Church: Christie - St. John’s Lutheran (100th Anniversary - 2016)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Warmuth, Cole, Boon, Garbisch, Bobrofsky, Lange, Kirche, Runge, Schaele, Lueck, Kemena, Motzkus, Heilman, Schedler, Brauer Boettcher, Zielske, Lambrecht/Wehfeil, Benenke, Keller, Bradke, Witte, Bitter, Stuebs, Reede, Hanke, Ratsch, Tews, Smith, Reinart

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 9/07/2016

St. John’s Lutheran in Christie (Observes 100th Ann. - 2016)

By Todd Schmidt

According to Pastor John Warmuth, the official 100th anniversary of St. John’s Church in Christie is a testament to God’s faithfulness to his people.

St. John’s congregation will celebrate its 100th anniversary Sunday, Sept. 11, with a special 10:30 a.m. service followed by a dinner. Former Pastor Daniel Coe (2003-2008) will bring a special message from God’s Word that day.

Church board members Don Boon (president) and Milton Garbisch (treasurer) joined financial secretary Tom Bobrofsky in an information gathering session Thursday in the St. John’s Church fellowship hall.

The original St. John’s Lutheran Church in Christie was built in 1916. It served the congregation until 2008, when a new church was built and the original building was torn down.

Records show the German Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s Church of Christie was started in 1905, with the first services held in the Methodist Episcopal Church of Christie. The Reverend W. Lange was the first pastor, serving until 1910.

St. Johannis Kirche was the successor, being organized in 1916 with 19 families comprising its membership. The original church was constructed in 1916 on the south end of what is now St. John’s parking lot.

Original trustees Carl Runge, Rudolph Schaele and Erick Lueck purchased the parcel of land for $10. The wooden frame church edifice was built at the cost of $1,800, consisting of all sawed lumber and wooden siding. Beautiful stained glass windows were put in later; those windows were recovered and reinstalled in the new church building, commissioned in 2008.

St. John’s has never had its own resident pastor but has always formed a joint parish with other Lutheran churches in the area. The succession of pastors from Greenwood included E. Kemena (1916-1927), W. Motzkus (1927-1939), G. Heilman (1939-1948), W. Schedler (1949-1954), H. Brauer (1954-1959), O. Boettcher (1959-1960) and D. Zielske (1961-1964). Around that time, Trinity Lutheran in Greenwood closed.

In its early years, St. John’s was an independent congregation. In 1942, the congregation voted to join the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

The Sunday school was organized in 1920 and the Ladies’ Aid was formed in 1953. The Young People was organized in 1959 and now form a joint youth group with Immanuel Lutheran Church of Globe. The St. John’s Ladies group was organized in 1995.

Pastors serving the church in the mid-1960s included G. Lambrecht/Wehfeil (1964), F. Benenke 1964-1966), El Keller (1966) and T. Bradke (1966-1967).

In 1967, St. John’s left the Missouri Synod and formed a joint parish with Globe. St. John’s officially joined the Lutheran Synod (WELS) in August 1969.

Pastors serving from that time included: D. Witte (1967), R. Bitter (1968-1973), R. Stuebs (1973-1985), P. Reede (1985-1996), K. Hanke (1996-2003), D. Cole (2002-2008) and J. Warmuth (2008-present).

St. John’s Lutheran Church in Christie will be observing its 100th Anniversary with a special 10:30 a.m. service followed by a roast beef dinner Sunday, Sept. 11. (Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press photo)

Warmuth and his wife, Karen, have been married for 41 years. They have been blessed with five children, who are all grown and married and active in their respective congregations. The Warmuths have 16 grandchildren.

“I’ve always pictured myself s a ‘country person,’” Warmouth said. “After 30 years in the ministry, God has granted me that desire here in rural Clark County. I thank Him for the opportunity to serve here.”

St. John’s celebrated its 50th anniversary Oct. 23, 1966. In that year, the inside front of the original church was remodeled and carpeting was installed.

The unique lighted altar cross was added to the church in 1983. Bobrofsky said the cross was designed for the original church and was trimmed at the bottom to fit the altar of the new church.

Pastor John Warmuth strikes a pose in front of the altar at St. John’s church. Warmuth has been pastor of St. John’s and Immanuel Lutheran Church in Globe since October 2008. (Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press photo)

The men were anxious to tell about the new church building project and the subsequent addition of a fellowship hall. The projects were designed by Ratsch Engineering and constructed by Scott Tews construction, both of Neillsville. Tews also built a new altar, lectern and baptismal font.

The first church service was held in the new church on Palm Sunday, April 5, 1998. That day, many in the congregation assisted in moving items from the old church to the new one. Later on, Boon Construction of Neillsville demolished the old church building and the parking lot was installed.

Bobrofsky said the new church construction project was controversial for some members of the congregation. He said the motion to build the new church passed 5-3, with a “handful” of families leaving the congregation as a result.

“Some asked why we had to rebuild the church, when we could simply join forces at Globe,” Bobrofsky said. “Someone else said they used the outhouse behind the old church for years.”

Boon said people don’t like to cross the Black River.

“It was important for the two churches to retain their separate identities,” Boon said. “The rural people here have a real camaraderie.”

Bobrofsky said a proposal was made to build an entryway on to the old church and replace the decaying front steps. That project was ruled out because the steps were technically located in the STH 73 right-of-way.

Approximately $75,000 was set aside for the new building project. Slightly less than 1 acre of property was acquired.

“We staked out the site of the new church with fence posts with pop cans on top, so people could see the new church site,” Garbisch recalled. “Perhaps in the future, the existing parking lot can be expanded.”

Records show 170 people were served dinner at the dedication event held July 12, 1998.

For all its programming needs, the new church building proved to be too small. A 30-ft. x 40-ft. fellowship hall was added in 2009. The project included the installation state-of-the-art kitchen. The kitchen built in 1998 project converted to office space.

“God wanted it to work, and it did,” Bobrofsky said. “We now have nice facilities, including air conditioning. One frill was a canopy in the front.

“We had local people do the work; we built what we could afford. We managed to pay off the loans early.”

Contractors were busy last week brushing up the landscaping and seal-coating and remarking the parking lot.

Other members of the church board include Luke Smith (secretary) and Jeremy Boon and Larry Reinart (trustees).

“In the eight years I have been here, finding men to serve on the church council has not been a problem,” Warmuth said. “That is a real blessing.”

Bobrofsky and Warmuth said people enjoy coming to church at St. John’s. Garbisch said there are now approximately 100 members on the church roster.

“We have a number of young families who are active in the church,” Warmuth said. “There are 11 families with a total of 21 children, ranging in age from several months to 12 years. Those families comprise close to 50 percent of our membership.”

The Immanuel Church owns a parsonage in Globe. St. John’s pays about one-third of the expenses, with each congregation paying a share of the pastor’s compensation and other expenses.

“We also share resources with other WELS churches in Neillsville and Marshfield,” Bobrofsky said. “Neither church (St. John’s in Christie or Immanuel in Globe) could survive on its own.”

Warmuth said the two congregations work well together.

“That makes my work much easier,” he said. “They have a hunger for God’s saving Word and want others to have it too.”

Joint programming includes a Bible class, choir, catechism and education classes (grades 1-8), men’s dartball and Vacation Bible School.

A Power Hour for youth up to age 4 is held two nights per month. The activity includes a Bible story, craft project and singing.

This has helped grow our congregation,” Bobrofsky said. “The parents bring the kids, and the kids bring the parents.”

Warmuth said St. John’s has had a long practice of having potluck after worship on the first Sunday of each month from October through May. He said many members linger for up to two hours after worship to enjoy each other’s fellowship.

The 100th anniversary event will feature songs by the joint adult choir and children’s choir and a signature roast beef dinner with all the trimmings.

Warmuth is proud of the way St. John’s performs its mission.

“The congregation was founded because God worked faith in Jesus, the world’s Savior, in the hearts of the original members, which completed them to gather in regular worship to the glory of His name,” he said. “While sometimes small congregations fall into the mindset of feeling sorry for themselves because they are so small, this congregation keeps working together to glorify God.

“The members are generous supporters of the WELS home and foreign missions. They take seriously Jesus’ great commission to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’ They know their existence is not all about them - it’s about Jesus.”

(There were a few more photos in the newspaper, but we are not putting all of them here).



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