A Brief History of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
Our congregation began as a small group gathered around God’s Word. Rev. Boerneke of Poplar Grove conducted biweekly services on Sunday afternoons at the homes of Edward Lueck and Louis Schleicher. When Rev. Boerneke left Poplar Grove in the fall of 1895, Rev. Paul Hinderer of Grace and St. John’s, rural Goodhue served the small group. On January 2, 1896, an organizational meeting was held under Pastor Hinderer’s supervision. During this meeting, they adopted a constitution based upon the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and chose the name: Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Goodhue County, Minnesota. The first class of eight was confirmed on August 29, 1897. The first church building, located on south Main Street was dedicated on July 10, 1898. The cost of the project, which included the purchase of two lots and moving an old school building, amounted to $1,600-$2,000. Church records indicate that the Ladies Aid contributed many of the furnishings for the church. The Lord has blessed our congregation over the hundred and nine years of its existence.
Since it’s founding, the Lord has provided the congregation with eight resident pastors.
Rev. Rudolph Jeske received the call to be pastor of both Christ Lutheran and St. John’s Lutheran, Minneola Township. He served faithfully from 1900-1906. During his ministry at Christ Lutheran Church, the congregation authorized worship services in English which were held once a month in the evening. The first Lenten services were held on Wednesday evenings in 1903.
Rev. David Metzger served as the second resident pastor from 1907-1919. He organized the Sunday School in September 1908.
Rev. Frederich Zarling served as the congregation’s third resident pastor. His installation took place on December 14, 1919. On January 11, 1920, the Minneola and Zumbrota congregations met and decided to dissolve the joint parish. On February 12, 1920, the congregation voted to join the Joint Synod of Wisconsin and Other States. On March 2, 1924, the congregation decided to build a new church building at the cost of $25,000. Pastor Zarling preached his farewell sermon on September 12, 1926.
Rev. Paul E. Horn was installed as the fourth resident pastor on November 21, 1926. He served faithfully until October 24, 1950. The first issue of the Parish Messenger was printed on May 15, 1936.
Our fifth resident pastor was Herbert F. Muenkel. He was installed on December 5, 1950 and served until his retirement on July 3, 1983. During his ministry the congregation approved plans to build an educational building on January 27, 1958. The building was used for Sunday school. Christ Lutheran School opened in 1977.
Rev. Carl Ziemer was installed as our sixth resident pastor on Sunday, July 24, 1983. On April 24, 1988, the congregation held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new church entry with a cost not to exceed $170,000. During the summer of 2001, the sanctuary of the church underwent an extensive renovation at the cost of $202,520. This renovation also involved the purchase of a new organ. The remodeled sanctuary and organ were dedicated on October 7, 2001. Kids of Christ Learning Center opened in the fall of 2001. In February of 2002, Pastor Ziemer accepted the call to serve as the Administrator of Special Ministries for the Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod. He preached his last sermon here on May 26, 2002.
Pastor Wayne Schoch was installed as our seventh resident pastor on September 8, 2002. At that time the congregation resolved to work toward calling an associate pastor to better carry out the work of God’s kingdom in Zumbrota. The Lord answered our prayers and on August 29, 2004, Erich Westphal was installed as our eighth resident pastor (Aug. 29, 2004 - Feb. 2009). The kitchen in the church basement was remodeled with new wall, floors, cabinets and appliances with the project completed in the spring of 2005.
Praise God for His blessings of faithful pastors.
Christ Lutheran has been privileged to assist the Wisconsin Synod in training its pastors. Eleven vicars served under Pastor Muenkel: Jerome Enderle (1971-1972); Wayne Rouse (1973-1974); Thomas Zahn (1974-1975); Daniel Nitz (1975-1976); Rick Curia (1976-1977) George Pavia (1977-1978); Stephen Casai (1978-1979); Martin Bauer (1979-1980); Mark Barenz (1980-1981); Larry Pontel (1981-1982); and Kenneth Nelson (1982-1983).
Eight vicars served the congregation under Pastor Ziemer: Joseph Wright (1993-1994); Todd Engel (1994-1995); Matthew Martin (1995-1996); Charles Vanniewenhoven (1996-1997); Mr. Stafford (1997-1998); Chad Wright (1998-1999); Michael Sheppard (1999-2000); Lance McMorrow (2000-2001) and Troy Swenson (2001-2002).
So far, eight vicars have served the congregation under Pastor Schoch: Nathan Wilke (2003-2004), Matthew Nowak (2009-2010), Jeffrey Sonntag (2010-2011), Matthew Kimmel (2011-2012), Jeffery Drake (2013-2014), Timothy Patoka (2014-2015), Larry Neitzel (2015-2016), and Nathan Laska (2017-2018).