Our Dual Parish (Holy Cross and Immanuel)

After the dissolution of the Zion and Immanuel dual parish agreement, Holy Cross, out of deep love and respect for her mother church, Immanuel, decided to enter into a dual parish agreement with Immanuel Lutheran Church. Consequently, Holy Cross and Immanuel Lutheran Churches came to exist as a dual parish upon installation of their first pastor, Rev. Adam Filipek, on Oct. 16th 2016. Together, in the Lidgerwood community, we continue to proclaim the excellencies of Christ who has called us out of the darkness of sin and death, into the marvelous light of salvation.

Immanuel Lutheran Church

The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod was already becoming active in southeastern North Dakota even before North Dakota became a state in 1889. Mostly because of the Homestead Act passed by Congress in 1862, settlers were arriving here in covered wagons to a new “land” for them. North and South Dakota were known as Dakota Territory at the time. Many of these settlers were of German Lutheran descent. Settlers took up claims along the Wild Rice River and in 1875 Trinity Lutheran Church of Great Bend, North Dakota was organized. Therefore, the church was nicknamed as the “Mother Church.” After more settlers arrived, St. John’s of Belford Township was organized in 1883. More immigrants came and spread southwestward, settling in the hilly, rock-sprinkled country which the dwellers on the flatter land called the “Schweiz”, that is Switzerland. Today we would say this was south and east of Lidgerwood. At that time it was park Township which later became Duerr, Moran and Grand Townships.

Rev. Robert Koehler, who had been installed as a candidate at Great Bend in 1881, began traveling further westward, working among the early settlers who had staked homestead claims. The settlers had carried with them Bibles and Catechisms in their few meager possessions. Pastor Koehler came to park Township in 1882 and began holding services in homes. Some of these were the homes of Ben Vollmers, John Strege, Peter Kackman and Robert Schlueter. Two years later in 1884 a group of Lutherans met at the William Medelstat public school, east of the present Urban Trittin farm, where they organized Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church. A constitution was drawn up and written in the German language. It’s first article states that the church adheres to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. One year after Rev. Koehler organized Immanuel he left to serve churches in Minnesota. He is buried at Long Prairie, Minnesota where he last served.

Old church records show that the first baptism recorded was that of Johann David Strege by Rev. Hinck in 1885.

In February of the year 1885, Reverend Tietje Hinck became pastor of St. John’s at Belford and he also took over serving the vast territory as far south as Groton, South Dakota, and as far west as Ellendale, North Dakota. Reverend Hinck was known as the circuit rider pastor. He rode horseback on a route nearly five hundred miles long. At one time there were as high as twenty-nine preaching stations on his route, including Immanuel. These included homes and railroad stations. Rev. Hinck met a girl at Ellendale on one of his preaching trips and he married her in 1886.

With the coming of the railroad in 1886 the towns of Lidgerwood and Hankinson had their early beginnings.

In 1889 North Dakota became a state and joined the union.

Records show the first recorded marriage was in 1889 joining William Clark and Paulina Schlueter.

Immanuel congregation had grown to a point of calling their own first resident pastor. He was pastor F. O. Oberheu and he began service there in 1892. A cemetery was started that same year on land donated by Mr. Frank Hoefs, a member. The first recorded burial is of August Gieser in 1892. Mr Hein Bremer served as the first cemetery trustee in 1892. Frank Hoefs go this job in 1894.

During Pastor Oberheu’s pastorate, we have the first minutes of Congregational meetings. At one of the early meetings ten acres were set aside for church purposes. In look back on the land holdings, it is noted that Matt Brown homesteaded the land in section eight of Park Township, the land whereon the church stands. Some years later on July 29, 1901, Carl and Elizabeth Nickels deeded the land for the church yard to Immanuel congregation. Hein Bremer, a member, homesteaded the land on which the parsonage stands on February 19, 1887. Some years later, July 20, 1901, E. H. Carter and Genevieve B. Carter deeded the land for the parsonage grounds.

Also from another early minutes, Pastor Oberheu (still single) was to board at the John Strege home for one dollar per week with two dollars extra a month for fuel allowance. John Strege is the grandfather of Mrs. Leonard Thurmer of this area. The Strege farm was sever miles south of Lidgerwood, on the Lidgerwood Veblen road. Every member of the Congregation should give the pastor two sacks of oats as feed for the pastor’s horse. This feed given was always recorded in the early treasurer’s book as support for the pastor.

Serving as elders in the year 1893 were Gottlieb Wahl, John Budach, and Peter Mumm. 1893 was a big year for Immanuel. The first church building was built for twenty-six dollars in the spring of that year. This building is still standing today on the church grounds. It was used many years for confirmation instruction and was known as the “German school.”

It was converted into a garage later for the pastor’s car. It used to have an entrance room on the front. This was taken off and sold in 1949 to Ted Marohl. Mr. Boehning and H. Behm gathered the money from members for the first church. The combination first church and school was equipped with benches on the sides. They in turn were constructed so that a cover could be folded down and this could be used for a writing table for the catechism classes. So our early pioneers placed great emphasis on Christian education in providing for this feature. The church was to be constructed by Peter Mumm in two and a half months’ time but because of delay in the sidings getting we from a spring snowstorm, it took longer than planned.

After the church was finished in 1893 the first confirmation class of twelve was confirmed by Pastor Oberheu.

Also in 1893 it was decided to build the first parsonage. Dimensions were 24’x16’x12’. Pastor Oberheu and Mr. Budach were to collect money in Pastor Hinck’s congregation and on the reservation. The parsonage building committee were William Schueleter, Hein Bremer, and Chris Lueck. During the time of construction, John Strege still kept Pastor Oberheu, but the board increased to $2.50 per week. The lumber bill for the parsonage was $187.50. Peter Mumm the builder, was also paid $2.50 for a table, two benches and a table cloth. This no doubt was some of the early furniture for the parsonage.

When the parsonage was finished, pastor Oberheu married Emma Kade. The parsonage was set up on huge stones and Mrs. Oberheu later wrote, “the wild animals were free to move in and live under the floor.” Later on, a fence was built around the house to keep the animals away. There was no well at this time so the had to haul his water on a stone boat from a neighbor. But life went on and in 1894 an infant daughter named Lottchen joined the pastor’s family.

In 1894 Pastor Oberheu organized Zion Lutheran Church across the state line in South Dakota. The opening of the reservation to settlers in 1892 created a need for another Lutheran church there.

In February of 1895 Pastor Oberheu received and accepted a call to St. peters congregation in Wentworth, South Dakota. Pastor Oberheu had baptized thirty-eight babies while serving here.

On March 8, 1895 in a call meeting led by pastor Hinck, It was resolved to call a candidate of the ministry as pastor. His annual salary was to be $175.00, besides providing feed for his horse and cow, and such good things as the members might contribute. In response to this call, Johann Julius Flamin Cloeter was ordained and installed by Rev. Hinck as pastor our pastor on September 22, 1895. Pastor Cloeter was born June 27, 1872 at Valley Creek, Minnesota, and was the third youngest in a family of fifteen children of Reverend Ottomar and Margaret (nee Moll) Cloeter. He graduated from Concordia College at Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1892, and three years later from our St. Louis Seminary. Pastor Cloeter lived in the small parsonage alone at first in 1895. A well was dug at the parsonage that year. Each voting member was asked to pay $6.00 toward it. One and a half years later, after coming here, on May 18, 1897 he was united in marriage to Paula Pieper, daughter of Professor Franz Pieper of the Seminary at St. Louis.

Mrs. Cloeter was born January 2, 1878 in Manitowac, Wisconsin. A few months later her parents moved to St. Louis where pastor Pieper became a professor at the seminary. The Piepers’ young daughter, Paula, attended parochial school there and after confirmation she entered Walther College there. After marrying pastor Cloeter, she made a home for them in Iammauel’s modest parsonage. Surely, a word of tribute is due this city-reared woman, who was always helpful and hospitable, and shared the hardships of pioneer life on the prairie in those early years. In 1898 the Cloeters first child was born. He was named Ernst Ottmar Cloeter. During some of the years following, Mrs. Cloeter taught the public school ½ mile east of the church and parsonage. It is told of how pastor would get her horse and cutter ready for her, she would drive to school, and let the horse go home during the day. The horse, named Mania, was a smart and well-trained animal. In the afternoon, after being sent off, it would run back to the school and nuzzle up to the window by the teacher’s desk, waiting for her to drive her home. Mrs. Cloeter had some children already at this time and either her sister or Pastor Cloeter’s sister took care of the children at home.

Forty men belonged to the voting assembly in 1900. The congregation had experienced tremendous growth by this time. In the year 1902 it was decided to build a second larger church for Immanuel. The first church was to be kept for instruction. A new church measuring 48’x32’ was built that year on the grounds at a cost of $4,000. It stood facing north and south with the entrance on the north side. It  had a steeple with a bell balcony. Kerosene lamps furnished light for the few evening services. The cornerstone was laid on June 16, 1901 and the building was finished in the fall.

In January of 1903, the first Missouri Synod Lutheran service was conducted in Lidgerwood by Pastor Cloeter. Services were held in the homes there for several years. By 1906, the Holy Cross congregation was organized and served by Pastor Cloeter thrity-five years until 1941 when Rev. Karl Rueter began serving Holy Cross. At this time, Pastor Cloeter had three churches to care for until the year 1924 where there were four churches.

Six children were born to the Cloeters. They were Ottmar (previously mentioned), Paula, Lucy, Julius Cordula and Ada. Some of us remember Ottmar and his wife Laura having a grocery store at the Dalberg Siding across the state line in South Dakota. Two of the Cloeter daughters, Lucy and Cordula, held elementary teaching certificates for Richland County. They did teach in the local school ½ mile east of the church. Cordula served as organist and choir director in her father’s church.

A new and much larger parsonage was built in 1907. This home, remodeled many times was sold to a daughter of our congregation, Danielle Lentz, in 2016, when Holy Cross and Immanuel Lutheran Churches become a dual parish. It has a foundation made up of stones set on a full basement. It used to have a screened porch to the west, this was later enclosed. It used to feature an open stairway off of the middle room and this too was enclosed to conserve heat.

In 1910, Immanuel joined the Missouri Synod with headquarters at St. Louis, Missouri. Pastor Cloeter served as Superintendent of Missions for Montana and west of the Missouri Reiver in North Dakota in addition to his work here locally serving three churches.

An early picture of the parsonage grounds shows a small barn built by the members for the pastor’s horse and cow. It had a lean-to for the chickens. The barn had a hay-mow where members would pitch a load of hay into it. This was in the early 1900’s. When the sacks of grain were bought for feed, it was recorded in an early treasurer’s book. Members also brought meat, wood, hay, and ground feed. An early picture shows the church grounds almost without trees, and the wooden tower windmill over the well.

It should be noted here that women and children were seated on the left side of the church and men on the right side until and annual meeting in 1941 when a motion was passed that men and women could sit together as families. Certainly we can all recall the klingenbeutel made of velvet on a long pole used in Sunday collections. It was noted that money for missions began to be gathered in 1913 on a regular basis. Mention must be made here of the organ on the balcony in the old church, that needed a second person to turn the crank while the organ played. At Christmas time wax candles were used on the Christmas tree with a bucket of water and a wet mop on a long pole always nearby.

A large long barn was built east of the church to house the horses while services and “German school” were being held. In 1945, the barn was sold to Kuglar and Swanson Garage. Half of this barn is now the old Napa Auto Parts store in Lidgerwood and the other half was sold to Ed Sellner and is used by the Lidgerwood Park Board for lawnmowers on the east side of Lidgerwood. The Pastor’s smaller barn was moved west of the church to a farm owned by Mrs. Lottie Hoefs in Grant Township.

Members and former members may recall the mission festivals held in the Frank Hoefs grove. Also the pop and ice cream stands, plus the ball games. Last Mission Festival in the Frank Hoefs grove, which is about ¼ mile north of the church, was in 1946.

During the flu of 1918, Pastor Cloeter had as high as four funerals a week.

In 1924 when Clair City, South Dakota, was a thriving town, Pastor Cloeter organized the Trinity Congregation. This brought the number of churches he served to four. We can almost see him yet traveling to the churches by horse and buggy and later on with a Willis-Knight car.

During Pastor Cloeter’s time, there were large families. On one Sunday four babies were baptized at Immanuel. They were all beginning with the letter “K”. Baptized on October 7, 1928 were Kenneth Kube, Erwin, Kaatz, Caroline Kath, and Melvin Kackman.

Immanuel Church were hosts when the Lutheran Church, North Dakota-Montana District held their convention in 1928. A large picture was taken of the one hundred six men that attended. Model T cars and a straw pile were also visible on the picture in the background. Pastor Cloeter was president of the North Dakota-Montana District at that time.

During the “dry” years on June 14, 1935, Immanuel Ladies Aid was organized at the home of Mrs. Oscar Lentz. With the help of Pastor Cloeter and some of the officers of Zion, a constitution was adopted and election of officers held. Elected as first president was Mrs. Max Berner. Serving with her as vice-president was Mrs. Oscar Letnz, and secretary-treasurer Mrs. Ray (Pearl) Kackman. Dues were set at fifteen cents per meeting. Meetings were held in the homes until about the year 1948 when the church basement became the meeting place. Some of the charter aid members were Mrs. Emil Wollitz, Mrs. Hugo lentz, Mrs. Max Berner, Mrs. Oscar Lentz, Mrs. John Helmer, Mrs. Julius Cloeter, Mrs. Ray Kackman, Mrs. Arthur Marohl and Mrs. Arnold Marohl. Other early members were Mrs. G. E. Tesch, Mrs. Edwin Marohl, Mrs. Bill Bladow, Mrs. Charles Kath, Mrs. Matt Willprecht, and Mrs. Alfred Boehning. (In the bi-centennial year, 1976, some of the above members met for a special get-together.) The ladies aid joined the North Dakota District L.W.M.L. on February 19, 1946. That same year Mrs. Oscar Lentz and and Mrs. G. E. Tesch attended the second convention of the North Dakota District at Edgeley, North Dakota. Since that time numerous quilts, lap robes, baby quilts, and baptismal napkins have been made by the ladies, as gifts of love.

In May of 1945, the Congregation began to make plans to observe Pastor Cloeter’s fifty years in the ministry at the same location. However, at this time, health problems began to develop for him and he went to St. Paul, Minnesota for a check-up. He had an operation there and afterwards went to his daughter’s home at Bird island, Minnesota to recuperate when he suffered a stroke and passed away a few days later, June 4, 1945. Before his passing he had quoted these words, “Whither I go ye know and the way ye know”, taken from John 14:4. These words were used for the funeral sermon, the one in German preached by and old friend, Rev. W. Stolper and the sermon in English preached by Rev. A. Rubbert, a schoolmate of Cloeter. Rev. J. Rengstorf officiated at the house and Rev. Felix Rubbert at Immanuel Cemetery. Pastor Cloeter had almost reached the age of seventy-four years, with fifty of these years in the ministry here in the area. Immanuel, Zion, and Trinity congregations paid for their shepherd’s funeral and also erected a cross gravestone in his memory on Immanuel’s cemetery. Under his leadership the churches certainly became well-established congregations.

After Pastor Cloeter’s death a ministerial student, Carl Mehlberg preached during the three summer months. He stayed at the home of members, Arthur and Louise Marohl. Rev. Walter Cordts also assisted during the vacancy and he installed Pastor Nicolas M. Hasz who came from Egeland, North Dakota. Pastor and Clara Hasz had two sons, Wally and Norland. Mrs. Hasz also served as organist and choir director.

A Sunday School was also started on the first Sunday in November, 1945. There were fifty-two children enrolled. Those first teachers were Mrs. N. M. Hasz, Mrs. Oscar lentz, miss Doris Marohl, Mrs. Gertrude (Marohl) Funck, and Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Wollitz. The ladies aid donated forty dollars towards buying the lessons.

New and larger hymnbooks with notes were purchased at this time.

Mission money had been collected in small change in the kligenbeutel on designated Sundays beginning in 1913. Money for the pastor’s salary and church upkeep was usually collected four times a year. It was either paid at the quarterly voters meeting or collected at the homes. The envelope system was introduced beginning January 1, 1946.

The voters decided to fix up the church basement that same fall. While men were working in the basement a fire broke out upstairs and spread very rapidly, burning the church down on December 18, 1945. Because of the fire and smoke, only four pews were saved. (These pews are in use now in the balcony.) Mr. Martin Tesch made a heroic last-entrance into the burning church and rescued the German pulpit Bible. After the fire, the congregation held services at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Lidgerwood. Quite a number of meetings were being held to decide the future of Immanuel. After much deliberation, it was decided to build up a new church again. After the basement was made, the cornerstone for the new and third church was laid on June 29, 1947.

Rev. Walter H. Cordts (father of organist Patty Trittin), preached at this cornerstone laying. The present church building was designed by F. R. Webber of New York City. The contractor was Benjamin F. Henson and Son of Rutland, North Dakota. He was paid $1.75 per hour. In addition to Mr. Henson and Son, carpenters from the congregation were four Marohl brothers, Art, Arnold, Ed, and Erhard, as well as Harold and Walter Trittin, and John Grohnke. These congregation carpenters were paid 80 cents per hour and were encouraged to donate as much of their time as possible to hold the cost down. (From minutes of congregation.) Many men of the congregation were volunteers and assisted in the building. Plastering of the church was done by Hans Antonson of Rutland, and the heating system was installed by Evansons of Rutland. The electrical work was done by City Electric of Lidgerwood. Lumber was furnished by the Neils Lumber Mills of Miles City, Montana and was handled through Heley’s Lumber Yard, Lidgerwood. The millwork was furnished by the Northwest Sash and Door Company. The Altar, Communion railing, baptismal fountain and pulpit were all built by Mr. Henderson. The cost of the church was about $20,000. Due to God’s grace and the generous cooperation of the membership there were no debts when the church was completed.

On December 17, 1947, the new church was dedicated to the glory of God. Pastor Hasz conducted a brief service outside the door and then unlicking the door, a procession followed inside. Rev. John Rengstorf of Great Bend and Rev. Gerhard Michael delivered the sermons on this dedication day. In the evening, parochial school teacher, William Melchert of Hankinson, presented the children’s choir from there. The pwers were not in yet at this time so chairs were brought from homes. Pews were purchased later from Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The R. E. A. began furnishing stead electricity along these years.

Two pictures show the laying of the cornerstone. Rev. Walter Cordts and pastor Hasz were in charge with elders Alfred Fust and Arthur Hoefs talking part in the cornerstone laying.

The first baptism in the new church was Charles Marohl, son of Erhart and Dorthy Marohl. The frist confirmation class in the new church in the year 1948 were LeRoy Marohl, Lorenz Trittin, Daniel Marohl, Marjory Berner, Lucille Lentz, Renata Trittin, Gerhard Trittin, Myrtle Ebel, Grace Kackman, Lucille Hoefs, and Chloe Tesch. Of these, two – Marjory Berner’s mother, Minnie Berner, and Renata Trittin’s father, Robert Trittin, were members of the first class confirmed in the old church in 1902. First wedding recorded in the new church was that of Carl Kath and Delores Hruza. The first funeral in the new church was that of Pastor Cloeter’s wife Paula, on August 23, 1948.

The pastor’s garage located east of the parsonage was destroyed by fire in 1948. The “German schoolhouse,” no longer used, was then converted into a garage for the pastor’s car.

In 1949, Pastor Hasz accepted a call to Irma, Wisconsin. Reverend Cordts again helped out during the vacancy.

Pastor Theodore Voegel arrived here from Amenia, North Dakota, and was installed on May 4, 1950 in the triple parish. He was a 1947 graduate of Springfield, Illinois. From this time on all services were in the English language. At that time the parsonage underwent considerable remodeling, and a house yard fence was built.

A church sign was built, a gift of the L.W.M.L. (This wooden sign was later destroyed in a wind storm.)

On June 11, 1950 a Lutheran Youth Group was started. Rueben Trittin and Marjory Berner were the first officers and sixteen youth attended.

A forty voice acappella parish choir of the three congregations was started by Pastor Vogel and they gave concerts. In November 1951, a concert model two manual Hammond organ was purchased and dedicated. Automatic membership in the L.W.M.L. was established at this time. A newly revised constitution was adopted by the L.W.M.L. also. Joint quarterly L.W.M.L meetings began among the three churches. The Lutheran Vesper Hour, beginning at this time over radio station K.B.M.W. in Wahpeton, was contributed to by Immanuel.

One of Immanuel’s members, Miss Lucille Lentz, who had just graduated from the teachers college at Seward, Nebraska, received a call to be a parochial teacher at First Lutheran School in Van Nuys, California for the year 1954-1955. Pastor Cloeter’s nephew was the principal at that school.

Lutheran Day rallies were held in the fifties in the Lidgerwood school auditorium. At the end of April in 1954 pastor Vogel, his wife Ilene, and four sons, Teddy, Steven, Michael, and Daniel, left here to go to Arapahoe, Nebraska. A daughter, Mary, joined the Vogel family later.

Rev. L. K. Meyer of Lidgerwood served as Vacancy Pastor and installed Pastor Paul Maassel June 1954. Pastor Maassel graduated from Concordia Seminary in 1947. He was united in marriage to Ellen Alberg on December 1, 1957.

Immanuel observed their 10th anniversary of the new church with a special service and a dinner. A P.T.R. mission was conducted at Immanuel in November 1958. Pastor Maassel, Ellen and children, Mark, Sonia, and Sharon, left here in January 1959 going to Williston, ND. A son, Michael was born to them shortly after they arrived in Williston.

Rev. Herbert C. Mueller of Holy Cross, Lidgerwood, served as our Vacancy Pastor. The congregation then applied for a candidate. Donald Kirst was assigned here from Concordia Seminary. He was ordained and installed by Rev. L. A. Dierks on July 5, 1959. A month later he went back to Missouri to marry Miss Gerry Koenig, who had served as secretary for Rev. Martin Mueller, managing editor of The Lutheran Witness.

On September 20, 1959, Immanuel observed it’s 75th anniversary as a congregation. Serving on the anniversary committee at the time were Fred Kackman, Charles Wollitz, Arthur Hoefs, Max Berner, and Oscar Lentz. Over six hundred people attended the diamond jubilee. Two anniversary services were held with Rev. Vogel and Rev. Cordts as guest speakers. A parish choir was directed by Mrs. Lester Bartnick of Zion and Karen Willprecht was the organist. Elders at the time were Arthur Berner, Arthur Hoefs, Kenneth Lentz, and Arnold Willprecht. The trustees were Max Berner, Ewald Boehning, and Erick Ebel.

In 1960 the state highway department purchased 2 ½ acres of land from the congregation for grading and building a black-topped road past the church which was finished in 1961.

In 1960 Pastor Krist organized a Lutheran Laymen’s League. In May 1963, a mission fair was held. In July 1964, the Kirst family left for Parma, Ohio. The Kirst children were Sherrie, Donna, and Lorrie, while Tonia joined the family in Ohio. Rev. Marvin D. Otto then served as vacancy pastor for a year.

Pastor Norman E. Porath was installed August 8, 1965. He was a graduate of the Springfield, Illinois Seminary. He was married to Delores Anderson and was the father of four children, Celeste, Greta, Kent, and Marcus. He was installed by Reverend Lambert A. Dierks. In the fall of 1965, the Immanuel ladies made Chrismons for the church Christmas tree. These were used for many years thereafter. Bible Study began in the homes in 1966. Pastor Porath served the triple parish here until October 1968 when he accepted a call to Wimbledon, ND. Rev. Ruel C Gauger served as the Vacancy Pastor for the three year period. A dual parish agreement was drawn up between Immanuel and Zion Claire City, however it has since been dissolved.

On August 13, 1969, the 85th anniversary was observed with special services. Mr. Carrol Marohl, a son of the congregation who was studying for the ministry, was a guest speaker. Members wrote letters that were put away and opened at the 100th anniversary.

On August 29, 1971, installation services were held for Pastor Ellsworh Wippich. He had been a parochial school teacher but went back to the Springfield Seminary to become a pastor. He was married to Lois Krause and they arrived here with four children: Rachael, Joel, Miriam, and Priscilla. Naomi was born to the Wippichs while serving here. He was installed by Counselor Reverend Edward J. Rutter at Immanuel and Zion Lutheran Churches. Trinity Church of Claire City, SD, was no longer a part of the parish as they realigned with Sisseton.

At about this time the Lutheran Youth were renamed Active Christian Teens. Formerly they were Walther Leaguers. Outings, ball games and welcoming suppers for the newly-confirmed were held. Vacation Bible Schools were held annually in June. A church sign made of white brick was erected on the church yard. Pasture land at the parsonage was sold to member Mark Kaler because animals were no longer kept there. On November 10, 1976, the Zone L.W.M.L Rally was held here with an attendance of two hundred.

Pastor Wippich left here in November 1976. Rev. R. C. Gauger again filled in as Vacancy Pastor. A call was placed and answered by Pastor Carl Efaimson arriving here from Bowling Green, Ohio. He was installed on a very cold evening on January 16, 1977. His wife was Ellen and they had three children, Carla, Danielle, and Johnathan. He served as pastor here until February 25, 1979 when they went to Verndale, Minnesota. Reverend Wayne Beebe of Sisseton served as Vacancy Pastor followed by Dr. Ernest Bartels of Wahpeton. A call was placed to St. Louis for a June graduate. Rev. Larry Harvala, was installed July 6, 1980 by Ernest Bartels of Wahpeton. Pastor Harvala is a graduate of the For Wayn, Indiana, Seminary. His parental home is at Wolf Lake, Minnesota and is married to the former Mary Plummer. They have three children, Melissa, Adam, and Paul. A Monday evening Bible class was started during his pastorate. An open house mission was conducted in November of 1982 and a Luther Day Rally was held for the zone at Immanuel Church, Wahpeton, in onor of the 500th birthday of Martin Luther in the fall of 1983. Mrs. Harvala directed the choir.

The largest number of baptisms in one year was 21 in the year 1898. The largest confirmation class was 22 in 1925.

In a sense, Immanuel can be termed as a “Mother” church for three other congregations: Zion of rural Claire City, SD; Trinity of Claire City, SD; and Holy Cross of Lidgerwood, ND. The meaning of the name Immanuel is “God with us.” These words were chosen as the anniversary motto and has been our theme as we observe a century in the “Schweiz.”

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

“Where two or three are gather together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

The population growth of the rural area in the Southeastern portion of North Dakota in the late 1800’s and very early 1900’s hundreds was the result of immigration of principally Europeans and Scandinavian individuals. Many families looked to America as a place where land could be acquired by those willing to work for it and where they could live in a Democracy that allow them freedom of political views and a freedom of religion.

The area in and around Lidgerwood was no exception. Among those who found their way to this community on the prairie were Germans who were, in part, Lutheran. These immigrants began to form congregations (groups of individuals of the same faith) who purchased properties and built places of worship and facilities to education their children. In most of the area, such worship services were conducted in homes of those of faith. As their number grew and it appeared that properties could be purchased and maintained, churches were built where services were conducted on a regular basis.

A sincere longing to hear the Gospel message of salvation and to use the means of the Word and Sacraments to call people unto Himself brought a small group of people of the Lidgerwood area together in the John Wagner Hall. The first Lutheran service that was conducted in the town of Lidgerwood was held in the John Wagner Hall early in January of 1903 with the Rev. Julius Cloeter as pastor. Those attending the first services were Mr. and Mrs. Herman Wall, August Rosenkrantz, Sr. and Paul Lueck. At that time services were conducted every three weeks. The families Ed Schuschke, Fritz Pless, John Holst, Carl Willprecht, and Herman Sukut joined the small, but growing, group of worshipers. In the fall of 1903, services were held in the home of Fritz Pless and in other area homes until the group built their house of worship. From 1904 until the latter part of 1906, services were held in the John Holst home.

Members of the group decided to organize into a congregations, and on May 6, 1906, they adopted a constitution, and Holy Cross Lutheran Church came into being. Charter members who signed the constitution were Herman Wall, Ed Schuschke, Albert Strege, August Wenschlag, Fritz Pless, and Carl Willprecht. Of interest is the fact that three of these early members Paulina Wall, Mrs. Anna Schuschke, and Mrs, John Holst, were still alive to help Holy Cross celebrate its golden anniversary in 1956.

Worship services were held in the Carl Willprecht home from 1906 to 1911 for this small congregation. It was in 1910 that they decided to build a church of their own. They incorporated on May 7, 1910, and on October 24, 1910, purchased lots 12 and 13 in Block 1 of Movius and Lidgerwood’s first addition to the City of Lidgerwood. Construction began soon after purchase, and the facility was completed early the next year; the first worship services held in Lidgerwood by Holy Cross Lutheran Church in its own building was held in May of 1911.

Mission Festival was held in the summer at Frank Hoefs’ trees. All four churches worshipped together Immanuel, Zion, Trinity and Holy Cross churches. Services were held in the morning and afternoon in German. Each family brought their own lunch. Ice cream cones were sold for five cents each.

It was a day of joy and gratitude to God when in the fall of 1911 the church was dedicated to the glory of God. The dedication services were conducted by Rev. Cloeter.

Worship services were conducted every other week, and the little congregation began to grow rapidly. No statistics are available as to the membership at the time of dedication, nor for the following eleven years. However, growth must have been quite rapid during this period because in 1922 the congregation began to look for a larger place of worship. They purchased the building formerly owned by the Baptist Church, located on Lots 11 and 12 in Block 33 of the Original Townsite of the City of Lidgerwood, for $5,500. The church was remodeled, a cornerstone was laid, and a dedication was conducted by Pastor Cloeter. Otto Marohl purchased the old small church and moved it to his farm where it was remodeled and became part of his family’s home. Fire later destroyed the entire structure.

On November 27, 1946, the original property upon which the first church was constructed was sold to Mr. W.A. (Bill) Heley for a consideration of $225. In 2005 these lots have the homes of Myron Koeppe (located on the east half of the two lots) and Franklin Kuzel (located on the west half of these lots erected on them.

The members purchased a few acres of land east of Lidgerwood in 1921 for a cemetery. Voluntary donations paid for it, and an addition was purchased a few years later.

The congregation grew as the population of Lidgerwood increased. In addition to German services, English services were occasionally held. Services were held every two weeks since Pastor Cloeter was also serving three other congregations.

Holy Cross was released by Pastor Cloeter in the spring of 1941 to form a separate congregation. During the 39 years that pastor Cloeter served Holy Cross, he baptized 266 children, confirmed 123, married 25 couples and conducted 48 funerals. These figures may not be absolutely accurate since many of the statistics were taken from the record books of Immanuel Lutheran Church, the Mother Congregation; however, they point out the amount of work that was done in Lidgerwood by a consecrated worker of the kingdom even though he served three additional congregations at the same time. This is the end of Holy Cross’s first chapter of its 100-year history.

Candidate Kar Reuter was ordained and installed May 25, 1941. He was the first resident Pastor of Holy Cross. At that time the congregation numbered 300 baptized members and 190 communicants. This begins chapter two.

Under the pastorate of the Rev. Karl Reuter, Holy Cross not only grew in numbers, but it also grew spiritually and socially. Services were conducted in both German and English each Sunday. By the end of 1942, the congregation numbered 462 baptized members and 255 communicant members. The Ladies’ Aid, which had already been organized in 1919, grew and functioned more actively. With the help of the Ladies’ Aid, a Sunday School had been organized. The Sunday School teacher was Mrs. Leonard (Irma) Thurmer, and her student was Evelyn Grohnke (Mrs. Herb Boettcher). They met after the 2:00 pm service about the year 1936. Pastor Reuter was instrumental in the organization of a Young People’s Society, and the children also received additional instruction in a Vacation Bible School. A Men’s Club was organized and affiliated with the National Lutheran Laymen’s League. Pastor Reuter was an able musician, and under his supervision, a choir was organized with Stanley Strege as director. For a number of years, the choir went on tours in neighboring congregations. A new Baldwin Electronic organ was purchased and served the congregation in its worship.

The envelope system was adopted in 1941 to pay salary and dues. The budget for 1942 was $1,700. Holy Cross joined the Missouri Synod in 1942. The constitution of the church (19 articles) was accepted by the congregation in that same year.

In 1947 Peter and Anna Mumm willed a portion of the income of their farm to Holy Cross Church to be used for youth Christian education.

In 1950 when Rev. Karl Reuter accepted a call to Farmington, MN, the congregation listed 502 baptized members, 378 communicant members, and 110 voting members. Pastor Reuter preached his farewell sermon on September 3, 1950. These were years of greatest blessings for Holy Cross, blessings which will be remembered by children and children’s children.

“The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” Psalm 126:3

Since rooms were rented for Pastor Reuter during his years serving Holy Cross, it now became necessary to buy a parsonage before calling a pastor. A suitable house on the west side of town about five blocks from the church was purchased for $1,000. A call was extended to the Rev. Lambert K. Meyer of Corona, South Dakota. Pastor Meyer accepted the call and was installed as pastor of Holy Cross on November 19, 1950. Pastor and Mrs. Meyer moved into the newly purchased and redecorated parsonage. And so, begins chapter three of Holy Cross History.

Since few members were now attending German services, those services were dropped except for a few communion services. Two English services were held each Sunday. They Sunday School was reorganized, and more teachers were added to the staff. An Adult Bible Class and a Junior Bible Class were organized. The Young People’s Society joined the International Walther League, and the Ladies’ Aid joined the International Woman’s Missionary League. The Ladies’ Evening Guild was organized and also joined the LWML.

The Men’s club was reactivated with 49 members. With emphasis on planned Parish Program throughout the Synod, Holy Cross also revamped its program to conform with the Synod’s. Four committees of five members each were appointed with one of the elders as well as the trustees were assigned a specific part of the congregation’s activities. With the advent of Our Venture of Faith, the congregation was divided into six areas with three to five family groups in each area to carry out the Venture of Faith program. During this period the congregation also experienced a gradual growth in membership. There were almost 600 baptized members, 455 communicant members, and 125 children in Sunday School.

In 1953 the parsonage was renovated, and in 1954 the church was remodeled, the floor was tiled, the walls were covered with celotex, a communion railing was built, a sound system was installed, and the cemetery was equipped with water. The cost of the entire project was about $15,000.

Pastor Meyer accepted a call to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church at Bottineau, ND, and was released on April 4, 1956. During his pastorate, he baptized 91 children, confirmed 60 teens, baptized or confirmed 34 adults, married 23 couples, and conducted funeral services for 20.

On May 6, 1956, Holy Cross celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Speakers for the occasion were the Rev. Karl Reuter, Dr. Arnold Grumm, and the Rev. Walter Cordts. The Golden Anniversary Committee consisted of Albert Grohnke, Roy Clark, Wilhelm Mumm, Emil Wall, Emil Schuschke, Paul Wollitz, and Jake Osten. So ends chapter three of this history.

Pastor L. Dierks became vacancy pastor until the Rev. Herbert Mueller was installed September 23, 1956. During the Rev H. Mueller’s pastorate, the P.T.R. program (Preaching, Teaching, Reaching) was started, trees were planted on the cemetery, a telephone was installed in the church, and a junior choir was organized. Pastor Mueller accepted a call to Bay City, MI. This ends chapter four in the history of Holy Cross.

Pastor Dierks again served Holy Cross in its vacancy. On June 28, 1964, the Marvin Otto was installed.

In 1964 cards for attendance at Holy Communion were introduced. In 1967 the Educational Building was added onto the east side of the church at a cost of $10,776.89. This building housed the pastor’s study, the church office and the Sunday School classrooms.

In August, 1967, the Rev. Marvin Otto was released to Redeemer Lutheran at Dickinson, ND. This concludes chapter five.

In 1968 Pastor Reuel Gauger of Olney, TX, accepted a call to Lidgerwood. He was installed as Pastor to Holy Cross on February 25, 1968.

The construction of a new parsonage began in 1968 on the south end of Wiley Avenue. After its completion, the Gaugers were its first residents. Gerorge Mumm bough the old parsonage in 1968.

A vault was erected on the cemetery in 1969. The cemetery was enlarged with the purchase of land on the east side of $600.

The church received a new Allen organ in 1973 and a piano in 1975.

Under Pastor Gauger’s leadership the Ladies’ Aid and Evening Guild were reorganized. In 1972 the ladies were organized into one LWML unit, and eight circles were formed.

Besides the Common Cup, Individual Cups were used in Holy Communion in 1976. Lots on the south side of the church were purchased for $2,000 in 1976. Pastor Gauger went to Cooperstown, ND, in 1977. Thus ends chapter six.

Pastor Dierks again served us until the Rev. Dale Lehfeldt of Bottineau, ND, was installed on January 29, 1978. Pastor Lehfeldt was very active with the ongoing Ambassadors for Christ. The youth group that had previously been called the Walther League and Active Christian Teens became what is now called LYF (Lutheran Youth Fellowship).

The basement of the church was completely redecorated in 1980, and a new furnace was installed. Electric fans were installed on the ceilings in 1981. As chapter seven continues, the membership of Holy Cross was at 524 baptized members. When Pastor Lehfeldt accepted a call to Kansas in 1983, pastor Richard Hallmann and pastor Larry Harvala served as vacancy pastors for about eighteen months.

Chapter eight of Holy Cross history began on May 5, 1985, when the Rev. Edward Rutter was installed as pastor of Holy Cross. In 1985 work was begun to remodel the interior of the church. Weekly worship services were held in the school gymnasium with one service being held at 9 a.m. The remodeling project, which cost $40,972.52, was completed on September 29, 1985. As part of the project, all of the stained glass windows were releaded.

In 1986 a Perpetual Care Fund was begun for the Holy Cross Cemetery. The purpose of adopting a perpetual care account was to create a sum of money to generate enough income from interest to go into the cemetery upkeep account. This perpetual care account is kept at our local bank. It is kept separate from any other account, and only the interest is to be used for general upkeep and maintenance of Holy Cross cemetery. Donations and designated memorials were given from members and families of deceased relatives to get this account started. Holy Cross members are not charged for a lot, but a $75 fee is required for each grave site. Nonmembers are charged $100 plus the $75 perpetual care fee. The $100 goes into the cemetery fund and is used for upkeep also. To date, $27,424.88 is in the perpetual Care Account and is earning three percent interest.

On June 6, 1987, the old cornerstone was removed and opened. It contained a small hymnal and a September, 1923, copy of Der Luthesaner, which were both written in German. During the morning worship service on June 1987, the stone was resealed after the following items were added: a Bible by Gloria David; a June, 1987, copy of the Lutheran Witness by Jeret Hoesel; a current membership list by Brian Blixt; a 75th anniversary booklet (1981) by Eric Mumm; a copy of June 14, 1987, bulletin by Erin Brownlee; a copy of the current constitution by Kevin Willprecht; and a 1986 annual report listing the current church officers by Janna Paul. These seven students were all members of the confirmation class. “Christ Is Our Cornerstone.”

“I have hallowed this House, which Thou hast built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” 1 Kings 9:3b.

A service was held on November 15, 1987, to dedicate the remodeled church. Pastor Gauger was the speaker.

In 1987 Lottie Hoefs passed away and willed five quarters of land to Holy Cross. In 1990 the voters resolved to sell the farm property. The land was sold in 1991 to four different parties, and the proceeds of the sale were put into the Church Extension Fund.

In 1989 the voting members of the church made the decision to change the official name of the church from “German Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Cross of Lidgerwood Richland County North Dakota” to “Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lidgerwood, North Dakota.”

Throughout 1991 numerous contributions were given for a new PA system and new chimes. A wall picture album containing all of the confirmation pictures was also installed.

Pastor Edward Rutter retired on June 9, 1991. He and his wife Marion moved to Wahpeton, ND. Pastor Rutter preached his farewell sermon and conducted his last service at Holy Cross. After Pastor Rutter’s retirement, Pastor Richard Hallmann once again served as vacancy pastor until Pastor Gary Muehler was installed on February 16, 1992, and this begins chapter nine.

In 1993 Holy Cross bought the remaining Julia Schneider property and in 1994 disposed of the Schneider house and garage.

The disabled and elderly found it difficult to use the steps of the old church; therefore, repairs had to be made. In 1995 the congregation began discussing renovations to the existing church or the building of a new church complex. On April 21, 1996, the voters of Holy Cross made the decision to build a new church and fellowship hall. The base bid for the new facility was $435,415. This did not include landscaping, sidewalks, concrete driveway, or parking areas. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new church was held on August 4, 1996, with circuit counselor Pastor Carnicom of Great Bend giving the address. He used green an yellow bulletins for the ceremony. Green for NEW LIFE, NEW OPPORTUNITY, and the NEW FACILITY to bring God’s Word to the Lidgerwood area. Yellow is the SUNSHINE and Joy that God shines on us.

Pastor Gary Muehler retired on August 1, 1996. Pastor Tim Schiller served as vacancy pastor.

In May, 1997 the old church and Sunday School building were sold to Liebelt Homes of Aberdeen, South Dakota, for $9,000. The buildings are used as a like home on Lake Mina near Aberdeen.

The year 1997 was an exciting one for Holy Cross. Funding was made available for the cement work and landscaping, and the new church and fellowship hall was dedicated on September 14, 1997, at a 3 p.m. service. Because members of Holy Cross served dinner for the dedication of the new St. Boniface Catholic Church on July 13, 1997, St. Boniface Church members served dinner for the Holy Cross Church dedication. With the assistance of Pastor Rutter, the symbols on the stain glass windows, which were removed form the old church and placed in the new church, were explained in the dedication booklet.

On November 30, 1997, Pastor David Turnmire was installed as pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church. On January 31, 1999, Pastor Turnmire resigned as pastor of Holy Cross and of the Missouri Synod. Pastor Tim Scholler once again became vacancy pastor. This ends chapter ten of Holy Cross history.

In 2000 the cornerstone was enclosed in brick on the west side of the front door of the new church. Holy Cross began its eleventh chapter with the installation of the Rev. Joseph Crosswhite III, who was installed as pastor of Holy Cross on June 11,2000.

In 2001 a new organ was purchased. During 2002 a sprinkler system was installed in the church lawn. During the summer of 2002, railroad spikes were placed on each lot in the cemetery. In 2003 part of the PA system was replaced, and the remaining equipment was upgraded.

Over the past years, the pastors of Holy Cross have headed special groups and the Synod’s projects and programs with the main objective of teaching and reaching more people with the Word. Holy Cross presently servers 439 baptized members and 367 communicant members. The current Sunday School enrollment is 39.

Holy Cross is very grateful to the dedicated members who have given freely of their time, talent, land, and money for the Lord’s work and for other gifts that enhance the worship service or beautify the church property without being individually recognized.

The hearts of its members are filled with gratitude to Almighty God for His wonderful blessings to them.

God’s Word is powerful and should be heard. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” Hebrews 10:25