Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church
United Church of Christ
Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1904
Many of the people who came to Schleswig in its early days had their religious training in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany. They missed the freedom of worship and religious tolerance to which they were accustomed.
The Rev. J. Werning, president of the Iowa district of the Evangelical Church, had a survey conducted of the area which indicated an interest on the part of the people for the need of a German Evangelical Church in Schleswig.
The Rev. Emil Hansen, a circuit pastor of Walnut, Iowa, called on the unchurched people of the community and on September 17, 1903, Friedens (Peace) Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in the Town Hall with twelve charter members: Christian Kruse, Max Hueschen, Oscar Seaman, Jurgen Schroeder, Charlie Christiansen, Claus Gottburg, Peter Ernst, Hans Baeth, Broder Brueggen, Hans Lohse, and Pay B. Jurgensen.
The men purchased lots in Schleswig, located at what is now known as Fifth and Elm Streets. The congregation set out to build a new church building for $3,500.00.
A call was extended to Pastor Emil Hansen to be the first minister. He accepted and the congregation met for the first time to take pledges for the new church. While awaiting the completion of the new building, the congregation met in the Schroeder building in uptown Schleswig. The dedication services for the new building were held on August 15, 1904. A parsonage was later built at a cost of $1,480.00. The total cost of the church property including the parsonage was $5,406.45.
In 1957 the Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church became affiliated with the United Church of Christ
In 1959 the congregation voted to build a new church building on the former railroad property donated to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Ben Bielenberg. In May of 1961 the new building was completed and the cost of the building and furnishings was $247,000.00. The total indebtedness was $79,000.00. Five years to the day after the first payment on the mortgage, the last payment was made and on December 11, 1966 a suitable service recognizing the accomplishment was held with the Rev. R. G. Beck and the Rev. Walter Baumgartner bringing the message of the day and assisting Pastor Ratzlaff with the service.
In January of 1965 an initial survey was conducted with the congregation regarding the possibility of completing the relocation of the church property through the building of a new parsonage. In January, 1966, the congregation approved the new building venture pending the payment of the church debt. The following year, at the annual meeting, they elected a parsonage building committee. In April, 1967, Lot No. 9 in the Southern Heights addition at 208 Valley View Drive was purchased at a net cost of $1,975.00. On June 8, 1967, the congregation, in a special meeting, approved plans and authorized a total contract for the building of $34,000.00 with Petersen Construction Company of Schleswig.
On September 15, 1968 construction began and the parsonage family moved in on February 15, 1969. Again, as with the building of the church, the dedicated efforts of its members and its organizations made the last payment on the mortgage in five years' time. A ceremony marked the burning of the mortgage in October, 1973.
The congregation numbers 550 communicant members as well as over 125 baptized children. The church is affiliated with the Northwestern Association of the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ and supports its programs and in situations of health, education and welfare regularly.
The Rev. R.J. Ratzlaff is pastor at the present time. His family consists of his wife, Marilyn Schmidt Ratzlaff and five children: Debra, Becky, Kurt, Ruthann, Laura and foster daughter, Sandra Conclaves.
- Rev. Emil Hansen 1903-1909
- Rev. W.R. Wetzler 1909-1923
- Rev. W.G. Mauch 1923-1927
- Rev. Ernst Mueller 1934-1936
- Rev. A.F. Rinne 1936-1954
- Rev. W. Baumgartner 1954-1964
- Rev. R.J. Ratzlaff 1964-
Source: This history and photo of the United Church of Christ (Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church) was taken from Schleswig's 75th anniversary publication Schleswig, Iowa: The First 75 Years by Lillian (Kuehl) Jackso and Emma (Brasse) Struck.
Submitted by Bob Kuehl