American Lutheran Church

American Lutheran Church Held First Service At Courthouse Here In 1945

American Lutheran Church of Grundy Center traces its beginnings back to September of 1945. The first services were held in the basement of the Grundy county courthouse with approximately 10 to 15 persons attending. Pastor George Dirks who served a congregation near Parkersburg led the group in worship on Sunday evenings. There were three children in the first Sunday School. A survey had been conducted by a group of Wartburg College students from Waverly the previous summer to determine if there was need for a Lutheran church in Grundy Center.

In the spring of 1946 Dr. H. W. Siefkes, the District President of the ALC, arranged for Pastor Paul Eilers of Independence to have charge of the preaching. He conducted Sunday morning services beginning the first of May at the courthouse. He also preached at the Zion Evangelical Church in Holland. The formal merger of these two congregations took place on Nov. 7, 1946. Pastor Eilers served the parish for two years, driving back and forth all the while from Independence.

Pastor Kenneth Franzen was installed Nov. 30, 1947, as the first resident pastor. He lived at 505 Ninth Street. The congregation at first owned the entire east half of the block in which the church now stands. It was in 1947 that construction on the basement was begun. However, it was not until September 25, 1949, that the building was completed and dedicated.

Pastor Lowell Koch and family moved to Grundy Center in 1949. They made their home at 501 11th Street. Miss Rosella Dirksen served as Parish Worker during 1950-51. Pastor and Mrs. William Uhrich came in 1950 but left after three months for personal reasons. Pastor Richard Burrack was married after coming to Grundy Center. During the two years of his ministry a new parsonage was built on the lot west of the church. Pastor Kenneth Tjornehoj served the congregation from 1953-58, followed by Pastor James Ohlrogge from 1958-60.

It was during the pastorate of the Rev. Eric Biederman that a major addition to the church was made. It provided more classroom space, pastor's study, and a new brickfaced exterior. The re-dedication took place October 6, 1963. In 1965 the home across the street east from the church was purchased for use as a parish house. The Rev. P. Fred Houston served the congregation from 1968-71. Pastor Kermit Rye and family moved to Grundy Center in January of 1972. A major remodeling of the church building was completed during the years 1974-75. The sanctuary was reversed, doubling the seating capacity from 150 to 300. The service of re-dedication was held June 1, 1975. During that same summer the parish house was torn down, making room for a parking lot.

It is easy to chronicle events such as the erection of a building, or the arrival and departure of a parsonage family. Not so easy is it to measure the growth and the growing pains of a congregation. That, of course, is what primarily concerns our Lord. We have richly received His blessing in the past, and we pray that His grace and guidance will go with us into the future.

Present Officers of The Congregation
Gerald Hoffman, president; Dennis Kiewiet, vice president; George Borchardt, secretary; Clarence Voss, treasurer; Dennis Dirks, financial secretary; Dennis Hinders, Evangelism; Paul Steinburg, Parish Education; Larry Lockwood, Stewardship; Arnie Egemo, buildings and grounds.

Pastors Having Served The Congregation
George F. Dirks1945-1946
Paul Eilers1946-1947
Kenneth franzen1947-1949
Lowell A. Koch1949-1950
William Uhrich1951-1951
Richard Burrack1951-1953
Kenneth Tjornehoj1953-1958
James Ohlrogge1958-1960
Eric Biederman1960-1968
P. Fred Houston1968-1971
Kermit J. Rye1972-present

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 7 July 1977