Marathon County Wisconsin Churches
Rib Mountain

Rib Mountain Churches
Source: Rib Mountaineer: the mountain and a township (1976) pages 30-33

There are five churches in the township; the sixth is expected to be completed in May 1976, and land has been purchased for the seventh.

One characteristic of nearly every church was that members held services in their homes before a church was built.

Bethlehem Lutheran
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, the first church in the township, was originally a school built in 1890. In 1900 it was purchased by Zion Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, Wausau, for use as a mission church. Charter members were Henry Adler, John Hildebrandt, William Graveen, Philip Drumm and Gust Dahm. The Rev. Paul Bretscher of Zion held services there until 1906 when he accepted a call to another parish.

After Trinity Lutheran Church on Wausau's west side was founded by Zion, its pastors took over the mission church in the Town of Rib Mountain. First was the Rev. J. Th. Destinon; then the Rev. Fred Foerster, and in 1918 the Rev. E. H. Bertermann, who served Bethlehem for the next 56 years. The first several years he borrowed a horse and sleigh from Otto Kitzerow, a butcher, to get to Rib Mountain in winter. In summer, parishioners took turns going into Wausau to get him in their cars; at times he rode his bicycle. Later he bought a Model-T Ford. He held German services there in early years, and conducted summer school for confirmation classes.

In the early 1940s Pastor Bertermann began a remodeling job on the interior of the church. Farmers in the congregation cut trees from their woods, taking lumber to Rhinelander for flooring and to Curtis & Yale for molding. Their logs went to Underwood Veneer for paneling. A new altar for the church was made from red granite purchased from Fred DeVoe of the Town of Texas. In addition, the Rev. Bertermann planted trees around the church and generally kept it up.

Pastor Bertermann retired in 1970 and died the summer of 1974. Regular services in the church were discontinued, but reunion services have been held once a year, along with weddings and other special events. On Aug. 7, 1974, the name of the church was changed to the E. H. Bertermann Memorial Chapel, with a dedication service conducted by the Rev. Ervin Seidel of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Wausau. Pastor Bertermann's daughter, Mrs. Robert Pieper, served as organist. Norman Klemm was general chairman of the dedication committee.

Our Savior's Lutheran
Our Savior's Evangelical Lutheran Church came into being on Sept. 10, 1942, under the direction of the Mission Board of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Served by Pastor Lyle J. Koenig, the first service and Sunday school were held in an abandoned school building on Flieth Street owned by the City of Wausau, with 48 members present. The formal organization occurred Oct. 21, 1942, with four families as charter members; Alfred Prast, Earl Prast, Walter Radtke and Walter Schriber.

After purchasing the school building its inadequacy became apparent. Additions and renovations were made, and a Christian Day School was begun under the leadership of Adolph Wilbrecht.

On Oct. 29, 1944, the two-classroom addition was dedicated. Even this was not enough for the growing congregation. Therefore a complete rebuilding program was begun in 1948. More classrooms were built that served as the sanctuary also, dedicated Dec. 6, 1959.

An entirely new church edifice was built and dedicated May 5, 1963. Four pastors have served: Lyle J. Koening 1942-54; Donald W. Meir - 56; Roy Reede - 65; Raymond A. Schultz 1965--.

Jehovah's Witnesses
Around 1900 Jehovah's Witnesses, then known as Bible Students, met in private homes and rented halls. An active group of about 25 met in the Rib Mountain area in 1950. In 1951 the congregation rented a room at the Labor Temple in Wausau.

Shortly thereafter it was decided to have their own assembly hall, and in 1956 the foundation of their Kingdom Hall was laid at 333 Imm Street in the Town of Rib Mountain.

Around 1972 the hall became too small so two congregations were formed, both using the same hall but on different nights. In 1974 a new Kingdom Hall was built on the corner of Bos Creek Road and North Third Avenue, this hall being known as the North Congregation, and the hall on Imm Street as the South Congregation.

South Kingdom Hall has five rotating elders, one of whom is the presiding overseer each year. Attendance at each meeting averages around 85.

Rib Mountain Lutheran
Rib Mountain Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 3010 Eagle Avenue, was originally a mission church of Trinity Church in Wausau, encouraged by the Rev. E. H. Bertermann. The land was purchased from Harvey Nelson, and groundbreaking ceremonies were held April 28, 1963. Dedication of the church and installation of its first pastor, the Rev. Harold F. Winter, took place Sept. 13, 1964.

The Rev. Winter accepted a new charge at Lake Kagonsa, Wis, in January 1976. On March 28, 1976 the Rev. Thomas Hedtke was installed as the new pastor of the church.

The congregation grew from 181 persons when it was first organized to 777 in 1975. A number of church groups serve in a variety of ways. Several Bible classes hold meetings; Sunday school is conducted for 140 grade-school children, with special sessions for various age groups during the week. A vacation Bible School is held each summer involving approximately 160 three-year-olds through eighth grade pupils.

In November 1975 a Schulmerich Magna Bell Carillon was installed. The sanctuary, church offices, a kitchen and the building consists of four classrooms that are used for Sunday school and vacation Bible School. For a time some of the classrooms were used by first grade classes of the Rib Mountain School.

The church is now self-supporting.

Church of Christ
The Labor Temple in Wausau was the first meeting place in August 1954 of the Church of Christ. The first minister was Carl Frazier, and the congregation's first church was on the corner of Sixth and Scott streets in Wausau.

A new church was built on the corner of Rose and Park avenues in Rib Mountain, with first services being held March 3, 1968. In 1973 Carl Frazier moved to North Dakota, and Donald Laughary, who replaced him, also served as a volunteer on the Rib Mountain Fire Department.

Elders and deacons were appointed by the congregation to serve in various capacities. The present minister is Roy Ratcliff who came in June 1975.

Worship services are held every Sunday morning at 10:30 and Sunday evening at 6:30. Bible classes are held every Sunday morning at 9:30 and every Wednesday evening at 7:30. The church is open to any visitors who are interested in learning about its doctrine and beliefs.

Seventh Day Adventists
The Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 2201 Oriole Lane, Town of Rib Mountain, had 13 members when it organized May 8, 1898. At first services were held at homes of members; at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Scott Street; at the Eagles Hall, and at the Odd Fellows Hall.

Then for a time services were held on the second floor of the former Kresge Store, now Singer Sewing Machine Co. A history written of its early years tells that children from west Wausau watched the water tumbling over huge rocks in the river bed as they crossed the narrow steel bridge spanning the river. People from rural districts came with horse and buggy.

In July 1949 the congregation purchased the former First English Lutheran Church in the 700 block of First Street. In 1967 the church was sold to the city of Wausau for a parking lot, and again services were held in halls.

But this was only a temporary arrangement. Land was purchased from Elmer Mesalk in January 1968 in the Town of Rib Mountain. Building was begun that September and the congregation moved into the new church June 28, 1969.

Services are held on Saturday, with Sabbath School -- study of the Bible -- at 9:30, conducted by elders and laymen.

Church services begin at 11:00 a.m., conducted by Elder Duane Brown.

Parochial school history of the church is told in the chapter on schools.

Church of Latter Day Saints
Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints coming to Wausau in 1952 found two members living here. As more were added to the congregation, a Sunday school was organized with Glen Davis as superintendent and Elvira Davis as secretary. Services were held at first in homes, but with the need for larger quarters the Seventh Day Adventist Church on First Street was rented, then a room in the former Labor Temple at South Third Avenue. Land was purchased for a chapel site at 19th and Wegner streets. Before the building began, members grew beans on the site to help pay for the church. It was dedicated May 10, 1964.

Some of the societies in the church are the Relief Society for the women, Primary for children to age 12, Mutual Improvement Association for youth, and the Genealogical Society. A number of their young people have served on missions.

A new chapel seating 289 persons presently being erected on Rib Mountain Dr. in the Town of Rib Mountain is expected to be completed in May. The branch president is James Schofield.

Mount View Baptist Church
Mount View Baptist Church held services for about a year in the Rib Mountain Municipal Center after organizing in 1968. The congregation outgrew this meeting place and the Underwood Chapel was rented where services are still being held at the time of this writing. Three acres of land on North Mountain Road were purchased from Frank Busko, where it is planned to build a church, gymnasium and possibly a school. The congregation wanted to locate in the shadow of Rib Mountain and it got its wish. It hopes to begin construction by 1978.

Sunday school is held every Sunday morning at 10:15 for all ages; church services are at 11 a.m. and evangelistic services at 7:30 p.m. Prayer meetings are held every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Persons in the township belonging to the Catholic faith attend the Holy Name Church if they live on the east side of the Beltline. Those on the west side attend services at St. Matthew.


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