St. Paul Church - The First 150 Years
The founding of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is a direct result of a colonization project undertaken by Theodore De Kock Company, of Antwerp. The leading partner in this firm, and an outstanding figure in the early years of the congregation and colony, was George F. Gerding. In the early 1840’s he and his company purchased five sailing vessels previously used cargo ships, and converted them into passenger vessels. Far-reaching plans were laid for the colonization of East Tennessee. Over 200,000 acres of land were bought by the company, with the intention that Morgan, Scott, Fentress, and Cumberland Counties be settled solidly with German, Swiss, and French immigrants.
Gerding’s company was justified in having high hopes to persuade Europeans to come to America. A spirit of restlessness and dissatisfaction possessed many people in the old countries, especially in the German states and in Switzerland. For one thing, the democratic mind inherent in the early Saxon and Swiss people could not become reconciled to the new centralized form of government which was rapidly united all German-speaking people. They foresaw the tyranny and oppression that might arise out of this movement. Moreover, universal military training was becoming extremely distasteful to these home-loving people. In Bavaria, for example, all young men had to serve as soldiers, and no soldier was allowed to marry under thirty years of age. Added to this, the population of Germany and Switzerland was increasing faster than the economic opportunities. In Saxony, from where the majority of the settlers came, there were 355 people per square mile; in Morgan County, only 5. The early 40’s witnessed severe business depressions, widespread crop failures, and threatening famine. Reports (often exaggerated) of the economic opportunities offered in America reached them—especially the rumors of the California gold.
Above all, however, the men and women who later immigrated were depressed and discouraged by the restriction of their religious freedom. Devout and pious, they cherished every article of their Christian faith. The new centralized government tended to centralize religion into one broad State Church, in which conviction and creed were disregarded. It is a tribute to these common people that they openly objected to this government sponsored religion, and sought the liberty which America’s shores offered. The children and children’s children of these brave souls still cherish the God-given freedom that they have enjoyed these one hundred and fifty years.
The first group to use the sailing vessels was composed of twenty Swiss families. They arrived in the spring of 1845 and settled in a virtual wilderness, later to become Wartburg and Mill Creek. Revealing the optimism of the colonization company, however, did not materialize. A group of Saxon families came in 1846, but the primitive conditions prevailing here discouraged further mass immigration. Individuals and occasionally families continued to arrive sporadically for the next 20 years, but altogether, only about 2,000 immigrants came to this county, and only half of these stayed for any length of time.
Those who ventured the voyage to the new homeland found it most difficult and trying. One ship became lost at sea and was four months making the journey. Most of the immigrants arrived in New York, finding themselves still far from their destination. A few took the over-land route to East Tennessee; the majority, however, went by ship to Charleston, North Carolina; thence to Dalton, Georgia, by railroad. The thirty miles to Chattanooga were covered by horseback, wagon, even afoot. Once more they embarked on a boat, this time a Tennessee river sidewheeler, and moved slowly toward the port of Kingston. The last lap, from Kingston to Wartburg saw most if the immigrants riding in oxen-drawn wagons known as ‘Targreasers.”
A wearisome journey ended, the settlers surveyed their new homeland They found virgin forests, with little or no cleared land. Acreage-so dear in the old country-sold here for fifty cents to three dollars. The roads, they discovered were scarcely more than rough trails of Indian origin. Skilled artisans, doctors, musicians, and lawyers realized there would be little here to exercise their talents (although one man had the courage to construct a piano factory) and quickly moved to more thickly populated areas. From the “Immigration House” their temporary home, they found compensation for some of their disappointment by enjoying the magnificent scenery. Although living on a plateau, they could view all around them the majesty of towering mountains set by the hand of God on this tableland. But to clear these forests, to build their homes, to learn the customs and language of this land, to experiment with this sandy soil, to find a market for their products all of this would require the blessing of their God and the unremitting toil of the hands.
As Gerdine and his friends addressed themselves to the task of building a new community, they earned within them a consciousness of their Lutheran faith. Immediate evidence is the name that they gave to the settlement—“Wartburg” for high in these hills they were reminded of the castle in Thuringia by that name, where Martin Luther made the first translation of the modem tongue. The village was carefully planned from the beginning. The streets showing today the order and system in the minds of the founding fathers. Civic consciousness moved them to provide a council for the village, and it was incorporated in 1851.
A Church is Born
Though toiling to provide for their physical necessities, the settlers had not forgotten the God of the fathers. There seems to have been an understanding between them and the land company even before the immigration, that they should have a church and pastor. With the company footing the bill, a humble house of God was erected in the fall of 1846, by Johann Kreis and Co. This first church was situated on the south side of Main Street, opposite the town square.
John Frederick Wilken 1846-1866
By the grace of God, the first pastor was a man of unusual gifts, of deep spirituality, who guided the flock through its tender years with wisdom and courage. Pastor Wilken was born in 1810, near Hildesheim, in Hannover. He distinguished himself in his studies at Geottingen University, and later became a tutor at the King’s Court. On March 26, 1846, he was ordained into the ministry at Hannover, two months later he sat sail for America, and reached Wartburg July 29,1846, to begin his fruitful ministry here.
The first building to be erected at Wartburg by the immigrants was the church building. It was erected on Antwerp Main Street by Kreis & Co. in the fall of 1846. While it is probably that a congregation was organized in 1846, no records remain of these early days, possibly having been destroyed during the Civil War, when Confederate troops were encamped near the church. In August, 1847, it is certain that a congregation existed because of the following testimonial, issued by the Church Council to Pastor Wilken in the year; “Mr. John F. Wilken, pastor of the Lutheran Church at Wartburg, Morgan County, Tennessee, has given splendid proof of a truly Christian character during his ministry here. In word and deed he has served the congregation as a model most worthy of emulation. In addition to his regular divine services, he has provided instruction in the school with diligence, persistence, and most admirable patience. For this we owe him our special gratitude.”
During the first five years, Pastor Wilken faced stubborn and determined opposition. He had come as a Lutheran pastor to serve a Lutheran congregation, but discovered that he was expected to compromise his convictions by being the pastor of all German speaking immigrants, regardless of their faith. Showing tact and true Christian gentlemanliness, plus his “admirable patience,” he dealt with the dissenting elements until God-pleasing harmony was established. Though distressing condition were to arise in later history, the first and severest storm had been weathered, and the congregation emerged loyally Lutheran.
Both record and tradition tell us that the congregation struggled through many hardships. To enumerate all the friction’s and all the unpleasant relationships would profit nothing. These we have buried, either in forgetfulness or Christian charity, remembering the lesson of all our past that we must remain humble. Welded together today by an increasingly strong bond of Christian love and fellowship, we thank God for the unity He has established despite the frailties of our nature.
In 1851 a constitution was adopted, with signatures representing forty-one families. The original church was beginning to prove inadequate. George F. Gerding, the secretary of the congregation and always a ready helper, presented $200 for a new building. Led by Pastor Wilken, the congregation was able to gather additional funds sufficient the construction of a church. Johann Kreis & Co. completed the edifice in 1855 a solidly constructed building to serve the congregation for77 years. The old building was the used for the parochial school.
Capable and willing. Pastor Wilken left no stone unturned in filling his commission; namely, to be “the missionary in East Tennessee.” He served groups at Wartburg, Kingston, Paint Rock, and held occasionally services at Mill Creek, Emory District, Montgomery, Knoxville and other communities. Talented and trained, he officiated in English, German, and French. A Christian School (sometimes the only school in the County) was maintained by the pastor, who is also known to have taught in the public school in Montgomery at one time.
The Civil War brought disruption and disorder to the County and community, eventually also to the church. Sympathy and support were sharply between the Union and Confederacy. The distress within and without caused by this war probably influenced the resignation of Pastor Wilken in August, 1866. He accepted a professorship at Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, where he served until his death twenty years later. Sainted pastor Wilken was a faithful member of a conservative Lutheran group known as the Pennsylvania Ministerum.
Poverty, dissension, suspicion, all the fruits of war, became rampant during this period. The pastor was gone, many members scattered, factions were undermining the unity that Wilken labored so hard to establish. Only by the grace of God was the congregation preserved during this period. Pastors Bachmann and Eggers, of Nashville, and Pastor J. Heckel, of Knoxville, preached occasionally in Wartburg. To be remembered for their help in such times as these are Johann Kreis, Sr., Francis Freytag, and Frederic Engert, who conducted public reading services.
The exodus from Wartburg in this period is revealed in the record of the Knoxville congregation, founded in 1869. Of the twenty-two men signing the constitution then, ten of them were known to have come from Wartburg.
John L. Hirschmann 1872-1874
Although the second pastor remained less than two years in Wartburg, he did heroic work for Lutheranism while he was here. While serving Wartburg, Pastor Hirschmann organized a congregation in Chattanooga, which called him as its Pastor in September, 1874. For the next three years, Dirschmann and Schaidt, of Chattanooga, occasionally came to Wartburg for ministerial acts. Pastor Dirschmann left Chattanooga and went to Illinois, later returning to Wartburg for his health. Too feeble to serve as pastor, he soon died, and his mortal remains were laid to rest m the Wartburg cemetery. His death probably occurred in Chattanooga He was a member of the Iowa Synod.
Carl A. Bruegmann 1877-1881
Pastor Bruegmann, an Evangelical minister, was sent to Wartburg by the Holston Synod in 1877. The school was reopened and regular services were held. The church bell was donated now in use was donated at this time by friends in Rockwood and Kingston. Bruegmann urged the congregation to Join the Holston Synod because of this Synod’s liberal and lax practices. Evidently the congregation acceded to his wishes, for in 1881, after the dismissal of Bruegmann, the congregation formally withdrew from the Holston Synod. Hirschmann, though not the pastor, advised the congregation to affiliate with the Missouri Synod. and at that time a motion was to join Missouri. Hirschmann did as much as his health would allow to undo the harm that Bruegmann had caused. Unionistic hymnals were discarded, private owned Lutheran hymnals were used instead.
A vacancy of four years followed Bruegmann’s dismissal. Pastors Hirschmann, Pflantz, of Memphis; and Obermeyer, of Little Rock, Arkansas, served until the next pastor arrived.
Otto Carl Practorius 1884-1889
Young Otto Carl Practorius, just graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, began his ministry in 1884 in Wartburg. He let no man despise his youth, but labored zealously, as he stated to “foster growth in Christian knowledge and sound Lutheran principles.” Indifference had made its inroads, but by patient instruction in the school, courageous preaching in the pulpit, tireless visiting in the homes he gathered the scattered flock into the fold again. He was actively engaged in mission work in Chattanooga and was instrumental in founding and serving the present congregation there until Rev. Frederick was called. The congregation lost a good and faithful servant when Practorius accepted a call to Louisville, KY.
St. Paul’s Deermont
A year before Praetorius departed, a modest log church was erected near Mehlhorn Station later called Deermont, and known today as Camp Austin. For quite some time Grandfather Ruppe had been a spiritual father to these people, too far removed to attend church regularly in Wartburg. The new congregation was under the care of the mother church at Wartburg, and for forty-five years was served by Wartburg pastors. When the pastor could not come, Grandfather Ruppe was always willing to serve. The original church still stands. Long ago the logs were covered with weatherboarding.
When the Western District opened a mission in Harriman in 1932, Deermont became the charge of the Harriman missionary. The following served the Deermont Harriman parish: Rev. W.F. Vatthauer, ’32-’36; Students W. Albach, ’37; W. Neider, ’37’-38; L. Pabor, ’38’-39; N. Rothe, ’39-’40; L. Schmiege, ’40-’41; R. Faerber, ’41 -’42; H. Droutz, ’42-’42. Since June, 1943, the Deermont congregation had been served by the present pastor of St. Paul’s, Wartburg, until 1987 at which time Rev. Wm.F. Schultz retired. Distance and lack of membership closed Camp Austin’s door, except for the annual Homecoming every September, and the Old Fashion Christmas.
Wilhelm Possin 1889-1890
Shortly after Practorius left, a certain Wilhelm Possin arrived and represented himself as a Lutheran minister. Probably not educated for the ministry, not called by the congregation as a whole, unattached to any Lutheran group, his short ministry of seven months was characterized by dissension. He was dismissed in May 1890.
John George Goehringer 1890-1899
Former Pastor Practorius visited the congregation and assisted in the choice of another pastor, Rev. Goehringer. He was installed in the fall of 1890. A man of wide experience with a deep love for souls, he proved to be an ideal shepherd.
A man of wide experience, with a deep love for souls, he proved to be an ideal shepherd. Although he was in poor health, he was able to serve Deermont and Allardt in addition to Wartburg. A Christian school was conducted by the pastor, the failing congregation was revived and strengthened. His memory was cherished by many. He endeared himself to the community and the surrounding hamlets by his evident sincerity and his winsome ways.
By this time, the original church, later the school, was now the parsonage. School was taught in a small building at the cemetery, formerly the Swiss Reformed church. A building program was launched which was to culminate in a new parsonage and school. The present parsonage was completed in 1894. The new school, located next to the church, was begun, but not completed until after Goehringer’s death.
After richly blessing his ministry for nine years, the Lord called his servant to Himself in 1899. The congregation, the community, the Synod keenly felt their loss at his departure.
John P. Barkow 1899-1902
During the last two years of Goehringer’s ministry, a young pastor had been placed at Allardt to relieve Goehringer of some of his strenuous duties. This missionary, Barkow, was called to Wartburg only a month after Goehringer’s death. He continued in the spirit of his predecessors. The new school was completed and used eight months each year. A young people’s organization was formed. Making his rounds regularly on horseback, Barkow . served Deermont, Rockwood, Allardt, Deer Lodge, and Harriman. It was with reluctance that the congregation released him when he was called to Mendon, New York, in 1902.
Henry Martin Sauer 1902-1903/1906-1908
In the same year, God gave the congregation a faithful servant in the person of Rev. Sauer. Thorough and diligent, he served Wartburg and the mission, stations though he was in poor health. He continued to expand the work among the young people. He was united in wedlock to a young lady of the congregation, Mary Mathis. His ill health, coupled with other difficulties not of his own making, brought about his resignation in 1903. He served the congregation for several months following his resignation hoping that another pastor would be found shortly.
August W. Vogt 1904-1906
After being assisted by Pastor Heckel, of Knoxville, during the ensuing vacancy of nine months, the congregation secured Pastor August W. Vogt in December 1904. Upon his arrival, the school was reopened and the congregation seemed to take on new life. His ministry here ended in September, 1906, when he became pastor of a church in Michigan.
Due to the presence of former Pastor Sauer, no vacancy followed. Urged by the mission board, and accepted by the congregation, he acted as temporary pastor. Oakdale was added to the list of stations served. His father taught the parochial school. Unable to bear the rigorous winter, Pastor Sauer returned to Texas in 1908, where he served two congregations, but in 1913 resigned from the ministry because of poor health.
It was probably at this time that the parochial school was discontinued. No more mention is made of it in congregational records.
Edward Nauss 1910-1913
The short pastorates, and especially the vacancies between them greatly retarded the progress of the congregation. When young Edward Nauss arrived in the fall of 1910 to take over his first charge, he found a congregation that again had become rundown and listless. There was no Sunday School, Bible Class, young people’s organization. Church attendance had dropped shamefully.
Though lacking in vigorous health, Pastor Nauss addressed himself with diligence to the task of reconstruction the congregation. The Word he believed so firmly and preached so convincingly began to bear fruit. Sunday School, Bible Class, and church services were well attended. The finances of the congregation showed marked improvement. He continued the plan of previous pastors—to let English gradually supplant the use of German. Toward the end of his ministry, only one German service was held each month.
Pastor Nauss also administered to the needs of the groups at Deermont, Deer Lodge, and Oakdale. He and his elders laid plans for the construction of a chapel in Oakdale, but their hopes did not materialize. He is also known to have preached occasionally in Sunbright.
On December 14,1913, he occupied the pulpit at Wartburg for the last time. The next Sunday, too ill to preach, he conducted a communion service at Oakdale. Staying overnight there, he became very ill. Early the next morning he died, a victim of a severe attack of pneumonia. The congregation had lost another faithful servant, a man whose compassionate tenderness had endeared him to all.
Edwin D. Demetrio 1913-1920
On a sound footing because of Pastor Nauss’ work, the history of St. Paul’s has been one of relatively healthy spirituality ever since. Furthering Christ’s cause by fostering vigorous Christian faith and life, Pastor Demetrio, only twenty years old when installed was used by the Spirit to richly bless the congregation. His active nature, his friendliness, his boldness for the Lord was well known.
Under his leadership, the congregation distinguished itself by its evidence of patriotism during World War I. 0f the 110 members of the Red Cross chapter in Wartburg, 93 were of this congregation. Even the Sunday School children contributed a dollar each for the Red Cross. In the third Liberty loan dive members of the church, mostly farmers, raised $6,000. The Government commended the congregation for the splendid cooperation shown.
In addition to the regular services at Wartburg and Deermont, he preached occasionally at Oakdale, Catoosa, Deer Lodge, and Geneses. Called to a larger field, Pastor Demetrio left in February, 1920. Later residing in Memphis.
Oscar E Feucht 1920-1925
Beginning to bestir itself gradually during the last ten years, the congregation was electrified into intense activity by the energy of Pastor Feucht, who arrived in September, 1920. When townsfolk who had difficulty distinguishing the various pastors by name, would refer to him as “that busy little preacher, or “the real religious pastor.” With system and thoroughness, he taught and led young and old to improve every phase of congregational life. Unrelenting, he made every member conscious of his duties to his Savior and his fellowman. Young people were trained for missionary work. Various canvasses of the surrounding communities—even the mountain tops were canvassed—provided good training for the youth and resulted in increased church attendance and membership, not only in our own church but also in others. Home devotions nearly forgotten became commonplace. The envelope system was introduced, stewardship was stressed, the congregation became self-supporting for the first time, and was able to send liberal amounts to Synod for mission work.
It was during Pastor Feucht’s term of service that the Walter League was organized, the present pews purchased, a parish paper published. The congregation voted unanimously to join the Missouri Synod. In the same year, the Diamond Jubilee was observed. Huge crowds thronged to the historic church to thank God for His multiplying mercies. By this time too, the use of German was entirely eliminated in the church services.
Deermont, Deer Lodge, and Oakdale were served regularly by the pastor. He also did work at Gobey, Genesis, Allardt, and other hamlets. Only after being reportedly shown the importance of his call did the congregation release him in the summer of 1925 to establish a mission in Kansas City, Missouri. There his labors were blessed with signal success. He was also secretary of adult education for our Synod.
R.E. Malte 1925-1936
On August 2,1925, Pastor Malte was installed. Firm in his convictions and conscientious in his work, he guided the congregation through the trying years of the depression. The Ladies’ Aid, still a wonderful asset for out congregation, was organized in 1930. The Walter League and the choir continued to serve the interest of the church.
A New Church
The house of worship had become weakened and somewhat shabby after 78 years of constant use. In 1931 plans were laid for a new building. A friend of the church and a former Wartburgian, Mr. Harmon Kreis of Knoxville, presented the fine sum of $5,000 for the project. With dispatch, the congregation supplied practically all of the remainder needed—some $3,000—-in gifts, pledges and labor. On January 17,1932, the new edifice was dedicated.
Surrounded by lush shrubbery designed by the hand of the Creator. His House stands today as an unusually attractive and practical rural church, His special gifts to His already well blessed people
Pastor Malte interested himself in mission possibilities in Harriman, and was instrumental in securing a missionary for that city, where work was carried on with varying degrees of success for ten years. After a pastorate of eleven years, Rev. Malte accepted a call in 1936 to Medina, New York. The second pastor to marry a local girl, his wife the former Thelma Zumstein.
Albert A. Behnke 1937-1938
Over a year elapsed before the congregation could secure another pastor. During the interim, Pastor Krueger, of Knoxville, and Mr. J. A. Rolfing, Oakdale, served. Mr. J A Rolfing was repeatedly called as pastor, but always declined. Rev. Behnke, then of Russellville, Arkansas, accepted the call and was installed October 3,1937. Being a forceful preacher and a zealous missionary, well-liked by all, Pastor Behnke’s ministry gave promise of bearing rich fruit. The Lodge, however, had destined him for a greater field of service. Not quite five months elapsed before Pastor Behnke was called upon to enlist as a chaplain in the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The pastor believed this to be only a temporary position, and was granted a six months’ leave of absence by the congregation.
Mr. Rolfmg again stood the church in good stead, acting as vacancy pastor during this time.
In August of 1938, Pastor Behnke was still in the service of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Since he was pioneering in this field for our Synod, and because his position was deemed of utmost importance for the church at large, he was granted another leave, not to exceed twelve months.
Louis Tirmenstein 1939-1943
A committee appointed for the purpose of selecting a vacancy pastor for this period chose Pastor Louis Tirmenstein. Arriving in September, he continued the excellent work of Pastor Behnke. In August, 1939, Pastor Behnke informed the congregation that his appointment in the Civilian Conservation Corps would be permanent. The voters thereupon elected Rev. Tirmenstein as pastor.
Pastor Behnke continued his work in the Corps for some time, and was later transferred to the United States Army, in which he served as chaplain during World War II, spending much of his time in the European theater of war. He went on to pastor the Lutheran Memorial Church, Richmond Heights, Missouri.
Shortly after Pastor Tirmenstein was called permanently, the parsonage was renovated. The willing labor of the men and the splendid help of the Ladies’ Aid resulted in living quarters for the pastor that provided comfort and convenience.
Pastor Tirmenstein found it possible to conduct a Bible School for youngsters twice a week. The new Lutheran Hymnals were acquired, the common order of service was fully adopted. The congregation contributed generously for the support of missions and synodical institutions. After four years and four months of fruitful service Pastor Tirmenstein accepted his present pastorate at Zion Church, Moberly, Missouri.
Richard B Faerber 1943-1948
The Pastor Faerber, who had spent his student internship at Harriman and Deermont the year before, was called five months before his graduation from Concordia Seminary. St. Louis. During the interim Student Harry Droutz consented to leave Harriman and serve Wartburg and Deermont until the called pastor would arrive.
Pastor Faerber was installed June 27,1943. Shortly after his arrival efforts were made to reestablish the Harriman mission, which had been discontinued when Student Droutz came to Wartburg. This called for three services and Bible Classes every Sunday. After no promise growth was evident, the Harriman Lutherans were transferred to St. Paul’s congregation and our mission discontinued there.
In recent years, various repairs and improvements have been made on our church and property. A Vacation Bible School is conducted each summer in both congregations. A Men’s Club, affiliated with the Lutheran Laymen’s League, actively assists the church. The congregation now takes part in Synod’s pension plan, continues contribute 10% of all receipts for mission work; gathers substantial offerings on special occasions for Synod’s work - and thereby not only supports the Gospel’s spread, but expresses appreciation to that body of Christians which helped support St. Paul’s.
Rev. Robert Jaeger 1949-1950
As we begin the second century of our congregation’s existence, we note many proofs of God’s love, mercy, grace and blessing. Out of gratitude to God for these blessings we wish to record some of them.
In January 2, 1949 Pastor Faerber accepted a call to Bethany, Erwin, Tennessee. The vacancy was soon filled by Rev. Robert Jaeger, Blytheville, Arkansas, who served as temporary pastor while awaiting an assignment as chaplain in the United States Army. Since sufficient funds had not been allotted by the government this assignment was never made and St. Paul’s called Pastor Jaeger to be their full-time pastor. He served the congregation from January 1949 until June 1950 when he accepted the call to Sharon, Wisconsin.
George Rittmann 1950-1956
The congregation then experienced a short vacancy until September 1950 when Rev. George Rittmann accepted the call to become their pastor. It was during Rev. Rittmann’s ministry that services were again held in Harriman. At first services were held in rented quarters until a modest church was built thorough the efforts and support of not only the members of Redeemer Lutheran Church but also members at Wartburg, Camp Austin and friends throughout our Synod.
Not only did the pastor conduct three services every Sunday, Wartburg, Camp Austin and Harriman, but he also preached the gospel by means of the radio. The Adult Bible Class at Wartburg bore the financial expenses with some assistance from Harriman and Camp Austin church members. During Pastor Rittman’s time “The Lutheran pulpit” was carried on the Harriman and Knoxville radio station. In 1956 the program was carried only by the Harriman station until in 1970 when Wartburg acquired its own radio station and “The Lutheran pulpit” was transferred to local station WECO. The congregation supports this radio mission. In the past thirty years the Adult Bible Class has also sponsored “The Lutheran Hour” over a foreign station in the Philippines.
In June 1956 Rev. George Rittmann accepted the call from First Lutheran Church, Towson, Maryland. Redeemer Lutheran Church of Harriman was no longer to be a part of this parish, instead the Mission Board of the Western District assigned a vicar to this congregation.
New Parsonage Planned
During the vacancy the congregation decided to build a new parsonage to replace the one constructed in 1894 and remodeled from time to time. In July of 1957 Rev. Robert P. Nerger and his family, moved into the modern brick home. The old parsonage then served as Educational Building providing five rooms for the Sunday School classes. This added space was needed since the congregation had seven Sunday School classes and two Bible classes.
Robert P. Nerger 1956-1974
After a vacancy of three months Rev. Robert P. Nerger of Hamilton, Texas arrived on August 23, 1956 to become the 19th pastor to serve St. Paul’s. Besides serving Wartburg he also served Camp Austin. His ministry in Morgan County was richly blessed. The congregation continued to grow, not by accessions from other Lutheran congregations but by the addition of families living within the Morgan County community.
This growth is evident not only in increased church attendance but also in the vigor of the congregation’s Sunday school, Vacation Bible classes were well attended. The Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League cultivated education, fellowship, & service projects. The Lutheran youth Organization and the choir have enriched the worship and work of the parish. The new educational building dedicated October 31, 1965 has contributed much to the work of the congregation.
The weekly radio program begun by Pastor Rittmann was continued by Pastor Nerger. This program is program is supported financially by the Adult Bible class. The congregation’s contributions to synod grew from $600 in 1956 to $9,000 in 1974.
Pastor Nerger was also involved in service to the Wartburg community. He served three terms as president of the local PTA. He also served as a member of the town’s library board and as president of the community’s senior citizens organization.
Pastor Nerger (now deceased) had retired in 1974. Rev. Nerger & Bernice Weseloh were born two children. Robert (Bob) and Mrs. Andreas (Martha) Neskaug. Her children are Paul Anthony & Sonja. Bob and wife Sue are very act.ve in St. Paul’s. Sue is a teacher tor the Preschool. Their daughter Amy coordinates the LYF and Martina and Martina is one of the assistant organist.
After the personage had been paid for, plans were made to gather funds, especially thorough memorial gifts and one tenth of the regular offerings, to build an Educational Building. It was the gift of $5,000 from an individual member, given with the condition that the building was to be constructed within a year, that encouraged the congregation to undertake a building program at once. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on May 16, 1965. On October 31, 1965 our beautiful and spacious Educational Building was dedicated, Dr. Oscar Feucht, a former pastor, being our guest speaker.
The congregation paid the last note on this Educational Building during the 125th anniversary year. After the completion of the Educational Building the old parsonage was torn down after 63 years and 8 years as an Educational Building.
During these years the congregation has had the following organizations: LWML, LLL, Walter League now LYO. At times these organizations have been very active and then there were times when enthusiasm was lacking. Very active since 1970 has been the choir which has added inspiration and beauty to our services active with a large percent of our members enrolled. Also, we have youth and children's choir, the AAL LYF and a dedicated preschool.
William F. Schultz 1975-1987
The Rev. William F. Schultz, was born July 14. 1922 in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Upon graduation from high school in 1940 he entered the Army Air Force He served in the Antisubmarine, Composite (OSS), and High-Altitude Pathfinding units of the 8th Air Force-SAC. He received various citations overseas service, including two Presidential Unit citations for distinguished service and seven Battle Stars, retiring from the A.F. in 1962.
Pastor Schultz is married to the former Doris Wendling of Cass Lake, Minnesota. They have two children: Rev. Frederick W. Schultz, presently Pastor of a congregation in Miami, Florida and Sharril who just graduated from the University of Florida School of Journalism.
Retiring from the USAF Pastor Schultz entered Concordia Theological Seminary of Springfield, Illinois. Graduating in 1965, Pastor Schultz served Holy Cross, St. John, and Mt. Hulda of Cole Camp, Missouri. He was Called to serve St. Paul’s of Wartburg and Camp Austin in 1975 and retired from there in 1987. Then he was Called to begin a Mission in Blairsville, Georgia in 1990. He retired from there in 1996.
He served as Circuit Counselor in both Missouri and Tennessee. He also served as LWML Counselor in Missouri and Florida, besides serving as Youth Counselor in Missouri. While in Missouri, he also served as Municipal Judge, County Representative on the Kaysinger Basin Law Enforcement Assistance Council and Board of Education for both the Public School and Parochial School.
Education wise he studied at or with the following: Florida Southern College University of School of Tampa, University of Wisconsin, University of Maryland, university of Heidelburh, Lasalle School of Law, Military Academy, Central Washington State University, (all of the above while in the military) Concordia Theological Seminary, and Central Missouri State University. He earned a Bachelor of Theology, B.A. in Psychology, and M.A. n English with emphasis in Linguistics.
Thomas E Moyer 1987-1988
Thomas Moyer, at the time was Pastor at Redeemer, Midtown, served as vacancy pastor from 1987 -1988. Rev. Moyer graduated from Concordia College in Ann Arbor MI in 1981and obtained his Masters of Divinity in 1985. He has since left the Mid-South district and serves as the senior Pastor at Lighted Cross Lutheran Church in Ashtabula Ohio.
Robert Daniel Pfaff 1988-2009
Rev. Robert Daniel Pfaff was born on August 14, 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the son of Gustav D. Pfaff and Elizabeth Stockman Pfaff, also of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rev. Pfaff did his undergraduate work at Penn State where he majored in Chemical Engineering. During this time, he met and married his wife. Marilyn Pfister, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They married on June 5.1 966 and lived in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
Prior to going to Concordia Seminary Rev. Pfaff worked for the Erie Technological Products, Inc. at State College, Pennsylvania, and then the Hysol Division of the Dexter Corporation at dean. New York. His work generally included research and development in the area of Conductive and epoxy coatings and finishes. During this time Bob served in the active Army Reserve and was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant.
Bob and Lyn have two adopted children. Their daughter, Peggy Joann Shutt lives in Wellesville, New York and has four children: Michael, Matthew, Daniel and Willis. Their son, Stephen John, is an active, healthy teenager.
In 1979 Bob entered Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri and on May 27, 1983 he received his Master of Divinity degree. As a seminary student he fulfilled his vicarage assignment at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Rich, Arkansas. Since his ordination he has served at St. John Lutheran Church, Kilmanagh, Michigan. In October, 1988 he answered the call to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wartburg, Tennessee as the twentieth individual pastor to still grace St Paul’s doors. (Pastor Sauer had served two different terms)
Active groups and organizations today include the LWML, (kits for world relief), LLL, AAL, LYF, children. youth, adult choirs, Junior Youth Puppet Ministry, Prison ministry and support of the Lutheran Hour on WECO.
The church also purchased the house and land across from the church known as the Human property in 1996. Some renovation on the building and excavating of the grounds has made it a very attractive site. It is now the Educational Annex of St. Paul’s. Among other things it houses a room for historical purpose. The historical committee consists of Susie Kries, Lyn Pfafff, Hiege Coffman, Buzzy Heidel, Amy Nerger and Carla Kries.
Stephen Edward Skov 2009-2013
Interim Pastor. Rev Skov attended Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1964. Then in 1968 he graduated from Concordia Seminary in 1968 and obtained his Masters of Divinity in 1985.
David Graves 2013-Present