Church: Gilman Zion Lutheran (Centennial - 2018)

Transcriber: Robert Lipprandt 

Surnames: Anderson, Bubeck, Dearth, Fenske, Herberts, Krueger, Lueck, Romfoe, Thiele, Young

----Source: The Star News (Medford, WI) 6/28/2018

By Ginna Young, Reporter

Not too many can brag about reaching 100 years, but Zion Lutheran Church in Gilman, has done just that. The church recorded the milestone June 9, with a special service, welcoming back former pastors and members.

Although religious services began in 1905, the church’s first official gathering was not until Dec. 19, 1915. It was then incorporated June 3, 1918, when Walter Thiele, Fred Krueger, Oscar Anderson and others, organized a religious society that was recognized by the Missouri Lutheran Synod in 1919.

“Just think about what was happening in 1918,” said district president Dwayne Lueck, who offered his congratulations on the 100-year mark. “That’s when the Green Bay Packers were formed. You and the Pack are tight.”

Professional sports teams aside, the church has seen a lot of changes throughout the years, including its venue. Originally, services were held at the school, a dance hall, Adam Adler’s store, Kapsy’s store and the barber shop. Services were presided over by the first pastor called to the pulpit, the Rv. K. C. Bubeck.

In 1921, plans were drawn for a building at the present site. The congregation borrowed $2,000 from the Lutheran church Extension Fund, and in additional $800 was later borrowed to complete the project. The final payment was made in January 1943, and the mortgage was burned.

The Gilman and Sheldon churches have always had joint pastors, and at one time, there was a third congregation at Jump River. That branch closed in the 1950’s.

As the Gilman congregation’s oldest member at 97, Lorraine (Romfoe) Dearth can remember when she started coming to church at eight years old. Walking with her mother from nearby Polly, Dearth says she has seen many changed over the years. While she now lives in Thorp, she was on hand for the centennial celebration. “It brings back a lot of memories,” said Dearth. “I’m very proud of it (congregation).

“I can remember when the Christmas trees were lit with big candles,” said Dearth, “and we had water right there in case something would happen and the tree would catch fire. It was dangerous, but it was a beautiful sight.”

She also remembers when there was a long register at the end of the pews, fueled by a wood stove in the basement. Death says it was cold attending church in those days without electric lights, and that everyone grouped together. “It wasn’t cuddling, it was huddling,” she said with a laugh. “It’s just unimaginable how much it has changed.”

Over the years, additions and remodeling projects have taken place, and the front entry steps were taken out over concerns of safely hazards. A new vestibule was constructed, as well as handicap access with installation of lift chairs.

One thing that hasn’t changed is what the church is all about.

“What does one preach about for a 100th anniversary?” asked current pastor Dean Herberts. “So, what is the talk of the town, maybe even the talk of the past 100 years? You guessed it - road kill.” While that statement may brings laughs, Herbert compared the “disgusting stench” of road kill to sin.

“For a hundred years, the men and women here at Zion have struggled with sin, no matter how many pastors have been here and told them not to sin,” said Herberts. “Sin is still here, even among us pastors. We still sin.”

Herberts said the purpose of Jesus was to seek and save the lost, something that lives on at Zion Lutheran. “That is why we’re here today,” said Herberts. “Even after 100 years, Jesus had come into His creation to save it, Without Him, we are as dead as road kill.”

Lueck agreed and urged the congregation to keep on doing God’s work. The light continues to shine bright here,” he said.

Once the service was complete, a lunch was held at the school, along with a program featuring remarks from former pastors.

“You guys really d welcome us pastors in such a remarkable way,” said Aric Fenske, pastor from 2011-17. I can’t even think of a single memory to share, because you are my memory. All that I am as a pastor is because of you guys.



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