THE LUTHERAN CHURCH OF THE CROSS (1904-1994)
The history of the "Church of the Cross" began on December 26, 1904, when Trinity Lutheran Church, then located at Henry and Fountain, was destroyed by fire. They had a few years to share in their joy and worship when the building engulfed in flames. Although it was a sad turn of events, it did not discourage this small group of believers. They gathered in private homes to hold services and were ministered to by pastors from the U.S.A.
In the spring of 1905 worship services were held in a northwest hall at Isabel and Ross. Plans were made to erect a new church but its new location was not revealed. The group, who did not favor a location north of the tracks, decided to form a new church and made application for the service of a pastor. The application was repeatedly refused. The shepherd less flock then appealed to Dr. Ernst, President of the Minnesota District. All efforts to remedy the situation failed. After thoroughly investigating the matter, Dr. Ernst and other officials who had been up in Canada, felt divinely called to enter the field.
The fist man to accept the Macedonian call was Pastor G. Gehrke and was installed on November 5, 1905. It was under his able leadership and guidance that the Lutheran Church of the Cross was organized. On November 6, 1905, the congregation was officially organized under the name of "The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Cross", located on Alexander and Chambers near Sherbrook. As membership grew, the time to find a larger place of worship became eminent. Records indicate that there were 151 chartered members and the congregation was self-supporting. A temporary house of worship was erected by voluntary help. The members of the new congregation demonstrated determination, vision and faith in planning to erect a new church.
In 1906 the construction of a new church home began, located at Alexander and Chalmers Street. Even at this early stage in the history of the church, the German Ladies Aid (Frauenverein) took a very active part in submitting funds to support their new place of worship.
The Frauenverein was always very generous in their offerings. A new church was dedicated in October 1906. District workers were delegated to visit various areas regarding the welfare of the congregations concerns e.g. illness, finances, visitations, etc..
The affairs of the congregation were in the hands of the Vestry consisting of fifteen men, five of whom were Elders, five trustees and five deacons. Each member was elected by the congregation for a term of three years, five of whom were elected annually. The executive, president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer and other officers were selected annually from their number.
1906 the congregations' first son was ordained, namely The Rev. P. H. Kohlmeier.
The German Ladies Aid called "Tabea Verein", was organized in late 1906 and early 1907.
A standing project was to provide all janitor supplies. It is of interest to note that at this early stage in the history of the church, the "Frauenverein" took an active part in submitting funds to support their new place of worship and had sufficient funds for the cost of installing the Cathedral Chimes for the dedication of the new church building on November 4, 1906.
Pastor G. Gehrke served the Church of the Cross as well as provided pastoral services to various parts of western Canada. The work expanded rapidly and 14 pastors attended the first conference held on November 6 to 8, 1907.
In 1907, Rev. Gehrke accepted a call to become the missionary superintendent in western Canada.
In 1907, Rev. L.F. Tank, Rev. Gehrke's brother-in-law, became the second pastor of the Church of the Cross. Under Rev. Tank, the parochial school was introduced. After several years it was discontinued because the operative costs were prohibitive. At this time, employment was very unstable. Wages were as low as 16 to 21 cents per hour and many of the members moved to farms and homesteads. Some migrated to the United States of America. Payments of existing debts were met with difficulty.
1911 the second son of the congregation was ordained, The Rev. Edward Schmok.
1914 the third son was ordained, The Rev. Rudolph Stelzer. In 1914, Lenten services were held at C.P.R. Weston shop to accommodate many church members.
In 1918 the church had 282 communicant members. Influenza epidemic forced all churches to close.
In 1919, Rev. Tank accepted a call to become the next missionary superintendent.
In 1919, Rev. Eugene Poppen became the third pastor of the church. However, failing health compelled Rev. Poppen to terminate his work in Canada two years later.
Pastor P.B. Hack succeeded Rev. Poppen in 1919. The need for services in the English language became evident. Evening and Saturday classes were introduced to teach the essentials of the German language. Pastor H. Flattman, who had been secured for this work, fought a losing battle and classes were discontinued after two years. English services were then held occasionally.
Organists who served around 1919 were Frank Schneeberger, Mrs. Tank, Ida Schmok, Minnie Schneeberger, Mrs. Flathmann (also choir director from 1924-28), Mr. Kellner, Mrs. Hack, Mr. Beiner (March 1930 to May 1930), and Johann Krempin.
Various organizations emerged 1920 and prior, such as bible classes, Frauenverein, Naeh-Verein (seamstresses), Jugendverein, and choirs. Between 1933 to 1941 the Bathanien Verein (young people) developed. Since then, the "Brotherhood", the youngest and smallest organization of the congregation, provides the "Weekly Bulletin" and provides the "Membership Directory". The Brotherhood was affiliated with the Brotherhood of the American Lutheran Church. The Senior Young People was organized for those who were above the age of Luther Leaguers. Their chief purpose was to promote fellow-ships, especially among the younger people who were employed or in training in Winnipeg. The Luther League is the oldest organization. It is affiliated with the International Luther League of the American Lutheran Church, and endeavors to conduct a full program for young Lutherans as suggested by headquarters. The choirs were also organized around the 1920's. Two organized choir’s function annually in the congregation, namely:
The Junior and Senior Choirs. The Junior Choir trained young people in the appreciation of church music and offered an opportunity to participate in regular church services. The Senior Choir assists in beautifying the worship services.
In June 1921 bi-monthly English services were introduced for children speaking only English, held Sunday evenings. Also, Sunday School was being held at Weston C.P.R. Tower during the winter months.
In February 1922, special fund raising for the poor in Russia and at home in Canada. In May to June 1922, the church building was painted and the roof reshingled at a cost of $440.00. English services dropped due to poor attendance.
In 1923 the first typewriter was purchased. Offering envelopes were introduced. Fund raising for the poor continued.
1924 the congregations' fourth son was ordained, The Rev. Arthur Krempin. A tennis court was erected on the lot next to the church. Pastor Flatmann was hired to teach evening school.
An attempt to reinstate English services in 1925 was defeated. However, the fund for the poor was strongly supported.
Another attempt to re-instate English Services in 1926 was again defeated.
1927, debt owing to Ohio Synod stood at $8,970.00. Introduced Church Bank Account for use of cheques for accounts payable.
1928 Kindergarten classes were initiated. Evening schoolteacher Pauline Kissner had 57 students registered of which 45 attended regularly. Purchase of first house on William Avenue. $4,500.00 was borrowed from members for down payment and the balance was borrowed from the bank at 8%. Friederich Litowski lent money to pay mortgage off at 6%.
1929 German School teacher was hired by name of Kellner. However, discontinued in August due to poor attendance.
1930 marked the 25th anniversary year of the congregation. Years of hardships after World War I and the depression bred discontent and soon the differences in the congregation became marked and finally climaxed with the resignation of Pastor Hack and the loss of 60 members.
1930, the fifth pastor was installed and English services were now held regularly.
Rev. H. Honebein accepted a call to the remaining congregation of the Church of the Cross, which was still heavily indebted. The national depression of the 30's added to the already overburdened congregation.
1931 face lifting and church repairs were completed. English services again were started.
1932 the congregations' fifth son was ordained, The Rev. Edward Krempin. The windows in the church were redone.
1933 were the depression years. There were 112 paying members. 28 members were unable to contribute due to unemployment
1934 times were extremely difficult to meet payments. Pleas were made to the Ladies Aid, and special offerings were taken from each confirmed members to meet the budget. Even the Pastor forfeited a monthly wage.
1938 a new Hammond Organ, in the amount of $2,226.00, was purchased during a ten-month period - interest free. F. Rosplesch struck a deal with members that every tonne of coal purchased from his company; 50 cents would be a contribution towards the organ. A special meeting was held in August 1938, to inform members of outstanding eight mortgages, totaling $7,320.55. Payments were to be made over a period of ten months at 2%. Major repairs had again to be made on church building.
In 1944, the "Mary-Martha Mission Society" was organized and was affiliated with the Women's Missionary Federation of the American Lutheran Church. It promoted all the projects of the federation as well as local interests.
Pastor Honebein met the challenge and under his guidance, the congregation was not only able to fill its gaping ranks with new members but by 1946, on the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the church, was able to emerge from its strangling indebtedness.
1946 the congregations' sixth son commissioned to serve in New Guinea, Mr. Henry Voss.
From 1930 to 1947, after 17 1/2 years, the longest term of any pastor at the Church of the Cross, Pastor Honebein accepted a call to Augusta, Wisconsin.
In May 1948, Rev. Wilfred K. Raths was installed. He was the sixth pastor to accept the charge.
In 1950 the congregation studied plans for expansion. In 1952, the church was renovated. The aging church property and a continuously growing congregation made it necessary to make extensive improvements and renovations. In the years 1948 to 1955, the congregation invested more than $27,000 to meet these needs. Debt free, the congregation had now a membership of over 850 communicants and over 1200 baptized souls, not counting adherents
In 1953, a new parsonage was built. However, inspite of limited facilities, the congregation experienced continuous growth. Baptized membership grew from 560 to 1800 by 1965, of whom approximately 1150 were confirmed members.
1954, the congregations' seventh son was ordained, The Rev. Marat M. Holobow. The Sunday School had a staff over twenty teachers and officers, who worked diligently under extremely crowded conditions. Classes were held in German and English every Sunday. Enrollment at the end of 1954 was 319 pupils.
In 1955, the congregation celebrated the Golden Anniversary. Since 1955, four of the congregations' sons, the Rev. Ernest Bittner, the Rev. Donald King, the Rev. Roman Alksne and the Rev. David Raths, have entered the ministry. Daughters of the congregation, who shared in the work of the kingdom as pastor's wives were: Patricia Buchard (Mrs. D. King), Shirley Bukoske (Mrs. A. Eppler), Jeanette Bauch (Mrs. R. Markwart).
In 1958, the congregation engaged the first vicar, a seminary student to serve internship. Four students served as vicars for the next four years, namely: Robert Swanger, Robert Strobel, Robert Jacob and Reinhold Markwart. Since each student provided services for a short period, the congregation decided to call a full time assistant.
1959 the congregations' eight son was ordained. The Rev. Ernest B. Bittner. The Brotherhood formed a "Dart Ball League", following their studies and discussions with tournaments and trophies for the top players and teams.
1961 the congregations' ninth son was ordained, The Rev. Donald King.
Rev. Robert S. Jacob became the seventh pastor to serve Church of the Cross and was installed in June 1962.
1963, property on Arlington Street near Ellice was purchased for $102,000.OO.
In 1964 the Brotherhood donated $400.00 to the Building fund. In 1965 they purchased the pulpit for the new church as well as the drapery for the Auditorium.
Groundbreaking services were held on March 21, 1965, and construction began on March 31, 1965. The Cornerstone Laying Service was held on August 22, 1965, and the Church Dedication took place on October 17, 1965.
1965 the "Brotherhood" hosted the first Father and Son Banquet at the Ellice Inn. Many sporting functions were part of their undertaking such as bowling and organized baseball (for boys and girls). The group secured the annual Christmas trees and decorated them. The group also covered the cost of a new projector for the Luther League75.
1965 was the 60th year of the congregations' history and was declared as a Year of Jubilee. Each month, during 1965, a special service of Jubilee was held to honor those who served and who ministered at the Church of the Cross.
1966 the congregations' tenth son was ordained, The Rev. Roman Alksne. A parsonage at 992 Ingersoll was bought.
1967, the church celebrated the 450th anniversary of Reformation.
1968 called the eight pastor assistant, The Rev. Norman Miller. The congregation voted to change voting age of members from 21 to 18 years,
1969 the church commenced the Cross Golden Age Drop in Centre. The congregations' eleventh son was ordained, The Rev. David Raths.
1970 a special meeting was held to purchase land for future sight of Senior Citizens home. A ninth pastor assistant was called, The Rev. Marc Wermager.
In 1970 the "Brotherhood" purchased Wooden Crosses for every family in the congregation.
1972 land was purchased on Burnell for building of Senior Home.
On January 25, 1972, > a motion was passed that the organization known as "Men of the Church" or "Brotherhood", be disbanded due to dropping interest and attendance and all remaining funds were turned over to the church treasury.
1974 the congregation passed motion to sell both parsonages and motioned to liquidate the loan on church building in year 1975.
1975 celebration 10 to 70 throughout the year. Retirement of church debt was celebrated October 19th. Sod turning for Senior Citizens Home, was celebrated December 19th. A tenth pastor assistant was called, The Rev. Terry Simonson.
1976 the congregations' twelfth son was ordained, The Rev. Gregory Moroz.
June 22, 1977, was the official opening of Arms of The Cross.
1978, Pastor and Mrs. W. K. Raths celebrated 30 years of ministry at Church of the Cross. The New Lutheran Book of Worship was introduced.
1979 Pastor W. K. Raths retired. The eleventh pastor was installed. The Rev. Gerhard Preibisch.
1980 the twelfth assistant pastor was installed, the Rev. Clarence Mitchler. The 75th Anniversary celebrations were celebrated throughout the year.
1982 a piano for the Sanctuary was purchased by the Tabea Frauen Verein.
1984 the first woman elected President of the congregation was Ms. Lydia Freier. Rev. George Gehrke Scholarship Fund was established for Luther College. The congregation announced the death of the last surviving charter member, Mrs. Christina Rast.
1986 the elevator was installed.
1987 the thirteenth pastor was called, The Rev. James Alger. Congregation approved purchase of a new Rogers Pipe Organ.
May 15, 1988 was dedication of new Pipe Organ. Recitals were conducted by world-renowned organists. Dr. Keith Chapman and Mr. Barry Anderson. Pastor Mitcheler accepted a call to Emerson, Redgeville Lutheran Church. Also in May 1988, a Worship
Committee was started and their tasks were to prepare worship leaflets, conduct processions and special liturgies for Pentecost, Reformation and Advent, suggest hymns and provide short survey on worship.
1989 the Church Council granted mandate to organize Historical Committee. Pastor Preibisch accepted a call to Chilliwack, B.C. The fourteenth pastor was installed, the Rev. Guenther Kern.
1990 seminary student Lisa Ahlness was engaged for one-year internship.
In March 1993, Pastor Kern left. In June, Pastors Lothar and Hanna Schwabe became Interim pastors. From July to August, Pastor Val Hennig became Interim Pastor. From September to December Pastors Schwabe served the congregation".
1994 call process for a new pastor is in action.
HISTORY - PASTORS WHO SERVED CHURCH OF THE CROSS 1905 - Current
1905-1907 Reverend George Gehrke
1907-1919 Reverend Leopold Tank
1919-1921 Reverend Eugene Poppen
1921-1929 Reverend Peter Hack
1930-1948 Reverend Henry Honebein
1948-1979 Reverend Wilfred Raths
1979-1989 Reverend Gerhard Preibisch
1989-1993 Reverend Guenther Kern
1993 March-June Interim Pastors Lothar and Hanna Schwabe
1993 July-August Interim Pastor Val Hennig
1993 Sept.-Dec. Interim Pastors Lothar and Hanna Schwabe
1994 Pastor Johann Kunkel (interim)
1994-2002 Pastor Christoph Reiners
2003 Rev. Ted Chell (Interim)
2004-2008 Pastor Frank Bahr
2008-2010 Pastor Don Engel (Interim)
2010-2015 Pastor Kolleen Karlowsky-Clark
2016-2018 Pastor Don Engel (Interim)
2019-Pulpit Supply; Pastor Lenise Francis, Pastor Nancy Walker & Pastor Don Engel
1962-1968 Reverend Robert Jacob
1968-1971 Reverend Norman Miller
1971-1973 Reverend Marc Wermager
1975-1979 Reverend Terry Simonson
1980-1987 Reverend Clarence Mitchler
1987-1989 Reverend James Alger
1995-2000 Associate Pastor Greg Fowlie-Neufels
SONS WHO HAVE ENTERED THE MINISTRY:
1906 Reverend Paul Kohlmeier
1911 Reverend Edward Schmok
1914 Reverend Rudolph Stelzer
1924 Reverend Arthur Krempin
1932 Revered Edward Krempin
1946 Mr. Henry Voss (Commissioned to serve in New Guinea)
1954 Reverend Marat Holobow
1959 Reverend Ernest Bittner
1961 Reverend Donald King
1966 Reverend Roman Alksne
1970 Reverend W. David Raths
1973 Reverend Donald Nevile
1976 Reverend Gregory Moroz
1980 Reverend Karl Hedlin