LYON COUNTY GENEALOGY
Peace Lutheran Church
It is difficult to establish the exact date of the beginning of a congregation. Records will show when the congregation was organized but often they will not indicate the work that was done prior to the organization.
Many of the early settlers were of German Lutheran extraction. Some of their ancestors undoubtedly could be traced back to the Reformation period of Martin Luther from whence they derived their church name. Some came directly from Germany but many arrived after stopovers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Eastern Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.
They came to this little town of Rock Rapids, with its dusty streets and few buildings, not even a church as part of the settlement. Many of these settlers had one thing in common. They came from Germany and were raised in a religious household. They missed their church and its activities that they enjoyed in their old homeland. With growing families, they felt the need of religious instruction for their children. In 1887, a traveling Lutheran missionary pastor, arrived in Rock Rapids to supply the Lutherans in the area with the Word and the sacraments. One of these Missionary pastors was Rev. B.J. Ansorge, stationed at Fort Dodge, Iowa, at the time.
Another early day missionary at large was a Rev. P. Mertens who served northwest Iowa. We marvel at the distance which this man traveled in one year, not by means of auto over modern highways, but on horseback or on a buckboard. It is reported that he covered 6,622 miles and preached 169 times in one year. Missionaries such as these men laid the groundwork for the establishment of our church today.
In 1887, a Lutheran Missionary pastor arrived in Rock Rapids to serve the Lutherans in the vicinity, with no record of his name. From then on, at various intervals, missionary pastors Rev. Schussler, Rev. Domsch, Rev. Deumler, Rev. Marquardt and Rev. Max Friedrich, from the Missouri Synod, arrived to serve the needs of the Lutherans living in this area. Many of these early day services were held in a schoolhouse, courthouse or any public building available, but more often than not, the services were held in someone's home.
One of these early day missionary pastors apparently felt that the time had arrived when there were enough people to justify the start of a congregation. Pastor Max Friedrich felt there were enough Lutherans in the area that a congregation was needed and after much work and difficulty, the congregation was formally organized in 1901 with 13 charter members and families. Herewith follows the list of charter members as listed in the Record Book:
From the very first it appears that the congregation was greatly concerned about the teaching of the true doctrine and true Practices, 2 Cor. 6 and Romans 16:17-18 are especially mentioned. That is something to be truly thankful for.
Church in 1901-1902
The name of the new congregation was to be: Peace (Friedens) Evangelical Lutheran Church, UAC (Unaltered Augsburg Confession).
It was decided to have their own house of Worship. A committee of three: Christian Griesse, Wilhelm Berkoltz and Anton Roeder were elected to look at two lots for the new church building.
I could find no record of the exact date when the church was finally completed or whether an official dedication was made of the new house of worship. I assume that is was during 1902 as it was written in the finance book that an organ was purchased and in that same year, the first mission festival was held.
In the year 1906, the first parsonage was purchased which is still standing at 603 South Green Street. Before the purchase was made, a committee was elected to fully investigate the condition of the house and then report to the congregation as to what necessary repairs would have to be made. It seemed the church forefathers were quite thorough in whatever they undertook to do and wanted the best. 1906 was also the year that Pastor Friedrich bid the congregation farewell. The reason for his leaving as to whether he received a call to another congregation etc. is unknown as far as I can tell, as the minutes were written in German. Since my dear German Grandmother and my Mother who studied her catechism in German for two years are now in their heavenly
Parsonage in 1915
home, it was difficult, next to impossible to find anyone to translate. Pastor Conrad Born was called and accepted the call to minister to Peace Lutheran in Rock Rapids.
In 1911, the church's tenth anniversary and the annual Mission Sunday were celebrated jointly. It was also the year that Pastor Born left and Pastor F.O. Claussen was called and installed as the new minister.
In 1915 the church fathers decided to build a new parsonage. Henry Geick, the son of one of the church founders, Christian Geick, drew up plans for the new home to house the ministers of Peace Lutheran.
Peace Lutheran Church grew and developed as the population of Rock Rapids and Lyon County increased. There were good and lean years, financially speaking but always the faithful members looked to their Lord for guidance and trusted in the saving gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They were confident that only that belief could give the congregation a firm foundation upon which to stand and face the future with confidence and faith.
This is only a small portion of the history of the Peace Lutheran Church in Rock Rapids written by Evelyn Halverson. The book has a great deal of more information, and many beautiful pictures. It would be a real treasure to have for generations to come.
Contact Evelyn Halverson at 712-472-3101.
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