Christ Lutheran Church
The Twists and Turns
of Christ Lutheran's History
JoDeen Forsyth did
some investigative work to produce this condensed history of Christ
If Christ Lutheran Church
ceased to exist, would it matter? That was a question posed to us by
our guest speaker, Jacob Sorenson, on August 18. He spoke about the
powerful witness of all those Christians who came before us, including
those who formed this church in Arcadia.
Before 2013 comes to
an end, we should take notice that this year is the 150th anniversary
of the formation of this congregation. Our church roots are full of
twists and turns.
The following is a summary of
the events that created the church we now call Christ Lutheran of
Arcadia Wisconsin. Much of this information can be found on our church
website on this page and additional information comes from two
booklets: Booklet 1949 for the dedication of the
1949 addition to our present building and Booklet 1975
to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our first church structure built
in 1875. If you have more information about the history of
our church, please make it known so that we can add it to the record of
our congregation's journey.
In the year 1863,
the Rev. Ernst Stube, a Lutheran pastor, serving a congregation at
Fountain City, Wis., realized that in the township of Glencoe, near
the village of Arcadia, a number of families were living who had no
Lutheran church of their own and were, therefore, without the Means of
Grace. At once the Rev. Stube made it a point to contact these families
and arrange to meet with them in their homes to preach the Word of God
to them, baptize their children and instruct them in the fundamental
teachings of Holy Scripture. He served these people as best he could in
this manner for twelve years. " Strube, was an early Iowa Synod medical
missionary from Fountain City who traveled to the Glencoe area once a
month to bring the Gospel to the pioneers.
the Glencoe families, decided to call a pastor of their own and the
Rev. Ernest GieseI1875-1877, a member of the Augsburg Synod (or maybe
the Iowa Synod) became their first resident pastor living in the home
of a church member. The congregation was formally organized with a
written constitution and the name St. John's Evangelical Lutheran
Church of Glencoe. A church building was constructed in Glencoe and
dedicated that same year. At some point, maybe 1876,
Rev. Giesel began preaching services in the homes of the Lutherans he
found in the township of Montana. When exactly the official church was
established in Montana seems to be unknown.
Rev. Julius Badke, a Wisconsin
Synod pastor, served the Glencoe and Montana churches from 1884-1887.
Under his leadership the Christ congregation in Montana erected a
church building about 1885. A parsonage was
purchased in Arcadia in1885 where Rev. Badke and his
family lived. A small frame church was built in Arcadia in 1887
so parishioners would not have to travel to
Glencoe to worship on Sunday.
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, "there was
congregation disunity so that Rev. Gerhard was forced to leave after
serving only ten months."
the Arcadia Lutherans divided into two groups with the Wisconsin Synod
congregation, St John's Independent Lutheran Church meeting in the
little-white church. (This is likely, the "small frame church" built in
1887.) Preaching services were held in the upstairs of the parsonage
for those who associated themselves with the Glencoe and Montana
churches, until in 1910 a new church was built."
"Rev. Adolph Werr 1897-1904,
was an Iowa Synod pastor called by members of Christ Church, St. John's
Evangelical and a few of the members attending the church in Arcadia.
In addition to serving Christ Church and St. John's Evangelical, he
held services in an upstairs room of the parsonage in Arcadia for the
few Arcadia members that called him. He later changed to the Wisconsin
Synod, apparently to restore church unity, and served in the Arcadia
church as well as the other two churches. However, this did not restore
unity." A Wisconsin Synod pastor, the Rev. Metzker was also called
around the time Rev. Werr was called, by the majority members of the
Arcadia church. It is unknown how long or to what extent he served.
Rev. G.F. Hanselmann from the Iowa Synod served from 1904-1907 and then
Rev. Herbert Zumhingst 1907-1913 came from the Ohio Synod. 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.
St. John's Church of Glencoe
and Christ Church "joined to construct a church building in the village
of Arcadia to serve retired members of either congregation, but no
congregation in the village was organized, and any new member living in
the village was constrained to take membership in either one of the
township churches. This church building was dedicated under the
pastorate of Rev. Henry Zumhingst on the 18th of November (or maybe
December) 1910. Because the preaching services held in an upstairs
room of the parsonage were deemed sufficient by the majority of the
congregation's members, only eighteen families were persuaded to give
financial assistance toward the construction of the Arcadia edifice."
Much of the labor was provided by members of the churches. This 1910
building was the basis for our present church. St. John's Church of
Glencoe and Christ Church were continuously served as one parish during
their history until they were merged in 1929.
Rev. George F. Muedeking (American Lutheran Synod) came to serve the
Glencoe and Montaga congregations and" those worshiping in Arcadia, He
served in Arcadia for 43 years. On February 3, 1913, when George F.
Muedeking was ordained and installed as pastor, the combined parish
consisted of 51 families.
St. John's Church of Glencoe and Christ Church dissolved themselves,
deeded their property and reorganized and incorporated themselves as
the St. John's-Christ Lutheran Congregation of Arcadia, Wisconsin.
By 1949 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. The new addition was dedicated on Sunday, November 21,
1949. The enlarged church could comfortably seat 550 and an overflow
crowd of about 650.
In 1951 a
new parsonage was built on church property.
Vacation Bible School began in Montana and Arcadia.
April 19, the last Sunday service was held at the Montana church. (from
In 1960 the
name was changed from St. John's-Christ Lutheran Church to American
Lutheran Church of Arcadia.
November 25, church property from St. John's Independent Lutheran
Church, Arcadia was transferred to American Lutheran Church of Arcadia.
October 31, the new Educational facility was dedicated.
In 1974, December 15, the new church entrance was
dedicated. (1975 booklet)
October, a Casavant Opus 3547 pipe organ was installed.
the basement fellowship hall was remodeled.
the name was changed from American Lutheran Church of Arcadia to Christ
Lutheran Church. (from this page)
It is mind-boggling to read
through the complex set of events that brought our church through the
past 150 years from 1863 to 2013. We can only imagine the hard work,
the prayers, the misunderstandings, the forgiveness, the
disappointments, the pride, and the joy that are hidden in the details.
As a congregation, our worth
is not measured by our past, but looking at our history can give us a
renewed appreciation for the faith we have inherited. It is good for us
to remember our history; not to live in the past, but to prepare for
the future-and to answer the question, "If Christ
Lutheran Church ceased to exist, would it matter?" It is good for each
of us to contemplate what we can do to make sure the answer to that
question is, "Yes."
*A paper, Church History CH3031 written by Daniel
S. Olson, December 2005, page 7, claims that Rev. Emst Stube, was a
Wisconsin Synod pastor and that St. John's of Glencoe joined the
Wisconsin Synod in 1870, giving this church deep roots in the Wisconsin
**from Church History CH3031, by Olson, page 7,
"During Rev. Badke's pastorate at St. John's, another church was added
to the three existing preaching stations. St. Paul's Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Whitehall, joined the Wisconsin Synod on June
121885. This church shared pastors with St. John's until 1904.
***from Church History CH3031, by Olson, page 11,
It was also in 1910, that the Arcadia St. John's group associated with
the Wisconsin Synod, built a new church to replace the small frame
church which had become too small. It was built across the street from
the old church and the old frame church was enlarged and improved to be
used for fellowship activities.