s was not possible until 1893,
when Fr. Henry Schmitz came as its first pastor and built a 24 x
24 ft. rectory under the supervision of the same Balthasar Hoffart
at a cost of $600 to $600.
But before the house was finished, Fr. Schmitz had to go to the
hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he died. At the end of 1893,
Bishop Shanley sent Fr. Joachim Widmer, O.S.B. of St. Meinrad’s
Abbey in Indiana as the second pastor of St. John’s, with
the surrounding territory as his missions. But he was recalled by
his supervisor in September 1895. The various interims were filled
in mostly by Fr. Strassmeier and Fr. Gerschweiler from Fort Yates.
Those who succeeded Fr. Widmer were Fathers Joseph B. Wilhelm (1895),
B. Fresenburg (1896), Claudius Ebner, O.S.B. (1897), and Stephen
Stenger, O.S.B. (1898-1908). Under Fr. Stenger, various missions
were founded: namely, Sts. Peter and Paul, Strasburg; St. Aloyisius
on Beaver Creek; Holy Trinity at Grassna; St. Anthony and St. Boniface
in Logan County; St. Philip Neir at Napoleon: and in 1905 St. Andrew’s
Church in Zeeland, which was the first church in the village.
The rectory in Zeeland was built the following year. Having acquired
much knowledge at the Abbey, Fr. Stenger was a great leader in improving
farming methods and in developing better breeds of horses, cattle,
hogs, poultry, and other to supplement the grain crops. The first
church at St. John’s was built on the west side of the road.
Soon it was too small for the increasing numbers. So, Fr. Stenger
built the present building on the east side of the road, and the
first church became the parish school and hall.
Succeeding Fr. Stenger were Fathers Stephen Landolt (1908), Nik.
Paul Junger (1910), and Herman Decker (1911-1914), who built the
second and most modern rectory on the prairie, also on the east
side of the road, the former rectory becoming the residence of the
Next came Fathers M.V. Mueller (1914), E.J. Steinach (1925), N.
Fox (1926), J.P. Zimmerman (1930), J.C. Greiner (1935), Sigfried
W. Heyl (1936), Conrad Ludwig (1943), Richard Fuetscher (9147),
Anton Anzic (1949), Alois Zdolsek (1958), and the final pastor Victor
After many years of neglect, the buildings (especially the church)
had become badly deteriorated. With good heart and courage and mostly
all donated labor, the good people of St. John’s worked many
long, hard hours to remedy the situation. After moving the church
on a new, full basement, both interior and exterior were completely
renovated, a new floor installed, the pews refinished, new furnaces
installed, the basement finished off with a kitchen, removable walls
provided classrooms for religious instructions, the grounds relandscaped
for drainage, the parking lot filled with 80 loads of gravel, new
sidewalks built, the rubble of former building foundations cleaned
up, the land tilled, and a shelterbelt planted on three sides.
Due to a clerical shortage, the pastor was transferred to another
parish, and St. John’s became a mission of St. Andrew’s
until 1971, when St. John’s merged with St. Andrew’s
and the church closed.
First Baptist Church: Ashley
By Beata Heitzmann
The origin of the First Baptist Church dates back to July 25, 1896
when the German Baptist Church of Jewell, McIntosh County, North
Dakota, was organized. Later on January 30, 1912, it was reorganized
as the First German Baptist Church.
On September 25, 1953, it was officially incorporated as the First
Baptist Church of Ashley. Incorporators were Walter Bauer, Isadore
Lang, and Gotthilf K. Zimmerman. Full and complete reorganization
was consummated on February 12, 1954, with a membership of eighty-five.
Because they had no permanent meeting place available, the Public
Library was used for a limited time. They purchased the Nazarene
Church building, which was later remodeled and enlarged to include
a full basement with assembly, classrooms, and kitchen. The main
auditorium, including the balcony provides seating for about 250
persons. Practically all the labor of constructing the building
was donated by members and friends of the church. The lots were
a gift from the Wishek Investment Company.
Dedication of the church was on November 11, 1956. Soon after,
the church affiliated with the Baptist General Conference of America
and its branch, the Dakota Baptist General Conference.
Rev. E. Robert Petersen served as pastor from September 1954 through
December 1955. It was during his ministry that the property was
obtained and the building erected. Rev. David Schwartz was pastor
the next two years, from January 1956 to October 26, 1958. Other
pastors were Rev. Paul Lemke, July 1959-October 1964; Rev. J.C.
Kraenzler, interim for May 1965-September 1968; Rev. R. Daniel Olson,
July 1968-March 1971; Rev. Paul can Gorkom (interim) May 1971-October
1976. Supply pastor John Reimer who is pastor of the Berlin Baptist
Church near Fredonia, North Dakota, is presently serving the church.
Zion Lutheran Church: Ashley
What does Ashley have in common with the war-torn region of Southeast
The Phouta Khamsombat family from Laos was sponsored by Zion, and
was one of several thousand families sponsored and aided by hundreds
of churches and organizations, assisting in the resettlement of
refugees in the U.S. The Khamsombats lived in Ashley for a few years
and then moved to another region in the U.S.
Christian outreach such as helping a refugee family is the Biblical
practice of hospitality. “Give and it will be given to you,
heaped up and running over.”
Another recent high point in the congregation’s history was
when its senior pastor, Marvin Schumacher, was elected Bishop of
the Western District of North Dakota. The election was in April
1983 and he took office in January 1984.
Zion Lutheran’s beginnings date back to 1890 under the leadership
of Rev. Brunn. The pioneers worshipped in homes and schoolhouses
until 1904 when the first church building was dedicated to the glory
of God. What a service of thanksgiving they held!
Pastors serving Zion: Rev. Wenninger, 1904; Rev. Schulz, 1907-1917;
Rev. Boetke, 1917-1919; Rev. Briest, 1910-1922; Rev. Sprattler,
1922-1933; Rev. Jung, 1933-1043; Rev. Drewelow, 1943-1945; Rev.
During this time, two Danzig parishes and three country churches
joined Zion Lutheran. Rev. F. Heupel served from 1954-1957; Rev.
E. Groth, 1958-1961; Rev. John Kraemmerer, 1961-1973. The present
church was built during his pastorate.
Rev. Marvin Schumacher served from 1973-1983 together with Rev.
Timothy Johnson, 1975-1979, and Rev. Bruce Adamson, 1980-present,
who were called as assistant pastors to Zion. With a large membership
of approximately 1,100, two pastors can add a much greater dimension
for evangelism outreach to the family of Zion and beyond.
Rev. Martin Simons became the senior pastor of the congregation
in May 1984.
The women of Zion have always been active in the growth of the
church, taking part in earlier years in the “Outlook Society”
and “Lutheran Mission Circle.” These organizations studied
the Bible and helped support missionaries here and abroad and also
contributed time and money for charitable institutions, special
programs, and activities and upkeep of the church.
In 1961, the women reorganized into Zion Lutheran Church Women,
the twofold purpose: education and stewardship which include the
support of American and foreign missionaries.
Bible studies using Scope Magazine has been and added dimension.
With a history of about 100 years, Zion men and women continue
to strive to carry out the great commission: “Go, therefore,
and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that
I have commanded you, and, lo, I am with you always, till the end
of the earth.” Matthew 28: 19-20.
Printed in the June 10, 1984 Zion Bulletin: In the name of the
Lord, count it as a privilege to share the Gospel message with others.
May God fill your hearts with His Holy Spirit. The Christian steward
has both hands wide open. One hand is open to receive God’s
grace—forgiveness. The other hand, the giving hand, is also
wide open as he administers God’s gifts and shares them with
Zion United Methodist Church: Formerly United Brethren Church and
Evangelical Church, Lehr
By Vera Derheim
The very first Evangelical Church in McIntosh County was established
in 1887 under the ministry of Rev. Henry Loewen. The church building
was a sod structure with wooden roof, 20 ft. by 34 ft. by 10 ft.,
costing $190, and dedicated on November 13, 1887.the church was
known as Zion Church.
After the town of Lehr was begun in 1898, it was decided to establish
a church there. At first, services were in a public school house.
Then, in 1904, a church was built, costing between $3,300 and $3,400.
It was a frame structure, 26 ft. by 36 ft. with a 26 ft. by 16 ft.
addition on the south side. Rev. E.C. Oeder was the minister at
that time. In 1933, the building was extensively remodeled under
the ministry of Rev. A.H. Ermel.
The United Brethren Church merged with the Evangelical Church in
1946, and the church was then known as the Evangelical United Brethren
Church. In 1959, while Rev. Peter Ackerman served the church, a
new church building was constructed. This is the present United
Methodist church building.
Hope Evangelical Church of rural Lehr joined the Zion congregation
In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged with the
Methodist Church, and in January 1969, when the uniting conference
was in Jamestown, the church became known as the United Methodist
The 75th anniversary of Zion was observed on September 9, 1979,
with several former pastors returning to take part in the services.
Rev. Edward B. Parker is the present pastor, serving since 1970.
Pastors who served wither in the sod church or in the school house
were: 1887-1893—Rev. H. Loewen, 1894—Rev. A. Herzberg,
1895—Rev. George Hoefs, 1896-1900—R.E. Strutz, and 1900-1904—F.H.
The following pastors served in the Lehr Church: 1904-1907—E.C.
Oeder, 1907-1910—Henry Loewen, 1910-1913—N. Nuetzmann,
1913-1915—Paul Krumbein, 1915-1917—E.C. Oeder, 1917—J.J.
Schroeder (served out Oeder’s time, who died) 1917-1919—D.
Bittner, 1919-1923—William Buschat, 1923-1927—John Fischer,
1927-1933—G.C. Theile, 1933-1937—A.H. Ermel, 1937-1941—E.A.
Gruneich, 1941-1944—A.H. Marzolf, 1944-1945—J.M. Burkhard,
1945-1947—Oliver Ketterling, 1947-1950—M.F. Gruneich,
1950-1956—Walter Elmer, 1956-1960—Peter Ackerman, 1960-1964—Henry
Vix, 1964-1966—Clifford Bergland, 1966—Floyd Breaw (completed
Bergland’s year), 1966-1970—W.E. Janetzki, and 1970
to present—Edward B.Barker.
Wishek Assembly of God
By Rev. Raymond Rueb
At the turn of the century, waves of revival swept across the U.S.
touching lives of men and women with an intense desire to know God
Those who were drawn into this spiritual awakening were known as
“Pentecostal believers.” This awakening also touched
the lives of believers in the area around Wishek, resulting in the
birth of the assembly
The earliest pastors of this assembly, and responsible for its
founding, were Rev. and Mrs. Gottlieb Rosien.
The first church was located on the southeast corner of Wishek,
close to where Wishek Hospital is now situated. Some of the names
on the early roster were Hilscher, Roth, Rattai, Rueb, and Sayler.
With the development and growth of the city, the church was relocated
to its present position under the leadership of Rev. George Rueb.
For several years, the facility belonged to the Church of God in
Cleveland, Tennessee, and, under the leadership of Rev. Hilsher,
the facility was renovated and improved.
In 1982, it was purchased by the German District of the Assemblies
of God of Benton Harbor, Michigan, and came under the leadership
of Rev. Dennis M. Franklin, pastor of the Ashley Assembly.
As of January this year, it is being pastured by Rev. Steve Schumerth,
who moved here from Denver, Colorado. Pastor Schumerth is heard
twice weekly on the Wishek radio station.
Grace Lutheran Church: Lehr
Grace Lutheran Church of Lehr had its beginnings when a small group
of Lutherans gathered together in the Logan County School to hold
meetings. Rev. Von Gemmingen, pastor of the Kulm parish, was asked
to conduct the services. This was in 1941.
The need for a regular congregation was felt, and in September
of that year, a meeting was held to discuss organizing a Lutheran
congregation in Lehr. Finally, on July 19, 1942, the congregation
was organized and Grace Lutheran was chosen as its name.
The Logan County School continued to serve as the place for worship,
services being held twice a month and in German. Later, English
services were held along with the German.
The congregation grew rapidly, and in April 1947 a meeting was
held for the purpose of buying a church building, located near Ashley.
In the spring of 1948, members constructed the basement, and the
church was moved in on the location near the present post office.
On July 18, 1948, Grace Lutheran was dedicated, six years after
it was founded on July 19, 1942.
The Lord continued to bless Grace Lutheran. In 1950, the Lehr,
Napoleon, and King congregation (a rural church northwest of Lehr)
were joined under one pastor.
King, Trinity Lutheran Church was founded in 1909. For many years
this congregation enjoyed a healthy growth, but finally the membership
of older people seemed to dominate, with fewer children attending
Sunday school. This led to the discontinuance of Sunday school,
and members began to move to new locations or join churches where
their children could attend Sunday school. In 1957, it was voted
to merge with Grace.
Paving the way for Grace Lutheran to become a full member of the
Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod was translating the church constitution
from German into English. Grace became a member of Missouri Synod
in the summer of 1953.
Grace Lutheran was still growing rapidly and the church was becoming
too small to accommodate all who came to worship.
So under the leadership of Rev. Pankow, plans for a larger church
were begun. In July 1957, Rev. Pankow accepted a call to Michigan,
and Rev. Hellman accepted our call to Grace. He wasted no time going
forward with plans for a new church building. In October, 1957,
it was definitely decided to build a new church. The church was
completed during the winter of 1959, and was dedicated to the glory
of God in May 10, 1959.
The present membership consists of 120 souls with 98 communicant
Pastors who have served Grace Lutheran since 1941 are Rev. Von
Gemmingen, rev. Kuring, Rev. Pankow, Rev. Hellman, Rev. Elowsky,
Rev. Quade, Rev. Bauer, Rev. Bramstedt, Rev. Youngman and Rev.Grimm.
Our present pastor is Rev. Ron Wagner.
St. John’s Reformed Church: Zeeland
This congregation was founded in 1905 when a group of families organized
a congregation known as St. John’s Reformed Church of Zeeland.
According to available records, the following contributed money
toward the building of the present church: Michael Berreth, Gottlieb
Link, Johann Weber, George Berreth, Adolph Boschee, Andrew Munsch,
Jacob Beck, Peter Berreth, Adam Delzer, Adam Berreth, Michael Henne,
Jacob Kranzler, Jacob Trautmann, Christian G. Link, Gottlieb Berreth,
Heinrich Haffner, Wendolin Deibert, Christian Link, Johannes Pfeiffer,
Bernhardt Kauk, Rudolph Scholtt, Gottlieb Krauz and the North Star
In 1906, the church building was built at an approximate cost of
$900. Lots 5-6, Block 9, on which the church is located, were obtained
for $67.50 from Milwaukee Land Company’s first addition in
Zeeland on July 7, 1906.
A certificate of incorporation from the state of North Dakota was
issued the congregation on February 10, 1910, under the hand and
seal of Alfred Blaisdell, secretary of state.
Trustees at that time were Gottlieb Link, Christian Link and John
P. Schott, who filed the declaration of articles of incorporation
to Evangelical Reformed St. John’s congregation in Zeeland.
In 1908, when a need for a parsonage was felt, plans were made
and the structure was erected the same year through the cooperation
of the members of the congregation.
How, or by whom, this congregation had been served up until 1909
cannot be stated as the records do not seem to contain any details
as to part of its history.
From 1909 until the present, the following pastors have served:
Rev. C.G. Zipf, 1909 to 1910; Rev. C.F. Nuss, 1911 to 1915; Rev.
Peter Bauer, 1915 to 1926; Rev. Wilhelm Schmidt, 1926 to 1934; Rev.
K. Krueger, 1936 to 1943. There was a vacancy until 1950.
During the summer of 1944, H.A. Hartmann (a student) served; in
the summer and fall of 1945, Rev. H.T. Vriesen. From May 1946 until
June 1950, Rev. John Bodenmann of Wishek served as supply pastor.
In June 1950, the congregation had a regular pastor, rev. Emil
Roth. He came here from Iowa and served until 1955. Affiliated with
this charge during that period was the New Kassel Reformed congregation,
north of Zeeland.
Rev. Arno H. Neuhaus served the congregation from July 24, 1955
until April 23, 1957; Rev. Bryce Hecht from July 6, 1958 until May
24, 1962; Rev. Robert Grossman, June 2, 1963 to June 29, 1975; and
Rev. Steven E. Work from September 7, 1975 until July 29, 1979.
On that date, St. John’s Reformed Church was dissolved and
the members transferred to the Artas Reformed Church in Artas, South
The parsonage was sold but the church building remains intact and
belongs to the former members who were transferred to Artas.
Ashley Baptist Church
By Rev. Allan Gerber
The organization of this church took place at a school building
in the Long Lake vicinity on July 25, 1896.
At that time, about 85 members who had separated from the Berlin
Baptist Church near Fredonia formed a new church known as German
Baptist Church of Jewell Township.
This church had as many as five or more stations at one time. The
Johannesthal station began holding services around the turn of the
In 1909, the first meeting of the Dakota Conference of the North
American Baptist General Conference was held at the Johannesthal
In 1912, the churches purchased the Ashley station from the parsonage
from the Danzig Baptist Church, which later became the First Baptist
Church of Wishek.
After some rearranging of stations with neighboring churches, it
left this church with three stations, namely, Ashley, Johannesthal
The name of the church was changed to the First German Baptist
Church. With the parsonage located in Ashley, this station became
the nerve center of the organization. At a later date, the present
name was adopted, Ashley Baptist Church.
In Ashley, our first church building was built in 1902. IN the
year 1917, a new church was erected at a cost of $6,100. In 1919,
a parsonage was built, which cost approximately $8,000.
In 1960, the church building was dismantled and the present one
erected on the same site.
Over the years, a number of young people from this church have
served as missionaries, pastors and pastors’ wives.
Also, conferences of Baptist churches in the Dakotas have been
hosted several times, as well as two appearances of African choirs
Pastors of the congregation were Rev. A. Kludt, 1896 to 1901; Rev.
A. Guenther, 1902 to 1903; Rev. G. Burgdorf, 1905 to 1911; Rev.
C.M. Knapp, 1912 to 1915;
Rev. A. Guenthner, 1915 to 1918; rev. F. Dobrovolny, 1919 to 1925;
Rev. W.H. Buenning, 1926 to 1931;
Rev. W.J. Luebeck, 1932 to 1945; Rev. W. Stein, 1945 to 1950; Rev.
J.J. Renz, 1951 to 1953; Rev. A.W. Bibelheimer, 1954 to 1961; Rev.
Isador Faszer, 1962 to 1967; Rev. Etan Pelzer, 1968 to 1977; and
Rev. Allan Gerber, from 1977 to present.
First Baptist Church: Wishek
Early in 1975, when the settling of McIntosh County was in its beginning,
people from the village of Danzig, Russia, settled near Tyndall,
This created a desire for others from their homeland to follow,
but finding the free land all taken, they were advised by federal
land agents to go farther north into the Dakota Territory. They
were not happy about having to move north, but nevertheless about
15 families did settle about nine miles south of the present city
Here they missed the church fellowship to which they had been accustomed
in their homeland. They were devout and faithful people. By God’s
leading, they organized their own congregation in 1886.
Fifteen families joined themselves together in this fellowship,
naming John Brokofsky as chairman and William Koth as secretary.
They named the church “Danzig Baptist Church,” after
their hometown in Russia. Those early settlers had a dialect of
their own, known as “Platt Deutsch,” but they used the
German Bible and language in their services.
The fellowship made progress, spiritually as well as financially.
By 1903, it became self-supporting and was relinquished by the mission
as a free church.
Meetings were held in homes for six years. They gained members
from as west as the Beaver Creek area.
For the membership, the desire to build a house for worship became
foremost. In 1892, they built a wooden structure 20 x 40 feet on
a plat of three acres donated by John J. Giedt, nine miles south
The cost of the church was $800. Members raised $550, and they
obtained a loan for $250 from the Baptist Home Mission Society in
New York City.
Soon, a 15-acre tract was acquired one-quarter mile south of the
church, which became the location of the first parsonage. Members
built a house, barn, and other small buildings. There was a pasture
for horses, since horses were the main means of travel in those
In 1908, several believers, living in the newly organized village
of Wishek, expressed their desire to build their own house of worship.
Jacob Herr, Sr. was the leader of this group.
Two lots, which are now the present site, were donated by John
H. Wishek, Sr. On these was erected a wooden structure 24 x 40 feet,
A sum of $330 was borrowed from the Baptist Home Mission Society,
with the rest financed from donations.
By 1935, the wood church structure had become too small. It was
decided to remove the old building and replace it with a larger
basement building on the original site at a cost of $6,000.
Better automobiles and roads made traveling easier; therefore,
the Danzig station was discontinued in 1940 and the Beaver Creek
station in 1949.
In 1949, the name of the church was changed from the German Baptist
Church to First Baptist Church of Wishek. That same year, the church
decided to erect a new church, incorporating the basement structure.
The cost was $78,520, which was financed by members’ donations.
On July 2, 1950, the new building was dedicated to Christ as Lord,
and for service to mankind as a spiritual haven.
In 1955, the old parsonage was replaced by a new modern ranch-type
dwelling, which cost $31,181.
Eighteen pastors have served the church. Here they are:
Rev. Berthold Matzke, 1888-1892; Rev. J. Marks, 1892-1894; Rev.
George Burgdorf (occasional visits), 1895-1896; Rev. Jacob Herman
(ordained by the church following his arrival), 1897-1899; Rev.
Edward Wolf, 1899-1901; Rev. H. Hilzinger (fifth Sunday from Eureka),
Rev. Christian Bischof, 1903-1909; Rev. August Heringer, 1910-1927;
Rev. C.M. Knapp, 1928-1932; Rev. B.W. Krentz, 1933-1937;
Rev. Albert Itterman, 1937-1942; Rev. J.C.Gunst, 1942-1944; Rev.
Arthur Weisser, 1944-1948; Rev. Ervin J. Faul, 1949-1951;
Rev. Loran O. Wahl, 1952-1960; Rev. Carl R. Weisser, 1961-1968;
Rev. Clemence Auch, 1968-1971; and Rev. Gordon Huisinga, from 1972
Assembly of God: Ashley
By Tina Eszlinger
In May 1937, Rev. and Mrs. Jakob Rosin of Bison, South Dakota, and
Mr. and Mrs. George Rueb of Wishek came to Long Lake, South Dakota,
to conduct revival meetings. Meetings were in different homes for
a couple of years, and an Assembly of God church was founded 17
miles south of Ashley. It was called Ebenezer.
In 1939, Rev. and Mrs. Peter Heinisch and family came from St.
Louis, Missouri, to serve a church in Wishek, Ashley had no Assembly
of God church yet, but Heinisches moved to Ashley and purchased
a small building from John Dobler of Danzig, moved it to town, and
a church was organized the following year in 1940. They then served
Wishek, Ebenezer and Ashley.
After five years, they moved to Fontana, California. During their
absence of nine years, the following pastors served:
Rev. and Mrs. C.S. Staudt (1944 to 1949), Rev. and Mrs. Daniel
Wagner (1949 to 1952), Missionary Emil Schniders filled in for six
In 1945, the residence of the late Edwin Layer of Ashley was purchased
to serves as a parsonage.
Rev. P. Heinisch returned on December 6, 1953. The local congregation
desired a larger place of worship, and so the Evangelical Lutheran
Church of Danzig was purchased in 1954. A full basement was excavated,
and the church was moved to its present location and was dedicated
in October 1954.
Rev. Heinish served as pastor until his death in February 1955.
Rev. and Mrs. George H. Rueb of Medina, North Dakota, accepted
the call, beginning here in September 1955. During their seven years
of ministry, the Women’s Missionary Council and Christ Ambassadors
The Ebenezer Church was sold, and the following pastors have served
Pastor and Mrs. Reinhold Mueller from Winnipeg, Ontario—1963
to 1965; Pastor and Mrs. David Rueb from Ashley—1965 to 1970;
Pastor and Mrs. George H. Rueb from Ashley—1970 to 1973; Pastor
and Mrs. Harvey Pratt from Benton Harbor, Michigan—1974 to
1979; Pastor and Mrs. Larry Metz from Trinity Bible Institute in
Ellendale—1979 to 1982; and Pastor Mike and Kay Franklin from
Montana—1982 to present.
United Church of Christ: Wishek
By Rev. William Moser
The United Church of Christ of Wishek is at the same time one of
the newest and one of the oldest churches in McIntosh County.
It was one of the newest because it was formed in 1979 through
the merger of three pre-existing congregations. It was one of the
oldest because it can trace its ministry back to 1884, the year
the Kassel Reformed Church was established.
A summary of the individual histories of each of the seven churches
which have fed their energy and resources into one united ministry
is presented in this article. Significant local history is thus
being preserved for the benefit and the inspiration of those who
continue this Christian ministry into the future.
Kassel Reformed Church. The Kassel Reformed Church was organized
in Rosenfield Township in 1884. The exact date is unknown. The charter
members of this congregation were Frederick Hochhalter, his son,
Fred Hochhalter, Christoph Kramer, Jacob Villhauer, Sr., Karl Wiest,
Peter Wiest and Henry Woehl.
The first pastor, Dr. Frank Grether, was called in 1885. The first
church building was constructed in 1886. This building was moved
south into Blumenthal Township in 1908.
Members of this congregation gradually joined Grace Reformed Church
in Wishek. In 1952, the building was auctioned off. The high bidder
was Emil Wiest. He tore down the building, hauled the lumber to
the Wiest farm, constructed a house out of the wood, and moved to
the house to Wishek in the spring of 1953. This house is still in
use as his residence.
The pulpit and the pulpit chair originally used in this church
are now owned by Emil Wiest. They were made by men of the congregation
when the church building had been completed in 1886.
Neudorf Reformed Church. The Neudorf Reformed Church was organized
in Rosenfield Township in 1890. As close as we can determine, the
charter members were John Boschee, Jakob Hochhalter, Jacob Krein,
Sr., Jacob Schauer and Frederick Springer.
Eleven men served as supply pastors through the years until the
first resident pastor, Rev. John Klundt, began his ministry in 1920.
In 1896, a tract of land was donated by Jakob and Karolina Hochhalter
for use by the church. A church building was then constructed. It
contained a pulpit, a pedal organ, a coal stove, and chairs for
the seating of the congregation. Each Sunday, the elders passed
out the hymn books since there were no racks to hold them.
Members of this congregation also gradually joined Grace Reformed
Church. At the beginning of 1944, five members were left. These
five transferred their membership into Grace Church in January of
The church building was then sold to St. John’s Lutheran
Church, and was moved south into Section 21 of the township. In
1958, the building was sold at auction. It was moved into Wishek,
where it is the current location of the Jesus of Nazareth Assembly
of God Church.
New Kassel Reformed Church. The New Kassel Reformed Church traces
its history back to meetings in homes of its members prior to 1900.
A church building was constructed in 1905. It was located in Frieda
Township ten miles north of Zeeland. The charter members were John
Perman, Andreas Perman, Wilhelm Hieb, August Hieb, Christian Meidinger,
Simon Schwind and Johann Meidinger. Signatures on the application
for incorporation filed in 1911, were Andreas Perman, Wilhelm Hieb
and Jacob Perman.
In the early days, this church was part of an 11-point charge served
by Rev. H.W. Stienecker who lived in Ashley.
In addition to New Kassel, the other churches in his care included
Kassel, Neudorf, Johannesthal, Ashley, Hoffnungstal (northeast of
Venturia), Rohrbach (southeast of Zeeland), Friends (southwest of
Zeeland), Bergdorf (south of Ashley), Sarons (northeast of Long
Lake) and Ebensfield (near Streeter).
The first structure burned down in March 1938. Another building
was built that summer and dedicated in the fall. During the years
of 1958 to 1962, when Rev. Bryce Hecht was pastor, the Sunday school
reached its peak enrollment of 36.
The congregation was affiliated with St. John’s Reformed
Church of Zeeland until 1966, and then with the Strasburg Reformed
In 1968, the church became yoked with Grace Reformed church in
Wishek. The New Kassel building was sold and dismantled when the
congregation merged with Grace Reformed Church and St. John Congregational
Church to create The United Church of Christ of Wishek in 1979.
Johannesthal Reformed Church. The Johannesthal Reformed Church
was organized in 1898 with the following charter members: Christian
Krein, Sr., Christina Krein, Jr., Jacob Krein, Sr., Phillip Rueb,
Frederick Rueb, Adam Eisinger, Frederick Lang, George Ackerman,
Johanas Ackerman, Peter Ackerman and Jacob Boschee.
Two acres of land were donated to this congregation by Jacob and
Katherine Boschee. This land was located in Johannesthal Township,
Logan County, six miles northwest of Wishek. The church building
was constructed on this property in 1905.
The interior of the church was typical of the country church buildings
of its time. Members recall the chairs on which the congregation
was seated, the pulpit from which the services were led, the pedal
organ which provided accompaniment for the singing, and the potbelly
stove to keep the worshippers warm in winter months.
There was also a barn north of the church in which the teams of
horses were “parked” in inclement weather.
A cemetery was located to the east of the church building.
Members of this church gradually joined Grace Reformed Church in
Wishek. The building was sold at auction to Leonard
Kocher, who in turn sold it to John Sifferman for
$300. He tore the structure down and reused the lumber
in the construction of another building. Worms Congregational
Church. For some insight into the history of the Worms
Congregational Church, we turn to the comments of
Henry Sayler of Wishek. He was interviewed in an oral
history project on September 13, 1983.
“I was one of the first to be confirmed in this church,”
explained Sayler. “That happened on April 9, 1909. These are
the charter members when the church was first organized and was
“First of all, there was my dad (Frederick Sayler), John
Gall, Chirstoph Hochhlater, Jacob Hochhatlter, John Hochhalter,
Jacob Schauer, Christoph Dockter and Adam Weidenbach.
“The church building was about 24 feet wide and 30 feet long.
There was no steeple, just a gable roof. It had about 3 windows
on each side. The building was facing north and south, and the door
was to the south. The pews were homemade, and, for the women, we
had about a dozen chairs. The women sat to the left and the men
sat to the right.
“My dad was the first deacon of that church, and John Gall
was the first Sunday school superintendent. Jacob Schauer was the
secretary-treasurer. When church started, we sang one or two hymns,
had prayer, and then the sermon was read out of a German sermon
book. As a rule, my dad read most of the sermons at the services.
“In the 30s, our church got weaker and weaker, and St. John
Congregational Church in Wishek was kind of growing. We all had
cars, and finally we decided to give up that country church and
join the Wishek church. The building was finally sold for a house.
Henry Reub’s house had burned down, and so he bought our old
church and made a house out of it.”
St. John Congregational Church. Six families had been gathering
in the Wishek school house for weekly meetings under the leadership
of Rev. L. Ebertz. These families called a meeting on February 27,
1912 to organize a Congregational Church. Charter Members of this
new congregation were Mr. and Mrs. Phillip G. Mueller, Mr. and Mrs.
Jacob Huelscher, Mathilda Huelscher, Mr. and Mrs. F.J. Sayler, Mr.
and Mrs. Adolph Hochhalter, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Hochhalter and Mr.
and Mrs. John Junkert.
The first church building erected by this congregation was located
on Sixth Street South in Wishek. The final service in this church
was on March 30, 1958.
The congregation then moved into its new church facilities, located
at the corner of Fourth Avenue South and Fourth Street South. This
new church building was paid for more speedily because of a highly
successful God’s Acre Project made possible by the cooperation
and labor of the church members.
Members of this congregation provided the leadership in the establishment
of the Wishek Retirement and Nursing Home, now a truly community
ministry. Rev. Orville Zimmerman, who grew up on a farm near New
Leipzig, recently replaced Rev. Reinhold Klein as administrator
of this facility.
The church building and parsonage built by the St. John Church
continues to be used in the ministry of The United Church of Christ
of Wishek. Other church properties were sold, with the proceeds
being used to establish capital maintenance and cemetery upkeep
accounts for the continuing work of the united church.
Grace Reformed Church. The Grace Reformed Church was organized
on November 5, 1916 in Wishek. The charter members of this congregation
were Christian Krein, Sr., Christian F. Krein, John Ackermann, Henry
Becker, Fred Sprenger and Karl Wacker. The church building was dedicated
on October 21, 1917.
The first resident pastor of the Wishek Charge was Rev. John Klundt,
who served from 1920 to 1925. His successors were Rev. A.A. Depping
(1926 to 1929), Rev. Erick Kaempchen (1930 to 1939), Rev. John Bodenmann
(1939 to 1951), Rev. Alfred Reineking (1952 to 1957), Rev. Paul
Otte (1958 to 1960), Rev. Armin Roemer (1960 to 1968) and Rev. A.J.
House (1969 to 1979).
A women’s guild was organized on December 27, 1955 with the
following charter members: Mrs. Theodore Boschee, Mrs. Victor Krein,
Mrs. Alvin Krein, Carol Krein, Mrs. Sebastien Tuchscher, Mrs. Ellis
Weber and Mrs. Alber Woehl.
A new church parsonage was erected by the men of the congregation
When the merger was completed in 1979 that created
the United Church of Christ of Wishek, the Grace church
building was sold at an auction to a family who converted
it into a home. It is still being used in this way.
Seventh Day Adventist Church
By Pastor J.A. Bahr
The history of the Lehr Seventh Day Adventist Church began in 1910
when a religious-book salesman, Frederick Reile, began selling books
and magazines in the area. The first Adventist, Adam Leno, encouraged
two ministers to come and hold meetings in Lehr. Pastors John Siebel
and Carl Lehr worked for several years in the Lehr area.
On March 28, 1914, the Lehr Seventh Day Adventist Church was organized
According to old, possibly incomplete records, 27 pastors have
served the Lehr and surrounding Seventh Day Adventist churches to
The old records show up some interesting details about life in
general, and church life in particular.
Preachers had to use a horse and buggy to travel, and one even
came with a donkey.
Another interesting and surprising aspect of early pioneer life
was the obvious interest in religious matters. As many as 1,000
people crowded the Adventist meetings, it is reported. The message
of the soon-coming of our Lord Jesus Christ was a message for the
time and still is. This is why the Adventists choose the name “Adventist,”
meaning those who are waiting for the second coming of Christ.
The first church building was dedicated on October 25, 1914. Its
cost was $2,500. The church paid its janitor $40 per year, and he
had to furnish the kindling wood for the coal furnace (but he was
freed from paying for church expense).
The new church building, as it stands today, was begun on May 30,
1960. It was completed in November of that year, and by December
all the bills and debts were paid and a thankful congregation dedicated
the new structure to the honor and glory of God.
The elders of the church for 1984 are Leo Flemmer, Steve Foerderer
and Herbert Opp.
On the long list of pastors serving the church, Pastor John Bahr
is presently serving the Lehr, Kulm and Linton Congregations. He
has previously served in Canada, West Germany, and came recently
from Valley City, North Dakota, to Lehr.
Salem Reformed Church: Ashley
In the territorial days of 1884, immigrants and settlers came pouring
into this region to take up homesteads and to try to better themselves
materially. They also felt a real concern for their spiritual well-being.
In spring 1892, the Reformed Church in the U.S. sent a call to
Rev. H.W. Steinecker to settle in Ashley and serve the various groups
of Reformed people in the area. Exactly when the Ashley Reformed
Church was started is not known as it was in existence when he arrived.
According to statements of some of the pioneers of Ashley, the
Reformed Church was one of the first churches to build in this town.
The date of its construction is given as 1894.
With the coming of Rev. Steinecker, Ashley became the center of
a charge from which he served at least 11 known congregations.
They were Ashley (town), Sarons (northeast of Long Lake, S.D.),
Bergdorf (south of Ashley), Friends (southwest of Zeeland), Neu
Kassel (north of Zeeland), Hoffnungstal (northeast of Venturia),
Neudorf (southwest of Wishek), Johannestal (northwest of Wishek),
and Ebensfeld (near Streeter, N.D.).
When the congregation did not get around to build
him a parsonage, he built himself up a house. He also
took up farming to partly sustain his temporal life.
Considering the mode of transportation and the roads
in those days, it is amazing the amount of work accomplished
by this pioneer pastor. He was buried in the Ashley
cemetery on December 22, 1929.
During the history of the Ashley charge, some of those congregations
dissolved or left the charge to form new charges.
Thus, Ashley became the mother church of the Zeeland and Wishek
charges, and contributed in part to the Artas, S.D., and the Streeter
charges. Other churches at one time associated with the Ashley Charge
were Kulm, N.D., Danzig, N.D., and Leola, S.D.
From 1937 to 1954, the charge consisted of four congregations:
Ashley, Hoffnungstal (moved to Venturia in 1951), Sarons, and Leola.
In 1954, Sarons dissolved. Its members joined the
Ashley and Leola churches. At the same time, Leola
joined the mission work of Aberdeen to form another
The Ashley Charge presently consists of the Ashley and Hoffnungstal
churches. In 1972, Hoffnungstal transferred all its memberships
to Ashley. Then they joined under a new charter as Salem Reformed
Church. Hoffnungstal held its last service on September 3, 1972,
and the first service as Salem was on September 10, 1972. It can
thus be said that the Ashley church was the center from which its
pastors took the word of God over a considerable territory to those
desiring the Reformed faith.
Throughout its history, the Ashley Reformed and Hoffnungstal churches
have been members of the Reformed Church in the U.S. When, 1940,
the majority of two denominations joined the Evangelical and Reformed
Union (now the United Church of Christ), the Ashley and Hoffnungstal
congregations were counted among the minority which desired to maintain
a distinctive Reformed witness as the continuing body of the Reformed
Church in this nation. This denomination has a long background,
reaching back to the Calvinistic reformation in Germany in the 16th
Some of the founders of the Ashley Reformed Church were Conrad
Mayer, George Mayer, Jakob Mayer, Philip Mayer, Gottlieb Metz, Jakob
Mindt, Johann Schaeffer, and Christian Weber.
The congregation built its first building in 1894 at a cost of
$399.95. It served its purpose till 1945, when a basement was put
underneath and an alcove was added to the rear (east end).
The next major remodeling took place in 1973. At that time, the
inside walls were paneled, floors carpeted, and an entrance built
onto the front (west end). The newly remodeled church building was
dedicated as Salem Reformed Church on April 28, 1974. The guest
speaker was Rev. Paul H. Treick from Napoleon, Ohio.
Although minor and major improvements were made up to 1973, yet
most of the lumber in the building was put there in 1894.
The following ministers have served the Ashley congregation and
those associated with it:
Rev. H.W. Steinecker, 1892-1904; Rev. William Landsiedel, 1905-1909;
Rev. Peter DeBuhr, 1910-1912; Rev. H.W. Steinecker (second term),
1912-1922; Rev. F.W. Herzog, 1922-1935; Rev. George Wolfe, 1937-1942;
Rev. Kasper Kruger, 1944-1949; Rev. Fred Herzog (son of Rev. F.W.
Herzog), 1950-1953; in between 1953 and 1956, the Ashley church
was served from Wishek by Rev. Alfred Reineking, and Hoffnungstal
Church from Artas by Rev. Leirhaus.
Then came Rev. John Cooper, 1956-1959; Rev. Thomas Beech, February
1960-September 1963; Rev. Samuel Allison, February 1, 1964-November
11, 19667; Rev. Jefferson Duckett, September 1, 1968-July 27, 1969;
Rev. Paul H. Treick, July 5, 1970-September 26, 1973; Rev. Dennis
White, October 7, 1973-December 31, 1978; Rev. Barry Bostrom, June
24, 1979-January 31, 1981; Licentiate George Bancroft, October 31,
1982-June 1983. William Haddock is currently serving as stated supply
since January 29, 1984.
The present membership of Salem is 92baptized, 79 confirmed. The
object of this congregation has always been to edify its members
by proclaiming the whole council of God, Old and New Testament,
Law, and Gospel, and the faith that was once delivered to the saints.
The Heidelberg Catechism is received as an authoritative expression
of the truths taught in the Holy Scriptures.
St. Andrew’s Lutheran: Rural Zeeland
St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, a rural congregation
is located 10 miles north and three miles east of
This congregation at one time was part of a five-point parish,
and is the only one still in existence.
The beginning of the church goes back to 1885 when the territory
which is now rural Zeeland was being settled mostly by people who
were Germans from Russia. Many wished to worship their God in their
traditional manner. Since there was no church in this newly settled
area, the people gathered in the homes for worship services from
the time of organization in 1885 by Rev. J. Koeppel until 1893.
At a meeting on October 18, 1892, the members of St. Andrew’s,
inspired by the Holy Spirit, decided to build a church.
As far as we can determine from the records, those first families
which built the church were: Adam Meidinger, Johann Thurn, Friedrich
Thurn, George Just, Christoph Just, Friedrich Vossler, Jacob Pietz,
Christian Maier, George Ketterling, Johann Ketterling, Adam Ketterling,
and Johannes Vossler.
The sum of $385 was gathered from these families. It was agreed
that each member would donate 15 days of labor to build the new
Building materials consisted of sandstone, which was brought from
a hill about 10 miles northwest of the church’s site, and
clay mixed with straw and water served as mortar between the stones.
The stone walls were built about two feet in thickness and were
then sealed with clay and whitewashed.
The roof was built from lumber.
On March 21, 1893, the new church was dedicated to the glory of
God by pastors Koeppel and Raun.
This first church is still standing and is occasionally used for
various church activities.
In 1895, there were 82 children in the congregation, and a total
of 146 souls.
The original church was soon too small to accommodate the members
of the congregation, and so a new church, our present house of worship,
was built in 1906. It was dedicated on June 2, 1907. The dedication
sermon was preached by Rev. Koeppel.
On October 21, 1956, St. Andrew’s was privileged to celebrate
its 50th anniversary of the building of the present church. Present
for the occasion were Dr. George Landgrebe, Rev. John Mertz, Rev.
Rudolf Heupel, and Rev. Marin Bieber. Rev. John Hoyer was pastor
of the congregation at that time.
During Pastor Hoyer’s pastorate, the transition was made
from the German language to English for the worship services.
In 1959, St. Andrew’s congregation again became a part of
a parish. A meeting was with Zion Lutheran Church in Venturia. It
was decided to join forces and work together as a single parish.
This was the expedient thing to do since the membership of both
congregations was small. The parsonage was located at St. Andrew’s.
It is owned and maintained by that congregation. In 1969, this union
was dissolved when Rev. John Schmierer became the pastor of St.
In the summer of 1973, the 80th anniversary of the congregation
and the building of the original church was celebrated. Since the
archives of the American Lutheran Church shows its organization
was in 1893, we recognize 1973 as our 80th anniversary.
On September 26, 1976, a heritage celebration was held in conjunction
with the nation’s bicentennial. It included
a reading of the history of the organization and building
of the original church. A bicentennial plaque, which
was presented to the congregation by the Zeeland Bicentennial
Committee in recognition of St. Andrew’s as
one of the first congregations to be organized in
this area, was unveiled by John F. Riger and Otto
Ketterling. They were the two oldest members of the
congregation. The plaque had been mounted on the original
In 1974, when Rev. John Schmierer retired, the congregation realized
that it could not afford to call another pastor and pay a full time
salary. Therefore, an agreement was made between St. Andrew’s
and Pastor Otto Staehling, who was pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church
in Kintyre, North Dakota, and that Pastor Staehling, while serving
Trinity, would also serve St. Andrew’s as a supply pastor
on a trial basis.
The trial arrangement grew into a closer partnership between the
two churches until Pastor Staehling’s retirement. Then, St.
Andrew’s and Trinity issued a joint call to Pastor Robert
D. Berg. St. Andrew’s is still a two-point parish with the
pastors living in Kintyre.
Pastors who have served this congregation from 1893 to the present
are as follows:
Rev. J. Koeppel, Rev. O. Bruntsch in 1897; Rev. E. Moeckel in 1902;
Rev. J. Melchert, Rev. A. Schormann, Rev. H. Riecke, Rev. A. Freymann,
Rev. J. Graepp, Rev. A. Doering, Rev. A Freymann again, Rev. John
Hoyer 1954-1958; Rev. Martin D. Lapp 1959-1968; Rev. John Schmierer
1969-1974; Rev. Otto Staehling 1974-1978; Rev. Robert D. Berg 1979-1982;
and the present pastors, a husband-and-wife team, Rev. Alan Saugstad
and Rev. Cheryl Matthews, who started here in 1982.
St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church Women was organized on December
2, 1975 with 10 members. One circle was formed, the Ruth Circle.
The purpose of this organization is to study and better understand
the word of God, to support the church and community with time,
talents, and treasures, and also to promote the spreading of the
gospel to the unchurched and unconverted in this country and throughout
St. David’s Church: Ashley
By Rev. Victor Schill
Until 1944, the few Catholic families that lived in Ashley attended
divine services on Sundays in the surrounding parishes, particularly
St. Andrew’s in Zeeland, St. Mary’s at Hague, and St.
Patrick’s of Wishek. So far as can be determined, the first
Sacrifice of the Mass was offered in Ashley around Easter in 1920,
in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Ruemmele.
From 1920 to 1930, pastors from St. Andrew’s, St. John’s,
or St. Phillip’s Church of Napoleon occasionally held services
(mostly on weekdays) in the various homes of the parishioners. During
that time, the Catholic families were few: the Martin Ruemmeles,
Frank Ruemmeles, Nickalous Kautts, Steve Fischers, and H.L. Wolls.
From 1935 until 1944, the Rev. Victor Long, pastor of the Transfiguration
Church in Edgeley, offered Mass once a month on weekdays
in the large room of the Home Hotel, then owned by
Attorney Franz Shubeck, and operated by Anna Kautt
and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Nickalaus Kautt. It
was during this period that the first Catholic Mission
was given, July 13-17, 1937, by the Rev. Thomas Jundt,
O.S.B., then assistant pastor at Edgeley. Mass was
celebrated each morning with the participants receiving
Holy Communion. Sermons were preached both in the
morning and at the evening services. In the afternoons,
the children were given religious instruction by Sisters
Louis Phillipe of St. Joseph’s Academy of St.
Paul, Minn., and Sister Angela of St. John’s
Academy of Jamestown, North Dakota.
In 1944, the Rev. Charles Veach of St. Helena’s Church in
Ellendale began having Mass regularly every Sunday for the small
group in Ashley. This continued until 1951, when the Rev. Anton
Anzic, pastor of St. John’s Church replaced Father Veach,
and Ashley became a station of St. John’s parish. In 1958,
Father Anzic was forced to retire because of ill health and was
succeeded by the Rev. Alois Zdolsek.
It must be noted here that the Catholic congregation through all
these years was most fortunate in being able to use the room in
the Home Hotel for its religious services. Louis Marek and her sister
Anna Kautt, reserved this large room and faithfully maintained it
as a chapel. In addition to the routine cleaning, these ladies cared
for the vestments and altar linens and provided fresh flowers and
plants for the altar. In these and other works, they gave freely
of their time and energy.
The chapel in the hotel served very well and was quite adequate
until about 1955. As a few more Catholic families moved into the
community and with the children growing up, the chapel at times
was quite crowded. Periodically the idea of securing a church building
was discussed. It was always abandoned, as being too ambitious a
project for so few to undertake.
In the early spring of 1959, during the administration of Father
Zdolsek, the St. James Lutheran Church was advertised for sale by
sealed bids. This church, located about seven and one-half miles
southeast of Ashley, was admirably suited to the needs of St. Mary’s
Mission, as the chapel was then known. On March 16, the members
voted unanimously to submit a bid of $3,100 for the church and its
contents. This bid was duly submitted on March 19, 1959 by Peter
Goettle and Andrew Bosch, acting as parish directors. With permission
and upon advice from Bishop Leo F. Dworschak of Fargo, the transaction
was completed on April 16, 1959. In the purchase of the church,
the congregation received financial aid from the Catholic Extension
Society of Chicago, Ill., the Home Mission Fund of the diocese of
Fargo and the David Walter family and B.M. Devaney family of Chicago,
Ill. Then through the generosity of the late J.H. and Nina Farley
Wishek heirs, three lots in the northeastern part of town were donated
as a site for the church.
By the time the new pastor of St. John’s Church arrived in
early July (Fr. Victor Schill), the basement was already
over half finished, and the church was moved to town
the same month. Under the direction and with the assistance
of Father Schill, the men and the women of the parish
spent that fall and winter in remodeling and redecorating
With grateful hearts, the small parish at last saw the fulfillment
of its dream for so many years. On March 9, 1960, St. David’s,
the first Catholic Church of Ashley, was dedicated by the Most Rev.
Lee F. Dworschak, Bishop of Fargo.
However, it was soon discovered that the high winds tended to shift
the high steeple, so in the fall of 1961, the steeple was lowered
by 14 feet and in the fall of 1962 an open entry was added to shelter
the front door, and the streets by the church were blacktopped.
A new organ was also purchased. In 1963, the interior of the church
basement was finished and a small kitchen installed, and the exterior
of the church was painted. The following year the basement was divided
into temporary classrooms for religious instruction for the increasing
number of children.
In 1971, St. John’s parish merged with St. Andrew’s,
and St. David’s became a mission of St. Andrew’s, served
successfully by Fathers Joseph Mentel, Valentine Gross, and Gregory
Patejko until the fall of 1979 when Fr. Victor Schill became the
present pastor of St. Andrew’s and St. David’s
With the generous cooperation of the parishioners who donated their
time and labor, the basement was insulated and painted in the spring
of 1983 at the modest cost of $750.
Zion Evangelical Lutheran: Zeeland
Pastor Timm O. Meyer
More than 90 years ago, Lutheran missionary, Pastor C. Boettcher,
of Marshall, Minnesota, began canvassing the area in South Dakota
from Elkton northward to Watertown and beyond. He traveled those
many miles by horse and buggy. Visiting sod huts of the settlers
living on the vast prairies, Pastor Boettcher conducted the first
Lutheran services in the Dakotas.
The rapid expansion of the work in this territory made necessary
the calling of more missionaries. Expansion to the west began soon.
At first, the home of the pastors had been in Germantown. But soon,
a man by the name of Lahme, also a missionary, had moved 70 miles
westward to Redfield.
By 1890, he had already been active in the neighborhood of what
is now Zeeland.
From the 1880s until the beginning of the first World War, great
numbers of immigrants moved into the Dakotas from South Russia and
The missionaries of the Lutheran church followed those groups westward
in order to serve them the gospel of Christ.
Pastor Lahme, who was the first to do mission work for the Lutheran
church in the vicinity of Zeeland, organized a large parish covering
three counties in the present North and South Dakota. Pastors who
lived in Mound City, South Dakota, served the Zeeland congregation
and other congregations in this parish for many years.
On October 16, 1910, the following met at the Fred Ellwein home
in Zeeland to consider the establishment of a Lutheran congregation:
Henry Hafner, John R. Pfeifer, Jacob Mindt, Fred Ellwein, Andrew
Ellwein, Henry Frecking, Jacob Huber, and Jacob Schiermeister, together
with Rev. W.F. Sauer at Mound City.
At that meeting, it was proposed to take steps to organize a congregation,
obtain property on the south side of Zeeland, and erect a school
house to serve as a place of worship and as a Lutheran school.
On October 24 of the same year, the group again met and officially
organized and incorporated as a congregation. The trustees were
Rev. W.F. Sauer, Henry Hafner, Fred Ellwein, and Jacob Schiermeister.
The newly organized congregation formed a parish with Emanuel Lutheran
Church, located three miles southwest of Zeeland, and Friedens (Peace)
Lutheran Church of Hague, North Dakota.
This tri-parish was served by Rev. W.F. Sauer until 1912, when,
due to the rapid growth of the congregations, a resident pastor
For several years, the congregation worshipped in the Sunday school
building. As the congregation grew, the need for a new building
became apparent. This was started on April 5, 1915, under the direction
of Rev. Martin Keturakat. The building was dedicated on December
15, 1915. It served the congregation until April 1967, when work
was begun on a new building, the congregation’s present house
of worship. The new building was dedicated on October 22, 1967.
The present worship facility is basically of brick and cement-block
construction, with a seating capacity of 160.
In 1919, Emanuel Lutheran Church merged with Zion. In 1958, after
having discontinued services for several years, Friedens Lutheran
Church dissolved and joined Zion. That same year, a ladies’
aid was also officially organized.
In 1916, Zion became a member of the Minnesota Synod of the Lutheran
Church. In 1917, when the Minnesota Synod became a part of the Wisconsin
Synod, Zion was accepted into the membership of the Wisconsin Evangelical
Lutheran Synod, Zion joined together with St. Paul’s of Mound
city to form a dual parish served by one pastor.
The following pastors have served since 1910: Rev. W.F. Sauer,
from 1910 to 1912; Rev. Marin Keturakat, January 1912 to 1921; Rev.
E. Neumann, January 1922 to December 1923; Rev. E. Kolander, May
1924 to January 1925; Rev. Samuel Baer, February 1925 to April 1937;
Rev. J.E. Bade, October 1937 to January 1942; Rev. Walter Hermann,
February 1942 to March 1949; Rev. Philip Janke, July 1950 to August
1954; Rev. Ernest Klauszus, July 1955 to September 1959; Rev. Waldemar
Loescher, July 1961 to November 1964; Rev. Arnold Lemke, July 1965
to September 1970; Rev. Donald Forss, September 1970 to July 1971;
Rev. Robert Weimer, February 1972 to January 1980, and Rev. Timm
O. Meyer, July 1980 to the present.
The following have also served the congregation as vacancy pastors
when the congregation was without a resident pastor: Rev. A Blauert
of Mound City; Prof K.G. Sievert of Mobridge, S.D.; Rev. P.G. Albrecht
of Bowdle, S.D.; Rev. E.O. Schulz of Hazelton, N.D.; Rev. D. Buske;
Rev. N. Engel of Hazelton; and Rev. A.P. Kell of Hazelton.
The present congregation consists of 192 baptized members, 162
communicant members, and 82 voting members.
The present church council comprises Herbert O. Wiest, president;
Elmer Woehlhaff, vice-president; Duane Kilber, secretary; John M.
Pfeifer, treasurer; Rubert Huber, financial secretary; Jerry Levi,
head usher; Gerhardt Rutschke, sexton; Victor Reede and Elmer Rutschke.
Sunday school enrollment is 19. Teachers include Joyce Kilber,
Denise Meyer, and Audrey Huber.
Present Ladies’ Aid officers include Idella Boschee, president;
LaVonne Ketterling, vice-president; Lorraine Reiner, secretary;
and Lillian Rutschke, treasurer.
In 1985, Zion will celebrate its 75th anniversary of its organization
as a congregation.
Zion United Methodist Church: Wishek
By Rev. Edward Parker
Zion United Methodist Church began as a mission work of the Evangelical
Church in 1905.
For a number of years, services were held in homes or school houses.
The Zion rural mission was established west of Wishek, the Ebenezer
or “Gruebele” mission southwest of Wishek. At first
they were served by pastors from Linton and Ashley.
A preaching place was established in Wishek in 1916, served by
Rev. E.C. Oeder and Dan Bittner of Lehr. A church was built and
dedicated in May 1918, under the leadership of Rev. W.L. Martin.
In 1919, Wishek was made a charge with the rural Zion and Ebenezer
taken from Ashley and added to Wishek. The preaching place in Napoleon
was also added, and served out of Wishek until 1933.
In 1919, a parsonage was built in Wishek, which served the charge
until April 1976, when a new parsonage was built.
A women’s organization has been a part of the Wishek charge
In the early 1940s, the Zion rural church closed. In 1964, the
Ebenezer church closed. Most of the members transferred to the Wishek
In 1950, the sanctuary of the church and the basement were enlarged.
In 1968, a foyer was built onto the church.
In 1946, the Evangelical Church merged with the United Brethren
Church to become the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968,
the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church
merged to become the United Methodist Church. In June 1966, the
Lehr and Wishek charges were united.
From our charge, four young men have gone into the Christian ministry.
Kenneth Boschee and Royal Speidel became pastors, and Gideon Bader
and Orville Wolf became missionaries.
Pastors who have served the church are W.L. Martin, from 1917;
Alex Gehring, from 1919; R. Bloedau, from 1923; William Storkman,
from 1924; C.E. Bach, from 1926; E.K. Heimer, from 1929; Karl Hirning,
from 1933; A.H. Ermel, from 1938; Gideon Eberhart, from 1947; E.K.
Heimer, from 1949; C.W. Ketterling, from 1959; W.E. Janetzki, from
1962; and Edward B. Parker from 1970 to present.
Berlin Baptist Church
In the territorial days of 1884, the immigrants and settlers came
pouring into this region to take up homesteads and to try to better
themselves materially. They also felt a concern for their spiritual
Gatherings for worship were in various homes and were at first
non-denominational in character.
In 1888, a group of some 30 persons requested the rite of baptism
by immersion. They organized themselves, under the direction of
Rev. Reichle, as the Berlin Baptist Church. This was in the vicinity
of Antelope Valley.
Among the early members were the Adam Meidingers, Gottlieb Meidingers,
Jacob Meidingers, Mrs. Johann Meidinger, Johann Rotts, George Rott,
Christoph Rott, H.G. Rott, Johann Koths, Adam Muellers, Johann Koenigs,
Gottlieb Lautts, Johann Bosart, Christian Bentz, A. Bentz, J. Hildebrand,
W. Hieb, Adam Kieser, the Sauers, Keckles, Breitlings, Staedings,
Adam Meidinger was the first deacon and treasurer, and Johann Rott
the first clerk and Sunday school superintendent.
Rev. B. Matzke was called to serve as the first minister. Under
his leadership a small church was erected on the present church
site at a cost of $911.
In the 1890’s, the church attained a membership of some 260
During the ministry of Rev. Reichert, a parsonage was built at
the Jewell Branch of the church.
The mission work kept expanding so that stations were established
at Hoffnungstal, Friedensfeld, and Monango. At that time, Jewell
A church and parsonage were constructed at Kulm, and another branch,
blumenfeld, came into being and spread out to Hoffnungstal and Lehr.
A parsonage was built at Lehr, and they organized a church on their
own, the Ebenezer Baptist Church., made up of Rosenfeld, George,
During the ministry of Rev. Bens, the original church building
became inadequate and was replaced by a larger building.
Rev. S.J. Fuxa served the various churches from 1916 to 1921. It
was during that time that the Ebenezer church of Lehr was organized
and was later able to secure its own pastor. Rev. Fuxa continued
his services with the Berlin, Fredonia and Hoffnungsfeld groups.
He lived in Fredonia, where a parsonage had been built in 1918.
This parsonage is still in use, and the pastor drives out to the
country church every Sunday.
Rev. Huber served from 1923 to 1925. From then until 1930, the
church was without a pastor until the coming of Rev. A. Krombein.
His years of service (1930 to 1938) were marked by self-sacrifice
and hardships brought on by drought and consequent harvest failures
during the “dirty 30’s.”
Hoffnungsfeld station joined the main church during the service
of Rev. William Jaster (1938 to 1943).
During Rev. Paul Hunsicker’s ministry (1943 to 1950), the
church recovered from the effects of the Depression and again became
In 1949, the present church building was erected. While Rev. J.C.
Kraenzler was pastor (1950 to 1952), the debt on the new church
was paid off. During the next few years, led by Rev. V.H. Predinger
(1952 to 1960), many necessary improvements were made to the parsonage
The church thereafter had no pressing financial problems and has
continued to enjoy a fruitful period of peace and growth under the
leadership of Rev. David Littke (1960 to 1967), Rev. Kurt Brenner
(1968 to 1970), Rev. Arthur Fischer (1970 to 1977), and the present
pastor, Rev. John Reimer.
St. Luke Lutheran Church: Wishek
By Lori Abentroth
January 1, 1905, can be regarded as the birthdate of St. Luke Lutheran
Church. The Rev. E. Moeckel, convener of the organizational meeting,
was called as the first resident pastor.
By 1907, the possibility of building a church was considered. The
congregation was divided into two groups, St. James congregation,
located northeast of Wishek, and St. Luke congregation, relocated
in Wishek. Pastor Schroeder served as interim pastor following the
resignation of Rev. Moeckel in 1909.
Under the guidance of Pastor John Mayer from 1909 to 1911, the
first church was built. Soon after the arrival of Rev. John Williams
in July 1911, the first parsonage was purchased and the church was
The first English service was on March 10, 1918. The congregation
became self-supporting and had grown to 60 families.
Rev. A. Freymann, who has the distinction of serving the longest
pastorate in the history of the congregation, began his duties in
1919. By 1926, the church building had to be enlarged and a south
In the same year, the parish built a new parsonage. When Freymann
resigned in January 1936, the congregation numbered 100 families.
Pastor George C. Landgrebe became the next shepherd of the flock.
English services were reintroduced and English was used in the parish
education program. The Luther League was organized during that time.
The congregation numbered 131 families in 1938 when Dr. Landgrebe
Later, in the same year, Pastor L.R. Schulz began a five-year pastorate.
The congregation increased its membership to 165 families.
Rev. T.F. Doyen was installed as pastor in 1944. The “language
issue” was resolved by that time and regular worship services
were in both languages.
The apparent need for bigger and better facilities resulted in
the appointment of a planning and building committee and the establishment
of a church building fund. The membership roster listed 286 families,
including the membership of the Salem congregation, which merged
with St. Luke in 1950.
During the pastorate of Rev. John F. Mertz, beginning in 1951,
the congregation constructed a new church with ample room for worship
services and fine educational facilities. It was dedicated on July
Rev. L.G. Sailer succeeded Pastor Mertz in 1958. A mortgage-burning
ceremony was in 1960. Aside form Salem congregation, already mentioned,
the Jehovah, St. James, Peace, St. Paul, and St. John congregations
merged with St. Luke. The congregation now consisted of 1,200 souls.
A new parsonage was dedicated late in the fall of 1964. Rev. G.G.
Neuberger served as pastor from April 1, 1965 to April 1979. He
was assisted by Rev. W. Borchardt, who served as visitation pastor
from May 1967 until July 1970.
During the next two years, intern D. Wissmann and intern M. Zamzow,
students at Wartburg Theological Seminary, were part of the ministerial
At a note-burning ceremony on April 15, 1972, the parsonage debt
St. Luke called Pastor Herman Heupel to serve as assistant pastor
from April 1975 to November 20, 1977. Pastor Richard Kraiger succeeded
Pastor Neuberger from July 1, 1979 to February 13, 1983.
On June 26, 1983, Pastor Guenter Kern began his ministry at St.
St. Luke’s membership roster currently lists 868 baptized
, 740 confirmed and 397 families as members of the congregation.