St. Peter's United Church of Christ
New Albin, Iowa
A History & Photos
German Church and Parsonage
It was the year 1884 that the Rev. Jacob Maierle, Pastor of St. John's Evangelical Church, Wheatland, Union Twp., Iowa began to preach the gospel in New Albin. The following year, he was successful in gathering a group of people who were willing to form a Christian congregation. On January 17, 1885, this congregation was organized to be known as "Deutsche Evangehsche St. Petri Gemiende." A constitution was adopted and signed by 24 men, the women evidently having no voice in the matter.
The first minister, the Rev. Jacob Maierle, was born in Neustuttgart, Russia, in 1858 and came to America in 1883 as a missionary to the German immigrants of this country. He resigned after serving a number of churches in Illinois.
The Rev. Ernest Birkner was the second pastor in charge. He was born in 1860 in Bavaria, Germany. When he was 20 years old, he came to America with his brothers. In June of 1886, after graduating from Eden Seminary, he became pastor of the New Albin church. It was during his pastorate that the Swedish Lutheran Church, which had thus far been rented, was purchased for the sum of $200. Later on, this building was sold and the owner remodeled it into a home. Rev. Birkner resigned in the fall of 1892.
The next pastor was another German born immigrant, Rev. Bernhard Vogelsang. He was born in 1853 and came to American in 1889, studying at Eden Seminary in St. Louis, MO and graduating in 1892. The New Albin church was his first field in the ministry. It was during his pastorate in the year 1895 that the old church (little white one) was built. Charles H. May was the contractor and builder.
~photo contributed by Laura Stadelman
Exact figures are not available, but the entire cost was in the neighborhood of $1400. The bell in the tower (which was reinstalled in the new church) was donated by Mr. & Mrs. Henry Luettchens, charter members of St. Peter's Church. After four and one-half years, Rev. Vogelsang left St. Peter's Church and later passed away in 1907 from influenza and pneumonia.
In 1897, the Rev. Henry Kunz became pastor of St. Peter's & St. John's. He was born in Switzerland and came to America as a missionary. He came to the New Albin charge in 1897. It was during his charge that the congregation became a member of the German Evangelical Synod of America. Rev. Kunz served six years and resigned in 1903.
He was succeeded by Rev. Karl Bizer who, after serving several other charges, accepted the call in 1903 to become pastor of the New Albin, IA charge where he had a long pastorate of twenty-one years, fifteen of these at St. Peter's & St. John's. During his pastorate, folding chairs were purchased, the old fence enclosing the church property was removed, the church received a new coat of paint & plans were discussed for the uniting of St. Peter's with Peace Church at Crooked Creek. He resigned his pastorate in 1918.
The next pastor, Rev. Theophil Stoerker, accepted the call in 1918. This was his first pastorate. The first action under his leadership was that morning services began at 10:00 & that English and German languages be held alternately, with Sunday School to use the English language. It was during his pastorate that the present parsonage was erected in 1919 at the cost of approximately $4000. Before occupying the parsonage, he made his home with the Henry Fruechte family. He resigned in 1923.
Rev. Louis Dennerghaff was the next pastor from 1923-1926. It was during his tenure that it was decided every member was to receive an annual financial report.
The congregation was next served by Rev. P.C. Keinath from 1926-1930. Little information is available concerning his pastorate.
In the year 1931, Rev. Fredric Bemberg accepted a call to be pastor of St. Peter's & St. John's Churches. He was born in Gennany. In the year 1935, the 50th anniversary of the church was observed. Mrs. Bemberg died while he was pastor here in 1935.
In the year 1938, the Rev. Erwin J. Florin became pastor. During his pastorate, a new alignment was created whereby St. Peter's & Peace Church (Crooked Creek) were united to fonn a charge. While he was pastor, the altar & pulpit which are used in the present church were secured. Also in 1938, women were allowed to vote at church meetings for the first time. Rev. Florin resigned in 1943 to become a chaplain in the U.S. Army.
During the interim from February to August, 1943, the Rev. H. Radloff of Eitzen, MN supplied the church.
Then came the pastorate of Rev. Paul H. Franzmeier who perhaps gave more of himself to this congregation than any of the pastors. The old church proved to be inadequate for the needs so a building fund was started in 1945. However, little interest was shown until 1950. During the week of June 6th while the pastor was away on vacation, the congregation dismantled the old church. Excavation was begun & construction of a new church was begun on July 5th. During the time of construction, services were held at the Methodist Church. This courtesy was much appreciated. The cornerstone service was held on August 13, 1950. Dedication services were held on June 3, 1951. After serving New Albin-Peace Church for ten years Rev. Franzmeier resigned and went to NorwoodChaska, MN, where he served until he died on January 26, 1960. His wife, Esther, succeeded him in death on December 10, 1956.
The Rev. Edmund DeBuhr was interim pastor from November, 1953 until May, 1954, when Rev. Emil Burrichter accepted the call to St. Peter's. During his pastorate, the congregation cancelled the debt on the church, installed a console Model Harmond organ, installed the remaining art glass windows, secured new hymn books, finished the basement floor and did considerable remodeling & redecorating in the parsonage. The entire cost of the present church figures in the neighborhood of $62,200. Rev. Burrichter left in 1963 and from March to May, 1963, the Rev. Mel Granpman from Eitzen served as interim pastor.
In June of 1963, Rev. Clyde Lee came to St. Peter's. Preceding his pastorate, in September of 1960, the congregation voted to buy a tract of land for a cemetery from Earl Hammell. It was named St. Peter's Memorial Cemetery. In 1962, the E & R congregational denominations merged together to form the United Church of Christ.
Following Rev. Lee's resignation in 1977, the Rev. James Dahlgren served as interim pastor until June of 1978 when the Rev. Richard Waters accepted the call and remained until 1985 when a farewell dinner was held for him on October 20th. Many improvements were made in the church while Dick Waters served and the 1985 Centennial Celebration was one that shall never be forgotten.
Following Rev. Waters, Rev. Tom Oswald came as interim pastor and served the first part of 1986. In the fall of 1986, Pastor Dan Jensen & his family accepted the call. He stayed until March of 1989. During the last half of 1989 and until August of 1990, Pastor Joan Fumetti served as interim. Following her departure, we had interim pastor Nancy Anderson who remained until the present pastor, Rev. Dennis Siebert, came to us in April of 1991.
Pastors of St Peter's U.C.C.
Reverend Jacob Maierle 1885
Reverend J. Ernest Birkner 1886 - 1891
Reverend Bernhard Vogelsang 1892 - 1897
Reverend Henry Kunz 1897 - 1903
Reverend Karl Bizer 1903 - 1918
Reverend Theophil Stoerker 1918 - 1923
Reverend Louis Dennerghaff 1923 - 1926
Reverend P.C. Keinath 1926 - 1930
Reverend Fredric Bemberg 1931 - 1937
Reverend Erwin Florin 1938 - 1943
Reverend Paul H. Franzmeier 1943 - 1953
Reverend Emil Burrichter 1954 - 1963
Reverend Clyde Lee 1963 - 1977
Reverend James Dahlgren 1977 - 1978 (Interim Pastor)
Reverend Richard A. Waters 1978 - 1985
Reverend Tom Oswald 1985 - 1986 (Interim Pastor)
Reverend Dan Jensen 1986 - 1989
Reverend Joan Fumetti 1989 - 1990 (Interim Pastor, Student)
Reverend Nancy Anderson 1990 - 1991 (Interim Pastor, Student)
Reverend Dennis L. Siebert 1991 - Present (As of 1994 when book was published)
St. Peter's Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1960
~photo is the front of the invitation postcard (below) to the 75th Anniversary Sevice Dated 9 June 1960
(this image was cropped)
Postcard invitation to the 75th Anniversary service, dated June 9, 1960.
Signed by Rev. E. Burrichter and addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Eric Jordan, Waukon, Iowa.
Laying the cornerstone, ca1950
George Pohlman, president of the congregation of St. Peter's Evangelical and Reformed Church, New Albin, is shown as he placed the cornerstone box during ceremonies held at the new church structure Sunday. Also participating were, left to right: Clarence Guillaume, Caledonia. MN, architect and contractor; Walter F. Meyer, member of building committee; Walter Middendorf, chairman of building committee; Herman Dierksen, member of building committee; Rev. P.H. Franzmeier, pastor of the church, who presided at the services, and the Rev. John Bunge, president of the northern synod. Enclosed in the copper box were a catechism, the denominational magazine, 60th anniversary booklet, the local paper, picture of the old church building, and a list of the names of the council members.
~source of the church history article, unless otherwise noted: 'The First 100 Years of New Albin', 1994
~contributed by Errin Wilker
~photo of Charles H. May, annotated 'Charley May', is undated
~contributed by Laura Stadelman
Photo of St. Peter's taken by Errin Wilker in February 2007
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