2013-08-25 / Dining & Entertainment

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church celebrates 125 years today

BY MANDILEE LOOMIS STAFF REPORTER

BRADY TWP. - It has been 125 years since German settlers broke ground on what is today the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. Led by Pastor David Mielke and located at 16070 W. Brady Road (corner of M-57 and Hemlock Road,) the church honored its 125th anniversary on Sunday, August 25.

According to church records, Christ Evangelical was started in 1888 by 16 families who were primarily of German descent.

“Some of them came directly from Germany and settled in this area and others came from southern Michigan and settled there, and later came up this way,” Mielke explained.

After the lumber industry had made use of the land, many farmers came to Brady Township for farming purposes, and settled in areas near where the church was to be.

It was organized on August 27, 1888 when the first cornerstone was laid. The building was completed and dedicated nearly five months later on February 3, 1889. The original building was built at a cost of $1,100 and measured 28’ x 46’ with a 70 ft. steeple. The church didn’t make use of electricity until 1939, and most of its services were performed in the German language up until 1945. An old German hymn book remains that’s been added to the church’s historyrich collection.

The old building served until 1984 and is now located inside the Corunna Historical Village in McCurdy Park.

Of the original families who organized Christ Evangelical, there are approximately 30 members who are descendants of the original 16, Mielke said, adding that many of the old charter members are buried in area cemeteries.

The first pastor to lead there was a man named Heinrich Abelman. The reverend served three churches in that of Salem Lutheran Church of Owosso, the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brady, and the Zion Church in Chesaning. He would ride his horse out to Brady Township every other week to conduct services.

In 1891 Christ Evangelical’s and the Zion’s congregations decided to share a pastor, and it was then that Frederick Krauss was called to serve both. Krauss graduated from the former Michigan Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saginaw and served the two until 1893.

The two faiths shared a pastor until 1969, and 14 additional pastors served Christ Evangelical before Reverend Mielke took over the pulpit over five years ago. He is the 17th pastor to lead there.

Though Mielke stated records are not very clear about the school in its early days, it is known that the congregation started its Lutheran elementary school in 1979. The Christ Evangelical Lutheran School continues to operate today for children aged preschool through 8th grade. It is lead by principal Alan Schaffer, who teaches fifth to eighth grades. Lynn Shonts teaches first through fourth and Rosanne Thiel teaches the preschool and kindergarten classes.

The 125th anniversary celebration will begin with a service at 9 a.m. featuring guest speaker Reverent John Seifert, who is the president of the Michigan District of WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.) At 11 a.m. a pig roast picnic will be hosted, followed by a program that will detail the long and rich history of the church.

“Our mission is pretty much unchanged since our beginning. That (mission) is simply that our church exists to gather around God’s word and sacraments, and bring them to others,” Reverend Mielke said.

“It is the same as the founding fathers. The center of everything we do is around the gospel of Jesus Christ, and what he’s done for us. We gather around that, and we want to get that good news out there to everybody,” he added.

“Our mission hasn’t changed. It’s still preaching and teaching God’s timeless truths to the people of today, whether they be in 1888 or in 2013, so that they too can enjoy tomorrow’s eternity.”

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