Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
Holy Cross school in Collinsville is celebrating Lutheran Schools Week with a different assembly even each day. Yesterday two Golden Retrievers from the Lutheran Church Charities Comfort Dog program arrived to lots of 'aw' sounds. Noah is a 21 month old retriever who is permanently a part of Timothy Lutheran Church in south St. Louis and Concordia Seminary. He spends his days going to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, places of sadness and joy. Esther is a 9 month old puppy who is in training to do what Noah and all the other Comfort Dogs do.
Holy Cross has completed all the paper work and other procedures necessary to get their own dog and after yesterday, many of us are hoping Esther will be given to us.
Holy Cross in Collinsville was established in 1848 and saw the construction of 3 church buildings with the last being what is used for worship currently.
The first was a brick structure, the second made of wood frame. (1855)
Then in 1914 it was decided by the members that a bigger church was necessary, the cornerstone was laid and construction finished in 1915. It began with Pastor von Strohe and finished with pastor Klein.
This is how it looked in 1915. Over the years the front entrance has been altered to allow for fewer steps and for a more centered access. The cost was estimated to be $21,350 for the building and $30,000 for necessary furnishings. Member John Schroeppel donated half the bricks needed, Henry Eberhardt was the builder, the organ bought from the Wicks organ company ($2000), carpet paid for by the Ladies Aid, 3 good bells paid for by the Young Men's Society and the stained glass windows paid for by individual members.
As a side note, builder Henry Eberhardt was also the builder of the Miner's theater as well as the UMB 1st National Bank.
Interestingly, what was the front entrance shown in the picture above was bricked over in around 1948 or somewhat later. But if you look at the left side of the building, you can see the outline of the original doorway very clearly. How this can be mystifies me, but so it is.
Here is a better view of the old door shadow, Click to enlarge the pictures to see better.
And looking at the church from another angle, you can see other designs in the brickwork.
But you have to make the pictures bigger to see.
Oddly, another Lutheran church, Zion, was established in 1847 one year before Holy Cross and a new church around the same time (1920-ish) and was/is almost a twin of Holy Cross. It stands without much alteration from the original in Palmyra Missouri.
This church is still active but whoa, those outside stairs. As you can see, they did not change much, especially the entry. Their windows and pews and altar are in the same places and in the same numbers as Holy Cross's. The windows have the same stained glass borders but the images in the center are different. How amazing is this?
Holy Cross window
Interesting to go back in time and see what has continued.
I see there are 27 Lutherans this term and they make up 5 percent of the Congress and Lutherans as a whole make up 5 percent of the American population. Funny, I'm around Lutherans so much I tend to believe there are more than 5 percent nationwide.
I saw this Tweet from the folks at Five Thirty Eight. 538 does a lot of surveying and prognosticating on topics currently before us. They're big during election years. But this morning their survey results were all about Christmas-who likes it, who shops, what we do and on and on. This is the Tweet:
Only 10 percent of Americans say they look forward to attending religious activities during the holiday season.
I thought to myself, "wow, this can't be right. Who on earth did they survey?" So I read the entire article and the info on Christmas church going was near the end and in reality, the headline is totally misleading. They made it sound as if this 10 percent was 10 percent of everyone. It wasn't. It was 10 percent of those Americans who do not normally attend religious services. Not nearly 10 percent of all Americans.
And here's one more throw away headline, this time from the Clayton Richmond Heights Patch who's reporters must be having trouble coming up with stories right now.
One section on Patheos, a website which explores the world's faith, is a Catholic channel named the Crescat. This month Crescat contributor/writer, Katrina Fernandez, is uploading a daily photo or video of what she calls craptastic Nativity Scenes. One odd or weird Nativity which she has found from many different sources. As of this morning there are two, should be another sometime today.
After seeing a couple and knowing there are more to come, at some point it struck me as a sorry reflection of our culture. While some will likely be cute and humorous, others are going to be just a strange takeoff on tradition. I don't know about you, but I'm just kind of weary of takeoffs on the Biblical.
We have folders full of newpaper clippings detailing news out of Germany from 1989 through the early 90's. It's a timeline progression of sorts describing how Lutheran churches and pastors have moved from persecution to freedom of worship and belief. This particular story was written for the Collinsville Herald in April of 1990, just a few months after the Wall fell.
This photo shows the headline.
The second is a the picture of German pastor Hans Joachim Beeskow, the subject of the story.
And the story. You may recognize a Collinsville name, Archie Schoenbeck, who was the interpreter. I remember so well Archie doing this quite often in those days. You may have to enlarge this story to read it better.
Good Shepherd's Pastor, Dennis Kastens, was very involved with Germany and the church in those days as was Dale and the Lutheran Laymens League. Which explains a national story in the Collinsville paper.
Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. It was while watching this happening on the news that Dale, who was then working for the Lutheran Hour, got on the phone to people in the Lutheran Hour Ministries office to discuss the possiblity of getting over to Berlin to make connections with East German Lutheran pastors. After this was finalized, he took off for the first of many trips to what had been Eastern Germany. So many Lutheran pastors had stories and stories of how things had been for them working under an anti religious government.
I started a search for some older photos of his trips over there but alas! There was no such thing as digital photography back in 1989 or internet or cell phones. It doesn't seem that long ago, but in technology age, it was the end of the dark ages. As serious as these trips were, as religious freedom gradually arose, Dale did come home with a couple of pieces of memorabilia. A piece of the Berlin Wall he picked up as he walked along it and a model East German Trabi car. Probably one of the least exciting cars ever made, but that was what the people had.
He actually brought back a number of chunks of the Wall, this is one he has displayed in his office.
After a time, some of the East German pastors were able to come to this country to speak with synod and LHM officials. Oh the stories they told.
Many members of Holy Cross spent Thursday and Friday making apple butter the old fashioned way by peeling and slicing many bushels of apples then cooking in coppper kettles fired with wood. Today those who ordered these most sought after fruit spread got to pick them up.
The finished jars and these are only part of the batch which was made.
This is a decades old tradition at Holy Cross. Here are a couple of photos from what I'd guess is the 1950's. Some of the grandchildren/great grandchildren of those pictured here were working on this year's applebutter.
See the Catsup bottle in the background of the photo above?