125 Years of standing on the Rock of Jesus Christ!
A SHORT HISTORY
OF ST. JOHN'S LUTHERAN CHURCH OF CORLISS
From, The 100 Year History of St. John's Lutheran Church by Historian Erwin Johnson, 1991.
In the year of 1888, a group of eight Lutheran families formed a nucleus of what later became St. John's Lutheran Church, Corliss. These were the families of August Mischke, August Lubitz, George Schelske, Karl Foerstner, Michael Utz, Jeremiah Krueger, Karl Wanderi, and William Papenfuss. Rev. A. Kretschmar, came from Gorman Township to conduct services for these settlers in their log houses. As he had a number of places to minister to, services were usually conducted during weekdays.
This small group found that they were in need of a more suitable place of worship. Mr. Al Richardson and his wife, both former teachers, helped them to obtain permission to build a public schoolhouse of logs near Bear Lake. They were then priviledged to conduct worship services in this building. There is no record as to how long the small group used this schoolhouse for their services. It has been recalled, that Albert Huwe, Sr., was baptized in this building.
About the year 1891, the families a need for their own house of worship in which to glorify God and to properly nurture their own and their children's spiritual welfare, and to give their children a Christian education. At some time after their first service, they organized and chose the name St. John's Lutheran Church and they, at that time, adopted a constitution by which all members were to abide. Minutes of this meeting were not recorded. The first recorded fact is that on December 27, 1891, the already organized congregation held a meeting and were very glad to accept a tract of land from Mr. Freidrich Fresonke for the church and cemetery. They decided at this meeting to not build a log church, but, instead, one of sawed boards and timbers. Each family was to furnish boards, shingles, laths, and etc, to complete the building.
The Building Committee for the first church consisted of Gustav Paesler, George Schelske and Michael Utz. The building was completed in July of 1891 and dedicated at that time. The first Elders of the church were Friedrick Fresonke, George Schelske, and Otto Huwe. Mr.Fresonke was also the treasurer; the secretary was Mr. Carl Zahn; the trustees were: August Mischke, August Zahn, and William Hinz, Sr.
After Rev. A. Kretzschmar had organized and served the congregation, they asked, with his advice, for the services of Rev. E.D. Menicke, a young pastor serving the Loon Lake congregation to serve them. He did so until October of 1891 at which time the Rev. F. Brandt, pastor of Toad Lake, began ministering to their needs.
The first resident pastor was called in 1901. Rev. August Sieving accepted the call. The parsonage was not yet built, so the pastor stayed with some of the members. In order to make his calls, the congregation provide him with a horse and buggy. He served at St. Johns until March of 1911. Following his service the reverend Alfons Duenow was called and served until 1918. At that time he left to serve the church and his country as a chaplain in World War I. The reverend C. F. Kurzweg, from South Dakota, was then called and he ministered to St. Johns until June of 1923. In December of that same year, Rev. Gustav S. Mundinger from Bertha, Minnesota, was installed as pastor, serving until October of 1928.
During Rev. Mundingers pastorate, seven additional acres of land was purchased, adjoining the three already owned. Foresight in purchasing this property provided a plot for the present cemetery. It was also during his ministry here that a Christian Day School was started. The little school that stood just North and East of the present church building was originally built to serve School District 277 on the site just one-half mile North of the intersection of Highways 8 and 53. After this little school house had been moved to the church grounds and made ready, Christian Day classes began.
Rev. Mundinger conducted morning religious classes and to some extent assisted with afternoon regular classes. Two of the teachers were Miss Alice Kretzschmar and Miss Martha Rosen, undoubtable there were others, but we find no record of this.
In December 1928, Rev. Julius Nickel came to St. John's and he ministered to the congregation for eighteen years. It was during this time that the new church building was constructed. On October 6, 1946, Rev. H.D. Haak was installed as pastor. He organized the Sunday School in spring of 1947. While he was serving, the present parsonage was built and dedicated on October 5, 1952. Serving on the Building Committee were: Rev. H.D. Haak, William Rosen, Henry Seiling, Edward Ramsay, Carl Gropper, and Emil Brasel. Rev. Haak served as pastor of the congregation until June of 1953. During the long vacancy, June 1953 to November 1954, Rev. E.W. Steinhorst served as interim pastor. On November 21, 1954, Rev. William Busse was installed. He served until March of 1962 at which time Rev. Roger R. Venzke assumed the responsibility of interim pastor until Rev. Richard L. Guehna was installed on January 20, 1963.
In the summer of 1986, Rev. Richard L. Guehna went to the Synodical Convention in Indiana, as First Vice President of Minnesota North District. Because Dr. Mennicke was at that time president of Minnesota North District, and was elected a Vice President of the synod in St. Louis, Rev. Richard L. Guehna, accepted the position of President of Minnesota North District. Rev. Guehna then asked for a peaceful release, after having served St. John's for almost twenty-four years.
Rev. David Becker of St. Paul's of Evergreen, served as interim pastor from the fall of 1986 until June of 1987, when Rev. Del Meyer was installed as pastor of St. John's. Rev, Del Meyer had already accepted the call in January but was granted the opportunity to remain at Greenleaf, Kansas until the end of the school term. Rev. Meyer retired from St. Johns in 2010 after 23 years of service.
In 2010, St. John's called a candidate from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis to be thier pastor. On July 18th, 2010, the Rev. Phillip Booe was ordained and installed as pastor. Pastor Booe served until June 29th, 2014 when he took a call to a congregation in Connecticut. Rev. Ron Jobe served as Vacancy Pastor until Rev. Jared Nies accepted the call to serve as pastor of St. John's. He was installed on Feburary 7th, 2016.
There is so much more to the story of St. John's. It is a congregation rich in history and community. Visit us to learn more about where we've come from and where we are going!
God's work at St. John's Corliss is still going on. Join us as we continue to make history as the people of God worshiping and serving our community.