December 12, 2014

Greetings to the Troops (1918)

A letter from our tenth pastor Rev. Tillman W. Hoernemann, written at the end of World War I.  
(Transcribed below for easier reading) 

December 14, 1918

To Our Dear Boys:
     Christmas, [particularly] the festival of the fireside, is very near.  In many homes some very familiar face will be missing, and it will be to some the first Christmas away from home. I am sure many of you will be with us in thought and spirit on that day and be assured that our thoughts will also be with you.
      Was there [ever] a year when the coming of the Christmas Child was more significant than this year! The Christmas message: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men," comes to mind with a new emphasis and power. That Christmas bells are peace bells should double the joy of the world. 
     The Star of Bethlehem shines with a new lustre this year. A Star is the universal symbol of beauty and glory. For uncounted centuries it has been emblematic of the greatest heights of achievement and ideals to which men aspire.
     "Star of Hope," "Star of Empire," "Star of Freedom," these are the superlative phrases by which we express our faith, our triumphs, our visions. Whatever is not to be surpassed in beauty and achievement, that we symbolize by a Star.
     In the hearts of the members of the First Reformed Church this Christmas, one star is set above all others save one. In our homes hang 35 stars, silently telling the message to everyone that passes that a brave heart went forth from this home to march under the banners of the greatest flag that was ever unfurled and to be in the immediate service of the greatest country in the world. 
     A service star in the window of a house that gives a son. How it singles out this house, how it ennobles it. As we gaze at it in this Christmas season, this star that even surpasses the service star comes into view. Long ago, in the sunrise of history, God hung out his Service Star above a lowly house, an inn with a manger, marking the house, whose son offered and gave his life and liberty for the whole world. It is the Star of Bethlehem. May it lead us as the Wise Men of old, to the Christ child, and may we there with a new willingness and consecration worship at the feet of the Prince of Peace.
     May we [now] in this momentous year bring you the Season's Greeting, and we enter the new year with fond hopes that you will soon be with us and we are looking to your home-coming with the highest anticipation. 

Sincerely yours,
T.W. Hoernemann

November 18, 2014

Charity Begins at Church

     The Women's Missionary Society was organized on November 7, 1904 by Rev. Paul H. Land, with the pastor's wife serving as the first president. 
     Other charitable groups such as the Nettie Snook Society formed in 1931, and the Girls Missionary Guild united in lending their support to the Women's Missionary Society. 
The Women's Missionary Society - 1963
President - Miss Martha Shaefer
Vice President - Mrs. Donald Coon
Secretary - Mrs. Ralph Burkholder
Treasurer - Mrs. Marvin Bucher

Front Row (Seated left to right)-
Mrs. John McNett, Mrs. Richard Vitz, Miss Martha Schaefer, Mrs. Ralph Burkholder, Mrs. Marvin Bucher, Mrs. Donald Coon, Miss Anna Klein, Mrs. Calvin Rable.

Second Row (Standing left to right)-
Rev. Richard P. Vitz, Mrs. Donald Crosson, Mrs. Roger Page, Mrs. Robert Nusbaum, Mrs. Donald Herold, Mrs. Douglas Hadding, Mrs. G.E. Herold, Mrs. Richard Dole, Mrs. Carl Rhoda, Mrs. Daniel Anthony, Mrs. William Kreher, Mrs. Lillian Gerstenlauer, Mrs. Lydia Stilgenbauer, Mrs. Grover Neumann, Mrs. Arnim Woll, Mrs. Ben Green, Mrs. Martha Garmhausen. 

November 4, 2014

World War I Servicemen - (Part 2)

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

Fred Aab

Ralph Andrews

Cornelius Dickman

Howard Dinkel

Frank Feikert

Herbert Weller

Christen Zurcher

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

October 16, 2014

Caring Custodians

      Also known as Sextons, by definition: a church officer or employee in charge of building maintenance, taking care of the property. Performs minor related duties such as ringing the bell for services, and supervising burials in the churchyard if there is a cemetery onsite.
Julius Bates
(pictured at the door to our Church bell tower)

     Former Sextons of our early congregation include Julius Bates, Frank Kuck, Henry Sutzman, Philip Dinkel, Robert Keller, Michael Keller, E.C. Long, Peter Leppla, John Schnabel, Daniel Wilhelm, John Zullinger, Claude Emerson, Ralph Dunifon, Edmund Decker, and Dale Peters.         

October 2, 2014

Pastor Profile

Rev. Paul H. Graeser
Our Twelfth Pastor
(1939 - 1952)

     Paul H. Graeser was born at St. Louis, Missouri on October 6, 1896. 
     Following his father's vocation, he graduated from the Mission House Seminary located at Plymouth, Wisconsin, and was ordained on July 8, 1923. Rev. Graeser immediately began his pastoral career at Wausau, Wisconsin where he remained until 1935. 
     He married Miss Ruth Sager on September 15, 1923, at Kaukama, Wisconsin. Their children are Robert, Janice, and Richard.
     After serving the Salem Evangelical & Reformed Church at Ft. Wayne, Indiana from 1935-1939, he accepted the call to our church. 
     During his pastorate in Lima, there were traditional changes and advancements of our congregation. Under the shadow of World War II, the German language was finally terminated during church services. And the basement was enlarged in the Sunday School area later in his term. 
     Rev. Graeser made many acquaintances in the Lima community, and was active with several worthwhile civic and humanitarian organizations. Past President of the Allen County Ministerial Association, he was also a delegate to the Synod of our denomination.
     Ministering to our congregation for 13 years, he left to serve the Evangelical & Reformed Church at Van Wert, Ohio, until 1960. 
     In 1963, following a leave of absence due to illness, Rev. Graeser resumed ministry at Lake Helen, Florida. There he received the distinguished "Pastor Emeritus" honor with the Congregational Church, United Church of Christ. 

August 26, 2014

Expanding Knowledge

New Educational Annex - 1963
(Shown at left in picture)  
Facilities include: 
Additional Sunday School classrooms, furnished Parlor, Kitchen, and Offices.

     As we read below the lengthy list of First E&R Sunday School Officers and Teachers in 1955, the need for a new Educational Annex is quite evident:

Superintendent- Lee Van Blargan
Asst. Superintendent- Wayne Bailey
Chorister- Burdette Vermillion
Asst. Chorister- James Kincaid
Pianist- Ella Eysenbach
General Secretary (ordering materials)- Mathilda Benny
Asst. General Secretaries- Dorothy Hoeper, Beverly Bucher, Alvin Grapner
Treasurer- Carl Wellman
Recording Secretary- Suzanna Wyre
Kindergarten Dept. Supervisor- Mrs. Fred Tschanz
Beginners' Dept. Supervisor- Mrs. G.E. Herold
Children's Division Superintendent- Mrs. Ralph Burkholder
Home Department- Mrs. A.C. Gerstenlauer, Mrs. Charles Stilgenbauer
Director of Visual Education- Don Herold
Asst. Director of Visual Education- Louis Meckstroth
Mary Martha Class, Teacher- Mrs. Grace Leppla
Mary Martha Class, Substitute Teacher- Mrs. H.C. Heffner
Gleaners' Class, Teacher- Mrs. Marie Eberle
Fidelis Class, Teacher- Mrs. Frank Lowry
Triangle Class, Teacher- Miss Martha Schaefer
Triangle Class, Substitute Teacher- Mrs. Margaret Stevens
Men's Bible Class, Teacher- Rev. Richard P. Vitz
Builders' Class, Teacher- Frank Spragg
Young People's Mixed Class, Teacher- Mrs. Ruth Rhoda
Intermediate Dept., Teachers- Herbert Rable, Paul Kreher
Junior Dept. (6), Teacher- Mrs. Ed Decker 
Junior Dept. (5), Teacher- Mrs. Richard Vitz
Junior Dept. (4), Teacher- Ray Burkholder
Primary Dept. (3), Teacher- Mary Ann Walters
Primary Dept. (3), Substitute Teacher- Mrs. Eileen Burkholder
Primary Dept. (2), Teacher- Suzanna Wyre
Primary Dept. (1), Teacher- Mathilda Benny
Kindergarten Dept., Teachers- Mrs. Jeannette Nusbaum, Mrs. Arnold Patrick
Nursery Department- Mrs. Robert Staver, Mrs. Carolyn Arnett, Mrs. C.J. Naus,
Junior Church Department- Inez Rable, Mrs. Eileen Burkholder,                                                                                                 Mrs. Frank Lowry, Jane Spragg, Violet Decker
Substitute Teacher- Mr. John Emans

July 3, 2014

Road Trip!

     Many adults who grew up in our congregation cherish memories of Senior Youth Group road trips during the 1960 - 70's. With Paul & Ruby Kreher at the wheel of the caravan journeys, they took at least 10 adventures to various locations; including St. Louis, Missouri and the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Parents volunteered to transport & chaperone about 20 young people who regularly signed up for the excursions, with supplies (and excitement!) in tow. The group raised money for the trips, and organizations within the church made contributions & donated needed items.     
     Keeping in mind this was before the convenience of modern technology & instant e-mails,    it took months of planning for a summer trip. We have a large file of letters and notes making arrangements for lodging in dormitories and tours at theological seminaries, where the group enjoyed fellowship and sight seeing in the area. In addition to Spiritual enhancement, some activities included museums, theater, zoos, and boat rides. 

Excerpts of a report submitted by Ruby Kreher: 
(Caravan trip to St. Louis, MO; July 14-19, 1975)

We traveled in five cars. It took a little time on Monday to get all the cooking utensils, Coleman stoves, ice chests, and suitcases into the trunks. 

Each morning everyone was responsible for their "morning watch" at which time each person would seek a quiet outdoor spot for their individual devotions. 

Each car was responsible for helping to prepare at least 3 meals during the trip and everyone washed their own dishes. We had cookies at every meal thanks to the mothers. 

Enclosed is an expense account. On our first trip in 1961 everyone ate for a week at the cost of $4. In 1975, it was $8 per person. 

[The youth] were most impressed with the Emmaus Home, which is the only residential facility soley for adults with mental & physical disabilities among the Health and Welfare Institutions of the United Church of Christ. Nearly 300 people age 16 and over make their home at Emmaus. Some of the residents over 50-years old received their first paycheck because of the shelter workshop. We cooked chili on their lawn and had our evening meal there. Several of the residents ate and talked with us. 

We wish to extend a special thanks to everyone who helped make this trip possible...
We have a fine group of young people who conducted themselves in Christian attitude on our Caravan Trip and they had a most enjoyable time. 

Mr. & Mrs. Kreher remain faithful members of our Church.
Many thanks to Paul & Ruby for directing the paths of our youth!
(Proverbs 22:6)


June 17, 2014

Remembrance - Ruth (Haspel) Killian

June 21, 1914 - July 18, 1993   



June 3, 2014

Celebration for Fathers

Father & Son Banquet (February, 1963)

Although recognition of Father's Day is celebrated in June, the Father & Son Banquet was held annually at the First E&R Church Fellowship Hall in February. The event was sponsored by the Men's Brotherhood, an organization which includes all men of the church. 

May 16, 2014

Hero Not Forgotten

Ensign John Arthur Leppla

Date of Birth: May 7, 1916
Place of Birth: Lima, Ohio
Service: Navy
Company: Scouting Squadron 2 (VS-2)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2)

Action Date: March 10, 1942
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Ensign John Arthur Leppla, United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Scouting Plane in Scouting Squadron TWO (VS-2), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action against enemy Japanese forces over enemy-controlled waters near Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea on 10 March 1942. Ensign Leppla pressed home, in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire, a vigorous and determined dive bombing attack on enemy ships, and as a result of this attack at least one ship was sunk. His outstanding courage, daring airmanship and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: May 7 & 8, 1942
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross to Ensign John Arthur Leppla, United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Scouting Plane of Scouting Squadron TWO (VS-2), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Air Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 and 8 May 1942. On 7 May, Ensign Leppla participated in a dive-bombing attack on an enemy Japanese aircraft carrier and contributed materially to the destruction of that vessel. On 8 May, as a member of the anti-torpedo plane patrol he faced severe fighter opposition to make repeated and fierce assaults against attacking enemy planes. His courageous and determined action in this engagement resulted in the destruction of three enemy aircraft, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

(Information from "Military Times-Honor Roll" website)

     Worthy of a second Navy Cross, Leppla was promoted to Lieutenant (Junior Grade). 
     A member of First E&R Church, we pay tribute to our courageous hero who was listed as missing in action and presumed killed on October 26, 1942. In memory of John Leppla & his distinguished service to our Nation, his headstone of Honor can be found in the Arlington National Cemetery.

John Arthur Leppla
("Find A Grave" website - submitted by Anne Cady)

May 6, 2014

Celebration for Mothers

Mother & Daughter Banquet (May, 1963)

For many years, the annual Mother & Daughter Banquet was held in our Fellowship Hall. The event was sponsored by the Women's Guild, an organization which includes all women of the church. 

March 11, 2014

Confirmation Class - 1920

Front Row (left to right)-
Hilda Snook, John Smith, Rev. T.W. Hoernemann, Elizabeth Rable, Paul Blase.
Back Row-
Chester Badertscher, Margaret Heil, Alton Heil, Esther Wilhelm, Louise MacDonald.

March 4, 2014

Communion Kit - Christ Revealed

Pastor's Home Communion Kit
(First E&R Church - early 1900's)

    Tarnished silver-plated pieces, a splintered wooden hinge, and wine stained lining on the lid are obviously evident. However it wasn't until this picture was taken, an abstract portrait of Jesus with crown of thorns was revealed in the folds of purple cloth...

Will you see the face of Christ our Savior?

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28, NIV)

February 19, 2014

Timeless Message

     Even though the date (ca. 1970's), occasion, and contributors are not indicated, the message of this booklet found in our files reveals the heart of our Church.

LIFE IS ETERNAL. Love is God and God is Love. A Church is a family, God's family. A Church family is the very essence of Love...
We all need to remember that God's plan for mankind can only be carried out as God works through the lives of men and women. As members of Christ's Church we have a special responsibility to listen and obey God's call...
LOVE IS ETERNAL. That is always the password of God's Churches here on this earth.

February 4, 2014

German Workmanship

     Traditionally recognized for their strong discipline and dedicated work ethic, the Germans have been highly esteemed for their manufacturing skills, ingenuity, and quality-made products. 
     For decades, Rhoda Brothers was a thriving business in our community. 
     Many members of our church are related to the Rhoda family heritage.                    
"Carl Rhoda in his shop" - October 1964
(image transferred from a slide found in our archives)

[The Lima News - August 23, 2013]

Blacksmithing: The Rhoda Brothers

LIMA — Carl Rhoda had been a blacksmith for 62 years when he talked to The Lima News for a July 1974 story on dying American crafts.
      Rhoda was the last blacksmith in Lima. Starting in 1913, he had done nearly everything involving fire and metal at Rhoda Brothers General Repairing and Welding in the 100 block of South Union Street.
     “I’ve repaired lawn mowers, clamps for drawing lumber and bicycle frames,” Rhoda said in 1974. “I know a man who works side shows in county fairs and carnivals. Every year he brings me the hammers from the high striker to repair.” Carl Rhoda, president of Rhoda Brothers, was still working several hours a day at the shop when he died in 1979. He was 83 years old.
     Carl’s older brother Harry started working at Rhoda brothers as a child. On his 100th birthday in September 1984, Harry Rhoda recalled shoeing while his father Charles Rhoda shoed. Harry Rhoda told The News he chased flies away from the horses for 10 cents a week. Harry Rhoda died at 101 in 1985.
     The original Rhoda Brothers, William and Charles, were the sons of Christian and Anna Maria Shook Rothe who came to America from Germany in the mid-1850s. The family name was later changed to Rhoda. They settled in Allen County where Christian pursued the trade of blacksmith. William Rhoda was born in Westminster in 1858 and Charles Rhoda the following year.
     The brothers were educated in the public schools in Allen County’s German Township. In the mid-1870s, at 17 years of age, William Rhoda came to Lima to apprentice as a blacksmith, according to a 1921 history of Allen County. Following his apprenticeship, William Rhoda was employed as a journeyman by J.C. Blocher. By 1883, he was a partner in Blocher and Rhoda blacksmith shop in the 100 block of South Union Street.
     At 19, Charles Rhoda began dividing his time between working on the family farm and learning a trade, training as a blacksmith at Blocher and Rhoda beginning in 1884, according to the history. By 1890, William Rhoda had bought out Blocher and brought in his brother Charles as a partner.
     “Founded in 1883 as a two-anvil shop, it initially specialized in blacksmithing and wagon repair,” a 1971 Allen County Historical Society story noted. “The original shop, a wooden structure, was located on the west side of South Union Street directly across from the present location at 117 S. Union St.”
     An ad for Blocher and Rhoda in the 1880s gives some insight into the shop’s early years. “Will furnish you 4 buggy wheels and tire for $10 or with axles for $14, and paint your buggy for $7.50.” Horses were shoed for as little as $1 per horse including the cost of the shoes, and presumably the shoeing.
     Prior to 1900, according to the 1971 historical society article, Rhoda Brothers also dabbled in the wholesale side of the business. “The brothers purchased horseshoes and nails in quantity lots. A car load consisted of 50 kegs each containing 100 pounds of horseshoes in assorted sizes … These were sold by the keg to blacksmiths from all the surrounding towns and villages.”
   A Lima Times-Democrat article from Aug. 5, 1901, showed one of the unique dangers a blacksmith shop in Lima, at that time in the midst of an oil boom, faced. Rhoda Brothers’ workers were building a fire to heat a heavy tire (the metal band around the outside of a wagon wheel). “The wood that was used included several pieces of an old wagon bed that had recently been removed from a nitroglycerin wagon (nitroglycerin was used to get oil wells flowing.) Some of the pieces had been saturated by the dangerous fluid and when the fire reached them the explosion resulted,” the Times-Democrat reported. No one was injured but several windows were blown out.
     An Aug. 22, 1908, Times-Democrat article reported a happier occasion. “Rhoda Brothers, the wagon makers on South Union Street, have just completed and delivered to the Wash Simmons Truck Line the largest wagon in Northwestern Ohio. Mr. Simmons ordered the wagon built for use in moving the heaviest of objects, such as big safes, monuments, etc., and the order read to make one that would haul anything that ever came to Lima. The completed wagon looks as if it could easily do that.” The completed wagon weighed three tons, the newspaper said, “showing that it will take pretty good horses to pull it without a load.” Indeed, when the wagon was delivered, Simmons’ shed floor “collapsed under the great weight of the vehicle.”
    In November 1915, according to the Lima Daily News, the Rhoda Brothers moved their blacksmith and carriage repair business to a new building at 117-119 S. Union St. William Rhoda died in February 1925, and Charles Rhoda in October 1923.
     After the deaths of the founders, Charles Rhoda’s son Carl and William Rhoda’s son Otto took over the business.
    September 1921 saw the company combine with Frey-Jones Pattern Works. “The company specializes in commercial truck bodies and cabs, winter tops for pleasure cars and wood and metal products of every description,” the Daily News reported. The Allen County Republican Gazette reported May 10, 1923, that the firm was erecting a plant at Jackson and McKibben streets.
     In July, 1924, the company unveiled “the latest design in economical motor bus transportation” the “Rhoda-Ford” a “12-passenger sedan coach” built on a Ford chassis, the Republican Gazette reported.
   Less than two years later, on April 25, 1926, the Lima News reported the Rhoda Body Manufacturing Co. was in bankruptcy. Rhoda Brothers survived and by the 1940s farm repair and welding were added to its services. In the 1970s, the business moved to 131 S. Union St.
   Carl Rhoda’s son-in-law, Burdette Vermillion, told the News in July 1974, that the job had changed a great deal over the years.
    “When Lima was the center for fitting wagon wheels in this part of the state, blacksmiths heated metal bands that went around the wheel rim in the forge to get a tight fit,” he said. “Many of them did horse shoeing and jobs now done by welding, such as joining two joints. Now the job encompasses much more. He (Carl Rhoda) makes tools and reshapes and retempers old tools, rehandles shovels, spades and axes, and does work on farm machinery and construction equipment.”
      Rhoda Brothers, at the time one of Lima’s oldest businesses, closed in 2001.

January 1, 2014

God's Laws - our Ultimate Resolutions

"I am the Lord your God..."

I. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
IV.  Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy.
V. Honor thy Father and Mother, that thy days my be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
VI.  Thou shalt not kill.
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
X. Thou shalt not covet.

(Exodus 20:1-17)