January 15, 2016

The Life of Jesus Christ - Pictorial

Among our many artifacts, this lovely vintage print accented by an ornate 20 x 26-inch frame. Artistic pictures with German sub-headings illustrating the life, ministry, and miracles of Christ from birth to resurrection.

A note on the reverse side indicates this gift was given by:
Edgar and Genny Gehm
To the Church at the death of Irma Gehm
July, 2008

December 28, 2015

New Year Make-over

Dear Readers, 
As we look ahead to another year, our Historian's Blog is also getting an updated look after several years. A work in process, and continual learning curve for this "technology-challenged" Historian. 

Often times change brings disruption. As articles are added, some tidying up will be required and past posts edited in order to fit the new format. Otherwise, like in life, we shall keep moving forward. 

Hopefully you will find this contemporary look appealing as we reflect on our past. 

Thanks so much for your faithful interest, and patience during this transition. 

God's Blessings to all for a Happy New Year!

August 19, 2015

Confirmation Class - 1882

First Row (left to right)-
Emma Stepler, Ida Rhoda, John Henry Frail.
Second Row-
Rev. J.H. Stepler, Tillie Snook, Emma Snook.
Third Row (standing)-
Mollie Zietz, Mary Beck, Ada Cook, William Zietz.

Special appreciation to Bettye Jo Frail for loaning the photograph. John Henry Frail was her grandfather, and great-grandfather of her nieces Jane King and Karen Elwer.  

July 29, 2015

Our Organ Speaks

Sure I can speak! For the past 46 years as a musical instrument I have spoken God's message to members. My church has always been noted for its emphasis on good music. My immediate predecessor was a two manual pipe organ installed in 1891 during Rev. Christian Baum's pastorate at a cost of $1,500. 
Following the close of World War I, it became apparent that a new organ was needed. On June 30, 1920, a special organ committee recommended the purchase of a Skinner organ with chimes and echoes. This committee was composed of: Miss Ella Eysenbach, Mr. Fred Herold, Mr. Oscar Frey, and Chairman Mr. Henry Deisel, Sr. On July 18, 1920 the congregation authorized the committee to purchase the organ.
September 18, 1921 was a great dedication day for me! The renowned organist and choir master Edwin Arthur Kraft, of Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio, officiated at my controls. And, this article appeared in the Lima News and Times Democrat:

"A new pipe organ, installed in the First Reformed Church at a cost of about $15,000 will be dedicated with appropriate services Sunday.The organ is the largest and most capable of variations of any similar instrument in the city."

(From an article written by past historian Lee Van Blargan- October, 1967)

The above collage of our current three manual console organ, built by the Schantz Organ Co., Orrville, Ohio. Purchased from the Muller Pipe Organ Co., January 24, 1979 at the cost of approximately $20,ooo. And like the echoes of organs past, continues to majestically speak and musically inspire our congregation. 

June 18, 2015

Consistory - 1915

1st Row (Seated left to right)-
Henry Deisel, Sr. (Elder), Dr. Frederick G. Stueber (Elder), Louis Koch (Elder), Rev. Tillman W. Hoernemann, William Rhoda (Elder). 

2nd Row-
Rudolph Geiser (Deacon), Edward Snook (Deacon), Thomas Schulz (Deacon), Thomas Burkhardt (Trustee and Secretary), Valentine Heil (Trustee), William Wemmer (Trustee). 

3rd Row-
Henry Wemmer (Trustee and Treasurer), Oscar Frey (Deacon), George Klein (Trustee), Philip Dinkel (Deacon).   

June 2, 2015

Prominent Citizen

     Henry Deisel, Sr., was born in Gieselwerder, Germany on June 6, 1862. At the age of nineteen, he emigrated to America, coming to Lima in 1881. He had received a good education and was skillfully instructed in the craft of cigar making. In the early days, Henry rolled cigars at his home assisted by his wife, Emma Wolf Deisel, selling the product to the public. 
     He became associated with Henry Sonntag, a local pioneer of the profession. Through this association he met William and Henry Wemmer in 1891, forming the Deisel-Wemmer Co., later known as the Deisel-Wemmer-Gilbert Corporation.  
(Postcard image of the Deisel-Wemmer cigar factory)

     Initially the cigar company operated a small shop at 326 N. Main Street. Later a larger building on Main at the Pennsylvania R.R. was erected, with branches rapidly extending throughout the region. Soon the Deisel-Wemmer establishment became well known throughout the country and eventually worldwide. 
     Henry Deisel was also a deeply religious man. After early joining the German Reformed Church, his musical talents were immediately recognized. He became Choir Director for many decades, leading anthems in both German and English. On January 19, 1911, Mr. Deisel along with Fred Herold and George Urich as assistant directors formed the popular men's singing ensemble "Der Maennerchor" which was highly acclaimed in the area. 
     Blessed with an abundance of material goods and talents, Henry Deisel remained true to his Christian convictions, being a generous benevolent gentleman. 
      Sadly the vibrant life of Mr. Deisel came to a tragic end when he was thrown by his horse while riding on Eastown Road, suffering a heart attack, on November 29, 1932. 

      On the following day, this tribute was published in The Lima News:

"Lima became distinctly poorer yesterday through the death of Henry Deisel, Sr. The passing of this kindly friend and valuable citizen left a vacancy in the community that coming generations will find difficult to fill."
     Just a few days before his death, Mr. Deisel was honored at a banquet given in his honor by forty members of the choir. He expressed these humble words of appreciation:

"As long as the Lord gives me strength, I want to continue this work of church music for I have gotten to know the members of this choir and I love them."

[Coincidental note: Twenty-four hours after Mr. Deisel's passing, his associate in the cigar business, friend and fellow church member, William J. Wemmer, also died of a heart attack in Indianapolis...]

May 4, 2015

Women with a Mission

The Women's Missionary Society - 1938 
President - Miss Clara Greding

Front Row (Seated left to right)- 
Mrs. August Schaefer, Mrs. Anna Urich, Mrs. Anna Koch, Mrs. Cass Dibling, Lillian Klein Gerstenlauer, Inez Herold, Anna Klein, Clara Greding, Mrs. Mary Perry, Mrs. Lizzie King, Mrs. Anna Kinzer, Mrs. William Rhoda, Mrs. Philip Stelzer, Miss Sophia Hoff, Mrs. Bertha Holtkamp.  

Second Row (Standing left to right)
Mrs. Otto Gehm, Mrs. Lena Hart, Mrs. Anna Jerold, Mrs. Fred Snook, Mrs. Emma Weller Metheny, Mary Headapohl, Mrs. Mollie Weber, Miss Lena Stelzer, Mrs. Enos Burkholder, Mrs. Carl Rhoda, Miss Gretchen Albert, Mrs. Phillip Dinkel, Mrs. Anna Walker, Mrs. Katherine Steiner, Mrs. Thiesing, Mrs. Martha Garmhausen. 

April 14, 2015

Service with a Smile

Maxine Saddler
(Church Secretary for many years beginning February, 1956)  

      The following excerpt was from an undated article featured in The Lima News during the time of Maxine's service to our church:


(by Terri Leffler, Lima News Staff Writer)

       Serving some 1,000 church members in numerous capacities is her job.                   
       She is Mrs. Howard (Maxine) Saddler, First Evangelical & Reformed United Church of Christ church secretary. For six years Maxine has worked in the church office and says her activities range from sharpening pencils to attending women's meetings to keep up with various interests.  Mrs. Saddler is a member of Zion Lutheran Church, however, and explains she can better serve First E&R as a neutral party.   

       Among her services are such things as posting weekly envelope offerings, mailing all congregational literature, filling out certificates for baptisms, weddings, funerals, confirmations, and mimeographing Sunday bulletins, as well as program booklets and a monthly three page newspaper.                                                                                                                   

       Mrs. Saddler works the number of hours daily required to do her job. She says usually this is about four to six hours, and admits this arrangement is one of the nicest things about her job. "Actually," she declares, "I like the work very much- every part of it..." 

     The article mentioned Maxine was the secretary at her own church (Zion Lutheran) for five and a half years prior to accepting the position at First E&R. In her free time, Maxine and her husband were active members of the Floral Garden Club, which she served as Treasurer. They were also members of the Feather and Fin Fish Club.                                                                 

March 3, 2015

Confirmation Class - 1938

Confirmands with Rev. Reuben J. Schroer (in alphabetical order)-

John Alstetter, Betty Rose Arnold, Amelia Benny, Jean Chenoweth, Jack Crumrine, Eugene Denison, Dorothy Fridley, Dorothy Gierhart, Dorthala Gilmer, Joan Jennings, Jean McClintock, Rose Mumper, Betty Reese, Bruce Ring, Marilyn Stilgenbauer, Ruth Timmerman, Mary Walker, Eleanor Wildermuth.   

Confirmation Class - 1908

Confirmands with Rev. A.G. Gekeler (in alphabetical order)-

Mary Andregg, Alvina Armbrust, Harry Bauer, Martha Boegel, Leroy Clausing, William Degen, Helen Dickman, Edna Dinkel, Irene Dinkel, Sophia Feil, Ernest Guenther, Myrtle Haege, Frieda Herold, Amelia Leidner, Rupert Neubrecht, Irene Rhoda, Fred Schlosser, Evelyn Woll.   

February 4, 2015

Faithful Steward

Mr. George Klein
January 6, 1855 - December 26, 1932

     The outstanding record of Mr. George Klein, former Elder and choir member, cannot be erased from the memories of our congregation.  When God called him to a higher service on December 26, 1932, at the age of 77 years, Mr. Klein left an imprint on the life of the church he loved which is still plainly visible...
     The son of Martin and Catherine Herold Klein, George was born at Eubingheim, Baden, Germany on January 6, 1855, and came to the United States in 1872.  He soon became identified with the German Reformed Church of Lima, and as a young man joined the choir and was elected to the consistory. He was a member of the Building Committee for the 1887 church edifice. For almost 60-years he was a faithful member of the choir...and served as Elder of the consistory for about 40-years. Klein's devotion to his duties was unparalleled and he would give much attention to the sick. Often serving as a delegate to the Synod, he was also active in the Men's Bible Class of the Sunday School.  
     In a resolution adopted by the consistory on January 9, 1933, after his departure, it is recited:
     "The congregation will be lonesome without him. He gave to his church the best labor of his heart. In expressing our sympathy in the church's loss, we pray that the youth of the congregation may imitate his steadfastness, his faithfulness, and his loyalty to the cause of Christianity..."

(Information from the First E&R 100th Anniversary booklet)          

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