History of the Concordia Congregation

history@concordia-ucc.org 

Early Beginnings (1840-1844)

    Following the period from 1840 to 1844, after emigrants of South Germany had sufficiently colonized the district within which the church was later built, and had repeatedly felt the need for the public worship of God, residents of the district who became the founders of the church gathered together to discuss their religious welfare.  They considered themselves to be of sufficient means to be self-sustaining and preferred the convenience  of a nearby house of worship rather than the long church road to Centreville (now Millstadt).  Furthermore, they believed they would, next to God, bring honor to themselves, if they, with one accord, would hold sensible church services, and although they belonged to various church faiths on the other side of the ocean, they forgot these differences and in a lovely Christian spirit built at that time already an inner Concordia. 

    Using accumulated money from dues, the founders mentioned above made a purchase of land.  John Keck, Conrad Vogel, and George P. Fein, as trustees of the Concordia School and Meeting House, purchased one and a half acres from Simon and Martha Peter.  The northeast portion of the plot was fenced and used as a cemetery. 

    Among the forty charter members were:

Adam Haas

Peter Vogt

Carl Kraesler

Fredrick Keck

Daniel Haas

Andrew Diesel

Jacob Heckel

Jacob Huver

Jacob Heitz

John Philip Wirth

Jacob Haas

Conrad Keck

Peter Ruhmann

Michel Mayrod

Frederick Vogel

George Wagner

Heinrich Pfeffer

Nicolaus Peter

Mrs. Wagner

Jacob Hertel

Henry Mueller

George Bietner

Christoff Zaenger

 

Conrad Vogel

John Meyer

Martin Ammer

John Philip Hermann

Jacob Sybertz

Heinrich Keck

Philip Hankammer

 

 

The Original Church (1850)

    Just what the nature of the "School and Meeting House" referred to in the original deed might have been, we do not know, but Pastor Hoppe, the first pastor of Concordia, gives an interesting account of the building of the first church structure:

    "In the year 1850 there was a renewed desire for their own church structure; so by means of subscriptions in dues the same was erected of brick.  At the end of the year it was completed." 

    Another source indicates the structure was 24x30 feet and its ceiling was 12 feet high.  The house served at first for the instruction of the children of the members of the church and was therefore furnished with only the most necessary school equipment which included a high desk for the teacher (the pulpit).  Instruction of the school was given by Joseph Sybertz.  The congregation had now adopted the name Concordia and urged through its duly elected council members the dedication of the house of worship.  The same was done on Pentecost Monday by the guest minister from the German Protestant Church (St. Paul) in Belleville, Jacob Balthaser Hoppe.  The employment of a regular pastor depended on two things: 1) the cost of maintaining a pastor and 2) the difficulty of getting pulpit speakers of some choice  to come to the country.  Thus on June 15, 1851, eight days after the dedication of the church, Pastor Hoppe became pastor of Concordia and gave his first sermon the following week.  Following his employment a pulpit, an altar, chairs, pulpit clothes, silver chalices, plates, and a filler were all purchased for the use in the service.  During his first year of service, Pastor Hoppe conducted five baptisms, one marriage, and three funerals.

    Desiring to set in writing a purpose, plan and method of conducting the affairs of the church, Pastor Hoppe composed a constitution and submitted it to the congregation, which gave its approval.  This constitution made official the church name, German Evangelical Concordia Church, and the provision that the congregation would not affiliate itself with any synod in America.

The First Parsonage (1870)

To provide a residence for the pastor, the house, garden, and orchard formally utilized by Rev. Flickinger were rented from John Meyer for two years.  When, however, the renal contract expired and there was no prospect for renewal, the congregation decided in the annual meeting of 1870 to build a parsonage.  The church council, consisting of Henry Heidenreich, Daniel Haas, Jacob Mueller, and Bernard Sutter, was authorized to appoint a committee of six (Philip Hankammer, George Mueller, Carl Kraesler, Valentine Keck, Peter Schwarz, and Henry Scharf) to draft a building plan.  The building was a 28x38 foot wooden frame building that consisted of four rooms and a six foot wide hall.  Carpenter H. Glade fulfilled the agreements of the contract and the building was completed in August of 1870. 

Another Church Founded (1875)

    Because of the distance several families of Sugar Loaf Township had to travel to attend Concordia Church, they resolved to build a church of their own to be served also by Concordia's pastor at the time, Rev. Doehring.  In 1875, Zion Church of Sugar Loaf Township, St. Clair County, Illinois, was built and dedicated to God.  From that time until the conclusion of Rev. Schweickhart in 1943, these two churches worked together and were served by the same pastor.  On alternate Sundays, afternoon services were conducted at Zion Church.  Until 1897, the confirmation classes of the two churches were combined. 

Erection of the Present House of Worship (1878-1879)

    In the "New Year's meeting" of 1878 members proposed building a new church edifice because the old structure was becoming dilapidated and proved inadequate for serving large groups.  Having been instructed to draw up plans and specifications, the trustees (Jacob Heitz, Frederick Meier, Frederick Betz, and Christian Ebersohl) presented the plans for a 45x30 foot building with a spire and a basement schoolroom.  In the middle of April 1879, fathers and sons of the congregation dismantled the old church and put aside all usable materials to be utilized in the construction of the new building.  The weather was favorable that year, allowing for the placement of the cornerstone on Rogation Sunday, May 18,1879.  The entire congregation put a tremendous effort into the monumental task of building and furnishing the new church.  The trustees raised enough money for the 950 lb bell, the women supplied the pulpit, altar, windows, and communion set, the young women provided the chandeliers and side lamps, and the young men donated money for a new pipe organ.  The congregation also constructed a lath fence and coal shed, and it purchased a coal stove.  On Sunday, August 31, 1879, the church was dedicated.

The Following Years (1880-1910)

Over the next couple of decades, minor things changed.  Upon the request of the Sugar Loaf congregation, Concordia's pastor went to  preach there one Sunday morning each month for nine months to stimulate attendance.  The church hired a janitor in 1880 and an organist in 1905.  In 1907, the constitution was revised again and printed, and affiliation with the synod was first considered.

Times of Change (1910-1930)

    On October 22, 1919, the Ladies' Sewing Circle was organized with seven charter members.  The first officers were:  Mrs. Jacob E. Keck, president; Mrs. John Mueller, vice-president; Mrs. F. W. Braun, secretary; Mrs. William Rehg, treasurer.  On August 24, 1926, another new organization was formed, the Young People's League.  Miss Fanny Neumeister presided at the first meeting.  Twenty-one charter members comprised this group, and the following were elected officers:  Mr. Marshall Pulliam, president; Miss Ida Pfingsten, secretary; Miss Frieda Mueller, vice-president; Mr. Elmer Mueller, treasurer.

    Changes occurred on the property as well as a furnace was purchased and another set of doors placed in the church to help insulate it.  The cemetery was enlarged by an acre and the basement under the parsonage was excavated.  The church roof was also slated and the south slope of the terrace sodded.

    Policy changes were the most apparent of all of these.  By the turn of the century, confirmation was being revised, and a resolution was eventually adopted requiring children to attend instruction for five months over a period of two years.  It would not be compulsory but profitable and desirable in order to give the children a better foundation to build on in later life.  The confirmation classes of Zion and Concordia Churches had also separated by now.

    During this time, the church council for the first time organized itself as a board and it considered affiliation with a synod and including more English in the services. In 1922, members of the congregation voted in favor of applying to the Evangelical Synod of North America, to which it was accepted.  Jacob W. Mueller became the first delegate to the synod.  It was also decided that the church would conduct one service a month in English, but it was not until 1931 that the English language was fully instituted in the church.

    In 1929, the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the current church building was observed with guest speakers that included two of the former pastors (Rev. Doernenburg and Rev. Zeffzig)

More Improvements (1935-1944)

    It was decided in May of 1935 that a new parsonage should be constructed, which was completed in October.  The interior of the church was also redecorated, and electricity installed.  The church was further improved with the repair of the roof and steeple in 1944.  The new parsonage by May of 1944 was no longer needed to house the pastor and therefore was rented.

    The constitution was once again revised in 1944, and it was printed in booklet form.  A report from the Membership Committee showed that thirty-six new members had been added, making the total sixty four.

(The Centennial Observance (1945))

 

Changes in Pastors

    The following is a roster of pastors that have served Concordia Church:

 

Rev. Balthaser Hoppe 

1851-1855

Rev. William Flickinger 

1855-1866

Rev. Albert Zeller

1866-1868

Rev. C. F. Doehreing

1868-1876

Rev. Christian Mohr

1876-1887

Rev. Theo. Mueller

1887-1891

Rev. Carl Dornenburg

1891-1893

Rev. Fred Hempelmann

1893-1901

Rev. Adolf Friz

1901-1902

Rev. F. Buschmann

1902-1910

Rev. Alfred Zeffzig

1910-1919

Rev. F. W. Braun

1919-1921

Rev. W. E. Neumeister

1922-1929

Rev. A. D. Rahn

1930-1933

Rev. A. L. Hosto

1933-1935

Rev. William Schweickhart

1935-1943

Rev. C. H. Uthlaut

1944

Rev. Theo. J. Rasche

1945-1969

Rev. Firdel Paul

1969 -1988

Rev. Fred M. Cornell

1989-2004

Pastor Ron White

2005

Interim Pastors

2006

Pastor David Krueger

2007-present

 


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