December 6, 2013

Silent Requiem

  When Even The Organ Refused To Play
(excerpt of an article written by Lee Van Blargan)
      It was 2:00 P.M. on December 2, 1932. A great crowd had gathered in the First Reformed Church to pay their last respects at the funeral of their beloved choir director, Henry Deisel, Sr.  Grief was unmistakably written on the faces of the audience for this kindly man who for almost forty years had served as choir leader and who for many years had been a member of the Consistory.
      Everyone scheduled to have a part in the service was in place and then-- the mighty Skinner Organ refused to play! 
     This organ had faithfully accompanied the choir led by its distinguished director for many years and to some it seemed now as if the great instrument could not reconcile itself to the sudden loss of this inspired leader. Actually, of course, mechanical difficulties had caused this happening and soon a piano was substituted and the services proceeded...

November 7, 2013

World War I Servicemen - (Part One)

Class Members Who Served In World War I
1914 - 1918
(Class #10 - Mrs. Herman Myers, teacher*)

Carl Rhoda

Alfred Hoff

Jacob Keller

August Keller

                   Carl Heil

Raymond Leidner

Carl Muehlbauer

    *From a collection of pictures compiled in a booklet by their Sunday School teacher.

October 29, 2013

Light of the World

   The lamp represents the Word of God...
A symbol of wisdom, Life, and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
During dark days of doubt and fear, the Lamp is a beacon of Hope.
As Christians we are called to be disciples, sharing our Spiritual gifts, setting an example of leadership and compassion for others in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior.

You are the world's light- a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see.
Don't hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father ~ Matthew 5: 14-15 (TLB)

October 1, 2013


      F&R Church is steeped in rich traditions, including delicious homemade food! Whether breaking bread in fellowship, catering joyful wedding receptions, comforting grieving families, providing meals for shut-ins and shelters, or contributing baked goods for fundraisers, the cooks of our church have earned a reputation in this community for their excellent skills in the kitchen.
      For many years we have celebrated our German heritage with an Octoberfest dinner. Open to the public, this is a full church effort involving all men, women & youth entailing months of planning. Selling tickets, preparing the feast, and dishing out hearty helpings. We welcome guests in our Fellowship Hall, seated to capacity. Items on the menu include bratwurst, sauerkraut, noodles, savory Black Forest and German Chocolate cakes...made with special ingredients, following specific directions according to traditional recipes handed down thru the generations.
     Banquets and special dinners are often held to raise proceeds for building projects, or outreach to causes beyond our walls. We also enjoy gathering together for the occasional breakfast or brunch simply for the opportunity to partake in good food and conversation. We do appreciate our kitchen crew!
     For the purposes of fund raising and commemoration, our congregation has published two cookbooks of favorite personal recipes submitted by members - 

"A Taste of Tradition" (c. 1997)  and our recent 150th Anniversary keepsake "Thyme for Celebration."


     We relish the memories and give thanks to God for His bountiful Blessings!


September 17, 2013

Dorothy's slippers

Organ shoes worn by Dorothy McNett,
organist of First United Church of Christ
from 1942-1972 


Tribute to Dorothy Rhoda McNett
(written by Church Historian Lee Van Blargan, 1972)
      The entire congregation was shocked to learn of the sudden death on February 15, 1972 of Dorothy Rhoda McNett, our devoted church organist for thirty-years. Dorothy was born on June 23, 1923, the daughter of Carl H. and Ruth Irene Rhoda. She was a great-granddaughter of Christian Rothe, the last surviving member of the first Consistory elected in the year 1863.
     Dorothy became interested in music at an early age and for some time studied under our former distinguished organist, George Urich. On September 1, 1942 she became our church organist and in a dedicated manner served until the time of her death. Her family has had the shoes worn by her while at the organ, bronzed and has presented them to the church... Her life was a continual source of inspiration to all and her memory will not fade throughout the coming years.

August 30, 2013

An Early Family Portrait

The Jacob Moser Family
Left to right: Albert, Bertha, Mrs. Elizabeth Neunschwander Moser, Emma,
Jacob & Calvin

     One example of the many families who were zealous pioneers of our early church. Before coming to Lima in 1871, Jacob Moser was postmaster in Bluffton, Ohio and instrumental in naming that village. He served as Sunday School Superintendent in 1873, and several years following. And for more than 25-years, Mr. Moser was the choir director.  Also served many terms on the Consistory, including the 1887 Building Committee.  
     Jacob Moser was born in Switzerland on April 13, 1835, and died in Lima on April 25, 1910.
     Mrs. Moser was called to her Heavenly Home on November 3, 1928; the lone survivor of her family.
     Albert became a prominent physician, and served in the Far East as an Army Surgeon. An honorable servant, he died in 1903.
     Calvin, a funeral director and businessman, found his Heavenly reward in 1893. 
     Bertha occasionally served as organist, married W.H. Deakin. Resting in Peace, 1913.
     Emma married Dr. Frederick G. Stueber. Following in the footsteps of her father, was choir director and organist for many years. A founder of the King's Daughters Society, Emma entered the Heavenly Kingdom on October 11, 1890.  
Jacob Moser's German Prayer Book & Emma's Hymnal


August 16, 2013

Presidential Recognition

From the President of the United States
John F. Kennedy
(Our 100th Anniversary - 1963)

July 2, 2013

Liberty in Christ

     From the lofty belfry, our wonderful church bell continues summoning our congregation to worship every Sunday morning since 1887. Also during the decades resounding the joyful clamor of chimes celebrating Holy matrimony, the solemn toll of funerals, and beckoning calls of commemoration throughout our community.       
     Our sturdy, steadfast old bell is a replica of our Nation's Liberty Bell! Weighing 2,080 lbs., ordered from the McShane Bell Foundry, Baltimore, MD.
     Records show the bell cost $355.59, with $12.67 for freight, $1.50 for drayage* and $4.00 for installation labor.
     The Ladies Aid Society made this purchase possible, as they raised the money for this special gift.

     In rightful recognition of this achievement, the German inscription still visible on the bell reads as follows:
"Diese Glocke Wurde Bezhalt Von Dem Fruen-Verein Der Deutchen Evangelische Reformierte Gemeinde in Lima, Ohio, Beim Bau Der Kirche. A.D. 1887"
("This bell was purchased by the Ladies Aid Society of the German Evangelical Reformed Congregation in Lima, Ohio, at the building of the Church. A.D. 1887")

*The term "drayage" originally meant the transport of goods on a side-less cart, or dray. These carts were pulled distances by horses, with a fee considering physical limitations and care for the animals.  

June 2, 2013

Pastor Emeritus

Reverend Richard P. Vitz
Twenty-six Year Pastorate at First E&R Church
January 1, 1953 - June 3, 1979

     Rev. Richard P. Vitz was born in Sherwood, Ohio on June 27, 1917; the son of Rev. and Mrs. Nathaniel E. Vitz. When Richard was 4-years of age the family moved to New Bremen, Ohio where his father served the Zion Reformed Church for 22-years. Richard's paternal grandfather, Rev. Peter Vitz, emigrated to America from Germany, studied at the former Heidelberg Seminary and served several congregations in eastern Indiana. 
     With deep Christian roots, Rev. Richard P. Vitz graduated from Heidelberg College in 1939. Studied at Eden Theological Seminary, ordained on June 28, 1942. He immediately began his ministry career on July 1st at the St. John's Evangelical and Reformed Church, Fostoria, Ohio. He also served congregations in Findlay and Germantown, Ohio before coming to our church in Lima on January 1, 1953. 
     Rev. Vitz served on various Boards and Committees, to name a few: Trustee at Heidelberg College for 22-years. Four-time delegate to the General Synod. Vice President of Northwest Ohio Synod. Board of Children's Home in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Board of Child and Family Services in Lima. Member of the Citizens Advisory Board of Lima State Hospital. President of the Allen County Ministerial Association.     
     Interesting statistics of his dedicated 26-years of ministry to our members: 
  • 490 Infant Baptisms
  • 143 Adult Baptisms
  • 406 Youth Confirmations
  • 633 Adult members by Faith & Transfer
  • 269 Weddings
  • 328 Funeral for Members of First Church
  • 266 Funerals of infants, relatives, and friends
  • 51,855 total  number of Communions    
     Reverend Richard P. Vitz was called to his Heavenly Home at the age of 87, on September 17, 2004, in Waverly, OH.
"...well done, good and faithful servant...enter into the joy of your Lord..."
~Matthew 25:23 KJV

May 31, 2013

Anchored in Christ

The anchor symbolizes our Hope in Christ...

And so God made a promise. He wanted to show Abraham that He would never change His mind. So He made the promise in His own name.  God gave these two things that cannot be changed and God cannot lie. We who have turned to Him can have great comfort knowing that He will do what He has promised.  This hope is a safe anchor for our souls. It will never move. This hope goes into the Holiest Place of All behind the curtain of heaven ~Hebrews 6:17-19 NLV

May 24, 2013

Remembering Beda

     As we commemorate Memorial Day honoring our brave soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect and defend our Freedom, we should also pay tribute to the families through the generations who have suffered the heartbreaks of war and burdens of military service.
     Beda Shafer was a remarkable lady who gave (and also lost) so much...a Faithful life dedicated to God, Home & Country. Following in the footsteps of her forefathers, she left behind a wonderful legacy...

BEDA GRACE SHAFER, 86, died at 1 a.m. Nov. 16, 2006, at Lima Manor Nursing Home. She was born Jan. 24, 1920, in Putnam County to William D. and Rosa Basinger Goodwin, who preceded her in death. On Oct. 31, 1939, she married Paul T. Shafer, who died Jan. 1, 1993. Mrs. Shafer had been a dietary supervisor and nurse’s aide at St. Rita’s Medical Center. She was a member of First Evangelical and Reformed Church and its Ladies Aide Society. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames XVIIC, Daughters of Union Veterans, Daughters of 1812, Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America, the Colonial Clergy, Women Descendants of Ancient Honorable Artillery and the National Society Magna Charta Dames. She was also a member of the First Families of Allen County, First Families of Putnam County, the Allen County Genealogical Society, the Ohio Genealogical Society and the Allentown Historical Society. She was a member of the 173rd Airborne Society (SEP), the National Committee Person Republican Party, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6741 Auxiliary, Elida, American Legion Post 96 Auxiliary, and its America Gold Star Mothers, and the Vietnam Veterans of American LZ89. She was a registered genealogist and taught piano. She was a graduate of Columbus Grove High School and Bluffton College. Survivors include a son, William M. (Judy) Shafer, of Lima; a daughter, Joanne E. Shafer Reese, of Elida; nine grandchildren, Jeffrey C. (Bonnie) Shafer, Pamela S. (John) Moser, Heidi L. Kavick, Scott D. (Melissa) Shafer, James W. (Michelle) Shafer, April L. (Ronald) Reese-Engstrom, John E. (Debra) Shafer, Paul W. (Dawn) Shafer and Rebecca S. (David) Smith; 15 great-grandchildren, Ryan Kavick, Sean Kavick, Wolfgang T. Shafer, Clara Moser, Elsa Shafer, Jacob Shafer, Anthony M. Reese, Casimiro R. Martinez, Ella Moser, Ruby Moser, Maxwell Shafer, Samuel Shafer, Kylie Shafer, E. Nicole Reese and Regan Arin Engstrom; two stepgrandchildren, Todd (Jennifer) Geren and Brian Geren; four stepgreat-grandchildren, Arielle Geren, Taylor Geren, Ciann Geren and Ian Geren; a daughter-in-law, Kathleen Shafer; and a granddaughterin-law, Emilia Reese. She was preceded in death by two sons, Sgt. James D. Shafer, who died in Vietnam in 1967, and George Ronald Shafer, who died in 1995; a grandson, Staff Sgt. Aaron T. Reese, who died in Iraq in 2003; and two sisters, Alice J. Miller and Ima Louise Staltman. Services will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday at Chamberlain-Huckeriede Funeral Home. The Rev. Ed Rhinehart will officiate. Burial will be in Allentown Cemetery, Allentown. Friends may call from 3 to 7 p.m. today at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association.
(Obituary: Chamberlain-Huckeriede Funeral Home)

"To perpetuate the noble principles for which they fought & died."
(Motto of the Gold Star Mothers)

March 24, 2013

Communion with the King

Grapes are symbolic of Holy Communion and the blood shed by Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of sin. Grapes also represent the fruitfulness of Christian life.

The Crown is a symbol of the royal authority of Christ, King of Kings. It may also represent the "Crown of Life", the eternal reward of the Faithful.

March 10, 2013

Confirmation Class - 1897

John Urfer, Oscar Snook, George Bollinger, Philip Schnabel, ____Meckstroth, ____Loescher, Catherine (Snook) Lyle, Elizabeth Baker, Bertha (Wilhelm) Stump, Minnie Neubright, Bertha (Klein) Rable, Jon Weber, Catherine Schlosser.

Rev. Christian Baum, Pastor

Confirmation Class - 1935

Front Row (left to right)-
Dorothy Ridenour, Arthur Brutzer, Grace Griffith, Rev. R.J. Schroer, Eloise Stilgenbauer, Ennis Walker, Delores Timmerman.
Back Row-
Louis Wessler Jr., Helen Stelzer, John Neumann, Ruth Ella Dew, Paul Stueber Jr., Elfrida Wolf, Richard Neumann, Theresa Benny, Wilbur Bailey.

March 8, 2013

The Congregational Library

      The Congregational Library located in Boston's historic Beacon Hill, was founded in 1853 with 56 books from personal collections. Today researchers can find approximately 225,000 items of historical documentation including resources about American religion, New England local and town histories, and 300-years of American Congregationalism.  
     With English Protestant roots, this religious tradition was established in America by the New England Puritans during the 1600's. Congregationalism currently consists as one of four denominations that merged in 1957 to form the United Church of Christ. And also embodies, the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (our First E&R Church affiliation). 

14 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617)-523-0470
(With appreciation to the Congregational Library
for courtesy of photos and permission to link with their website) 

March 5, 2013

Earliest Certificate

     The oldest Confirmation Certificate in our archives dates back to 1874, written in German, issued by Rev. C.F. Waldecker to Friedrich Stuber.

      Young Frederick would grow up to be a prominent eye surgeon.
      Dr. & Mrs. Emma (Moser) Stueber were the parents of two "kinder" also confirmed in our Church.  Their son Dr. Paul Stueber was confirmed in 1901, by Rev. Paul H. Land; and daughter Ruth (Mrs. William Daniels) in 1907, by Rev. A.G. Gekeler.

February 22, 2013

Next Door to God's House

     During the days of itinerant Preachers, traveling miles by horseback to the communities they served, it was a brave venture for the fledgling congregation to construct a small wood frame parsonage in 1876. Reverend C.F. Waldecker was the first Pastor to occupy the house.
     In 1921, during the Pastorate of Rev. Tillman W. Hoernemann, a modern brick structure was built at the cost of $17,000.


     The Parsonage was home to First E&R Pastors and their families throughout the decades until 1984. Seen here in 1987, before the dwelling was demolished that year.     

Home is where the "Hearth" is...

Reverend Reuben J. Schroer
Our 11th Pastor

The Schroer Family
Hilda, Hal, Corinne, and Rev. Schroer
(left to right) 

(Seated by the fireplace in the Parsonage)

February 3, 2013

The Beginning & The End

I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the First and the Last, 
the Beginning and the End...
(Revelation 22:13 NIV) 





January 7, 2013

Vitz Family Portrait

Reverend Richard P. Vitz
Our 13th Pastor
January 1, 1953 - June 3, 1979
The Vitz Family
Barbara, Marianne, Robert, Rev. Vitz & his wife Mildred