Sketch of the History
First Evangelical Lutheran Church, U. A. C.,
Among the earliest settlers of East Tennessee were a number of thrifty German Lutheran families who had come across the mountains from Virginia and North and South Carolina. As early as 1813, Lutheran missionaries made regular trips through East Tennessee administering the Word and the Sacraments to their German brethren who were scatted throughout the mountains and valleys. And their work was not in vain; for already, in 1816, these German Lutherans had established a Theological Seminary in Greene County, Tennessee, whose president was that indefatigable pastor and missionary, Rev. Philipp Henkel. And but four years later, in 1820, the German Ev. Lutheran Tennessee Synod was organized at Solomon's church, East Tennessee, by five pastors and nineteen delegates.
Although there were quite a number of German Lutherans in Knoxville, yet we find no record of an attempt to organize a German Lutheran church at that time. Before and during the late war the Lutherans of this vicinity were served occasionally by the Rev. Wilkens, of Wartburg, Tenn. After he had accepted a call as professor to Gettysburg, Pa., Seminary, the Revs. Eggers and Bachmann, of Nashville, Tenn., looked after the spiritual welfare of the Lutherans at Knoxville. During the time from 1867-69, various futile attempts were made to organize a German Lutheran congregation. September 2, 1867, a number of German Lutherans bought a lot on corner Broad and Asylum sts., from Mr. G. W. Watkins, for church purposes, at a cost of $900.00. In 1868 a charter was applied for by the Messrs. Dr. Ed. Goetz, John A Aurin, Carl Baum, Ferd Aurin, Peter Kern. The charter passed both houses of the legislature on March 3rd, 1868.
In 1869 the Rev. Passavant, D. D., of Pittsburg [sic], Pa., who carefully watched the interests of the Germans in the South, appealed to the Rev. Grossmann, then president of the German Ev. Lutheran Iowa Synod, to send a missionary to Tennessee, especially to Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville. Rev. Grossmann appointed the Rev. John Heckel, of Mendota, Ill., to make a tour of inspection through the eastern part of the state.
Rev. Heckel arrived in Knoxville during the first week of October, 1869, and preached his first sermon on the 10th of that month.
Monday, Oct. 11, 1969, at 7:30 p.m., about twenty German Lutherans assembled in Mr. Peter Kern's Hall, No. 7, Market square, and resolved to organize a German Lutheran congregation. A constitution and by-laws were drawn up, discussed, and unanimously accepted.
A second business meeting was held Tuesday, October 12, '69, in which the formal organization of The First German Evangelical Lutheran Church, U. A. C., of Knoxville, Tennessee, was effected, twenty-two men signing the constitution, viz: John A Aurin, Dr. Ed. Goetz, Ferd Aurin, Carl Baum, Geo. Fuches, Ferd. Mueller, T. E. Aurin, Christian Sturm, John Lichtenwanger, Carl Aurin, Julius Aurin, H. J. Haverkorn, A. Setzepfand, Leonhard Schweickerd, John Hiller, C. Belitz, John Meeh, John Marquardt, George Nagel, Jos. Fanz, Peter Kern, Wm. Fisher.
The first Church council was elected in the same meeting; it was composed of the following members: Dr. Ed. Goetz, President; Peter Kern, Treasurer; Carl Baum, John A. Aurin, Geo. Fuchs, Ferd Aurin.
On Sunday, October 17, 1869, the first children were baptized in the new congregation, viz: Emma Marquardt and Minnie Lichtenwanger.
October 19, 1869, the Rev. John Heckel was duly called as the first pastor of the congregation. He accepted the call and held his inaugural sermon December 19, 1869, in an old Methodist Church. The congregation then rented the old Hampden-Sydney Academy, where regular and parish day-school were held.
Immediately after Rev. Heckel's arrival the congregation resolved to build a church on the lot on Asylum street. The contract was let to Mr. M. C. Fahnenstock & Co., January 29, 1870, who was to receive $597.00 for work, the congregation furnishing all materials. Among the workers on the old church building, were John A Aurin, Ferdinand Aurin, Carl Aurin and Julius T. Aurin, who labored with their own hands in erecting the building. The Glass for the windows, some of which are now in the present Sunday school of the new church, was furnished by John L. Lichtenwanger. Hon. Peter Kern and Ferd. Miller, Sr., rendered material assistance in the building of the church.
June 5, 1870, the basement of the Church was so far completed that the first service could be held in the large school-room.
August 30, 1870, Clara Concordia, the beloved wife of Rev. Heckel, died peacefully in the confession of Jesus' redemption.
September 25, 1870, the now finished church was solemnly dedicated to the service of the triune God. The pastor, Rev. John Heckel, delivered the German sermon on Psalm 84; and the venerable Rev. Abel J. Brown, D. D., of Blountsville, Tenn., the English one on I. Peter 2:6. The Church had cost five thousand and some odd dollars, every cent of which was paid before another year passed by.
In December, 1874, Rev. Heckel accepted a call to Nashville, Tenn., whereupon Mr. Geo. Schaid, a candidate for the ministry, of Philadelphia, Pa., was called. He was installed July 16, 1875, by Rev. G. H. Cox, then President of the Ev. Luth. Holston Synod.
March 15, 1881, a pipe organ was bought for $560.00. $500 of the sum by donated by Mr. E. W. Echkhardt.
April 8, 1883, a vacant lot on Union street, suitable for a parsonage, was bought for $600.00. This lot was sold September 13, 1886, for $1,200.00, and the proceeds used to buy a house and lot, No. 140, Luttrell street.
July 31, 1887, Rev. Schaid accepted a call as President and Professor of North Carolina College, at Mt. Pleasant, N. C. The vacancy was filled August 28, 1887, by calling Mr. J. R. Lauritzen, who had come South on a lecture tour in behalf of the temperance cause.
February 10, 1889, the parsonage an [sic] Luttrell street was sold for $1,800.00, and the congregation resolved the same day to erect a suitable parsonage on the rear part of the church lot on Broad street. The new parsonage was finished June 9, 1889. It had cost $1,742.68.
Rev. J. R. Lauritzen having resigned his pastorate February 14, 1892 the congregation called Rev. Julius A. Friedrich, (then pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel's Church at Chattanooga, Tenn.,) on the 15th of May, 1892. He arrived at Knoxville, June 7th, and was installed on the 12th of June, 1892, (Trinity Sunday), by the Rev. C.C. Schmidt , of St. Louis, Mo., President of the Western District of the Ev. Lutheran. Missouri Synod. Pastor Friedrich held his inaugural sermon June 19, 1892.
August 7, 1892, congregation resolved to re-open the parish school, the pastor to act as teacher.
September 6, 1892, day school opened with an enrollment of 26 children.
October 7, 192, congregation by unanimous vote resolved to server its connection with the Evangelical Lutheran Holston Synod.
October 22, 1893, the first official visitation was held by the Rev. J. G. Goehringer, of Wartburg, Tenn.
April 8, 194, congregation calls Prof. Oscar Katthain, of Lutheran Normal College at Addison, Ills. [sic], as principal of the parish school. He was installed August 26, 1894.
September 30, 1894, congregation celebrated its 25th anniversary in special services.
October 13, 1895, congregation ordered regular English services every Sunday evening.
October 11, 1896, congregation resolved with but one dissenting vote to join the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri.
In October 1896 the congregation resolved to apply for membership in the Lutheran Synod of Missouri.
October 14, 1897, at the convention of the Western district of the Missouri Synod the aforesaid application was received and favorably acted upon.
February 3, 1907, Rev. Julius A. Friedrich accepted a call to the congregation at St. Charles, Mo. (note: the year should read, "1901" instead of "1907")
February 10, 1901, Rev. Wm. Brand, of Milwaukee, Wis., was elected as pastor of the congregation.
April 14, 1901, installation of Rev. Wm. Brand by Rev. Julius A Friedrich.
December 15, 1902, the congregation accepted the offer of the Louisville & Nashville R. R. to buy our church property, corner of Broad and Asylum Avenue for $14,000.00.
January 25, 1903, the congregation decided to buy the E. C. Camp lot corner Broadway and Fifth Avenue for $5000.00.
June 28, 1903, the cornerstone of the new church was laid, Prof. Ed. Koehler of Mosheim, Tenn., officiating.
On the same day the congregation sent a call to Prof. Ed. Koehler who shortly after accepted the call and was installed October 11, 1903.
September 13, 1903, Rev. Wm. Brand accepted a call to Pittsburg, Pa.
March 20, 1904, the new church, corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, was dedicated. The total expenses for the lot, rebuilding of parsonage and construction of church building being $16,693.35.
June, 1904, Prof. Wm. Kammrath accepted our call as Teacher, serving up to June 13, 1907, when he was called to Zions congregation of Chicago, Ill. Mrs. Coutant was secured to fill the vacancy in the school.
September 27, 1908, Rev. Ed. Koehler accepted the call as Prof. at the Lutheran Teachers' Seminary, Addison, Ill., and preached his farewell sermon January 3, 1909.
May 2, 1909, Rev. C. J. Fricke from Aurora, Ill., was install by Prof. Geo. Luecke of Conover, N. C.
May 22, 1909, Prof. Wm. Buck accepted our call as teacher.
July 11, 1909, the congregation authorized the Trustees to buy the Heidel property, 535 W. Fifth Avenue, as teacher's residence, for $3500.00
August, 1911, Prof. W. Buck resigned.
November 26, 1911, Rev. C. H. Fricke accepted a call to Aurora, Ill.
March 31, 1912, the congregation called Rev. C. L. Mueller of Hemlock, Mich.
June 2, 1912, Rev. C. L. Mueller was installed by Prof. Weiss of Conover, N. C.
August 15, 1914, Prof. F. B. Miller accepted our call and was installed August 17th, serving until his resignation July 15, 1915.
November 26, 1915, Rev. C. L. Mueller accepted a call to Black Jack, Mo. and preached his farewell sermon December 19, 1915.
April 9, 1916, the congregation called Rev. H. Kellermann of St. Louis, Mo., who was installed May 14, 1916 by Rev. Paul G. Heckel, of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In July, 1916, Prof. C. Michel accepted our call.
October 14, 1917, Rev. H. Kellermann resigned on account of ill health.
November 11, 1917, Rev. H. Kellermann preached his farewell sermon
In December, 1917, the new pipe organ was installed. The old organ was given in part payment on the new organ, and the remaining part since paid off in full.
In March, 1918, Rev. K. Kretzschmar of Hastings, Neb., accepted our call and was installed by Rev. O. Graebner of Chattanooga, Tennessee, on April 14, 1918.
On August 18, 1918, the congregation called Prof. W. W. Rittamel of Staplehurst, Neb., to fill the vacancy in the parish school
Prof. W. W. Rittamel was installed September 22, 1918.
The congregation having decided to sell the Heidel property, which had been used for our teacher's residence, it being inconvenient to our school, and of late years our teachers being single men, the property was accordingly sold for $3500 cash, and the only debt of the congregation paid off.
April 12, 1919, the congregation concluded one of the most successful campaigns in its history for good work, viz; a drive to raise funds for the three million dollar Endowment Fund for the support of superannuated ministers and teachers and the widows and orphans of such as have died. The drive resulted in subscriptions amounting to over $1000.00 the greater part having been paid in.
October 12, 1919, Fiftieth Anniversary of the organization of the congregation. Sermons by Rev. Julius A. Friedrich of St. Charles, Missouri, and Prof. Ed. Koehler of River Forest, Ill.
October 13, 1919, congregation at this time has no debts on its church property, and with exception of a few current accounts, is free from debt.
Legacies have been given to the congregation by the following:
- Mr. C. Sturm, $100.00
- Mrs. C. Sturm, $100.00
- Miss Lizzie Aurin, $100.00
- Mrs. Rosalie Heidel, $300.00
- Mr. E. Q. Eckhardt, $300.00
- Mr. Jacob Friedrich, $100.00
- Mrs. E. Beli'z [sic] $100.00
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