St Peter’s Lutheran Church to Mark 65th Anniversary

This  is a transcription of an article published in The  Warwick Advertiser – “ 20 Years of Progress Edition”,  dated July 1965. 2010 Transcription by Terry Hann

The  roots of the congregation of St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Little York Rd., Pine Island, reach across the sea to Saxony, Germany.  The 18th century was filled with religious war and strife, with devastation, hunger and war the daily fare of the people.  Their country was overrun by the armies of Austria-Prussia for  seven  years, during the period of 1756-1763.

A  manifesto was issued July 22, 1763, inviting the German people to  come to the Volga district, assuring them of religious freedom,  freedom from military service, their selection of a place of  settlement and professions.  Traveling expenses and self-government  were assured and a return ticket was given them in case of  dissatisfaction.

Between  1764-1767 more than 8,000 families left the Fatherland to follow the  call of freedom and happiness.

As time went on, Revolutionists filled Russia with hatred of the church  and government.  German life, customs, and, above all, the Bible religion of Luther was more than in danger.  There was no future for the youth of the Volga German, except to become a slave Russian.

Rumors  reached the colonies of a new land where freedom reigned, where all  were given a chance to work out their own destiny, keeping their  traditions, customs, languages and religion as they pleased.  The choice had to be made whether to become Russian or emigrate a second time. They  sold their property and left their homeland again under God’s  guidance, for New York.  Some settled in Pine Island, N.Y., Kansas,  Canada, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Washington and Wisconsin. Konrad Luft,  the first settler in Pine Island, helped with the beginnings of the Congregation in 1886 before moving to Wisconsin.

Now,  after more than 75 years, the descendants of these immigrants have  become English or Americanized in speech and in manner.  Some of the  older folks still remain, and until a year ago, a regular German church service was provided for them.

The  first church building was begun but not completed until 1901, for  lack of funds. Rev. Drechsler conducted services here as early as February 17, 1895. After his death, the group succeeded to get Rev.  S. Keyl, Lutheran immigrant missionary, residing on Staten Island, to preach once a month.  Thus the Congregation came in the Missouri  Synod sphere.

Rev. Kaestner completed the church during his ministry and a cemetery was  added to the property.  This building burned on Christmas Eve, 1917,  and a new edifice was erected in 1918, at a cost of $12,300. Rev.  Albert Menkens then served followed by Rev. Luecke, Rev. Emil Listman  and the Rev. Martin Kuegele who served from October 1929 until April  1948.  Dr. E. F. Miller then became pastor, serving from August 1948  until September 1963.

The  Congregation also maintained a Christian Day School for 35 years and  was closed on April 30, 1933.  This was served by the pastor, called  teachers and candidates.

Welcome  New Pastor
The  congregation was without a pastor for nearly a year.  Many calls had  gone out, hopes were fading and fears mounting.  A call went to Pastor Elwood E. Mather, Jr., then serving a new congregation,  Trinity Lutheran, at New Milford, Conn.  St. Peters’ was overjoyed  when news reached them he accepted the call.  Pastor Mather was  installed May 24, 1964, and with his wife and five children moved to  Little York immediately.

Among  various organizations and committees functioning, is the Ladies Aid,  organized in 1929, and serving St. Peter’s faithfully since.  At  present 50 ladies are active.  Most are English speaking but they are  still proud of a number of German-speaking members.  The ladies have  recently purchased office equipment,  among which are a mimeograph  machine, an electric typewriter, also new altar paraments. The ladies  sponsor a Sauerkaut Supper each year serving homemade kraut and rye  bread.

The Altar Guild is supervising the purchase of new Altar Paraments and  care of the Altar.

New  Youth Choir
A  new Youth Choir has been organized and sings regularly.  It is hoped  that a number of youth organizations will be functioning soon.

The church council is active and includes the following members: Martin  Schmick, John Paffenroth, III, Harold Schmick and Henry Nielson; Trustees:  Harvey Paffenroth, Walter Youngman, Kurt Walthers, Henry Daubert and Henry Cook, Jr. Deacons: Peter  Leinweber, Samuel Paffenroth, Herman Scheuermann, Howard Banker, Clayton Ochs and  George W. Yungmann.

Among  recent memorial gifts to the church were tower chimes, played during  1964 Christmas season for the first time and now herald the opening  of services every Sunday morning.

Future  plans call for a new heating unit at the Parsonage, an office in the  church basement, a rear entrance and God-willing new Sunday School  rooms.

St.  Peter’s was privileged to celebrate its Golden Jubilee on September  9, 1951, with Rev. F. Miller and a 60th anniversary celebration June  4, 1961, also with Rev. Miller.

Church  records now show 200 communicant members, 76 enrolled in Sunday  School and Bible Class and 15 on the Nursery Roll.

Since  May 24, 1964, Pastor Mather has had two weddings, 10 Baptisms, 21  confirmands or transfers, a current class of five confirmands and 12  to  be confirmed next year.

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1 Response to St Peter’s Lutheran Church to Mark 65th Anniversary

  1. Irene Sudol Henderson says:

    Hello! I’m trying to reach Pastor Mather’s daugther, Edna, to inform her of her 40th high school reunion. If possible, please pass my email to her. Thank you so very much!
    Irene Sudol Henderson

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