IAGenWeb Bremer County

American Lutheran Church Crane Creek - Tripoli
Also known as St John Crane Creek Church


From Pictorial Atlas, Bremer County, Iowa 1983.
Transcribed by Karlyn Armstrong.

The beginning of St. John American Lutheran Church dates back to January 11, 1865. On that memorial day 11 house-fathers from the vicinity met to organize a Christian congregation. The actual beginning of the congregation, however, was on April 2, 1866, after a church-house had been built and a pastor called. The building erected was of a substantial structure. The first floor served as a dwelling for the minister and the upper story for a church and school purposes. The building was later sold and is still used as a machine shed.

One thing, however, and a very important thing, had been disregarded at the very beginning. The men of the congregation were not all united in their religious convictions. Some were Lutheran, while others had been member of the so-called "Unierte Kirche." The disagreement in the fundamentals of faith soon became a source of many irritations and influenced the further development of the congregation decisively.

Probably to please both parties, the congregation joined the German United Evangelical Synod of the North-west and called Rev. Dietrich Behrens, April 2, 1866, who was of Lutheran extraction, but had joined that Synod. Inner differences, however, had become very manifest. The records of 1868 reveal that stormy meetings were conducted. Some of the members of the congregation separated themselves from the congregation and turned to the Missouri Synod. Others joined the Evangelical Church near Tripoli. The remaining part of the congregation severed its relations with the United Synod of the North-West and finally turned to Rev. Paul Bedow, of Maxfield, and through him joined the Former Iowa Synod, March 11, 1872.M

A more peaceful and active church life now began. Due to the stormy beginning and the geographical location, hemmed in from all sides, and surrounded by much stronger congregations, St. John American Lutheran was unable to gain many members. Yet this small rural congregation has kept pace with many large and progressive congregations. In 1881, during the pastorate of Pastor A. Hahn, a new church was built and dedicated on the 17th Sunday after Trinity of that year. In 1883 a church bell was acquired, at that time the second in the entire territory. In 1907 Pastor J. Herbst, serving the congregation, a new parsonage was built and in 1915, Pastor Ackermann, being the minister, a pipe organ was installed in the church. In 1927, Pastor J.F. Dilges serving, the church was enlarge and a basement put under the church. Electric lights were installed in the church and parsonage in 1938 and in 1941 new pews were installed during the pastorate of Rev. H. Knoploh. At the annual meeting 1951, it was voted to sell the old school house, to tear down the old barn and to completely remodel the basement of the church. The same year a new garage and laundry room, adjoining the parsonage, were built. The front porch was enclosed and in 1955 the kitchen of the parsonage was completely modernized. The church was painted and decorated on the inside and new light fixtures installed in the church in the spring of this year. Some of these projects were largely sponsored by the Ladies' Aid and Missionary Society and the Brotherhood. All things, however, were worked out by both congregation and the organizations.

With grateful heart the members celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the congregation in 1891; the Golden Anniversary was celebrated in 1916; The Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in 1941; 100th Anniversary or Centennial Anniversary in the year 1966.

With the pastorate of Rev. George J. Gundel, a number of improvements were made. Again the organizations of the church played an important part, as well as the co-operation of the members. The most outstanding of the recent projects was the construction of the new entrance unit at the north end of the church, built in 1964. At the same time new fluorescent lights were installed in the church parlors and the parsonage was painted.

As time went on, it became apparent that something had to be done about the pipe organ. It has serve well and now was in need of repair. This project was begun in 1965, but was not completed until 1966. The new annex came in for some additional attention with another coat of paint being applied as well as to the west side of the parsonage. The round window in the balcony was replace by a rectangular of modern design, which also helped to give the front of the church a "new look."

Nor were the church parlors forgotten. New curtains were hung, which also improved the looks of this area.

As part of the order of business, the various Centennial Committees were chosen early in the year and the date of the Centennial was set as August 21. The inadequate lighting in the church parlors had been replaced earlier by new and larger fluorescent lights and now the area received a new coat of paint. As indicated before the pipe organ was a major concern for the congregation. In this year, 1966, the organ was repaired and the organ pipes were painted.

The present pastor serving the congregation is Rev. Steven Waughtal who has served the congregation since 1981.