Saint Matthew Lutheran Church Warrens, Wisconsin
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HISTORY 1894 - 1944
CONTRIBUTED BY PASTOR G.H. GEIGER
The early beginnings of St. Matthew’s really take us back as far as 1875, when services were conducted in the homes by Pastor A.F. Siegler of Ridgeville. At that time it was only a preaching station. For a considerable time the services were conducted in the home of William Zahrte Sr., a pioneer member. It was in this home that many of the older members received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.
Later services were also held in the home of Louise Miller. Among the families that made up the membership at these services were the following: William Zahrte Sr., John Zahrte, Henry Schroeder, Carl Mielke, William Zahrte Jr., and Henry Wittler. The last of this group, Mrs. William Zahrte Sr., died on May 19th, 1944 at the age of 97 years, 6 months and 2 days.
After Pastor A.F. Siegler the following pastors conducted services here: Pastor Erdman Pankow, Pastor A. Schroedel, all of Ridgeville.
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In 1884 the congregation in Tomah decided to call its own Pastor in the person of Pastor J. Jenny who arrived in the fall of 1884. From now on the pastors living in Tomah came to conduct services in the Town of Lincoln. In 1893 Pastor G.E. Bergemann came to Tomah and also conducted the services here. It was during this time that St. Matthew’s congregation was formally organized in a meeting on December 16, 1894. At this time the services were being conducted in the public school (now known as Summit Valley School) located near the present church.
The members felt the need of their own house of worship and with the encouragement and guidance of Pastor Bergemann they then began to make plans for a building of their own. The building operations had already begun when Pastor Bergemann accepted a call to St. Peter’s Congregational at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Pastor J.G. Glaeser became his successor in Tomah in 1900. During the pastorate of Pastor Glaeser the church building was completed. On July 1, 1900 the members were privileged to dedicate their House of Worship to the service of the Triune God. Pastor J. Jenny and Pastor G.E. Bergemann were the guest speakers for the occasion.
The church building was built of brick veneer 32 x 40 with a 52 foot tower and faced to the north. The cost of the building, including the furnishings, totaled $1400. The membership at this time included approximately 19 families.
The congregation was still being served from Tomah and that arrangement continued until 1914 when St. Matthews of Town of Lincoln, St. Luke’s of Town of Knapp and St. John’s of Shennington combined to form one self-supporting parish and called their own pastor.
Pastor Arthur Hanke of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, accepted the call to become the first resident pastor of St. Matthew’s. Now it became necessary to provide a dwelling place for the Pastor and his family. Pastor Hanke and family lived with Mrs. L. Miller during their first 11 months here, until the time that the parsonage was completed. An 8 room parsonage was completed in 1915.
On December 2, 1918 Pastor Hanke delivered his farewell sermon having accepted a call to Whitehall, Wisconsin. On February 23, 1919 Pastor Herman Pankow was installed as pastor of St. Matthew’s and served until March 12, 1922.
On August 13, 1922 his successor, Pastor Erwin Abelmann was installed.
On July 5, 1925 St. Matthew’s congregation observed the 25th anniversary of their church building. The guest speakers of this occasion were Pastor J. Jenny, Pastor A. Hanke, and Pastor Herman Pankow.
On May 19, 1926 Pastor E. Abelmann delivered his farewell sermon. His successor, Pastor E.C. Dux, served St. Matthew’s from 1926 until he resigned in the summer of 1930.
It was during the pastorate of Pastor Dux that the congregation suffered a severe blow when their church building was struck by lightning during an electrical storm on August 2, 1928. The neighbors discovered the fire which was gaining headway in the tower and summoned help. Because there was only one doorway, there was not much opportunity to save many furnishings. Among the articles saved and still in use are the baptismal font, the hymn board, the altar ware, and the organ. The rest was soon destroyed by the flames. The loss was partly covered by insurance.
Remains of St. Matthew after the fire
Lois Birkholz Chester Vroman and Wallace Birkholz
A meeting was held soon after to discuss plans for rebuilding but at that time it was decided not to rebuild. It was not until March 10, 1929 when it was definitely decided to rebuild. In the fall of 1929 the cornerstone of the present church was laid. Pastor Glaeser was in charge of the service.
May 11, 1930 was a day of great joy for the members of St. Matthew’s when they could dedicate their new church to the glory of the Triune God and henceforth again worship in their own building.
The present church 32 x 40 was built of brick veneer with a basement and equipped with a pipeless furnace. The new church was built to face the east because the highway had been rerouted shortly before this. This undertaking left a burden of debts upon the congregation which however was paid off by 1940 in spite of the depression which had added to the burden.
On November 27, 1930 Pastor A.W. Loock was installed who served St. Matthew’s until January 7, 1942 and since February 15, 1942 Pastor G.H. Geiger.
In the April 1944 meeting of the congregation, plans were begun for the observance of the Golden Jubilee of the organization of St. Matthew’s. The church council and pastor were authorized to act as a committee and make plans and suggestions for the occasion. In the July meeting it then was decided to observe the Jubilee on October 15th, with special services and invite the former pastors to be our guest speakers. Pastor Bergemann of Fond du Lac declined the invitation because of his advanced age (82 years) and the present difficulty of travel especially for him. It was then decided to have one service in the forenoon and a service with two speakers in the afternoon. Pastors Hanke, Pankow and Loock gladly accepted the invitations to be with us for the day.
The pastor called on every member for a special thank offering as a token of appreciation of the Lord’s blessings in the past and for a special memorial of the occasion. In July the congregation then chose from a list of suggested improvements to improve the basement of the church. This project which included moving the furnace, plastering the walls, and arranging a furnace room and a kitchen was completed in time for our mission festival on September 3rd. The painting was done during September. This project is a great improvement as well as a memorial of the occasion and will serve for many purposes and occasions. It is an improvement of which every member can truly be proud of. It is also a monument of cooperation. May the Lord bless us in the future as He has in the past! All Glory be to Him.
The congregation at present numbers 54 voting members, 154 communicants, 199 souls. Fifteen communicant members are in the service of their country, one has been honorably discharged and is engaged in defense work. Because of the fact that the records of the years 1894 - 1914 appear to have been lost, perhaps in the fire of 1928, it is impossible to give the number of ministerial acts performed during these fifty years.
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This website was last updated on April 14, 2018.