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Fullerton's First 100 Years (1879-1979)

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History of Churches

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

   On August 27, 1882, a group of dedicated Christians gathered to form a Presbyterian church in Fullerton. They met in the chapel of Nebraska Wesleyan University located on a hill in the northwest part of town. Under the guidance of Reverend George L. Little (Synod Missionary), they organized First Presbyterian Church. The charter members were: Mrs. M. G. Cowgill, Maude Cowgill, Mr. and Mrs. M. S. Lindsay, Mrs. L. M. Mulford, John Paton, William Paton, Joseph Reynolds, Mrs. Hester Reynolds, J. S. Shuck, Mrs. Annie Shuck, Mrs. Jane Spackman, Hester Spackman and Hannah Spackman. Mr. John Paton and Mr. John Shuck were ordained as the first Ruling Elders of the church. The membership grew rapidly in the following years: 1883, 22; 1884, 38; 1885, 30; 1886, 26; 1887,14; 1888, 17.
   As new members were added to the roll with each passing year, the congregation began to fill the first building, erected just north of the present high school in 1883. This building was used until 1912 when the church on its present site was completed and dedicated. William F. Downing, a member of the Church Building Planning Board, suggested that the ediface (sic) be modeled after one he had seen in Texas. The architecture follows a Trinitarian theme with three sections for seating, three circular windows included in each wall and three walkways around the front pillars.
   Many can recall seeing as many as 800 people at the two services held each Sunday. Members came to church in lumber wagons and surreys before the use of automobiles. Tradition has it that the fall program began with an annual church dinner sponsored by the women of our community of faith. Tables were laden with tempting foods and decorated with autumn flowers. Rare, indeed, was the Presbyterian family who did not attend. Many of our members participated actively in the services of worship held among the oaks at a site northwest of town. On one occasion, the noted evangelist Billy Sunday was a keynote speaker.
   The first manse was located on the southeast corner of 6th and Division. It was replaced by a ranch-style home located just south of the church in 1957. The lot on which the manse now stands was once the site of a small cabin and playground. The cabin was built in 1926 and was used for various children's activities. Fifteen men from the church formed a Children's Cabin Committee and signed their names to a note for $450 with which they purchased building materials. The cabin was erected with voluntary labor. A stone fireplace along one wall was the only source of heat in the winter. Totem poles decorated the lot boundary. Each child had a pole on which a record of his/her participation in church activities was kept

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Early photo of Presbyterian Church.

in brightly colored symbols. The children competed to be the one with the most colorfully decorated totem pole at the end of the year. Programs for children and youth were entitled Friendly Indians, Friendly Indian Maidens, and Pioneers.
   There are no living Charter Members, but the fruits of their labors and sacrifices, of their hopes and prayers, of their vision and purpose continue even unto this day. Those in our church family who have been members for at least 50 years are: Mrs. Mabel Hess (1/20/02), A. L. (Pete) Russell (2/8/08), Mrs. Alice Kellogg (4/25/09), Louis Vaughn (4/25/09), Mrs. Clara Rishel (5/26/12), Mrs. Lydia Waggoner (4/12/14), Mrs. Nina Cunningham (11/21/15), Miss Faye Fitzgerald (11/21/15), Mrs. Mildred Knowles (11/21/15), Mrs. Jessie Russell (11/21/15), Roy Russell (11/21/15), Mrs. Fannie Baldridge (11/2/19), Mrs. Ellen Sprague (7/10/20), Mrs. Margaret Downing (7/10/20), Mrs. L. B. (Margaret) Whitaker (1/3/21), Mrs. Gladys Smith (12/3/22), Mrs. Lillie Horn (1/21/23), Miss Lucille Fitzgerald (4/17/27), Robert Palmer (4/17/27), Arna Peterson (4/17/27), Miss Margaret Russell (4/17/27), Mrs. Nora Anderson (3/29/28), Mrs. Alma (Harry) Russell (3/29/28), Mrs. A. L. (Grace) Russell (3/29/28) and Mrs. Hannah Russell (3/24/29).
   The first pastor of the church was the Reverend J. C. Irwin from Cedarville, Illinois. He was installed on October 11, 1885. Over the years the church has been served by 21 pastors: J. C. Irwin, A. J. Montgomery, F. M. Weeks, D. I. Conkle, G. A. Ray, R. H. Houseman, Wm. H. Cooper, J. K. Driver, S. J. Megaw, D. S. Honsaker, C. E. Kircher, I. Askine, J. M. Pattison, S. G. Kessler, B. F. Grussing, T. G. Atkins, Carl Sandberg, H. J. Svoboda, N. J. O. Boomgaarden, J. D. Barklind, and J. R. Hawthorne.
   Since 1882, 1945 people have been received and enrolled as members. It is fitting to honor and recognize those now active and serving the church and those who have entered the Church

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Triumphant. The church has served the community of Fullerton for 97 years. This past history is a foundation upon which greater service in the coming years will be built.

MT. CALVARY LUTHERAN CHURCH

  The first worship service of the group that eventually became Mt. Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church was conducted on Sunday, September 2, 1934. The attendance was 50. The congregation was officially organized on May 12, 1935. Charter members were: John E. Post, Leroy Halverson, Willie W. Johnson, Walter J. Rehan, John Kinen, N. M. Ruff, B. W. Luschei, John Filbert and Walter H. Hartman. Rev. Alex Holm of Platte Center was the presiding pastor. Vicar R. E. Schultz was present.
   The group looked into purchasing Harmony Hall where they had been meeting, but rented St. Alban's Episcopal Church. They worshipped there for the first time on April 19, 1936. The first Mission Festival was held on September 27, 1936.

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Early Episcopal Church later used by Mt. Calvary Church.

  Mt. Calvary's first called pastor was Rev. John Daniels. He was installed on March 14, 1937, although he had served the congregation since 1936. On August 15, 1938, Rev. Daniels accepted a call to Wyoming. First, Rev. Panning of Central City served as vacancy pastor, and then Rev. Makens was serving by April of 1942.
   Annual woodcutting bees for wood to heat the church began in 1938.
   On May 6, 1942, the congregation requested a resident pastor from the District Mission Board of the North Nebraska District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. He was also to serve at St.

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Paul's Lutheran at Monroe (Looking Glass). That year Rev. Arthur Gerhardt began serving Fullerton and Monroe. He left in January of 1944.
   In the fall of 1944, Rev. B. F. Meschke accepted the call to serve the congregation.
   In 1946, the parsonage was acquired at the southwest corner of 4th and Fuller Streets. The congregation was incorporated in May of that year.
   On April 30, 1950, the voters decided to buy two lots west of the parsonage on the southeast corner of 4th and Irving Streets and to build a basement church 32' by 50'.
   May 17, 1951, the congregation granted Rev. Meschke a release to accept a call to Norfolk. Rev. Kautch and Rev. Knipenburg served as vacancy pastors. Rev. Hugo Leimer was called in September of that year and served until he resigned on January 1, 1961.
   The first Vacation Bible School was conducted in 1952. In January of 1954, the congregation became independent of subsidy from the Mission Board.
   Leroy Halverson served as an elder continuously from 1935 to 1958. D. H. Ulferts served from 1936 to 1963. Clarence Frenzen, from 1938 to 1977; and Paul Anderson, from 1958 to the present. Mrs. Clarence Frenzen has been church organist since 1938.
   On April 26, 1962, it was decided to build the present building which was dedicated on November 4, 1962.
   Rev. Schubarth served as vacancy pastor after the resignation of Rev. Leimer.
   Rev. Lloyd Sprick became the pastor late in the summer of 1962. Under his leadership a Walther League was organized. He accepted a call to Kansas, on February 13, 1966.
   In 1966, the dual relationship with St. Paul's at Monroe was terminated. Rev. David H. Schmidt was ordained and installed as pastor in August of that year. He served until October 1973.
   On February 20, 1972, the voters decided to build a new parsonage south of the church. It was dedicated on November 15, 1972.
   Pastors Wagner, Luttman and Schlegelmilch served the congregation in various capacities during the vacancy after Rev. Schmidt left. On August 25, 1974, Rev. Keith Holste was ordained and installed as pastor.
   In 1977, a revised constitution went into effect which provided for women's suffrage and a church council, limited terms of office, and initiated standing committees for education and youth, mission and evangelism, and stewardship.
   In 1979 voters assemblies, Ladies Aid meetings, Walther League activities, Couples Club gatherings, Sunday and weekday Bible classes, confirmation classes, regular weekly worship, and projects by the various committee characterize the congregation.
   A total of 240 baptized members and 186 confirmed members are claimed by the congregation in 1979.
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THE FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

   The history of The First United Methodist Church is closely entwined with the early development of Fullerton and Nance County.
   After the Pawnee Indians were removed from the area now known as Fullerton in 1875, the land was offered for sale by the United States government in 1877. Among the earliest settlers of this reservation land was Rev. R. G. Adams, a Methodist preacher, who bought a quarter section of land from O.E. Stearns on August 26, 1879. The deed recorded in the name of Pauline M. Adams was the first filed in Nance County. Rev. Adams was joined on his homestead by his brother, Charles, who was a carpenter and built many early Fullerton homes. He later became a mail carrier.
   Rev. Adams is listed among those attending the first school meeting in September 1879, to draft an agreement for the provision of a school house and teacher. Also in September, Rev. Adams was elected temporary secretary of the first County Central Committee.
   Most significantly, however, Rev. Adams was the first pastor to hold religious services in the area, and upon the organization of the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Fullerton in 1879, it was the first church society in Fullerton. Listed as co-organizers of the church were Mrs. B. D. Slaughter, Mrs. Martha Reynolds, Mrs. Rogers, Mrs. O.E. Stearns, Will C. Phillips and Mrs. R. G. Adams. At the end of his year of preaching there were 38 members in the congregation, and 50 Sunday School pupils.
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First Methodist Church.

   After Nebraska Wesleyan University was opened in Fullerton in October 1881, Rev. Adams served on the first board of trustees for the school.
   Until 1883, when the first Methodist Church was built in the northwest part of town, services and Sunday School had been held in the Wesleyan University Chapel. Over 100 persons attended the dedication festivities of the new church and picnic at the Wiltz

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Grove, south of the Cedar River.
   In 1886, two lots of land at the corner of 3rd and Irving Streets were donated to the church by D. W. Randolph. A new church was erected here and is near the site of the present church. The pastor at this time was Rev. W. H. H. Pillsbury, who would again serve the congregation from 1893 to Sept. 1895. Rev. Pillsbury was held in high esteem by the community for his services to the church and as a county official. The hill west of town is named in his honor.
   Rev. Pillsbury was instrumental in the organization known as the Fullerton Association of Organized Charities, formed in July 1894. The goal of the organization was to provide assistance to area families most severely affected by the drouth and scorching winds which had ruined the year's crops. Rev. Pillsbury was elected as president of the group. He died in December 1895 and is buried in the Fullerton Cemetery.
   What was to eventually become the Fullerton Chautauqua Assembly, originated with a group from the Epworth League of the Methodist Church holding a Vesper Service near the Leap as an alternative to sitting in a hot church. Others were invited to attend Vesper Services there and soon it became a very popular church meeting place. Thus, the Central Nebraska Assembly was organized in 1899, setting up a daily program of bible school, lectures and evangelistic services, along with music and entertainment. Though organized and led by the Methodists, the entire town of Fullerton worked in cooperation, and so in 1904 the Assembly was formed.
   The two-week summer Chautauqua program continued for almost 30 years, during which time many cottages were built on the grounds to accommodate the visitors and participants. Since it was the only Chatauqua in Nebraska for several years, there were times when additional tents were needed to shelter the overflow crowds. The last Chautauqua was held in 1929. Later the camp was purchased by the Nebraska Baptist State Convention and was known as Camp Merrill. Today the area is under private ownership, and is known as "Quiet Oaks".
   In 1907, the old Methodist church building was moved from the north corner location to the south corner of the block where the new brick church was later built in 1908. The cornerstone for the new church was laid in early 1908. Within the stone was laid a Bible, presented by Abraham Palmer who was a new member of the church. The $17,000 church was also dedicated in 1908.
   Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Kemp was the first couple to be married in the new church in 1909.
   The following year the North Nebraska Conference was held in Fullerton.
   Rev. John Grant Shick began his term as pastor in 1912. During his ministry a revival was held following which 40 persons were received into membership. He also preached many sermons on the temperance theme and strongly urged the voting members of the congregation to use their ballots to whatever advantage to close Fullerton's two saloons.
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   Many of the ministers who followed in later years were eloquent preachers and good church financiers, which helped the church remain strong in witness and worship.
   When the church observed its Golden Anniversary in 1929, many fine accomplishments were recognized. Rev. Merrill B. Carman was the minister at this time and had been for seven years. The evening he was to preach his farewell sermon to the congregation, September 13, 1931, he suffered a stroke and died.
   On March 4, 1934, an $800 pipe organ was purchased from St. Paul Methodist Church in Omaha. A dedicatory recital was held and attended by several hundred persons. Choir vestments and new hymnals were also purchased in the next two years.
   Two special campaigns were initiated in 1933 and 1934.
   A religious census was taken in Fullerton and the surrounding area to determine homes for visitation by the congregational members. Those not listed as being active in their faith were encouraged to accept Christ and unite with a church of their choice. As a result of this program, over 70 persons did come into the Methodist church fellowship.
   The other campaign emphasis was on regular church attendance.
   As a result of the Uniting Conference held in the spring of 1939 at Kansas City, Missouri, the Methodist Episcopal Church changed its name. The Methodist Episcopal Church, the M.E. Church South and the Methodist Protestant Church merged under the name The Methodist Church. It was also in 1939 that the Pleasant Valley Methodist Church building was sold, and some of the proceeds used
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Fullerton United Methodist Church

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to reduce the Fullerton Methodist Church debt.
   Before his death in August 1944, Rev. George M. Carter, started a layman evangelism program, which again resulted in many persons being converted. Pastor Carter is buried in the Fullerton Cemetery.
   Although original investigations were started into the building of a new parsonage in 1944, it was not until two years later that work actually began on a new parsonage. The old parsonage was sold for $1,500. The congregation bought Harmony Hall for $645 and planned to use the lumber from this building and from a barn on the property in the construction of the new parsonage.
   However, just before excavation work began, it was made known that the church furnaces needed to be replaced. Fortunately an energetic and faithful member, Ted Bard, volunteered his labor and expertise and was able to make extensive but very satisfactory alterations to the furnaces, so that they could be kept in use.
   In the meantime it was decided not to build a new parsonage, but rather to purchase an existing house for $7,500. Rev. D. E. Cannaday and his family moved into the parsonage in October of 1947.
   Several additions and improvements were made in the church in the 1950's. The baptismal fount was donated by the LaVern O. Williams family and hymnals were presented by Joy, Helen and Mary Lou Heal. Fellowship dinners were prime fund raisers of the times and an active visitation program brought in over 40 new members.
   The church observed its 75th anniversary in 1954.
   Through mergers in 1968 and 1969 of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church, the name was changed to the United Methodist Church.
   For the years 1975 to 1977 the Fullerton and Genoa United Methodist congregations were served by the same pastor.
   In June 1977, the North Star Evangelical Church became part of The United Methodist Church at Fullerton.
   So it was, on June 17, 1979, the 100th anniversary of The First United Methodist Church was observed at Fullerton. The 296-member congregation could be rightly proud and thankful for the many pastors and lay persons, who through their faith, hard work and endurance through the years, had contributed to the church as it stood that day.

   A complete list of pastors is as follows:

Rev. Robert G. Adams

1879-1880

Rev. J. W. Jennings

1895-1897

Rev. R. B. Wilson

1880-1881

Rev. T. C. Clendenning

1897-1898

Rev. J. J. Fleaharty

1881-1883

Rev. C. A. Mastin

1897-1898

Rev. E.G. Fowler

1883-1884

Rev. N. A. Martin

1898-1899

Rev. N. H. Gale

1884-1885

Rev. Lewis Campbell

1899-1900

Rev. E. L. Fox

1885-1886

Rev. A. L. Mickel

1900-1901

Rev. W. H. H. Pillsbury

1886-1887

Rev. J. M. Bothwell

1901-1904

Rev. J. W. Robinson

1887-1888

Rev. J. L. Vallow

1904-1906

Rev. G. W. Martin

1888-1889

Rev. J. B. Priest

1906-1907

Rev. Thos. Wolcott

1889-1890

Rev. E. C. Wright

1907-1909

Rev. N. A. Martin

1890-1893

Rev. A. G. McVay

1909-1912

Rev. W. H. H. Pillsbury

1893-1895

Rev. John Grant Schick

1912-1914

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Rev. G. W. Abbot

1914-1918

Rev. E. A. Weber (5 weeks)

1946

Rev. A. D. Davis

1918-1920

Rev. D. E. Cannaday

1946-1949

Rev. Frank Shacklock

1920-1922

Rev. Lawrence Boyer (3 mos)

1949

Rev. C. E. Connell

1922-1924

Rev. Charles E. Funk

1949-1954

Rev. M. B. Carman

1924-1931

Rev. Ernest A Gaither

1954-1959

Rev. E. M. Reed

1931-1932

Rev. Theo J. Krumrey

1959-1961

Rev. Richard E. Carlyon

1932-1936

Rev. Norman L. Crounse

1961-1965

Rev. Reuben Staniforth

1936-1938

Rev. Thomas Rehorn

1965-1968

Rev. J. A. Moorman

1938-1941

Rev. Lisle E. Mewmaw

1968-1975

Rev. L. D. Carpenter

1941-1943

Rev. Robert D. Linder

1975-1977

Rev. G. M. Carter

1943-1944

Rev Audrey M Scott

1977

Rev. Dale K. Westadt

1944-1946

EVANGELICAL PEACE/LUTHERAN CHURCH

   As the various ethnic groups brought their language and customs to the prairie wilderness, so did the early German settlers near Timber Creek also bring their religion. Their Lutheran worship services were first held in a rural school house, located in South Branch township. With the help of Reverend A. Finkbeiner, then pastor of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church at Cedar Rapids, the new congregation of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized on January 3, 1898. Henry Tiemeyer, Louis Schomburg and William Schwensen served on the first church council. The Red Wing school house would later be used to accommodate the growing congregation.
   By 1907, it was evident that the congregation was ready to begin construction of a church building. A five-acre tract of land for the building site and cemetery was purchased from C. D. Hellbusch for $180. Volunteers assisted Ed Asch, a Mr. Lorenzen and Louis Schomburg to complete the $2,000 church structure.
   On January 21, 1908, the long-awaited goal of having their own house of worship was realized, and the congregation was incorporated. Formal dedication services were held on April 26 of the same year. Pride and practicality influenced further improvements to the church and the grounds, one of which was a pot-belly stove placed in the center of the church in 1908. Those gathered around the hot stove reportedly kept warm on one side while being uncomfortably cold on the other side.
   Another traditional addition was made to the church in October of 1915, when a 1,000 lb. bell was installed. Over the years it announced the beginning of worship. There was also a time when the bell was rung at 6 o'clock on Saturday evenings as a reminder of the following day's worship and to toll the news of the passing of a member to his final reward.
   Segregated seating was observed inside the church, with the ladies occupying the pews on the east side of the aisle, the men on the west side and the children similarly segregated in the front pews. In addition to being attentive to the worship, the ladies were to keep watch over the horses at the hitching posts east of the church and relay any problems to the men. This seating arrangement continued

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to the late 1930's.
   All the meetings and services of the church were conducted in German until about 1920. It appears that the first English sermon delivered in July of 1918 at a Mission Festival, led the way for the common use of English at worship, in the Sunday School and for Confirmation instruction. On April 21, 1930, with the approval of the congregation, the minutes of meetings also were begun to be translated, and on October 23, 1938, it was voted to have the meetings held in English only.
   From April 1939 to well into the 1950's monthly German services were offered.
   The Peace congregation voted to become self-supporting in April of 1925 and called as its first pastor Reverend Weltner. A parsonage costing $5,000 was built the same year, under the direction of Herman Loescher.
   Even as Peace Lutheran saw to its own needs, it held mission work, both foreign and local, as a vital obligation to be funded. As a result yearly Mission Festival days were held in the Badje pasture along Timber Creek, 2 1/2 miles east of the church. A pulpit was built and seating was assembled to accommodate the crowds of guests who would come to hear the guest speaker and give generously to the mission outreach. Even the reed pump organ was transported to the field. The ladies of the congregation provided the food for the co-operative noon meal and ice cream, candy and other treats could be purchased at the make-shift concession stand.
   Through the difficult years of the 1930's, the congregation held together, but it was not until 1946 that enough funds were at hand to begin work on building a basement under the church. Severe
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Peace Lutheran Church

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winter weather halted the half-begun work, which was not completed until the spring of 1947. However, once completed, the basement had kitchen facilities and room for the Sunday and Vacation Bible School classes. In addition to the basement, an addition was made to the sanctuary, providing for a chancel and sacristy.
   By the time Peace Lutheran observed its 50th anniversary of the building of the church in 1958, the congregation had seen many changes in the building and in the service customs. However then, as today, it remained a close-knit "family" congregation.
   Under the pastorate of various ministers, Peace Lutheran has continued to make interior and exterior improvements and additions since its golden anniversary in 1958. The meeting room and serving area were added in 1970 at a cost of $7,000 and the placement of a stained glass window over the front door are two of the many such improvements. A number of improvements also have been made to the parsonage, adjacent to the church.
   Under the present pastorate of Rev. Robert Reimer, a folk liturgy is used on alternate Sundays and Holy Communion is offered each Sunday. To enable a more active participation of the congregation in the service, almost all of the liturgy and hymns regularly used have been transposed into lower keys by Mrs. Onno (Dorothy) Ahlers.
   As the congregation prepared to give thanks for 80 years of existence on June 18, 1978, members of the congregation responded with gifts of money to provide new carpeting for the aisle and chancel area as a token of gratitude to Almighty God.
   On its 80th anniversary the Peace Lutheran congregation consisted of 162 baptized members and 116 communicants.
   As an original member of the Iowa Synod, Peace Lutheran come under the direction of the American Lutheran Church in 1930 when the Iowa Synod merged with two other Synods. Twelve years after the 1960 merger of the American Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church, Peace Lutheran at Belgrade and St. John at Cedar Rapids severed their affiliation with the newly formed American Lutheran Church. As co-operating, independent congregations, Peace Lutheran and St. John began a mission outreach at St. Edward, now known as Faith Lutheran Church. In June of 1973, the three congregations of Peace Lutheran, St. John and Faith affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

   Pastors who have served Peace Lutheran are Rev. A. Finkbeiner (1898-1900); Rev. L. Kostbahn (1900-1903); Rev. R. Streeb (1904-1909); Rev. Hansche (1909-1910); Rev. C. Landdeck (1910-1913); Rev. H. Neemann (1914-1922); Rev. P. Weltner (1923-1938); Rev. J. Ackermann (1938-1941); Rev. J. Brinkmann (1941-1944); Rev. J. Hafermann (1945-1946); Rev. O. Zeilinger (1946-1952); Rev. K. Schettler (1952-1963); Rev. E. Blobaum (1963-1965); Rev. H. Feistner (1966-1968); Rev. R. Reimer (1969-present).

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