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The History of Christ Lutheran Church in Arcadia, WI

The Beginning Years - 1863 to 1887

1863
:  Earliest Beginnings in Glencoe
 
         
Rev. Ernst Stube, a Lutheran medical missionary, serving a congregation at Fountain City, WI, began serving families in the Buffalo County Township of Glencoe, near the village of Arcadia.  He traveled to the Glencoe area once a month for twelve years, meeting in homes, to bring the Gospel to the pioneers.

1866:  Land Donated in Glencoe Township

          Three acres of land was donated on April 12, 1866, by George and Susan Barbara Keller, to be used for a place of worship and a cemetery.  (from the records of Lee Wieland, Cemetery Board)

1875:   Glencoe Church Formally Established With a Building and Pastor

          The Glencoe families called a pastor of their own.  The Rev. Ernest Giesel was called from the Augsburg Synod (or maybe the Iowa Synod) and lived in the home of one of the church members.  The congregation was formally organized with a written constitution and the name St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.  A Glencoe church building was also constructed in 1875.  (The church was located at the site of the present day Glencoe Lutheran Cemetery.)

1876:  Earliest Beginnings in Montana

          Rev. Giesel, who was serving the Glencoe area Lutherans, also began holding services in the homes of the Lutherans he found in the Buffalo County Township of Montana.  He served the area until 1877.

1877 to 1884:  Early Ministers Serving Glencoe and Montana Lutherans

          The Glencoe church and Montana Township Lutherans were served by three Iowa Synod pastors and one from the Wisconsin SynodRev. Christian Probst, 1877-1879 and Rev. John Burchard, 1879-1881 were from the Iowa Synod.

Rev.  John Weirauch was from the Wisconsin Synod, serving from 1881 to 1883.  In 1884, Carl Ziebell, an Iowa Synod theological student served as pastor for six months.

1884 to 1886:  Church Constructed in Montana —Arcadia Parsonage Purchased

          Rev. Julius Badke,  a Wisconsin Synod pastor came to serve St. John’s Church in Glencoe township and continued to minister to the Montana Lutherans.

About 1885, under the leadership of Rev. Badke,  a church building was constructed for the Lutherans in the Montana township and a parsonage for the Badke family was purchased in Arcadia.  (The location of the Montana church was at the site of the present day Montana Lutheran Cemetery.)

1887: Church Officially Organized in Montana — First Arcadia Church Built   

        The Montana congregation was formally organized in about 1887, with the name Christ Church.   A small frame church was built in Arcadia in 1887 so that parishioners would not have to travel to Glencoe to worship on Sunday, but it did not become a separate congregation.  Rev. Badke left in 1887.

The Years of Division - 1888 to 1904

1888 to 1897:  Dissent Begins

        The next three ministers, Rev. Albert Froehlke 1888-1890, Rev Carl Rutzen 1890-1896, and Rev. Herman Gerhard 1896-1897, were Wisconsin Synod pastors.  In 1897, congregational disunity forced Rev. Gerhard to leave after serving only ten months.

1897 to 1904:  Division

         The Arcadia area Lutherans divided into two groups.  In 1897, Christ Lutheran Church in Montana township, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glencoe township and a few of the members attending the church in Arcadia, called an Iowa Synod pastor, Rev. Adolf Werr.  Besides holding services in the two township churches, he also held services in an upstairs room of the parsonage in Arcadia for the few Arcadia members that had called him. 

        Around this same time, Rev. Theophil Brenner from the Wisconsin Synod’s seminary was called by the remaining majority of the Arcadia Lutherans. Rev. Brenner held services in the little white frame church that had been built in Arcadia in 1887.  Rev. Brenner stayed for a year or less and was followed by Rev. David Metzger, from the Wisconsin Synod, who also served St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Whitehall.  It is not known how long Rev. Metzger stayed.

        In an apparent effort to restore church unity, Rev. Werr changed from the Iowa Synod to the Wisconsin Synod and continued to serve at Glencoe, Montana, and the Arcadia parsonage, but unity was not restored, and Rev. Werr left in 1904.

The Building Years - 1904 to 1956

1904 to 1907:  Moving Forward

          St. John’s of Glencoe  and Christ Church congregations were served by Rev. G.F. Hanselmann, an Iowa Synod pastor, from 1904 to 1907. Rev. Herbert Zumhingst, from the Ohio Synod became the pastor in 1907.  It was under his leadership in 1910, that the church building was erected in Arcadia and the first English services were conducted.  All previous services had been in German.  

1910:  Two New Church Buildings

          St. John’s Church of Glencoe and Christ Church of Montana joined to construct a church building in the village of Arcadia, to serve their members who had retired from farming and moved to Arcadia.  A new congregation was not organized in the village, and any new member living in Arcadia was constrained to take membership in either one of the township churches.  This new building was dedicated in November of 1910, with only eighteen families from the combined parish giving financial assistance and manual labor towards the construction.  The majority of the congregation had deemed the services in the upstairs room of the parsonage to be sufficient and did not contribute to the new building. Rev. Zumhingst served the congregations until 1913.

It was also in 1910, that St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Arcadia, which had associated with the Wisconsin Synod, since the split back in 1896-97, built a new, larger church to replace the small frame church built in 1887.  The new building was across the street from the old frame church and the old church was enlarged and improved to be used for fellowship activities. (This church remained with the Wisconsin Synod until 1959, when it became an Independent Lutheran Church and in 1962, the congregation disbanded.)

In 1911, the Ladies Aid was formed.

1913 to 1956:  Rev. Muedeking begins 43 Year Pastorate

          On February 3, 1913, Rev. George F. Muedeking, a recent graduate of St. Paul Luther College and Seminary, was installed as the new pastor of St. John’s of Glencoe and Christ Church of Montana and the associated group at the new church building in Arcadia.   His entire ministry was spent in Arcadia—43 years until his death, at the age of 73, in 1956. Rev. Muedeking was an active member of the community and had a good relationship with other churches in the community.  He was active in the American Lutheran Synod and served as president of the Marshfield conference. His wife, Rosalie (Brodt) also contributed to the ministry of the congregation.  At the beginning of his pastorate, the combined parish consisted of 51 families but grew to 242 families by 1949.

1913:  The Senior Choir was organized.

1914:  The Sunday School was established.

1923: Educational Building

          The residence next to the Arcadia church was purchased and converted into an educational facility.

1929: A Merger to Form One Congregation

          Rev. Muedeking was instrumental in merging the two congregations into one Arcadia church.  St. John’s Church of Glencoe and Christ Church of Montana, dissolved themselves, deeded their property, and reorganized and incorporated themselves as the “St John’s-Christ Lutheran Congregation of Arcadia, Wisconsin.”

1930: the Women’s Missionary Society was organized.

1930:  The national American Lutheran Church (ALC) was formed in 1930 from the merger of the three conservative Lutheran synods of German-American origin—the Iowa, Ohio, and Buffalo Synods.  (Wikipedia)

1931:  Midweek religious education classes were established.

1938:  The Junior Choir was organized.

1946:  A Luther League was formed for high school age youth.

1949:  Church Addition

          The Arcadia congregation had increased to 526 total communicant members and the church was usually filled to capacity.  Members decided to enlarge the building by erecting a brick veneered addition using lumber sawed from logs donated by farmers of the congregation and also using lumber salvaged from St. John’s Church of Glencoe, where services had been discontinued. Excavation for the basement began on April 19, 1949, and the new addition was dedicated on Sunday, November 27, 1949. The enlarged church could comfortably seat 550 and an overflow crowd of about 650.  The original Glencoe church bell was placed above the balcony of the new addition.

1951:  A new parsonage was built next to the church.

1953:  Vacation Bible School began in Montana and Arcadia.

1952-1956:  Interns Serving Under pastor Muedeking

          Robert A. Garbrecht, 1952—Capital Theological Seminary

          Harvey Berg, 1953—Luther Seminary (Arcadia native)

          Roger A. Schmidt, 1954—Wartburg Seminary

          Marvin Benninga, 1954-55—Wartburg Seminary

          Waldo Kruse, 1955—Wartburg Seminary

          Kenneth Malpert, 1956—Wartburg Seminary

          William Roessler, 1956—Wartburg Seminar

1956:  Rev. Muedeking dies.

         Up until his death on June 9, 1956, Rev. George F. Muedeking, actively served the congregation for 43 years.

The Post-Muedeking Years - 1956 to 1989

1956-1963: Pastor Schultheiss

          Rev. Walter E. Schultheiss, a graduate of Capital Seminary came to Arcadia and served St. John’s-Christ until 1963.

1959:  Montana Lutheran Church Closed

          The last Sunday service was held at the Montana Christ Church on April 19, 1959. ( Date was found in the Ushers’ Record Book.) During the last years, services had been held about once a month.  Sometime later, the building was razed. The bell was salvaged and has been preserved by the Boberg family. 

1960:  The national American Lutheran Church (ALC) merged with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was of Norwegian-American origin, and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church, of Danish-American origin, to form a new body that was also named the American Lutheran Church (ALC). (Wikipedia)

1960:  Church Name Changed

          The congregation name was changed from St. John's-Christ Lutheran Church to American Lutheran Church of Arcadia. 

1960:  Assistance to New church at Trempealeau, WI

          The congregation assisted in the start of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Trempealeau, WI.

1962: Reunited Arcadia Lutherans

          On November 25, church property from St. John's Independent Lutheran Church, Arcadia (the former Wisconsin Synod, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church) was transferred to American Lutheran Church of Arcadia.

1964-1968: Pastor Benson

          American Lutheran Church of Arcadia was served by Pastor Howard B. Benson, who helped the church study and plan for a new educational addition.

1965:  Church Educational Addition

          A two story church educational building addition was dedicated on October 3.

1969-1980: Pastor Radke

          Pastor Wayne G. Radke became pastor of American Lutheran Church in Arcadia in 1969. 

1971:  Missionary Support

          The congregation voted to support missionaries, Art and Millie Wyse in Cali, Columbia. 

1972: Bethal Series Adult Education 

          The Bethal Series of Adult Christian Education started and in 1975 there were eight teachers and 120 students involved.

1974: New Enclosed Entrance

          Under the leadership of Rev. Radke, a new enclosed entrance was added to the church.

1977:  Missionary Sponsorship

          The congregation began helping support Lee Bonhoff, missionary to Cameroon, Africa in 1977, and also his wife, Torborg, in later years.  Missionary support for the Bonhofs continued into the 1990s.

1981-1985:  Pastor Stendahl

          Pastor Howard Stendahl became the new pastor of the American Lutheran congregation in 1981. 

1982:  Pipe Organ

          A Casavant Opus 3547 pipe organ was installed in October. 

1984:  Fellowship Hall Remodeled

           The basement fellowship hall was remodeled.

1986-1994:  Pastor Whitmore

          Pastor Claire Whitmore served the congregation from 1986 to 1994.

1987: Parking Lot

          A parking lot behind the church, was completed in 1987.

The New “Christ Lutheran” Years - 1988 to the present

1988: On January 1, 1988, the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) came into existence, by the merging of three Lutheran church bodies—  The American Lutheran Church (ALC), the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC) .  (Wikipedia)

1988: First Parish Ed/Youth Worker

          A Parish Ed/Youth Worker position was added in 1988.  Five Youth Directors served the church between 1988 and 2011Nicole Harmel (1988-1991) David Schiopota (1992) Julie Gates, Erin Wright, and Kris Knutson, who also served as church musician (2000-2010).

1989: Church Goes Back to Historical Name

          During the pastorate of Claire Whitmore, the church name changed from American Lutheran Church of Arcadia to Christ Lutheran Church.

1990:  Member, Lara Fetsch became an ELCA missionary in Hong Kong.

1994-1995: Pastor Irwin Flatten served as an interim pastor.

1995-2003: Pastor. Arthur W. Sharot, Jr. served Christ Lutheran.

1996: a grand piano and electronic digital piano were purchased to enhance worship services.

2000: 3 Octaves of Handbells and Choir Chimes were added to the church musical repertoire.

2003-2004: Pastor Rodger Knudson served as interim pastor.

2004: Member, Paul Forsyth started as an ELCA Global Missions Young Adult Missionary to Japan.

2004-2007: Pastor Breck McHan served as pastor.

2006: A class was offered to train members to be Stephen Ministers who care for people in distress.

2007: Pastor Chris Hallemeier and Pastor Ron Walter served the church as interim pastors.

2007-2008: Pastor Kris Fahey served as interim pastor.

2008-2017:  Pastor Peter Jonas served Christ Lutheran Church.  Interns from Wartburg Seminary who served under Pastor Jonas were—

          David Murphy 2011-2012

          Rhia Wilkin  2012-2013

          Kim Sturtz 2013-2014

          Josh Knudsen 2014-2015

          Gus Barnes, Jr. 2016-2017

2012:  the Mt. Sinai Hispanic Church began using Christ Lutheran Church for worship services.

2014: Member, Jenna Putz started as an ELCA Global Missions Young Adult Missionary to Argentina.

2018    Pastor Robert Schoenknecht & Pastor Thomas Bryan are serving as interim team pastors.

Information for this church history summary was gathered from the following sources:

St. John’s-Christ Lutheran Church, Dedication booklet, November 27, 1949

American Lutheran Church, Arcadia, WI, Anniversary 1875-1975 booklet

Christ Lutheran Church, Arcadia, WI, 1992 Directory

Olson, Daniel S. The History of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Arcadia,Wisconsin, Church History CH3031 with Appendix 2 , December 12, 2005.
 

A History of the Pastors Who Have Served Christ Lutheran Church

1863-1875
1875-1877
1877-1879
1879-1881
1881-1883
1884
1884-1887
1888-1890
1890-1896
1896-1897
1897-1904
?-?
1904-1907
1907-1913
1913-1956
1956-1963
1964-1968
1969-1980
1981-1985
1986-1994
1994-1995
1995-2003
2003-2004
2004-2007
2007
2007
2007-2008
2008-2017
2018-
Ernst Strube
Ernest Giesel
Christian Probst
John Burchard
John Weirauch
Carl Ziebell
Julius Badke
Albert Froehlke
Carl Rutzen
Herman Gerhard
Adolph Werr
Metzker (around Werr's call)
G. F. Hanselmann
Herbert Zumhingst
Gorge F. Muedeking
Walter E. Schultheiss
Howard B. Benson
Wayne G. Radke
Howard Stendahl
Claire Whitmore
Flatten (interim pastor)
Arthur W. Sharot, Jr
Rodger Knudson (interim pastor)
Breck McHan
Chris Hallemeier (interim pastor)
Ron Walter (interim pastor)
Kris Fahey (interim pastor)
Peter Jonas
Bob Schoenknecht & Thomas Bryan (interim pastors)

 



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