HOLY CROSS LUTHERAN PROGRESS IN 1959
by W. T. Block
Even as the previous year had provided exciting moments for the fledgling congregation of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, the succeeding year of 1959 promised even greater successes, namely, the completion of a new church building. On the first Sabbath day of the year, a new infant, Donna Ruth Bryant, was baptized.47 Holy Cross Ladies Aid installed its new slate of officers on January 13th.48 Lawrence Schkade built a scale model of the new church. On February 5th, there was a church leaders' dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church, at which Rev. O. Reinboth, executive secretary of the Southern District, was the featured speaker.49
Early in February, Pastor Schmid announced that the Lenten season would begin on Ash Wednesday, February 11, and continue through Good Friday, March 27.50 On February 8th, five adults were received into membership, including Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Schaefer, Mr. and Mrs. Haralds Smits, and Mrs. Helen Perkins.51 The membership accepted the architect's drawings of the outside of the church, which were soon sent to the Mission Board and accepted by them. On February 15th, Rev. Seidensticker, assistant director, spoke to the congregation about the Bethesda Lutheran Home for the Handicapped at Watertown, Wisconsin.52
The church bulletin of March 15th explained the the District Church Extension Fund had loaned Holy Cross $11,250 on June 5, 1958, with which to purchase land, and would loan the church $50,000 (later increased) to build the church. In return, area Missouri Synod churches were expected to loan a total of $36,000 to the Extension Fund to be ear-marked for the Holy Cross sanctuary. During the previous ten years, sixty missions had been built, and each of them had secured loans from the Church Extension Fund.53
On March 29th, a joint Sunrise Easter Service was conducted at the Don Drive-in Theatre on Highway 69 by the five south-county Missouri Synod congregations. The Holy Cross choir participated, and Pastor Schmid delivered the message. Also on Easter, the bulletin explained that, although offerings were near the budget requirements, they were still short of the $200 weekly goal.54 Attendance and offerings for the first quarter of 1959 averaged as follows: Sunday School, 54; church attendance, 78; and weekly offerings, $172.
In April, 1959, the Holy Cross Ladies Aid were also quite active. They viewed a film from the Lutheran Home for the Deaf, revised their constitution, and began saving S and H green stamps to exchange for stainless steel flat ware for the church.55
On April 12th, little Iva Gale Morgan was baptized. As of that date, Holy Cross members had loaned $2,600 to the Extension Fund, and within a few weeks, that figure would increase to $4,400. A children's choir was organized.56 A newspaper article of April 30 observed that: ".....The (new church) structure will be in contemporary design, with steep roof, exposed beams, slender spire, and striking simplicity and frankness throughout....."57
The voters' meeting of May 13th considered the church's specifications and blueprints before forwarding them on to Austin, at which time the Mission Board approved them and authorized a call for bids from contractors. During May, most of the church families were visited during an "Every Member Visit For Evangelism" program. On April 19th, five new members and two children were received into the church, namely: Mr. and Mrs. A. Morvant and two children, Mr. and Mrs. Emmett Boehm, and Mr. A. R. Theriot. On May 31st, the congregation assembled in the Port Neches Park for its annual picnic.58
The Holy Cross Vacation Bible School was conducted from June 1 to 12th, with a special VBS program on June 12th. Eight adults and 51 children participated, with an average attendance of 41. On June 14, Mr. and Mrs. R. Major and four children and Mrs. F. Clotiaux were received into membership. Plans for the new church were forwarded to contractors for bids. Fifty children's hymnals were donated to Holy Cross in memory of Mrs. Martha Fischer by her children, and on June 30th, the Holy Cross Walther Leaguers met for their second organizational meeting. During the second quarter of 1959, attendance and offerings had increased considerably, averaging: Sunday School, 79; church attendance, 85; and weekly offerings, $183.59
On July 2, bids on the new church were opened, and negotiations with the low bidder began. A recommendation was mailed to Austin by July 6th, and the Mission Board soon increased the new loan to $61,860. On July 12th, Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Proft, Jr. and two children and Mr. J. E. Tate were added to the membership rolls. On July 27, a contract for the new church was signed with Giblin and Simmons Construction Company, and on July 19th, a ground-breaking ceremony for the new sanctuary was conducted. On July 29, an organ fund for the new church was begun.60
On August 2, 1959, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Wiegmann were received into membership by confirmation. On August 3, the parsonage fund equity loan of $3,800 was paid off. The Walther League accepted its constitution and elected its first officers. During Rev. and Mrs. Schmid's vacation, August 17 through September 3rd, Rev. E. Heckmann of Orange served as vacation pastor.61
Also during August, Nederland's Midcounty Review published an excellent article about Lutheranism in America. As of 1959, the Missouri Synod's 2,443,000 communicant members numbered about one-third of North America's eight million Lutherans, but the Missouri Synod operated three-fourths of the Lutheran parochial schools, 1,267 out of 1,668, serving 178,000 students and teachers.62
On September 4, the foundation for the new sanctuary was poured. Gifts received for the new church included candle holders, bulletin board, clergy chair, and 19 of the 26 pews, which cost $67.50 each. The new Sunday School rooms were being roofed, and on September 9, the congregation selected the style of pews, an order for which was at that moment being placed, as well as the color of the bricks and roofing. Sunday School rally day was on September 27, and on September 29th, the Sabine Area Lutheran Mission Society met at Holy Cross Church.63 Due to vacations, perhaps, attendance and offerings had dropped somewhat during the third quarter, the weekly averages being as follows: Sunday School, 60; church attendance, 76; and offerings, $178.63
On October 4th, Holy Cross Church held its Mission Festival, with Rev. C. A. Heckmann of Austin as guest speaker. On October 18th, little Catherine Joan Gietzen was baptized. On that date as well, Rev. Petzke, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, was the guest speaker, and on October 30, the congregation viewed a medical film, entitled "A Place To Go."64
The Holy Cross Ladies Aid remained very active throughout 1959, with an average attendance of about 20 for each of their monthly (or semi-monthly on some occasions) meetings. On January 13, the ladies installed their new officers.65 In March and April, the ladies ratified their new constitution and began saving coupons and S and H green stamps to exchange for kitchen utensils.66 In August, they hosted an ice cream social and planned a scrap metal drive.67 In September, Holy Cross Ladies Aid began the sewing of five sets of new paraments for the church.68 On November 10th, the ladies discussed their clothing drive for Lutheran World Relief, and elected their 1960 slate of officers, namely: Mrs. H. M. Gribnau, president; Mrs. W. H. B Fehl, vice president; Mrs. C. R. Proft, secretary; and Mrs. K. Dubois, treasurer.69 Early in December, 1959, the Holy Cross Ladies Aid baked about thirty dozen cookies for the new church dedication on the 6th, shipped 140 pounds of clothing to overseas missions, held their Christmas party on December 15th, and "revealed their secret pals."70
The month of November witnessed the marriage of Mary Helen Kieschnick and Charles R. Terrell on the 26th, the second wedding in Holy Cross Church and the last one in the original church on Twin City Highway.71 November 29th was Loyalty Sunday, with members making their pledges for 1960, and Christmas cards were on sale at the church. On November 2nd, the voters' assembly elected the 1960 slate of church officers, as follows: W. R. Wiegmann, president; J. Ermel, vice president; J. Gietzen, secretary; T. E. Smith, treasurer; K. Dubois, financial secretary; H. Kieschnick, Sunday School superintendent; G. Davis, C. Proft, H. Schaefer, board of elders; F. Kieschnick, B. Morgan, W. Martin, E. Wiegmann, board of trustees; B. Gillespie, D. Bryant, R. Shouse, board of stewardship; and R. Major, A. Morvant, C. Smith, board of missions. Most of the latter part of November was occupied with preparations for the upcoming church dedication on December 6th and moving furniture and equipment from the old sanctuary on Twin City Highway to the new church on Helena.72
The church Christmas tree for 1959 was donated by Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Kieschnick. On December 13th, Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Biar, Jr., were received into membership.73 However, the highlight of the year 1959 came on December 6th, with its three dedication services, all of which attracted excellent attendances as follows: morning service, 190; afternoon, 168; and evening, 102. Special music at all three dedicatory services was furnished by Charles Smith at the organ and Don Anderson, Gayle Carter, and Martin Cooper on the trumpets.74
One long dedication bulletin covered all three services. The morning "Festival Service of Dedication" was at 10:15 A. M., with Rev. Albert F. Jesse, president of the Texas District of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, as the featured speaker. The afternoon "Service of Thanksgiving" assembled at 3:00 P. M., with Rev. Victor Buvinghausen of Trinity Lutheran Church as guest speaker. The evening "Service of Praise" began at 7:30 P. M., with Rev. Gottfried G. Press of St. Paul's in Groves as the preacher. Pastor Schmid served as officiant at all three services.75
At the end of the year, Pastor J. B. Schmid prepared the first annual progress report for Holy Cross Lutheran Church ever assembled. The following statistics appeared at the end of 1959, as follows: no. communicant members, 81; soul members, 121; voting members, 21; communicants added by transfer or confirmation, 22; members lost, all causes,11; baptisms, adult-5, children-3; confirmations, adult, 8; marriages, 2; and average Sunday attendance, 78.
The 1959 financial outlook was equally impressive, with the budget being exceed by $4,000. Plate and special offerings totalled $18,081, whereas expenses equaled $14,500. The major cash outlays included: for missions, $1,411; rent on old church, $480; utilities, $388; organists, $340; supplies, $491; pastor's salarly, $3,960; pension, $351; parsonage, $936; church property, $3,711; and car allowance, $600. The 1960 budget expected to have expenditures of about $15,841.76 Holy Cross Lutheran Church had indeed experienced another banner year.
47HCLC Bul., Jan. 4, 1959; Holy Cross 1959 Annual Report, p. 7.
48"Ladies Aid Installs Officers, Midcounty Review, Jan. 22, 1959.
49HCLC Bul., Jan. 18, 1959; Annual Report, p. 7.
501959 Annual Report, p. 7; HCLC Bul., Feb. 8, 1959.
52HCLC Bul., Feb. 22, 1959; Annual Report, p. 7.
53HCLC Bul., Mar. 15, 1959.
54Ibid., Mar. 29, 1959; Annual Report, p. 7.
55"Holy Cross Ladies Aid," Midcounty Review, March 5, 19; April 15, 1959.
56HCLC Bul., April 12, 1959; Annual Report, p. 7; and Photo, "Lutherans Approve Plans," Midcounty Review, Mar. 12, 1959.
57"Holy Cross Lutherans Show Steady Growth," Midcounty Review, April 30, 1959; Lutheran Witness, June 2, 1959.
58HCLC Buls., April 5, 12, 19, 26; May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 1959; Annual Report, p. 7.
59HCLC Buls., June 7, 14, 21, 28, 1959; 1959 Annual Report, p. 8.
60HCLC Buls., July 5, 12, 19, 26, 1959; H. C. Newsletter, II, No. 3, July 12, 1959; Photograph, "Ground-Breaking For Holy Cross Church," Midcounty Review, July 19, 1959.
61HCLC Buls., Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 1959; 1959 Annual Report, p. 8; HC Newsletter, II, No. 4, Aug. 6, 1959.
62"Lutherans of America Top 8 Million," Midcounty Review, Aug. 27, 1959, p. 6.
63HCLC Buls., Sept. 6, 13, 27, 1959: 1959 Annual Report, pp. 8-9.
64HCLC Buls., Oct. 4, 18, 1959; Annual Report, p. 9.
65HCLC Buls., Jan. 4, 1959; "Ladies Aid Installs Officers," Midcounty Review, Jan 22, 1959.
66"Holy Cross Ladies Aid," Midcounty Review, March 19 and April 23, 1959.
67"Holy Cross Ladies Aid," Midcounty Review, Aug. 7, 20, 1959.
681959 Annual Report, p. 8; Midcounty Review, September 17, 1959.
69"Ladies Aid Elects Officers," Midcounty Review, Nov. 5, 19, 1959.
70"Ladies Aid Reveal Secret Pals," Midcounty Review, Dec. 10, 31, 1959; Annual Report, p. 9.
71Photograph, "Kieschnick-Terrell Wedding," Midcounty Review, December 3, 1959.
72Annual Report for 1959, pp. 1, 9.
73HCLC Buls., Dec. 13, 31, 1959.
74Ibid., Dec. 6, 13, 1959.
75HCLC Bul., Dec. 6, 1959; "Dedication Services of Holy Cross Lutheran," Midcounty Review, Dec. 3, 1959.
76The 1959 Annual Report, pp. 1-9.