Written Histories:

First Evangelical Lutheran Church

Beardstown, Illinois

1848-1998

God’s bounty 150 yesteryears

God’s blessing forever…

 

During this Sesquicentennial Anniversary Year of the founding of First Evangelical Lutheran Church, we give thanks to Almighty God for the manifold blessings bestowed upon our congregation.

 

We give praise, honor and glory to Him who provided First Evangelical Lutheran Church with steadfast and God-fearing pioneers who helped establish our church. Special praise is ascribed to the thirty two charter members who organized our church on May 22, 1848 and to the faithful pastors and dedicated teachers who continued to preach and teach the Word of God as written in the Holy Scriptures.

 

All members – past, present and future are honored for their loyalty and support in the building of God’s Kingdom. We pray that the blessings of the past 150 years may continue upon generations yet to come as they abide always in the one true faith as taught by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

                                                            The Anniversary Committee

 

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Vision Statement of

First Evangelical Lutheran Church

 

We of the first Evangelical Lutheran Church

Are dedicated

To living the Gospel of Jesus Christ

By showing God’s love

Through our thoughts, words and deeds.

 

 

 

THE PIONEER ERA

 

Earliest records in possession of First Lutheran Church show a Lutheran ministry dating back as far as December 1833. The records include births, baptisms, confirmations, weddings and deaths. From the varieties of penmanship, it is evident a number of pastors served the spiritual needs of the people. Some of them probably were circuit riders. Besides Beardstown, Meredosia, Jacksonville, Rushville, Virginia and Arenzville, there were entries for such places as Monroe Precinct, Naughty Settlement (Schuyler County), Prairie Creek, Indian Creek and Schulte’s Landing.

 

The sources of information concerning early missionaries, preachers and religious organizations are so meager and of such traditional character that little can be regarded as trustworthy after all these generations.

 

A very early pioneer minister in our area was the reverend Frederic Launer, a great grandfather of Earl and Gilbert Launer of Beardstown. He was a native of Berne, Switzerland, educated as a Lutheran minister and a master of five languages. He was a missionary in Africa for three years prior to coming to America in 1832 to do mission work among the Germans and the French. He first held a professorship in a college in Buffalo, New York, and later at Philadelphia, preaching in both places. He later came to Beardstown and built up a Lutheran congregation here and also at Havana and Pekin. The Germans living in Arenzville asked him to serve them also. He finally left Beardstown and settled on a farm four miles north of Arenzville. From this point he served both of his small congregations. He was the pastor of the first German church in Arenzville. He was widely and well known as a preacher, and had a great deal of influence in that capacity. Early records in our possession record the marriages of his three sons and a daughter. Launer was a contemporary of Reverend Bauermeister who founded First Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1848.

 

Daniel Scherer, a missionary from North Carolina, established a Lutheran church at Hillsboro, Illinois in 1835. It was the largest house of worship in the state. In 1839 the Synod of the West held its fifth annual meeting at Hillsboro. This was the first ecclesiastical meeting of the Lutheran church ever held in Illinois. From the Rieger diary, printed by the Missouri Historical Review, we learn that on June 26, 1838, as he rode from Alton to Beardstown, he traveled through swampy country. After he crossed the Illinois River he met two men who lived a half-mile from Reverend Bolenius. The three men were caught in a storm, and they became soaked from head to foot. They arrived at a house but there were already nine strangers in it so there wasn’t any room for them. They traveled on in the rain and about 10:00 p.m., came to another house and were received with hospitality. A note in his diary: the gnats and mosquitoes are annoying here.

 

The next day he was able to talk with Reverend Bolenius and then rode on to Beardstown. He was asked to preach that evening but he could not comply with the peoples wish. He spent the night in Jacksonville and on the 30th returned to Alton, weary and worn out from the heat. On July 3rd he reports only six persons in church that morning and no one in the afternoon so he decided to leave and return to Beardstown. He rode over prairie, saw several new town sites laid out and for the most part there was not road so he had to steer his way like a seaman. On July 16th he baptized two children and administered the Lord’s Supper to thirty two communicants. That night he slept in a barn and covered himself with his coat. The mosquitoes were very bad.

On July 23rd he held services in Beardstown at 11:00 a.m. There were more than one hundred people there but none of the so called educated. About fifty partook of the Lord’s Supper. In the afternoon a slightly intoxicated man came with his children. Reverend Rieger baptized the children and prayed that the Lord would be merciful to the man.

 

In Beardstown, Rieger found a more fruitful field of labor. The church services were well attended as was the school which he taught. He also fared better financially since the money set aside for the public school was paid to him. He won the affection of the children and often the esteem of otherwise recalcitrant parents.

 

Reverend Rieger returned to Germany in 1839 to seek a wife and, accomplishing that goal, he returned to Beardstown in the 1840’s for two years but established no permanent church probably because of his frequent absences.

 

In 1842 a building to be sued as a school house and for religious purposes was erected on land given by Thomas Beard, the founder of Beardstown. At this time Beardstown was a community some fifty blocks sprawled along the Illinois River from Jackson to Edwards Street and extending to Seventh or Eighth Street. The building stood at the corner of Fifth and Washington Streets (lot one – block forty five) which is the present site of the David Soer home. It was designated the “German Evangelical Protestant Church” and was open to all denominations. No one minister was appointed to this church. Services were held there for a number of years.

 

At a later date some of the most orthodox members came to the conclusion that, in addition to services on Sunday, there should also be prayer meeting and religious exercises on other evenings and day of the week. In this movement, trustees George Kuhl and William Hemminghaus were the leaders and for a time meetings were held in the town school house on Main Street which belonged to Mr. Kuhl. This resulted in the formation of the German Methodist Church in 1846. Their first church building was on the corner of Fifth and State Streets, which is now the United Methodist Church parking lot. Mr. Hemminghaus, a jeweler, had immigrated from Germany in 1833. He built a reed organ which was used for a number of years at the church. It is believed to have been the first organ in this area. Records in our possession tell of the births of the Hemminghaus children, a daughter in 1835 and a son in 1837. It was from this German Methodist Church that thirty two German Lutherans, along with their pastor, Reverend William Bauermeister, left and organized First Evangelical Lutheran Church.

 

After a number of years, what was originally the German Evangelical Lutheran Protestant Church dissolved and the parish records were given to First Evangelical Lutheran Church.

THE BEGINNING

OF

FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH

 

First Evangelical Lutheran Church was officially founded on May 22, 1848 under the leadership of the Reverend William Bauermeister.

 

Thirty two German Lutheran and the Reverend Bauermiester had been affiliated with the German Methodist Church. They were dissatisfied with the worship services and decided to organize their own congregation.

 

The constitution was adopted on August 27th and the congregation was legally recorded on September 25, 1848. The newly formed congregation met for worship in an old school house located at Sixth and State Streets, the present site of the Masonic Temple.

 

The Reverend Bauermiester served the church for two years with an annual salary of $50.00. He preached his farewell sermon on October 20, 1850.

 

 

THE FIRST CHURCH

 

Our first church home was build at Forth and Lafayette Streets on two lots purchased for the price of $225. On Christmas Day, 1849 the contract for construction of the new church was let to Mr. W. Hegener in the amount of $300. The materials for the building were furnished by congregational members. Herman Meyer made the stone foundation for $2.50 per perch. The new church, a wooden structure, was dedicated on January 1 1851 and served the congregation well for over forty years.

 

Under the leadership of Reverend Grau (1852-1863) the congregation tripled in membership. The parsonage was build during Reverend Grau’s pastorate, about 1858. It was a one story frame building – three rooms for the pastor’s family and a one room parochial school. In July of 1887, tow rooms were added. A two-story addition to the church was also erected, this later became known as the Parish Hall. The first pipe organ was installed in the church and it was used until 1909.

 

The church continued to increase rapidly in membership. However in 1871 during Reverend Knoll’s pastorate, a doctrinal controversy divided the congregation. One group (our congregation) adhered to the General Synod of Illinois and the other group established St. John’s Church on the corner of Sixth and Jefferson Streets and became affiliated with the Missouri Synod. The church property was divided. St John’s Church sold their interest to First Evangelical Lutheran Church for $2,000. Our congregation retained the records that preceded the separation of the two parishes.  

A NEW CHURCH EDIFICE

 

On February 12, 1893 (during the pastorate of Reverend W. Rosenstengel 1892-1898) it was decide to build a new church edifice. The last service in the old church was held May 1893.

 

The one story part of the church was torn down. The two story section was moved to the south end of the lot and faced Lafayette Street.

 

The second story was used as the Luther Alliance and the first floor was used as a school. In later years the entire building housed the Sunday school and provided a meeting place for various church organizations.  

 

The corner stone laying ceremony was held on July 11, 1893. January 7, 1894 was Dedication Day, and on this happy day the congregation met in the parish hall for a short service. Led by the pastor and the choir, the congregation then marched to the front of the newly completed church where they joined in singing the hymn, Mr. F. Wessel unlocked the doors of the church and handed the key to Reverend Rosenstengel, who in turn led the members into their new church home.

 

One of the prominent features of the church was the Luther Window. The choir loft and the organ were located in a balcony at the back of the church. The building had two entrances with the entrance on Fourth Street containing the bell two. Over the Lafayette Street entrance was a reminder of our German heritage, a ruby red glass window reading “Erste Evang. Lutherische Kirche” Gegrundet 1848.

 

The morning service was conducted in both German and English. The evening service was conducted in entirely in English. The ushers passed among the audience and a collection of $1,200 was received (the monetary value today would be $267, 000). A debt of $800 remained on the beautiful edifice which had been erected and furnished at a cost of $10,504.73.

 

In 1909, a very fine Hinners pipe organ was installed and dedicated. The organ was operated by water pressure, but a hand pump had to be used when the water froze in the winter time. Later on an electric pump was installed.

 

THE PARSONAGE

 

In 1900 the parsonage that was built in 1887 was moved from the church’s property. On February 12th a contract was let and a two-story parsonage was build adjacent to the church on the west. The first pastor to occupy the parsonage was Reverend R. Schmidt (1889-1904). The last occupants were the Reverend Glenn Anderson and family.

 

In 1982 after much discussion and careful evaluation of the parsonage, the congregation voted to demolish the building. It was razed at a cost of $7,000. This paved the way for Pastor Beaty to purchase his own residence.  

At that time several anonymous donors established a trust fund to make money available to the churches’ pastor, on an interest free basis in order that the pastor could purchase a home. This loan was to be repaid at the end of the pastors tenure so the funds would be available to the pastor’s successor.

REPAIRS TO THE CHURCH

AND ADDITION OF

BASEMENT AUDITORIUM

 

In 1947, during the pastorate of Reverend Kenneth Knudsen (1941-1952), the interior of the church was replastered and decorated. Red carpeting was laid in the chancel and aisles and a new heating system was installed. The exterior walls were cleaned and water-proofed. The roof, steeple and outer woodwork were repaired and painted.

 

Work begun in May and continued throughout most of the remainder of the year. During this period of renovation the Sunday school and Church Services were held in the basement of the Masonic Temple.

 

On July 7, 1947 excavation began for the basement auditorium. The auditorium was completed on February 15, 1948 and replaced the old parish hall as a gathering area. The area was equipped with a kitchen and furnished with folding tables and chairs making it suitable for dinners, banquets and social get-to-gathers. The room could be divided by a removable partition, forming two separate rooms for the beginners and primary Sunday school department.

 

The first group, other than the Sunday school departments, to utilize the new quarters was the Luther League, which held its regular monthly social and devotional meeting there on February 15, 1948.

 

The Church Council was empowered at the January 19, 1948 Annual Meeting to sell and remove the old parish hall. On February 13th the furnishings were moved to the new basement auditorium and the razing of the parish hall was begun on February 16th.

 

 

NEW PARISH EDUCATION BUILDING

AND CHURCH RENOVATION

 

During the pastorate of Donald Krueger (1953-1961) the congregation voted in November of 1953 to build a new parish education building. Ground was broken on March 7, 1954, cornerstone laid on May 16th and the dedication was on November 14, 1954.

 

Also during the tenure of Pastor Krueger the entire church building was renovated. The goal of $50,000 for the renovation was reached in just a little over one week. Nine days from the time team captains had organized their workers the canvass had been completed and the goal not only reached, but over-subscribed. Dedication services for the renovated nave were held on December 18, 1960.

The chancel was moved from west to south, the balcony was removed and new pews were installed. The choir loft and new Wicks organ were placed it the former chancel area. The chimes were retained form a previous organ.

 

During the renovation, the ruby red window was removed from above the Lafayette Street entrance. The window was stored, then when workers were to install the window over the Fourth Street entrance, the glass shattered as they removed it from the wooden frame. The window that is now over the door is a reproduction of the original.

 

During the pastorate of Reverend Glenn Anderson (1967-1981) in 1979 the nave was redecorated, new blue carpeting installed, and pew cushions purchased.

 

In 1981, in order to make it easier for handicapped members to attend congregational activities, a         chair lift was installed on the basement stairs. The stained glass windows were repaired, cleaned and covered with Lexon.

 

At the time of the pastoral vacancy in 1981, the pastor’s study was redecorated, new furnishings purchased and the Sunday school rooms were painted.

 

During the pastorate of Reverend James Beaty, (1982-1991) in 1983 it was determined that the bell tower was structurally unsound. It was repaired at a cost of $40,000. Half of the cost was paid by insurance since it was believed the damage was due to lightening.

 

In 1990, the video room was built and new lighting was added to the sanctuary.

 

 

THE NEW ADDITION

 

In 1993, under the leadership of Reverend Michael Massa, (1992-present) the congregation acted on the need of making our church complex handicapped accessible, to provide a gathering area, large fellowship hall and an up-to-date kitchen.

 

On March 30, 1993 the Building/Planning Committee first met to discuss how this project could be accomplished. In 1990 a large bequest was received from the Clarence and Clara Hood Estate. The funds from the bequest were added to those raised by the congregation. By 1996 seventy seven percent of the estimated cost of the project was on hand (327,000). Ground breaking for the new building was on August 15, 1996.

 

The building was completed in August of 1997. The total cost of the building project was $415,264.65. The dedication, on February 1998, was the first special event of our Sesquicentennial Year. The Reverend Alton Zenker, D.D., Bishop of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod was the guest speaker.  

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150 years are in the past. We are called to be God’s body at work on earth. Let us walk into the future together with Christ as out leader and guide.

GLEANINGS FROM YESTERYEARS

 

The first Sunday school was organized in 1871 under the leadership of Rev. Conradi.

 

On Palm Sunday, March 26, 1893, nine people were confirmed using the English language for the first time in the history of this congregation.

 

In 1896 cemetery lots were $10.00 and single graves were $2.00.

 

Stella Stohecker Musch from our congregation was a Lutheran Deaconate from 1903-1907.

 

There was no confirmation in 1907 due to a pastoral vacancy.

 

In 1909 Pastor P.C. Croll became the first American-born pastor at First Lutheran. Expenses for 1909 were $1,910.69. Sunday services were held at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

 

From 1909-1913 the Beardstown Lutheran Herald was published monthly with Pastor Croll as Editor. The subscription price was $.25 per year.

 

A bequest of $1,000.00 was received from Henry Frauman to be placed in a trust fund.

 

The membership of First Lutheran Church was 556 in 1912. The largest individual contribution was $30.00 and the smallest $.50. total receipts were $1,751.24.

 

Tillie Heintze, mother of Elda Heintze, was our organist in 1915.

 

Until 1918 church records were written in German script. Congregational meetings were held quarterly. Beginning in 1918 congregational minutes were recorded English. German and English services were held on alternating Sundays.

 

The first English Constitution and By-laws were drafted in January of 1919. Pastor P.C. Croll’s salary was $100.00 monthly. The janitor’s salary was $20.00 in the winter and $15.00 in the summer. The organist was paid $75.00 per year.

 

In December of 1920 Mr. Schuman was allowed $1.50 to purchase a wheelbarrow to wheel coal in the basement for the stove.

 

German services were discontinued in 1921. A committee was formed for rules, forms and complaints in 1922.

 

In 1923 Pastor Epting’s salary was $166.70 monthly. His salary was still the same in 1928.

 

Names of members who were delinquent in their pledge were given to the Church Council by Pastor Epting in June of 1923. A letter was sent to each of these members bearing the Council’s signature.

 

The church celebrated 75 years in August of 1923.

 

In November of 1923 the Council reported that an Annual Thanksgiving Service will be held.

 

Janitors duties were put into writing in March of 1924. Ten duties were listed and the salary was $25.00 per month.

 

The Ladies Aid Society purchased six dozen fans for $3.60 in June of 1925.

 

During Rev. Knudsen’s pastorate the first Christmas Eve Candlelighting Service was held on December 23, 1945.

 

One hundred and seventy were in attendance at the Mother/Daughter Banquet in May of 1948.

 

The tower chimes were given as a memorial in March of 1949.

 

In July of 1953 the Travelers Insurance Company estimated the value of the church property at $76,000.00.

 

During Reverend Krueger’s pastorate the first Loyalty Sunday service was helpd in December of 1953.

 

The congregation celebrated its 110th anniversary on May 11, 1958.

 

On January 1, 1963 a four-way merger of Lutheran Synods formed the Lutheran Church in America.

 

A quote from the 1965 Annual Report: “Special thanks to Dottie Lamb for her continued work in overseeing the Sunday Church School in view of the fact that she had resigned from the position of Sunday Church School Superintendent some time ago.” Note: in 1998 Dottie is still active in the church school.

 

Acolyte robes were worn for the first time in July of 1966.

 

The first breakfast/service was held at Roberts Park in 1967.

 

In September of 1967 the MOCASCO organization was formed. MOCASCO consist of eight Lutheran churches from Morgan, Cass and Scott Counties.

 

Blanch Farrar completed 36 years as janitor in December of 1967.

 

On February 6, 1968 the church Council voted to have a Tenebrae Service on Good Friday.

 

The cooper steeple cross was erected in 1968. On April 20, 1979 the cross was loosened due to high winds requiring it to be repaired and remounted.

 

The 120th Anniversary Service of rededication was held on August 18, 1968.

 

In 1970 the congregation received a bequest of a 120 acre farm by Frank Dechert.

 

In 1971 Wm. P. Mueller constructed “God’s Treasure Chest”. Our pledges of time, talent and financial support are still placed in the chest each year on Loyalty Sunday.

 

Lay readers began taking part in the worship in 1974 and the women are occasionally serving as ushers. Entire families are coming to the communion rail with children receiving a pastoral blessing.

 

Finance/Stewardship Committee reported that the cost to run our church for any one day in 1974 was $99.48 and in 1975 it would cost $100.95.

 

In 1974 Marlene Baugher became the first female to serve on the Church Council.

 

John Ashcraft, a congregation son, was ordained here at First Lutheran in July of 1976.

 

Nave air conditioning and outside lighting for the altar windows were installed in 1977.

 

The congregation observed its 130th anniversary in 1978.

 

In 1982 a Processional Cross was given to the congregation and the Altar Guild was organized.

 

In 1982 our congregation was instrumental in the formation of Christian Love in Action. CLIA is cooperatively sponsored by local churches.

 

The congregation observed its 135th anniversary in 1983.

 

In 1983 a telephone Prayer Circle was established and a Koinonia Bible Study led by Pastor Beatty was held in members home. Our first Lay Witness Mission was held in November of 1983. New communion ware, a funeral pall and 30 LBW Hymnals were purchased. A credence shelf to hold the communion ware was made by Ed Rink.     

 

A Sunday school room was converted into an office for the church secretary in 1984.

 

In 1985 the organ chimes were repaired, microphones were purchased for the choir loft and a personal PA system was installed to assist the hearing impaired.

 

The exterior of the church was cleaned and tuckpointed during 1986. Two special gifts were received from church members in 1986: a Wurlitzer piano and an electronic keyboard.

 

The tin box, set in 1893, was removed from the corner-stone in 1987. The box and contents had been damaged by flood waters. A new copper box containing 25 documents was re-set in the Corner-stone. In 1987 the congregation surprised Pastor Beatty with a gift of a trip to the Holy Land.  Processional torches and stands were purchased with Memorial Funds.

In January 0f 1988 our church became a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) along with over 11,000 Lutheran Churches all over the United States. This was due to the merger of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America.  Our church is the thirds oldest ELCA congregation in Illinois.  The oldest congregation is St. John’s Lutheran, Dongola and the second oldest is St. John’s Lutheran at Bramen.

 

In January of 1988 Kay Larkin became the first female elected to serve as Church Council President.

 

During February of 1988 members of Grace, Loyalty and Faith Guilds made plans to reorganize as the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (WELCA).

 

During Lent/Easter of 1988 a “wall of food” (750 items) was donated by the Sunday school children to Christian Love in Action.

 

In 1990 liquid wax candles were purchased for the altar area.

 

Pam Gonzales, the first female pastor at First Lutheran, was ordained and installed as Associate Pastor on June 30, 1991.

 

In 1993 the Youth Council launched a puppet ministry called the “Rainbow Ship”.

 

During the summer months of 1994 Saturday evening contemporary services were first held.

 

On June 2, 1996 the ordination service for Jean Rabary was held at First Lutheran. Bishop Benjamin from Madagascar took part in the ordination service. 

 

In 1996 a new catechism program was instated (fast paced and action oriented).

 

The translation of our early parish records, that were written in German Gothic Script was competed in 1994. William C. Talkemayer, translator and compiler.  

 

An Ensoniq Electronic keyboard was give to the church in 1997.

 

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Congregation sons who entered into the ministry

 

Arthur Schmidt

George H. Volkmar

John Ashcraft

 

 

 

 

PASTORS WHO HAVE SERVED FIRST LUTHERAN:

 

W. Bauermeister         1848-1850

W. Hunderdorf           1851-1852

G. Grau                       1852-1863

J.N. Kugel                   1863-1867

R. Knoll                      1867-1871

F.A. Conradi               1871-1873

J. Bond *                     1873-1875

J.F. Grassow               1875-1876

A. Schaberhorn           1876-1877

G. Loeffler                  1877-1881

J. Bond *                     1881-1884

J. Broadman                1884-1892

W. Rosenstengel         1892-1898

R. Schmidt                  1899-1904

Paul Hansen                1905-1906

Paul Bergman              1906-1908

P.C. Croll                    1909-1921

Thaddeus Epting         1922-1938

Karl Irvin                    1938-1941

Kenneth Knudsen       1941-1952

Donald Krueger          1953-1961

Milton Engelhart         1961-1967

Glenn Anderson          1967-1981

James Beaty                1982-1991

Pamela Gonzalez         1991-1995

Michael Massa            1992-

 

 

*served two different pastorates

 

THE SEQUICENTENNIAL COMMITTEE

 

The First Evangelical Lutheran Church Sesquicentennial Celebration took five years of planning and much “behind the scene” work. In November of 1993, the Church Council made the following appointments to the 150th Anniversary Committee: Opal Dowdall, Kermit Pilger, Gladys Bollhorst, Elda Heintze, Henry Dufelmeier and Kay Larkin. Others who served on the committee were: Pastor Michael Massa, Bill Mueller, Allen Fischer, Teresa Fischer, Mary Miller, Katherine Kuhn, Grace Hermetet, Carol Raney, Donna Tucker, Jan Applegate, Verlin Perry, Mary Kathern Barker and Hilma Stover.

 

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It has been a delight working with these folks the past few years to plan and prepare for the 150th Anniversary of First Evangelical Lutheran Church.

 

                                                                        Kay Larkin, General Chairman

                                                                        150th Anniversary Committee

 

 

COMMEMORITIVE ITEMS

 

Commemorative items for the 150th celebration included a calendar listing birthdays, anniversaries and sesquicentennial events; booklet containing church history; booklet of “I Remember Interviews” (members who were at least 70 years of age); sesquicentennial banner; pictorial directory; cook book; history book of the women’s organizations and a crystal bell.

 

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

 

The special events scheduled for 1998 in observance of our 150th year included:

 

February 8: Opening event with the Reverend Alton Zenker, Bishop of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod guest speaker at the worship service. After the service and dedication of the new building, a catered dinner, program and recognition of those who had shared their time and talents during the construction of the building.

 

March 29:  Pastor Glenn Anderson guest pastor and that evening a congregation dinner honoring members seventy-plus years of age.

 

May 13:  Mother-Daughter Banquet. Theme: “Through the Years”.

 

May 24:  Pastor Donald Kruger guest pastor. Following the worship service a confirmation reunion dinner.  

 

August 30:  Worship service at Roberts Park, old-fashioned picnic and games.

 

October 3:  OCTOBERFEST Celebration with an international foods potluck, followed by the sesquicentennial pageant.

 

October 4:  Pastor John Ashcraft, guest pastor

 

November 1:  Rededication/closing celebration. Pastor Jean Rabary in attendance and Pastor James Beaty guest speaker. After the worship service a catered meal and program.

First Evangelical Lutheran Church

Beardstown, Illinois

 

1848-1983

 

135th Anniversary

Pastor’s Message

 

 

Greetings in the Name of Jesus:

 

As you review the history of this congregation you cannot help but be impressed with what God has done in our midst. Thanks to our Lutheran understanding that we must preach the Gospel, many families have become Christians, committing themselves to Christ and His church.

 

On Fourth Street our ancestors built a beautiful sanctuary, parsonage and educational building. When the parsonage had served its purpose, and become too expensive to repair, it was carefully dismantled leaving a pleasant lawn and room for future uses.

 

With-in our walls, the center of our preaching is the Word Jesus Christ crucified for the forgiveness of our sins. We are growing in our awareness of the importance of the Sacraments as the means God uses to send us His grace and forgiveness in with and under the elements of bread, wine and water.

 

The 135th Anniversary is not a “biggie” like the 125th or the 150th should be. Yet, this year we also remember the 500th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther. He began as an ordinary priest and teacher, who was courageous enough to speak the truth even if it was contrary to years of tradition. That truth Luther found was the Gospel---the good news. In 1523 Luther said, “…We must teach this: Behold Christ died for you. He took upon himself your sin, death, and hell, and bore the burden of it all. But nothing could hold Him down. He was too strong. He rose from beneath it all and overcame it and subjected it to Himself and He did this only that you should be freed from it and made lord over it. If you believe this, it is yours.”

 

Now let us celebrate the blessing God has given us chiefly through His Son. Thank God for 135 years of Christian Life and growth here in Beardstown!

 

 

                                                                                                            James Beaty

 

 

THE PASTORATES

 

W. Bauermeister         1848-1850

W. Hunderdorf           1851-1852

G. Grau                       1852-1863

J.N. Kugel                   1863-1867

R. Knoll                      1867-1871

F.A. Conradi               1871-1873

J. Bond *                     1873-1875

J.F. Grassow               1875-1876

A. Schaberhorn           1876-1877

G. Loeffler                  1877-1881

J. Bond *                     1881-1884

J. Broadman                1884-1892

W. Rosenstengel         1892-1898

R. Schmidt                  1899-1904

Paul Hansen                1905-1906

Paul Bergman              1906-1908

P.C. Croll                    1909-1921

Thaddeus Epting         1922-1938

Karl Irvin                    1938-1941

Kenneth Knudsen       1941-1952

Donald Krueger          1953-1961

Milton Engelhart         1961-1967

Glenn Anderson          1967-1981

James Beaty                1982-

 

 

Did you know?

 

In 135 years we have had only two congregational sons go into the ministry.

 

George Henry Volkmar

John Ashcraft

 

The only “Sister” from our congregation was Stella Strohecker Musch. She was in the Lutheran Deaconate 1903-1907.

 

Members of Church Council

 

Charles Guelker, Secretary

Wm Dufelmeyer, Treasurer

Henry Frauman

Adam Ruppel

Henry Krems

Charles Gersmeyer

BEARDSTOWN – A PLACE OF SIN . . .

 

In the Fall of 1836, the Reverend Ezra Keller was sent by the Synod of Pennsylvania to the “West”, which then included Illinois, as an exploring missionary. Despite a devastatingly cold winter, he crossed the entire state from East to West and visited many settlements of Lutherans, ministering to their spiritual needs.

He visited Beardstown over a Sabbath Day and found abounding wickedness here, for on that Lord’s Day four hundred hogs were slaughtered. Pastor Keller was very prominent in Lutheran circles. He later became the founder and first president of Wittenberg College at Springfield, Ohio.

 

BEARDSOWN REPRESENTED AT FIRST

LUTHERAN CONVENTION IN ILLINOIS

 

            In 1839 the Synod of the West held its fifth annual meeting at Hillsboro, Illinois.  This was the first ecclesiastical meeting of the Lutheran Church ever held in this state. The church at Hillsboro was the largest Lutheran house of worship in the state. One of the pastors present was the Rev. W. Balonius of Beardstown who was affiliated with the West Pennsylvania Synod.

 

            To this day, Pastor Balonius remains the subject of a mystery—who was he? It has been suggested that someone with a historical bent research the old Beardstown newspaper files as well as those of the old West Pennsylvania Synod archives.

 

 

HISTORYOF THE FIRST EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH

 

            A group of German Lutherans who had been affiliated with the German Methodist Church, known as the rooster church because of the rooster weather vane, in 1848 became dissatisfied with the services and decided to organize their own congregation.

 

            On May 22, 1848, the organization was affected under the leadership of Rev. Wm. Bauermeister with 32 active members. They became known as the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Beardstown, Illinois.

 

            The constitution was adopted on August 27, and synodical connection effected with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Illinois. The congregation was legally recorded on September 25th.

 

            Services were held for a year or so in a school house at 6th and State streets, the present site of the Masonic Temple. The first church council was composed of the following members: W. H. Duwel, J. F. Kors, J. A. Looman and J. H. Rohn.

 

            On  October 20, 1850 Rev. Bauermeister preached his farewell sermon. Having served the church two years with an n annual salary of fifty dollars.

 

 

WE ARE THERE . . . Pastor Bauermeister preaches his last sermon in the German Methodist Church and organizes the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Beardstown.

 

On Sunday, May 22, 1848, the Rev. Bauermeister who was pastor of the German Methodist Church, but had formerly been of the Lutheran faith, publicly announced he felt drawn back to the Lutheran Church and preached a farewell sermon on the incident of “Abraham and Lot”, his text being, “Let there be no strife, I pray between thee and me, for we are brethren. If thou wilt take the left hand, I will go to the right.”

 

He called upon the Lutherans in the congregation to return with him. Thirty-two responded to the call and a service was arranged for the evening to be held in the school house. Thus the First Lutheran Church was organized with thirty-two members.

From:  The Illinoisan Star, July 23, 1929Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the City of Beardstown.

 

DID OUR FOUNDING PASTOR, W. Bauermeister really prefer the name of “St. John” for our congregation?

 

Pastor W. Rosenstengel preparing the history of the congregation for the 50th Anniversary program said on August 28, 1989:

 

Reverend Bauermeister writes: “This congregation was incorporated as the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in the years of 1848”. The name “St. John” which was afterwards added by Rev. Bauermeister, was never recorded. 

 

 

FIRST CHURCH HOME, GROWTH, SEPARATION

 

The first tract of land bought by the new congregation at a cost of $145 was a lot bounded by Sixth and Seventh Streets between Lafayette and Adams Streets. It was later decided that this property was not conveniently located and was sold. The lots were purchased at Fourth and Lafayette Street for $225. In the two transactions the congregation realized a profit of $200.

 

On Christmas Day 1849 the contract for the new church was let to Mr. W. Hegener for $300. The material to be furnished by the congregation. Herman Meyer made the stone foundation for $2.50 a perch. Under the guidance of the building committee, work progressed satisfactorily and about January 1, 1851 the new church (A wooden structure) was dedicated.

 

Under the leadership of Pastor G. Grau, (1852-1863) the congregation tripled in membership. It was during Rev, Grau’s pastorate that the first parsonage (three rooms) and parochial school (one room) were built. A two story addition to the church was also erected, this later being known as the Parish Hall. During this same period a pipe organ was purchased, which was used until 1909. (The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and of Cass County, Volume II says: “…supplied with a splendid pipe organ, the first one to be placed in Cass County.”

 

The church continued to increase rapidly in membership. However in 1871 when Rev. Robert Knoll was the pastor, dissention arose among the members over a change of Synods. The congregation belonged to the “General Synod” which was considered by many members to be doctrinally lax. The result being that the pastor (Robert Knoll) with his adherents (42 male voting members over 21 years of age) withdrew and established another church named First Lutheran St. John Church and eventually joined the Missouri Synod. Those remaining at First Church kept affiliation with the “General Synod” and purchased the church property for the sum of $2,000. Rev. F. A. Conradi (1871-1873) became the pastor after the separation.

 

AN IMPORTANT CONVENTION HELD IN BEARDSTOWN IN 1860 THAT MAY HAVE HAD SOME EFFECT ON THE FURTRE OF OUR CONGREATION…

 

At this time the Illinois Synod belonged to the national body called the “General Synod”. It was considered doctrinally very lax. There was much contention within the Synod of Illinois about the uncertain position of “General Synod” in regard to the Augsburg Confession (which is accepted by practically every Lutheran body in their creedal statements). In 1860, the Synod of Illinois, when it met at Beardstown, went on record asking that the General Synod make a distinct recognition of the Augsburg Confession so no room be left for the cavils of opponents of the General Synod, who represented it as destitute of a distinctive Lutheran character.

 

IT WOULD APPEAR that from 1871 (the year the church divided) until at least 1895, both churches claimed the name FIRST EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH.

 

Pastor Rosenstengel who prepared the history for the 50th Anniversary of our church on August 25, 1871—Know all men by these present, that whereas a difficulty has occurred among the members of the “First Evangelical Lutheran Church”, in this, there now exist two Boards of Trustees of the First Evangelical Lutheran St. John Church, and the other claiming to be the Board of Trustees of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, both claiming an interest in the church property of the said original church. (The matter was settled amicably with the outgoing group selling their interest for $2,000. This group established a church at 6th and Jefferson Street called First Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s)   

 

A NEW CHURCH EDIFICE

 

On February 12, 1893 (during the pastorate of Rev. W. Rosenstengel 1892-1898) it was decided to build a new church and subscriptions were taken from the congregation. The last service in the old church was held on May 7, 1893. The ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone was held on July 11, 1893. The Methodist minister of Beardstown, Pastor Linker of St. Peter’s, Arenzville and Pastor Schutzke of St. John’s, Springfield were the speakers at this joyous and long awaited milestone.

 

January 7, 1894 was Dedication Day, and on this happy day the congregation met in the Parish Hall for a short service. Led by the Pastor and choir the congregation then marched to the front of the newly completed church, where they joined in singing the hymn (in German) “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty”. After the singing of this hymn Mr. F. Wessel unlocked the doors of the church, handed the key to the Pastor, Rev. W. Rosenstengel, who in turn let the happy members into their new church home.

 

The morning service was conducted both in German and English. Short talks were given by the pastor Rev. Rosenstengel, and Rev. R. G. Linker, President of Wartburg Synod. The dedication sermon was delivered by Pastor J. D. Severinghaus, D.D. of Chicago. He was followed by Rev. D.D.S. Barnitzof Des Moines, Iowa, who delivered an address in English.

 

The evening service was conducted entirely in English. Professor Holmes Dysinger of Carthage College delivered the sermon, after which a brief appeal for funds was made by Rev. Barnitz. The ushers passed among the audience and a collection of $1200 was received. This left a balance of less than $80 on the beautiful edifice which had been erected and furnished at a cost of $10,504.73.

 

The building had two entrances. The entrance on Fourth Street contained the bell tower. The other entrance was on Lafayette Street from which the center aisle led to the Chancel. The focal point was the altar, placed on the back or West wall. Above the altar was a circular stained glass window. On the altar was placed a crucifix with a candlestick on each side. These original furnishings are still used in worship by the congregation. The place of the organ and choir was in the balcony installed on the East side (Lafayette Street side) of the church. The capacity of the gallery was 175 people.

 

HOW THE NEWS MEDIA REPORTED OUR DEDICATION

 

The Beardstown Enterprise carried an elaborate account of the dedication of “Magnificent New Fourth Street Lutheran Church”. Following are some interesting notes taken from the newspaper of that day:

 

The Lord seemed to smile down upon the church and its people with an air of approval--it was a delightful day--the choice of the loveliest day of the season.

 

Following a report of finances—the congregation was called upon for contributions.

 

During the evening service Rev. Bartnitz “wished it understood that they were not begging--that what was given should come with a free will--that no bidding contests would be indulged in.”

 

The auditorium seats 500 people, the gallery 175. It is safe to say, however, that there were over 800 people in the church last night. The carpet was bought and put down by the ladies of the church. The pipe organ which is the one used in the old church, peal forth in unison with the singing, and let many to think that a new instrument had been purchased.

 

Note: The sermon preached by Rev. J.D. Severinghause is in our archives.

 

During Pastors Bergman’s term (1906-1908), who dies unexpectedly, a canvas for funds had been started to purchase a new pipe organ. No decision had been made on placement of the new organ, whether to keep it in the balcony or to place in the chancel. The matter was finally settled after the arrival of Pastor P.C. Kroll (1909-1921). The organ and choir loft were placed in the chancel area and dedicated on July 25, 1909. Immediately below the choir loft was a combination communion table and pulpit. There were no candles or cross on the altar. The chancel area was surrounded by a circular communion rail.  

 

FINAL CHANGES IN CHANCEL ARRANGEMENTS THAT WOULD STAY IN PLACE UNTIL 1960

 

During the pastorate of Thaddeus B. Epting (1922-1921) changes were made in the chancel area which he felt were more conductive to liturgical worship. (The organ and choir loft remained in place). The choir was the first vested church choir in Beardstown--using the traditional cassock and surplice.

 

The crucifix and two electric candles were placed on the combination table-pulpit. After some education in worship and liturgical customs, Charles Gersmeyer constructed an altar that became the focal point of worship. The electric candles were replaced by real beeswax candles lighted and extinguished by an acolyte. The old communion rail was dismantled, a new pulpit was placed to the right of the altar and a reading desk to the left.

 

FULL BASEMENT PU UNDER CHURCH AND CAMPAIGN BEGUN TO BUILD          NEW SUNDAY SCHOOL BUILDING

 

On February 15, 1948, during the pastorate of Kenneth T. Knudsen (1941-1952) the new basement auditorium was completed under the church. On February 16, 1948 razing of the old dilapidated parish hall was begun. A campaign was started for building a new Sunday School Building. Funds received were invested in “Defense Bonds”. In February 1947 a picture of “Our Future Sunday School and Church Building” began to appear on the Sunday worship bulletin encouraging us to anticipate our 100th Anniversary to be celebrated in 1948.

 

DEDICATION OF PARISH EDUCATION BUILDING

 

November 1953 the congregation voted to build a new parish education building

March 7, 1954 ground breaking ceremony

November 14, 1954 dedication of new parish education building

 

These important events occurred during the pastorate Donald L. Krueger (1953-1961)

 

RENOVATING CHURCH INTERIOR AND PURCHASING NEW PIPE ORGAN

 

  Also during the tenure Pastor Krueger, on September 20, 1959 the congregation voted to renovate the church building and purchase a new Wicks organ. Dedication services of our new nave and organ were celebrated on December 18, 1960. The interior of the nave was completely remodeled. The chancel was moved from the West to the South, the balcony was removed and new pews instated. The Lafayette Street entrance was bricked in and the organ and choir loft located in the space of the former chancel.

“Everything in the chancel reflects the outpouring of God’s grace to man. The two stained-glass windows remind us of the Life which was lived for us. Towering over us is the large cross proclaiming the forgiveness of sins which Christ won for us. To the altar of God we come with our prayers, our praise and our lives just as they are. From the altar of God offers us the gifts of His grace. God’s word is proclaimed from the pulpit and lectern. The pipes of the organ sound forth God’s good news through the medium of music. Even beams of light shining through the stained glass are symbols of the Heavenly light shining down upon the worshippers below.” From The Dedication Services of Our New Nave, Dec. 18, 1960.

 

In 1979 when the city of Beardstown celebrated its 150th birthday, the nave was redecorated and a new blue carpet laid. This was during the pastorate of Glenn L Anderson (1967-1981).

 

GERMAN LANGUAGE USED

 

When our congregation was organized the German language was used exclusively in the services, and in the keeping of church records. At the time our present hour of worship was dedicated, we were a bi-lingual church. In the souvenir booklet at this occasion the history of our church was given both in German and English.

 

We still have a reminder of our German heritage. The red window above the front church door reads:

Erste Evang. Lutherische Kirche Gegrundt 1848

 

The last German services were conducted by Pastor Croll. When our country entered World War I, the use of the German language was abandoned.

 

DID YOU KNOW

 

From 1848 through 1892 our young people used the German language in their Catechetical classes. Naturally their names were recorded in church records in German script. The first class to study in English and be confirmed at an English service was in 1893.

 

WE ALSO HAVE SOME SAD MEMORIES

 

The whole town is shocked and mourns his early and sudden departure. Alden Theodore Croll, the youngest son of Rev. P.C. and Sallie A. Croll is dead. Twelve days ago he was publically graduated from the Beardstown High School in a class of 38. It was about settled that he would enter Carthage College next Fall, there to pursue his studies preparatory to the Gospel ministry.

 

His end came in a railroad accident at Beardstown on last Saturday, closing the earthly life of a sunny-hearted, hopeful and aspiring youth, whose social qualities and optimistic demeanor had won for him hosts of friends and admirers. At the time of his death he was aged 17 years, 4 months and 29 days.  

 

Pastor P.C. Croll made the following comments about himself in the December 1910 issue of The Beardstown Lutheran Herald: “Another remarkable fact that the present pastor is the first American-born pastor. He came to America in several lines of German ancestry before George Washington “the father of his country” himself did, or’ 200 years ago.”

 

AFFILIATION WITH WARTBURG SYNOD

 

First Lutheran Church had been a member of the Wartburg Synod from the time of its organization, 1875, until 1906 when our church severed its relationship.

 

Four Wartburg  Synod annual conventions were held here at Beardstown: 1877, 1883, 1898 and 1905. One of our members H. Fraumann was treasurer of the Warburg Synod from 1877 until at least 1880. J. Listman was the Synod treasurer in 1883.

 

This information was revealed in a letter to Pastor Anderson on November 20, 1979 from Doris A Flesner, Department of Church History, Luther-Northwestern seminaries, St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

Apparently this information escaped us because it was recorded in our minutes in the German language.

 

PICTURE OF LIFE IN BEARDSTOWN AS RECORDED BY THE BEARDSTOWN ENTERPRISE – 15th Anniversary Edition published December 1895.

 

            If Beardstown had no other prominent feature to give it distinctive descriptive name it could be the “City of Churches”. Not only has the city many religious societies, with commodious and handsome edifices, but what is more important, the congregations and pastors are alive and active making themselves felt for good. The fact that in addition to the regular membership there are so many student, who, during the year, seek the churches; this naturally incites both pastors and congregations to every effort to minister to their religious wants.

 

There were pictures of churches in the following order:

 

First Methodist Episcopal Congregational

First Evangelical Lutheran St. John (6th Street)

German Methodist Episcopal

St. Alexius Catholic

First Evangelical Lutheran (4th Street)

 

WORDS OF PASTOR EPTING upon the 75th Anniversary.

 

1921 begins the third era in the history of the congregation, when the decision is made to have all English services. Rev. T. B. Epting becomes the first Pastor in this period. August 28th, 1923 the congregation completes its 75th year.

 

This story of seventy-five years hold, inter-weaved, pages of joy and pages of sorrow. Conflict, strife and discord assailed her, from within and from without. Through all these trials the Church has stood and now urges us to greater-than-ever action in building its future, and pleads for us to dedicate our lives to His service.

 

MEMORIES SHARED BY EARLUTH EPTING ABBIT, daughter of Rev. T.B. Epting

 

The organ…When my father came in 1922, he found a most non-Lutheran church building. The adequately large rectangular structure (whose length ran North and South) had, in the middle of the West side an alcove in which was a very fine, old Hinners pipe organ that at one time had been operated by water pressure and a hand pump to be used when the water froze in the winter (later on an electric pump was installed).

 

The chancel area…The organ was elevated about six or seven feet above the church floor. The choir was seated behind a half-wall in front of the organ. The pulpit (traditionally shaped) was really on top of the altar--the altar table and the floor of the pulpit were the same board extension. What should have been the chancel, was a semi-circular area about thirty-six inches wide, twelve inches above the main church floor. This presented untold liturgical problems. (Editorial note: The chancel area itself was surrounded with a semi-circular communion rail. The space between the altar-table and communion rail really did not leave much space for a pastor conducting liturgical worship.)

 

PASTOR EPTING HAD IDEAS TO IMPROVE WORSHIP SPACE…My father wanted to “turn the church” around to a proper elongated arrangement as it should be without a circular communion rail and circular pews--but he knew there was no use to mention it unless he knew what it would cost. So, at his own expense, he arranged for an architectural firm from Springfield which specialized in building churches, to come, survey the situation draw up a possible set of plans and give him cost estimates.   

 

AMUSING INCIDENT OCCURS WHILES ARCHETICTS ARE MAKING SURVEY…In order to do the job adequately, and effectively they came on early Winter evening (when it was dark enough to take pictures of the interior without light glare coming through the windows). You must remember this was some fifty years ago and photographic techniques were not what they are today. They had a fine camera (believe it or not, wide-angle) but they lit a flash of powder which one person held above his heard on a tray like a hod used by builders for carrying bricks and mortar.

 

The Fisher girls (three elderly un-married) ladies who lived directly across Fourth Street from the church saw the flashes of light in the church and called the fire department saying the church was on fire. You can imagine the amazement of the photographers when firemen rushed in pointing a fire hose at them! (thankfully it was not yet turned on) The vestry did not approve the change.

 

The renovation of the nave in 1960 would have pleased Pastor Epting.

 

The renovation planning committee during the term of Pastor Krueger did indeed “turn the church around” as first suggested by Pastor Epting. Today our chancel gives plenty of space to move freely between reading desk, pulpit and altar and vice versa. There is ample space to accommodate Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, etc. Enough space for pastors and lay people to participate in conducting services of confession prayer, praise and thanksgiving. 

 

“Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary”..Psalm 96:6

 

 

 

In this booklet we remember our purpose--our history--and our present accomplishments. What about our future? What kind of dreams do I, as you pastor Have for First Church. Let us dream for a moment. What if . . . . .

 

Worship of God has become so exciting people don’t want to go home. Hymns are sung with greater spirit than ever before. The church is full every Sunday. People enter into the prayers of the church with their own petitions said from the pews. The laity believes they are also ministers of Christ and they volunteer to help lead worship, to witness, to teach, to work with the youth and to see that the building is always kept in order. Communion is celebrated each Sunday because it means so much to us to experience God’s forgiveness.

 

Our youth program is on fire with young people providing important leadership in church and school so that drugs, alcohol and other problems of the past are only minor problems today.

 

What if members have Bible studies in their homes with their neighbors. The whole town is alive with the Holy Spirit, bringing everyone into a vital, daily faith in Christ. The renewal is astonishing police who have little to do other than direct traffic. Bars are either going out of business or being changed into recreation halls where wholesome entertainment is enjoyed by the whole family.

 

Giving is dramatically increasing so that new missionaries can be trained and supported. Also, other communities are helped through prayers and contributions to begin their own renewal.

 

On a pragmatic level: a new brick exterior has been added to protect First Church. A new entry with a ramp was built so those with arthritis do not have to climb steps anymore. An elevator was installed – making all levels easily accessible. A large narthex or lobby has been built where members gather before and after worship to share a cup of coffee and enjoy the news of the week. A new kitchen, nursery, and stage were added to complete the plans of the 1960 expansion and provide the extra Sunday school space needed. A modern office has been equipped with the latest equipment, even with a computer to help the staff minister to everyone efficiently. The Pastor is given great help with a Youth Director and a part-time Calling Pastor who helps with visiting the sick and shut-in on a monthly basis. The Worship Services and Bible Studies are recorded on video cassettes and taken to the shut-ins so they feel closer to God and to everyone at church.

 

What if . . . . . your dreams were also to become realities? Let us continue to pray for all Christians in our area!

 

 

WHY DID WE SPEND SO MUCH TIME explaining the placement of the organ and altar, etc. during the pastorates of P.C. Croll and T.B. Epting? First, because it was never discussed in the past. Second, it will help us understand some of the difficulties that happened in the 1920’s.  

 

Pastor Croll who was one of the most popular ministers we have ever had, was probably not very interested in liturgical worship. It was at this time a combination altar-pulpit was installed, with candles and crucifix removed. The worship services were likely very similar to that of the Methodist and Congregational churches of that day. He also appears to be a very proud “ecumenical” minister. At that time the “Luther League” became the “Christian Endeavor Society”. Naturally these changes could not be made without the approval of the people. He had a very effective pastorate lasting 12 years in Beardstown. Armida Fischer gave a moving tribute to him in the historical booklet celebrating our 110th Anniversary.  

 

The 1920’s was a time when many were suspicious of things “Roman Catholic” and “Liturgical”. There was even a unit of the Klu Klux Klan in Beardstown (we hope there were no Lutherans in it). Pastor Epting who was probably one of our most misunderstood pastors, arrived in 1922, wearing a clerical collar. This probably shocked quite a few members--today, we would not even bat an eye. During his term the Luther League was restored, the congregation was taught to sing the “Holy Communion Service” and “Vespers” (from Common Service Book of United Lutheran Church) and gradually introduced to some of the historic liturgical vestments used by the pastor and introduced to liturgical customs like placing the Bread (Body of Christ) in our hands. 

 

Quoting Earluth Epting Abbitt: “My father never did anything regarding the worship in the church without instructing the people about the custom, its historical and liturgical background and what it should mean to each of us as a means of enriching our own spiritual life and our worship. Throughout his ministry, my father was a teacher.”

 

Any members who have memories of this era are encouraged to write them on paper or record them on tape to be added to our historical collection.

 

PLEASE DON’T criticize the pastor or church council in this effort to restate history “like it was”. The full responsibility rests on Henry Dufelmeier, the compiler of this booklet.

 

IT WAS NOT THE INTENTION of the 135th Anniversary Committee to publish a booklet – only to insert “items” to be published in the weekly newsletter. Serious efforts to publish this booklet were not made until the first week in October. As a result this booklet seems to be preoccupied with “early history items” and “brick and mortar items”.

 

No where have we talked about things Spiritual – no where have we discussed the work of the Standing Committees, the Church School, Choirs, Church Women, Church Men, Luther League, social organizations or the exciting accomplishments of past pastors.

 

 

 

During Pastor Beaty’s term alone, which began January 1982, we should have spent more time writing about the exciting things that are happening – such as:

 

.           The telephone Prayer Circle

.           Training sessions for: Acolytes, Ushers, Communion Assistants, Altar Guild

            And next: Readers?

.           Christian Love In Action (sponsored by local churches to help those in need)

.           Communion Services for residents of the Long Term Care Facility

.           Bible studies that have taken place, are now in progress, and will take place in future

.           Sharing a Youth Director with St. Peter’s for a short period

.           Celebrating Luther’s 500th Birthday by learning to sing some his unfamiliar hymns

.           Festive Communion Services on major Festivals, the singing of the Psalms, using the Service of the Word during the summer months

.           Our 135th Anniversary banquet with “The Promise” as guests, Historical displays

.           The trend to have funeral services at our church, using the funeral pall and our ladies serving a meal for the bereaved family and close friends

.           Efforts by Pastor and Congregation to make First Church into a real loving fellowship.

 

Our 135th year is not over – it has just started. If there are historians in our midst—start writing.

 

A CHALLENGE to our amateur photographer: Let’s take pictures of all committees and groups from the Church Council to LAFF....complete with names of all persons present for display at our 150th Anniversary Celebration.

 

 

CREDITS

 

The following sources have been used to compile the history in this booklet:

 

The 50th Anniversary History compiled by Pastor Rosenstengel, August 1898

 

The Beardstown Lutheran Herald edited Pastor P.C. Croll December 1910

 

Our Church Herald edited by Pastor T.B. Epting, August 1923 on the 75th Anniversary

 

The Centennial Celebration Booklet co-edited by Virgil & Opal Dowdall May 23, 1948

 

History 1948-1968  The fine scrap book kept by Virgil & Opal Dowdall

 

The First Lutheran News & Views Pastor Donald L. Krueger May 11, 1958 celebrating our 110th birthday

 

Media accounts of our 125th anniversary as reported by Pastor Glenn L. Anderson

 

Correspondence with Mrs. Raymond D. (Erluth Epting) Abbitt

 

 

  • Henry Dufelmeier, Compiler   -

 

 

THANKS

 

To all who loaned photos or other memorabilia for our historical displays.

 

For the beautiful prints of Martin Luther and h is wife Katherine, which were purchased in Germany and given to us by Mr. and Mrs. H.T. Jaeke. (parents of Dick Jaeke)

 

Planning banquet menu: Lillian Ellis, Sandra Brockman, Irene Hermetet, Kermit Pilger

 

Selling banquet tickets: The Ushers, Kermit Pilger, Henry Dufelmeier

 

Arranging historical display: Opal Dowdall

 

Anniversary Banquet music: The Promise

 

Music at our Festive Communion Service: The choir, choir director, accompanists and congregation

 

And finally—let us thank God. Let the words of St Paul be our words:…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and  making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

 

--Epehesians 5:18b-20

First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Beardstown, IL

301 W. Fourth Street

Beardstown, IL  62618

(217) 323-1770

frstluth@casscomm.com

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