Eastfriesland Presbyterian Church

Eastfriesland Church Celebrates Diamond Anniversary

Church Was Established at Close of Civil War; It Has Been in Continuous Service Ever Since; Church Has Had 5 Pastors; Rev. F. W. Engelke Served 32 Years

The Eastfriesland Presbyterian Church of Grundy County is observing its Diamond Jubilee today. The church is located in German township and it has been serving the people of northwest Grundy continuously for 75 years.

This is the first diamond jubilee church service in the history of Grundy county and it marks the county's more memorable church event.

The memorable occasion is being observed most fittingly with religious and glorification services during the day and evening. The services are being attended not only by all of the present membership but many former members who have removed elsewhere have come back to join in the festivities and to enjoy the renewal of acquaintances with old friends.

Among the large gathering none are left who were present at the first service held in this church 75 years ago. The church has outlived all of its founders and its first attendants. The good work that was begun in this congregation so many years ago has been carried on from year to year and it will continue for more years than those who are taking part in today's festivities will live to remember this day. The church is proof of the adage that "the good that men do shall live after them."

Church Has Had 5 Pastors
During its 75 years this church has had but five pastors. Four of these served the church for a period of 73 years. Such a record of long service stands out as an unusual example of unity and the good judgment of those who were vested with the authority of selecting their shepherds.

Eastfreisland Church Honor Roll of Pastors
1865-1870 Rev. John Arends
1870-1886 Rev. John VanderLas
1886-1906 Rev. Heinrich Schmitt
1906-1938 Rev. F. W. Engelke
1938- Rev. Calvin F. Siemsen

Two of Pastors Living
Among the honor roll of pastors, but two are now living. They are Rev. F. W. Engelke and the present pastor, Rev. Calvin F. Siemsen.

All of the pastors excepting the first remained with this church until their death or until they retired from the ministry due to advanced years.

First Parsonage Now Tool Shed
The first parsonage for the pastor in 1866 is the only part of the original buildings now remaining. This building is now being used as a tool shed.

The first property owned by the congregation was four acres of ground. On this they erected a small frame building which served as the first church. This small building was replaced in 1880 by another measuring 40x60 which serves the congregation at this time.

Rev. Engelke Dean of Pastors
Rev. F. W. Engelke, the only former pastor of this church now living, was the dean of the line of ministers serving this church during the past 75 years. He accepted a call to become the church's pastor in 1906 and remained as spiritual leader and advisor in this congregation for 32 years until he retired two years ago at the age of 70, after having had 40 years of active service as a minister.

In a review of the history of the church prepared by Rev. Engelke, he states that when he came to this church there was a membership of 198 and a regular attendance of 350. The officers of the church during his first year were: Elders, Gerd Heinrichs, John Ludemann, Thomas Flessner and Dirk Kruse. The deacons were Lubertus VanderWerf, Ubbe Jutting, Anton Oelman; Trustees, Heye Boyenga, George Bleeker, Otto Wilts and William Lindaman.

Married 120 Couples
Rev. Engelke during the period of his pastorate married 120 couples. Twelve adults and 329 children were baptized; 88 members of the congregation died at whose funeral services the pastor officiated. The pastor prepared and delivered 1,926 sermons to his congregation. The pastor called on each of the homes of the members at least once each year.

Many From Church in Ministry
During Rev. Engelke's pastorate many members of his church entered the ministry. Among those listed by the pastor are Okko Peters, Henry Kruse, Mr. and Mrs. Fred J. Beving, Berhend Lindaman and John Ludeman. Others prior to 1906 from this church who entered ministerial work were Mr. and Mrs. H. N. Gerdes, Mr. and Mrs. O. B. Oltmans and Mr. and Mrs. Berend Swede.

Give Liberally For Benevolent Purposes
Rev. Engelke gives praise to the members of this church for their liberality in contributing to the support of the church and for benevolent purposes. Contributions given for benevolent purposes during his pastorate totaled $55,000. $77,000 additional was given for church maintenance and expenditures.

Present Pastor at Commencement Of His Career
Both Rev. and Mrs. Siemsen who came to this church two years ago are still young and the major part of their career is before them. They are following diligently in the footsteps of their beloved predecessors and they give promise of a helpful and successful future.

At present the Eastfriesland church has a membership of 212 and a regular attendance that taxes the capacity of the church at every regular service.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 20 June 1940, pg 11

also see: History of the German Presbyterian Church of Grundy County