A Solid Foundation of Faith: Immanuel Baptist Celebrates 100 years

Tandberg, Kathy. "A Solid Foundation of Faith: Immanuel Baptist Celebrates 100 Years." Hazen Star, 30 September 2010, 8, 32.

Editor's note: Portions of the church history have been gathered from church records.

Immanuel Baptist Church. Beulah, will celebrate its centennial Sunday, Oct. 3, a testament to what 100 years of faith can do.

The church has a diverse congregation of approximately 175 worshipers who come from around Mercer County, a far cry from the 24 faithful who began the church so long ago. The journey here has been an interesting one.

History in the Making

It was in 1910 that 24 people from the Beulah area felt the need to share their Christian fellowship. Being new to the land from Russia and Romania and not yet familiar with the language here, it was a desire to share fellowship with kindred people of the same faith and language that led to the beginning.

These faithful gathered with neighboring Baptist churches to seek advice. The result was the organization of the German Baptist Church, to become known as Immanuel's Church at Evans, 10 miles south of Beulah.

The 24 were so strong in faith that before the church was even organized, they built the first church building there, and dedicated it the day after the organizational meeting. The church was built at a cost of $1,204.

The first pastor to serve the church was Brother Frederick Pahlke, who served for two years. The first members accepting into the newly organized church by baptism were Sisters Olga Binder and Mina Sorge, on July 17, 1910. In total, Pahlke baptized nine souls into the church.

In 1914, a parsonage was built and the church was moved into Beulah. In the mid1920s, a station church was built in Zap.


The congregation in Beulah was growing and the need for a new church became apparent. In 1930, a new church was built in the city on the corner of Second Avenue and First Street Northwest. A new parsonage was eventually built next door. The original church still stands there today, but was sold and has since been remodeled into a home.

Growth remained a vision with the congregation through the years. In the late 1960s a building fund was started with an eye on a new building. By the end of the 70s a groundbreaking service was held at the location of the present church at 432 Sunny Drive in northeast Beulah. The first part of the new church, the sanctuary, was completed in 1980.

Since that time, the sun has indeed shined on Immanuel Baptist Church. In October 1983 the church held a mortgage burning ceremony. In May 1984 new construction began on what would become the education wing. At that time the AWANA program of Bible study for children ofall ages began with more than 120 in attendance. In 1996 in the Family Life Center a gymnasium was built.


Spokesman and church member Gilbert Ost and his wife, Vi, are among the longest termed members of the Beulah church, along with Kathryn Helm, who was an original member at the Zap location.

The Osts became members in 1954. It's a time Ost will never forget. He was a young man of 24; Vi just 22. They had been married four years and had two children when they were invited by close friends, Ray and Irene Fischer, to attend a Baptist revival one Thursday night with Evangelist Bernard Fritsky speaking.

Ost, then a member of another faith, didn't think it was going to be a good time, but the family went anyway. After a time, he found an excuse to take one of the children out and didn't go back in. But that wasn't the end of it for him. He thought he was set up because it was just as though the evangelist was speaking right to him.

"I didn't sleep that night. I didn't know what it was, but it was real. Conviction took hold of me. Vi felt the same way and we went back Friday on our own. We've been part of the church ever since," Ost said.

Ost and Vi were some of the first new blood to join the church in a long time. They came away from the first business meeting with many positions.

"It wasn't a large congregation at that time, but every Sunday after that exciting," Ost said.

Ost recalled some of the most exciting times that included the many building and remodeling projects. He recalled when he and Cal Herman .worked on building a tunnel between the parsonage and church.

"The cement was tough to go through and we used jack hammers," he recalled.

Other exciting times in the church were baptisms. Until the new sanctuary was built in 1980, baptisms were done at the Hebron church, or in the Knife River or other waters like Spring Creek and then later Lake Sakakawea.

"Our kids were all baptized in a river or lake," Ost said.

Ost recalled the baptism of 82-year-old Dorthea Knoll.

"We didn't have a baptistery so we did it in the Knife River. But we had to dig steps in the sandy banks, then we had three men in front and back of her to help her down and back up the river banks. It was exciting," Ost said.

Ost said baptisms would be an afternoon of celebration with a potluck picnic on the shores.

As a deacon and moderator with the church for 40 years, Ost said he, along with many members, had his hand in many church projects in one way or another. He is especially fond of the building of the stone wall that frames the sanctuary. The project contractor was Hazen resident David Schoenrock.

"The rock came from Keystone, S.D. But the bricklayers here wouldn't touch it. Schoenrock located rock layers in Missouri who agreed to come up and do the project. They laid the rock in four days," Ost said.

As Ost explained, the rock is laid out in random order, but directed by one on the rock layers who stood back in the middle and directed the rock layers. Ost's description brought to mind the work of a choir director, directing the random design in perfect harmony.

"He would tell one guy he had to use a different color of rock in one place, and tell the next guy he had to use a different shape. They finished it on a Sunday afternoon and it was perfection," he said.

The cross that adorns the sanctuary is a work in compromise. Ost said some wanted an iron cross; others wanted a wooden cross. The result that now hangs there is an iron cross with a wood filler.

The cross and rock wall with its colors of reds, browns and tan natural stones, appears as though guided by the Lord's hands and reflects on a sanctuary that speaks each Sunday to a congregation with many variances of color, shape, personalities and talents.

It is part of the solid foundation of faith of Immanuel Baptist Church. The celebration of the church's centennial will be held Sunday, Oct. 3, with various events planned. Fellowship before the service will be at 9:15 a.m. Worship service will be at 10 a.m. with a meal to follow.

At 1 p.m. there will be a history presentation with music, sharing, coffee and cake. All are welcome.

24 Charter Members German Baptist Church, known as Immanuel's Baptist Church:

Christian Becker Jacob Grentz Elizabeth Koch
Regina Becker Wilhelmina Grentz Albert Letzering
Jacob Becker Peter Glass Emma Letzering
Katherina Becker Elisabeth Glass Christian Scheurer
Gustav Binder Gottfried Hauff Louise Scheurer
Amalie Binder Marie Hauff Dorothea Sorge
Gottlieb Klaudt Gottfried Jaster Christian Lemneg
Katarina Klaudt Friederika Jaster Philippine Schmidt

100 years of Immanuel Baptist Church Pastors

Rev. Frederick Pahlke Rev, Samuel Blumhagen Rev. Fred Trautner (twice)
Rev. Daniel Kline Rev. Arthur Fischer Rev. Peter Schilling
Rev. William Jaster Rev. Ernest Lautt Rev. John Wood
Rev. Edwin Voigt Rev. George Neubert Rev. Herman Kesterke
Rev. Gordon Voegeie Rev. Terry Midkiff Rev. Howard Anderson
Rev. Rod Poppinga Rev. Allan Gerber, current interim pastor


Spokesman for Immanuel Baptist Church, Gilbert Ost, stands in front of the current rock wall church sanctuary next to a model of the former church.

This early church of the Immanuel Baptist was built in 1930.
Today the Immanuel Baptist Church holds a large sanctuary adorned by a cross, with an educational wing and Family Life Center.

Reprinted with permission of the Hazen Star.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller