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ANNALS

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

— 2 CORINTHIANS 9:6-8

 

ONE CHURCH, MANY BUILDINGS

ALC was established as a mission church by the parishioners of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Jubilee north of La Porte City. Members of Jubilee, along with those of American Lutheran Church in Jesup, were instrumental in helping our new church assemble a meeting place. They helped build an altar with “red tapestry hangings,” and Jubilee loaned us an old pulpit. Seats from the town’s closed theater were purchased, which “required much sanding so the ladies would not snag their hose.”
Removal of much gum from the bottom of the seats also was noted. It was at this site that the church was officially chartered in 1944.


After two years in this initial church home, ALC worship was moved to the old theater in the Syndicate Block building on La Porte City’s Main Street. However, members found this setting dark and dreary, and in less than a year, worship was moved again in a sharing agreement with the United Brethren Church on the corner of Third and Walnut Streets. Sunday School was held in the basement of the Legion Hall at 301 Commercial Street.


This was a temporary arrangement, as ALC congregants had found it time to construct their own church building. On lot space donated by a local banker, ground was broken for the new church at 710 Bishop Avenue in September 1946, and the congregation officially moved in and began worship there in January 1948. During that same timeframe, the church purchased its first parsonage at 301 Walnut Street.


The church’s rapid growth through the 1950s necessitated two services and eventually led to the decision to plan for expansion on a larger property. The congregation purchased six adjoining lots from the “Merchant Estate” in 1959, which included a large home at the corner of Pine and Iowa Streets. This house was used initially as the parish hall and pastor’s study, then was remodeled to become the parsonage in 1962. The pastor and his family lived on the first two floors, and Sunday School was held in the basement.


Construction of the current church building began in June 1965, and the first service was held in July 1966, with official dedication of the building in August 1966. Interestingly, the church was without a pastor at this time, as the preceding pastor resigned in July 1966, and the new one was not installed until November 1966.


The congregation voted to demolish the Pine Street parsonage in 1984. Sunday School was moved to the basement of the new church. Without a parsonage, the church found it challenging to attract a new pastor, so the current parsonage at 609 Locust Street was purchased in 1988.


Recognizing the need for more space for the ever-growing congregation to accommodate Christian education, fellowship and church business, a capital campaign for a church expansion was launched in 2007. This project included expanding the fellowship hall; relocating and rebuilding the kitchen; adding Sunday School and multi-purpose rooms; building offices and work space for the pastor and church secretary; and constructing a covered, drive-up entrance on the west side of the church. Ground-breaking for this remodeling and addition project took place in April 2008, and the finished project was dedicated in April 2009.


Over the years, the church properties have been supported not only by the financial contributions to purchase and build them, but also by the tireless dedication of many individuals to repair, enhance and maintain them. We are truly blessed with a wonderful setting in which to practice our faith, share fellowship, and do God’s work.

ALC'S LEADERS IN FAITH

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1944-48

PASTOR SIG SANDROCK was the founding pastor of American Lutheran Church in 1944. He also was the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Jubilee in rural La Porte City, which established ALC as a mission church. Pastor Sandrock organized the congregational charter and was at the congregation’s helm during the construction of the first church building on Bishop Avenue. He delivered the sermon on the first day of services in the new building in January 1948, and was replaced later that year when the congregation called its first full-time pastor.

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1948-51

PASTOR HOWARD HAHN answered the call and became ALC’s first full-time, resident pastor, along with his wife, Vera, and two children in 1948. The young congregation grew quickly under his leadership in the post-war, “Baby Boom” years. A Ladies Aid group, Junior Choir and Vacation Bible School were established during his tenure.

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1951-54

PASTOR THEODORE SCHROEDER was installed as the pastor in July of 1951. Under his leadership, a new Hammond organ was purchased, replacing an older model that had been donated by a church in Holstein, Iowa. Pastor Schroeder’s wife, Alice, was a talented musician, and gave an organ recital shortly after the purchase. Their son, Rodney, was born during their residence in La Porte City, which lasted until he accepted a call to another church in January 1954.

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1955-59

PASTOR KENNETH POHLMANN joined the congregation in March 1955, along with his wife, Kathryn, and three children. It was during his tenure that the church acquired the six-lot “Merchant property” at the intersection of Iowa and Pine Streets where the current church now is located. In the years of Pastor Pohlmann’s service, many new activities also were started, including a Senior Choir, Men’s Brotherhood group, annual Mother-Daughter and Father-Son Banquets, a Couple’s Club, and Fireside Chat meetings.

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1960-66

PASTOR CHRIS OTTMAR was installed in November 1960, and was the ALC pastor in place during the construction of the current church building. He, his wife, Shirley, and children, Anthony, Pamela and Kimberly, resided in the parsonage on the new church property at 800 Pine Street. Much energy and time during Pastor Ottmar’s period of service was dedicated to the planning, funding and construction of the new church, which was dedicated in August 1966.

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1966-69

PASTOR ROBERT THOMS assumed pastoral duties in November 1966, accompanied by his wife, Audrey, and children, Carol and Paul. Under his leadership in the brand-new church building, even more opportunities for involvement arose, including a Men’s Fellowship group and two women’s Bible study groups. The American Lutheran Church Women (ALCW) also became very active during this time.

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1969-83

PASTOR JOHN JACKLIN began the second-longest tenure as pastor of ALC when he was installed in August 1969. Pastor Jacklin’s parsonage family included his mother, Emma and sister, Doris, who sadly passed away during his time at ALC. In his years at American Lutheran, the congregation’s annual Easter Breakfast, continuous communion, coffee fellowship hour, monthly newsletter and Community Christmas Tea all were established. When Pastor Jacklin’s health began to fail, the congregation presented him with the gift of a trip to the Holy Land. He died while still the sitting ALC pastor in May 1983.

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1983-87

PASTOR LAURA SCHERWIN became the first female pastor of American Lutheran Church upon her installation in September 1983. Pastor Scherwin’s husband, Steven Herder, was concurrently the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Jubilee in rural La Porte City. While at ALC, Pastor Scherwin worked with the church council to establish committees and provide more opportunities for leadership within the church. She also engaged members in church services as lay assistants, lectors, acolytes, greeters and ushers. During her tenure, the mortgage on the church was paid in full, and ALC took on a mission partner in Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Bloomfield, Iowa.

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1988-95

PASTOR OTTO REITZ was installed in August 1988. He and his wife, LaVerne, who were the parents of five grown sons, moved into the newly purchased parsonage on Locust Street. Pastor Reitz oversaw the paving of the church parking lot, along with a large outreach project to support Bremwood Lutheran Children’s Home in Waverly. The church celebrated its 50th Anniversary during Pastor Reitz’ tenure, holding the first annual Pork Chop Dinner as a part of that celebration in 1994. Pastor Reitz resigned from the church and retired from full-time ministry in January 1995.

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1995-2016

PASTOR J. DOUGLAS ROKKE started the stretch of the longest-serving pastor of American Lutheran Church to date when he was installed in April 1995. Pastor Rokke was joined by his wife, Randi, and children, Martina, Nelson and Kirsten. The entire Rokke family was musically gifted, and Randi served as the church music and choir director. All three Rokke children attended the Union Community School District, and graduated from Union High School. A hallmark of Pastor Rokke’s years at ALC was the formation of Lenten soup suppers and services on Wednesday evenings, which often included “faith stories” shared by members. During Pastor Rokke’s tenure, a capital campaign was undertaken for a church remodeling and expansion project, which was dedicated in 2009. Pastor Rokke announced that he was entering semi-retirement and resigned from the church in July 2016.

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2017-2022

PASTOR NATHAN CLEMENTS installed in September 2017. Pastor Clements joined American Lutheran Church after seven years of full-time outdoor ministry at Badlands Ministries in Medora, North Dakota and Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp in Lakeside, Montana. He and his wife, Emily, welcomed their first child, Jonathan, in August 2019. It is under Pastor Clements’ leadership that we celebrate 75 years of worshiping, learning, leading and growing together at ALC.

 

FOUNDATIONS AND MILESTONES

American Lutheran Church’s 75 years have been marked by a number of significant milestones, starting with the first formal church service on October 8, 1944. The official charter for the church was issued the following year. Charter members included:

 

• Henry and Marie Bauer • George Bradehoft • Clair DeNeut • Richard and Sophie DeNeut

• Loreen Driscoll • Cecil and Irma Feller • Sam and Mary Fleisher • Mathilda Frahm

• Alice and Leonard Grote • Edward and Selma Hoppe • Oren and Gwendolyn Hoyt

• Charles and Anna Garling • Meta Jurgens • Helen Johannsen • Ted and Minnie Huck

• Alfred and Clara Pierce • Elmer and Elizabeth Rasche • Florence Taylor • Wendel and Elsie Taylor

• Elizabeth Wagmer • Ralph and Maxine Waller • Wayne and Mildred Weisert

 

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1948

1959

1965

The first church building on Bishop Avenue was opened to the congregation in January 1948.

The first Vacation Bible School was held in 1948 with 28 students and four teachers.

The “Merchant Estate” of six lots at the intersection of Iowa and Pine Streets was purchased in July 1959.

Construction of the current church building commenced in June 1965. The first service was held in the new building in July 1966.

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1970s

The congregational Easter Breakfast began in the early 1970s, with the Men’s Fellowship group and Adult Choir serving. Since 1980, the Easter Breakfast has been a project of the Senior Luther League.

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1976

The eternal flame in the church sanctuary was donated by the family of Paul Siefken, who was killed in a car accident in 1976. His wife Jean, and children, Jon (7) and Julie (4) left La Porte City to be closer to family shortly thereafter, but presented the gift of the eternal flame to the congregation in his memory.

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1986

After retiring the mortgage on the new church building, ALC adopted a mission church in Bloomfield, Iowa, starting in 1986. Over the next three years, members of the two churches visited back and forth, and $12,000 was presented to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. The funds were sourced from private gifts by ALC members, church fundraisers, tithes from the Sunday School children, and Vacation Bible School offerings.

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1988

The congregational Easter Breakfast began in the early 1970s, with the Men’s Fellowship group and Adult Choir serving. Since 1980, the Easter Breakfast has been a project of the Senior Luther League.

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1992

The eternal flame in the church sanctuary was donated by the family of Paul Siefken, who was killed in a car accident in 1976. His wife Jean, and children, Jon (7) and Julie (4) left La Porte City to be closer to family shortly thereafter, but presented the gift of the eternal flame to the congregation in his memory.

AMERICAN LUTHERAN CHURCH AT 75 YEARS (1944-2019)

Thank you dear Lord for this family of faith
Seventy-five years blessed by your Grace


Thank you for the Word that is with us forever
Spreading your light is our great endeavor


Thank you for creation, and for all your gifts on us bestowing
Stir in us your spirit, with your praises overflowing


Thank you for all saints before us, teaching us to pray
Guiding us down the path of life, inspiring faith that will stay


Thank you for the children, you are placing in our stead
Help us teach them of your love, for all their days ahead


Thank you for our pastors, faithfully serving you over the years
Seeing us through life's ups and downs, drying many tears


Thank you for forgiveness, our sins are washed away
Through your body and your blood, in humility we obey


Thank you for our heritage, our lives we live for you
Seventy-five years and counting, telling the old story tried and true

by SALLY SIDES
February, 2019