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HISTORIC OCONTO COUNTY CHURCH HISTORIES


  CHRIST LUTHERAN CHURCH
                       .
                          Oconto County, Wisconsin
 

      Written and contributed by Bruce A. Erb who has also offered to do
    Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery Lookups
    by e-mail request. Please click HERE.


                        A History of Christ Lutheran Church

                                                     Town of Underhill
                                                      Founded in 1892

Lutheranism in this section of Oconto County dates back to the pioneer missionary
days of the venerable Pastor Peter Dicke, who labored unremittingly in behalf of the
Kingdom of God, organizing congregations wherever possible. Our Christus
Evangelical Lutheran Church, (founding name of Christ Lutheran Church) is one of
the congregations organized by this faithful servant of God. It seems, however,
according to early unauthentic records that there were two groups out of which an
organization was affected, one in the neighborhood of Berry Lake, served by various
pastors and the other in the territory north of the present church property, served by
Pastor Dicke of the Town of Washington, Shawano County, both begun in the year
1891.

Men present at the first meeting of the group at Berry Lake were: Gottfried Buchholz,
William Albrecht, Gottfried Dirks, William Dirks, August Kobs, Carl Ohm and Gustav
Spohn. Due to prevailing circumstances this group was unable to continue and the
above names gradually appeared in the records of the groups served by Pastor Dicke.

As stated, Pastor Dicke’s zeal for the Kingdom brought him into this forest-laden and
sparsely- settled territory, the majority of acres owned by the state of Wisconsin. It
was in 1891 when Pastor Dicke first conducted services in the home of his eldest son,
Henry Dicke, and later in the schoolhouse near the Jacob Holl homestead. Families
served here included the following: Fred Tolzmann, Henry Dicke, John Runge, Albert
Jeske, C. Koehler, John Kolberg, and Martin Koeppen. Services were held on Sunday
afternoon, every six weeks, after Pastor Dicke conducted the service at Town of How
(Hayes). This continued from the spring of 1891 until the spring of 1893, when Pastor
Huchthausen accepted the call of the congregations in the Town of Gillett (Immanuel)
and of St. John’s in the Town of How. However, after a short period they without the
services of a pastor, until the fall of 1893, when Pastor Otto List followed a call to the
Town of Washington (Shawano County). Faithfully did he serve this little flock,
conducting the services in the home of Gottfried Dirks.

In 1892, under the able leadership of Pastor Dicke, the present congregation was
organized and incorporated, first adopting the name Trinity Evangelical Lutheran
Church. Charter members were: Henry Dicke, John Runge, Martin Koeppen, Fred
Tolzman and Charles Koehler.

From 1893 - 1898 there seems to be very little history and activities were curtailed,
though pastors of Town of Washington served this group conscientiously. When
Pastor List accepted a call into another parish, Pastor Charles Droegemueller. also of
Town of Washington, succeeded him in serving here, conducting services in various
schoolhouses until the year 1898. In the first recorded meeting of Sept. 26, 1897, led
by Pastor Droegemueller, it was decided to reorganize the congregation and this time
adopt the name Christus Evangelical Lutheran Church, Town of Underhill, Wis., this
resolution being carried out in 1898, after Pastor W. T. Naumann was called to
minister to the few members. Trustees elected in the first recorded meeting were:
Gottifried Bucholz, August Kobs and Carl Wilke. On Oct. 24, 1897 it was decided to
build a church of pine logs, dimensions 22X30X14, on land donated by Albert Schutt.
However, two months later the motion seems to have been overthrown and the
congregation decided to build on the old Town of How road, on land donated by Pastor
Dicke

Conditions seem to have been settled with the arrival of Pastor Naumann, who came
sometime between March and Dec. of 1898. In a meeting of Dec. 11, 1898 it was
again reconsidered and finally Henry Dicke’s offer to donate 5 acres of land was
accepted, which is still the church site. From this time the congregation began to
grow rapidly, more new families migrating to the area and added to the church each
year. On Dec. 26, 1898 it was decided to build a frame church 40X26X18, the building
committee consisting of Frank Runge and William Braun. These two together with
Carl Wilke, Henry Dicke, Martin Koeppen and Fred Tolzman proceeded to cut logs, to
be used in the “new” church. Humble as this building seemed, it was completed in the
year 1900. Pastor Naumann served this little congregation for $50 annually. When
William Braun left this area, Henry Dicke was elected to fill the spot created on the
Building Committee and was also elected treasurer, which office he filled faithfully for
32 years.

As early as 1903 and 1904 the congregation realized the great need of training its
children in the nurture of the Lord, deciding to employ a student to teach summer
school for two months, a certain student Koenig accepting the position.

During these early years the following families were accepted for membership: Adolph
Neumann and Robert Froemming in 1900; Herman Buchholz, Michael Braun, Ernest
Wildt, Ed Behlke, and Herman Giese in 1901; Fred Runge and William Strei in 1902;
Edward Bublitz and Carl Jaeger in 1903; Christ Quast and Carl Pacholke in 1904; Carl
Ohm in 1905; Anton Braun and Herman Hinkfuss in 1906; Carl Natzke in 1909;
Ludwig Kossmann in 1911; Gustav Giese and August Strei sometime previous; Henry
Albrecht, August Kobs and William Dirks in 1912; August Schuettpelz in 1913 and a
number of others.

In 1906 the cemetery was laid out in lots. On Jan. 19, 1908 Pastor Naumann received
his peaceful dismissal to accept the call extended to him by the sister congregation in
West Bloomfield. The congregation then extended a solemn call to Pastor A. Plass,
then pastor of St. John’s (Hayes). This call was accepted by Pastor Plass, annual
salary fixed at $100. On April 14, 1908 Fred Runge was elected secretary, serving for
25 years, until 1933. In a meeting of the voters held Dec. 13, 1908 it was resolved to
build an addition to the old church, present Quarters being to limited. This
improvement consisted of brick veneering the structure, adding a schoolroom and
erecting a steeple. Under the guidance of Pastor Plass this work was completed in
1909, the building committee including Henry Dicke, Martin Koeppen, Adolph
Neumann and Frank Runge. The entire cost of this project was $1092.89.

Pastor Plass served the congregation faithfully until August 12, 1920 at which time
Pastor D. Markworth of Town of Gillett was called. This call was declined and Pastor
H. F. Braun of White Clay Lake was called, the call being accepted. Pastor Braun
began his work here in Sept. 1920. In the following year English services were
introduced, such services being held once a month.

Great distress befell the congregation when, on July 22, 1922 the church was
completely destroyed by fire of an unknown origin. God’s grace and mercy was again
evident when on Jan. 2, 1923, it was decided to rebuild, dimensions 60X32, excluding
the sanctuary. The building committee include4d the following: Fred Runge, Henry
Dicke, Martin Koeppen, Paul Wasmund and Frank Runge. On Sept. 2, 1923 the
cornerstone of this new brick building was laid and dedicated to the service of the
Lord on June 15, 1924. The expenditures of this present church were $10,931.16.

Due to ill heath Pastor Braun was forced to resign in June 1934, at which time a
successor was called in the person of Pastor L. I. Going, who was serving St. John’s
at Pulcifer. Pastor Going was installed several weeks later and served with zeal until
he accepted the call of the congregation in Fremont, Wi., preaching his farewell
sermon in May 1940.

On June 4, 1940 L. F. Schneider, then pastor of Zion Lutheran in Oconto was duly
called to become pastor of both St. John’s Pulcifer and Christ Church. He was
installed by the Vacancy Pastor, K. R. Going, on July 8, 1940.

In Jan. of 1943 the congregation decided to decorate the interior of the church at a
cost of $600. A few months later the need arose to replace the roof with asbestos
shingles and to make general repairs, the total of these projects amounting to $1400.

The Golden Jubilee Celebration was held on June 6, 1943. A German worship service
was held at 10 a. m. with Pastor Henry Naumann as the guest Pastor. He is the son
of our former Pastor W. T. Naumann. An English service was held at 3 p.m. with
Pastor Martin N. Dicke, a grandson of Pastor Peter Dicke, as the guest Pastor. The
offerings from the services were used to buy war bonds.

Pastor L. F. Schneider remained with us throughout the dark days of WWII. Sugar,
shoes, gas, and many other necessities were rationed. The auto industry was
converted to making war material, instead of civilian vehicles. Car parts and tires were
almost impossible to get; so, by war’s end, almost everyone’s car was in a sad state,
including our Pastor’s. When automobiles did become available again, Christ
congregation brought Pastor Schneider a new car.

In 1949 Pastor Schneider accepted a call to the new mission of Saint Luke in
Wisconsin Rapids and was installed there on Aug. 7, 1949.

There were a number of children who had regular attendance at Sat. School because
Pastor Schneider took the long route from Pulcifer to Hintz. He drove by the Berry
Lake area to pick up a carload of Children.

During these years, the main floor of the church and balcony remained much the
same, except for painting. The basement changed the most. The multi-purpose room
was the schoolroom, complete with desks and a small wood-burning stove. The
blackboards are still used to this day.

What is now the kitchen was the furnace room and had a large coal/wood-burning
furnace in the center. What is today the furnace room was a storage room. The small
windows in the present kitchen were formally coal chutes. Where the restrooms are
now was originally the kitchen-pantry.

Since the church was not heated during the week, the janitor had to arrive well before
the service started to warm up the building.

Pastor Martin F. Sengele was serving in Illinois in 1949, when he accepted the call to
serve our congregations. The Sengele family had lived in Germany during WWII and
returned to the U. S. after the war. Pastor Sengele kept us well aware of our freedom
in Christ, as well as the blessings of living in a land where freedom is our birthright.

During his time here, Sat. School was replaced with Sunday School. Adult Bible class
was taught by the pastor and all Sunday School teachers were required to attend.

At that time, Christ congregation was not a member of the Lutheran Church -
Missouri Synod. We called Pastors from the Synod, supported the mission work and
used LC-MS materials to teach our members.

During Pastor Sengele’s time here, the members voted to become a member of the
LC-MS in the North Wis. District, Circuit #2.

In the early 1950’s, we had ushers, retired the long handled wicker offering baskets,
and brought new offering plates. These are still used today. The outside lighted cross
was installed on the top of the bell tower in 1953.

Zion, the Swedish Lutheran Church in Mosling, closed in 1959, because they could
not get a pastor. And, as a result, Christ congregation was pleased to welcome the
following families into its membership: Fred and Verona Carlson and family, Richard
and Pat Reinke and family, Alfred (Swede) and Jeannette Nelson and family, and
Walter and Hildegrade Nelson.

There was a District realignment of Circuits in 1961. As a result of the realignment,
Pulcifer and Hintz would no longer be a parish. St. John’s, Green Valley, became a
duel parish with St. John’s Pulcifer. Christ became a dual parish with Immanuel in
the Town of Gillett. Pastor Sengele bid us a fond farewell and continued to Pulcifer
and Green Valley until his retirement in 1974. Our congregation then welcome Pastor
J. R. Westphal who had been serving Immanuel Town of Gillett.

We observed our 70th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of the church building
on June 30, 1963. Former Pastor Louis Going was the guest speaker and the offering
to mission.

Also in 1963, we purchased a fuel oil furnace from Gehrke-Montour of Shawano for
$1350. Then we had automatic heat in the church.

The interior of the building was painted and redecorated by R. F. Umland of Shawano
in 1964 at a cost of $2056. In 1966, a well was drilled and pump installed.

Pastor Westphal diligently served our duel parish until his retirement in 1973. He and
his wife then moved to Midland, Mich. where he served part-time, helping his son,
Pastor Leroy Westphal. Pastor Westphal died in 1982 and is buried in Bonduel, Wi.,
his childhood home.

Immanuel and Christ extended a call to Pastor Roger Eden of Indianapolis, Ind. He
accepted the call and was installed on Jan. 13, 1974. Pastor Eden and his wife,
Carolyn, left in Jan. 1976to serve a church in Louisville, Kentucky and later moved
back to Wisconsin.

In 1977, Pastor Edward Steyer of Hamilton, Texas accepted the call to be our Pastor.
During the years that Pastor Steyer served Christ Church, he confirmed many adults.

At a meeting in 1980 it was voted to construct an addition to the front of the church
and put in bathroom. The James Druckrey Const. Co. was engaged to do the work.
The Trustees were the building committee, Irving Brandemuehl, Alfred Strei, and
Ralph Fischer.

On July 5, 1981, the voting members approved the change officially from “Christus”
Lutheran Church to “Christ” Lutheran Church and it was registered and recorded as
“Christ”.

On Sunday, December 9, 1984, Pastor Steyer baptized Melissa Ladwig and went into
semi-retirement in Arkansas.

The old bell in the bell tower was retired in 1985, and a Schulmerich electric carillion
was installed.

Pastor Karl Rose of North Branch, Minnesota was called and accepted the call to serve
our congregations. He was installed on March 17th, 1985and faithfully served until
1996, at which time he left to serve his home congregation.

In 1997, we extended a call to Pastor Ronald Andresen, which he accepted and was
installed in June of 1997. He served our congregation until the fall of 1999, at which
time to moved to Col.

We are presently being served by Deacon Ralph Beversdorf, who has served us since
the fall of 1999. He is presently working to be ordained and is a native of Shawano,
WI. Before serving us, he was a teacher for many years and often was a guest
speaker in our church.

(Much of information taken from Centennial Book the was published in 1992)


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