St. Peters Lutheran Church


Savanna, Carroll Co IL






1914 Confirmation Class at St. Peters Lutheran Church in Savanna
Photo contributed by Jim Klingler, son of Helen Schneider featured in the picture
Back Row L/R Alma Grotzinger, ? Haas, Ed Scheuller, Ella Krall
Front Row L/R Helen Schneider, ? Klemm, Emma Woodill

Long before St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized several persons who later ecame charter members sought the word of God in their own language which was German. This small group has an interesting history.

One of the outstanding members was Mr. John Hoffman, who with his wife at this time conducted a business on Main Street. The hospitality of these kindly people became generally known and strangers invariably were directed to share the friendliness. German residents and immigrants often congregated and discussed subjects of common interest at the Hoffmans. A certain number hoped for some means of hearing the word of God in their own language. Finally a few years before the church was organized the group decided to hold religious services in a flat over what is now Diehl's Cafe on Main Street. They succeeded in securing pastors from neighboring parishes who came to Savanna at irregular intervals. Thus the faith in their hearts was rekindled. Others joined the group until the little band thought that with the cooperation of the Mission Board of the Wisconsin Synod, also St. Matthew Church of Washington township, it wsa sufficiently strong to call a resident pastor.

On January 19, 1890, the people organized as the St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church of Savanna, under the leadership of Rev. C. Trappe who became first resident pastor. The first trustees were Victor Dauphin, Henry Nies, Fred Siewers, Julius Dauphin and Fred Scholl. The latter two served as secretary and treasurer. Later in the year, Mr. Fred Scholl donated the sum of one thousand dollars to be used for building a new church. Mr. Louis Schwass donated the ground which later became the site of the first Lutheran Church and parsonage. These lots were located on what is now known as Van Street.

Before building operations could begin the ground had to be filled in. The few members toiled long and laboriously. By the end of the first year, the church, a small frame structure with simple lines, was completed. The following year the parsonage was erected and it still occupied its original location. Both services and Sunday school were conducted in the German language. Lter Sunday school was conducted in English in the afternoon. In 1915 services were conducted in English as well as in German and regular classes in Sunday school were held.

This original church building served the congregation 26 years when it was moved from Van street to the corner of Fifth and Adams. Here it was remodeled and used constantly for 36 years and later replaced iwth a new structure on the corner of Third and Adams in 1952. The original church building was sold in 1954 and is now the Knights of Columbus Hall. Since its organization the congregation has been served by the following pastors and vicars: Rev. C. Trappe 1890 - 1893; Rev. P. Mayerhoff 1893-1896; Rev. R. Gruber 1896-1898; Rev. H. Herwig 1898-1902; Rev. Michelan 1902-1903; Rev. E. Laible 1903-1906; Rev. F. Raetz 1906-1910; Rev. Rader (vacancy pastor 1910-1915; Rev. Paul Froehlke 1915-1918; Student Paul Stengel 1918-1919; Rev. Gervasius W. Fischer 1919-1925; Rev. Gustav Fischer 1925-1928; Rev. Gerhard P. Fischer 1928-1949; Rev. R. C. Hilleman 1949-1956; Rev. Alfred F. Nicholaus 1956-1967; Rev. W. G. Hoffman 1957-1961; Rev. Theo. H. Mahnke (Interim) 1961-1962; Rev. Theo. H. Mahnke, 1962-; Vicar Gerald Plitzuweit 1962-1963; Vicar Ronald Roth 1963-1964; Vicar Charles Flunker 1964-1965; Vicar Douglas L. Bode 1965-1966; Vicar Alfred Jannusch 1966-1967; Vicar LeRoy A. Martin 1967- .

In February 1924 the congregation decided to erect a new parsonage, which was built on the corner of Fifth and Diagonal and dedicated Oct. 11, 1925. The building was a modern eight-room colonial structure which was occupied by the church pastors until 1962 when the congregation was united with St. Matthew and Trinity congregations. Pastor Theodore H. Mahnke preferred to continue his residency near the Salem Lutheran Church, consequently the parsonage was sold in 1963.

The forty-fifth anniversary of the founding of St. Peter was appropriately celebrated on June 30, 1935. Four services were held on that day, three in English and one in German. In May 1936, a new Wicks pipe organ was purchased and dedicated on July 26th. In 1952 this organ was moved to the present structure.

The 50th anniversary of the church was celebrated with three services on June 16, 1940 (two English and one German). A picnic was held on June 18, and a memorial service on June 23. A golden anniversary booklet was printed and placed on sale. This booklet contained pictures and history of the church, senior choir, junior choir, ladies aid, senior Luther League, Lutheran Men's club, Junior League, statistics, order of service and committees for the anniversary.

The years 1940-1968 began with starting a building fund for a new church, and in 1945 the members voted to build the new church. Various sites were considered and on Oct. 2, 1949, it was decided to purchase the southeast corner of Third and Adams streets which act was consummated by November 8. Dedication of the new church was conducted June 29, 1952, with morning and afternoon service and dinner at noon. The present building is of English Gothic architecture constructed of brick and stone. The architect, the late Hugo C. Haeuser of Milwaukee, Wis. stressed strength and durability for the building. In the interior are solid timber roof trusses and girders. Masonry interior walls are laid up to form a finished exposure. The overall dimensions of the church are 53'x 100'. On the main floor, in addition to the nave and chancel, are found a mothers room and a church office. A balcony for the choir as well as organ chambers are placed over the spacious narthex, which can on occasion be used for overflow space. The total seating capacity of the church is 300. On the ground floor there is a large fellowship hall with stage and a spacious kitchen.

Because of the high cost of building the congregation postponed purchase of stained glass windows, new furniture, and modern lighting fixtures. These became annual projects during the following years. An 800-pound 34-inch diameter bell was purchased and installed in 1957.

Pastor Hoffman accepted a call to Madison, Wis. in 1961 and because of the shortage of pastors a call was extended to Pastor Mahnke and a combined parish agreement arranged with Trinity Congregation at Salem in 1962. With the pastor residing at Salem the parsonage was sold in 1963.

The 75th anniversary of the church was celebrated on June 27, 1965, with morning and afternoon service and a noon meal. Pastor Gerald Plitzuweit of Sheboygan, Wis. delivered the morning sermon and Pastor Gerhard Fischer of Helenville, Wis. at the afternoon service. A booklet entitled "75 Years of Grace" was printed and given to each one attending the services. This booklet contained the history of the church, Sunday school, Altar guild, Ladies Aid, and Lydian Society, as well as pertinent statistics.

The church building fund debt was paid in fu11 by 1966 at which time the congregation purchased adjoining property. The church land and building now cover an area 100x200 feet with a net worth of more than $225,000. Present church officers and councilmen are William Gardner, president; Charles Ross, Secretary; Donald Wehde, financial secretary; Dwight Nicol, treasurer; Arlen Buck, Andrew Kelley, Alfred Ketelsen, Robert Muntz and Charles Plattenberger.

Sunday school was introduced shortly after the church was organized in 1890, first in german, then separate sessions for both German and English. In 1915 it was re-organized with the English language predominating. There are two weeks Bible school in summer and at the end of the quarter a movie pertaining to some part of the lessons during the quarter. A teachers' training course is conducted once a month. Classes are conducted for children from age three through the eighth grade and also a high school class. The Sunday school with 128 en­rollment has Charles Ross serving as superintendent; Mrs. Paul Reibel, secretary, and 14 teachers. The Ladies' Aid was the first society organized within the church. Present officers are Mrs. William Gardner, president; Miss Anna Cush, vice-president, Mrs. Jens Hansen, secretary, and Mrs. E. D. Gantert, treasurer. The Lydian Society organized in 1945 as a branch of the Ladies' Aid is now an independent society. It has made substantial financial contributions to the church building fund, furnishings and missions. Present officers are Mrs. Duane Bauer, president; Mrs. Richard Gleich, vice-president; Mrs. Ed. Hoover, secretary; and Miss Anna Cush, treasurer.

In February, 1959, two appointed members from the Ladies' Aid and two members from the Lydian Society met with Pastor W. G. Hoffmann to organize St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church Altar Guild. Each member purchased the "Manual For Altar Guilds" for her own use. The group compiled a list of duties and work details and established regular meeting dates. The first officers were Mrs. Wilbur Lartz and Mrs. Clarence Christensen, with Pastor Hoffman as chairman. Mrs. Christensen was also appointed "Flower Contact" to work with members registering for flowers. The Guild assumes responsibility of decorating the chancel on Christmas, Easter, and for the various church festivals, as well as assisting with other church decorations. The work schedule and liturgical color schedule are prepared each year and posted in the church office. The Young People's Society is a group of 25 high-school-age youth who meet twice each month for study, discussion and Christian fellowship. Vicar LeRoy Martin is the spiritual counselor of the group; James Seitz, president; Peggy Gardner, secretary; and Sue Muntz, treasurer. The Junior Chorus is comprised of 25 members under the direction of Vicar Le­Roy Martin. The Chorus sings at all festival occasions.

History from the Goodly Heritage 1968

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