KINGSLEY, Iowa - In special services set for June 5, First Lutheran Church of Kingsley celebrates that 75 years ago, on April 4, 1936, 12 men signed the constitution to officially become First Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Special 75th anniversary events include a 10 a.m. worship service. The celebration dinner at the Kingsley Community Center begins at 11:30, followed by a Remembrance Program at the church at 1:30. A special lunch will be served after the program.
"In 1936 a small group of dedicated individuals had the desire to establish a worshipping community, and with God's help that prayer was graciously answered, said the Rev. Duane Meisner. "For the past 75 years, this congregation has prospered under God's care as others volunteered their time and energy for the good of God's Kingdom. Today, our prayer is that He will continue to guide us according to His Word as we reach out with the hope we have in Christ."
The current membership is just under 500.
Sunday services were held in the American Legion Hall in Kingsley, where the constitution was signed, but with growth in the membership the congregation erected a bungalow-chapel.
The late Otto Junior Herbold, son of signer Otto Herbold, was a teenager when construction began in 1936. He recalled that his father and uncle, Charles Herbold, helped dig the basement with horses pulling a dirt slip.
When construction on the chapel began, says Marguerite Herbold, Herbold's widow, "Junior begged to help, but his dad told him no, that he was needed on the farm. He did, however, get to pound in some nails."
Elmer Rock, son of signer Carl Rock, was 12 years old when the chapel was built. He says that in 1936 the church could not procure enough money through the local bank, and, in addition to donations from members, "Mr. Henry Neddermeyer furnished $5,000." Because money was tight, men of the congregation, farmers, not carpenters, says Rock, laid the block and did the handwork.
The first youth confirmation class was that of 1937, and three of those confirmed in the Legion Hall were Herbold and his sister, Gola (Herbold) Bales, and Werner Boehm, all children of constitution signers. Herbold recalls the many hours of studying for confirmation and in particular the gaze of the pastor if any of the youngsters acted out during a church service.
Seven pastors have held the pulpit over the 75 years - the Revs. A. Rehder, Wehrspahn, Soeldner, Resner, Krupski, Gruhn and Meisner, 2001 to present.
Construction has continued to be a part of the congregation's history. With an increase in membership, the congregation had a brick church erected and dedicated in March 1955; the chapel was converted into a parsonage. Again, due to growing membership, an addition was built and dedicated in September 1967; and in 1977, a new parsonage was built.
Since the church's 50th anniversary in 1986, several structural changes have been made: an elevator and a handicapped restroom installed, a new altar reredos and banner holders, lights to illuminate stained glass windows, a new bell tower and a new church information sign. Just completed were a projector and screen unit used during worship.