HOLY CROSS LUTHERAN CHURCH DURING 1960
by W. T. Block
As the first arc of daylight dawned its path across Nederland on New Year's Day of 1960, there were no members of the new Holy Cross Lutheran Church who doubted that God's promise and favor were bestowed upon our congregation. Although Holy Cross membership and growth had not been phenomenal perhaps, it certainly had been constant, increasing from 49 to 102 communicant members in two years time. Everywhere in the sanctuary was the smell of newness and freshness, which of itself prophesied the promise of tomorrow. And outside, the unfinished landscaping, the planting of grass, shrubbery, and flowers, reminded each one that the growth of a church is never a completed project. It will always remain an unfinished task because ninety percent of any church's assets is not its roof and side walls, but the people who worship inside.
On January 3rd, the new church officers for 1960 were installed, and on January 11th, new officers of Holy Cross Ladies Aid assumed office, as follows: Mrs. H. M. Gribnau, president; Mrs. W. H. B. Fehl, vice president; Mrs. C. R. Proft, secretary; and Mrs. K. Dubois, treasurer. On January 17th, tiny Hal Marvin Klein was baptized, and the church bulletin of January 31st announced that the congregational Fellowship Night would be on February 5th.76
During February, 1960, Elaine Singleton was released by transfer to St. John's in Lake Charles, La. The church celebrated its Evangelism Service on February 14th. At their February meeting, Holy Cross Ladies Aid reported that all the altar paraments had been completed and other spring projects had been started. Eight dozen melmac cups for the church kitchen were either purchased or donated. A second new project was collecting books of trading stamps for a church vacuum cleaner, and another was the purchase of drapery material for the Sunday School rooms and covers for the kneeling pads.
On February 21st, little Keela Kay Cogswell was baptized, and also on that date, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Miertschin and Mrs. M. Morgan and daughters, Rosemarie and Gwenda, were received into membership by transfer. February 28th was "Sharing Christ" Sunday, and Charlsene Hudson was welcomed as a new member through confirmation.77
The Lenten season began on Ash Wednesday, March 2nd, and continued through Good Friday, April 15th. At their March meeting, Holy Cross Ladies Aid announced that they had already collected nine books of trading stamps toward the purchase of a vacuum cleaner and made plans for their congregational chile supper on March 25th. On March 13th, a new series of adult lectures began. During the first quarter of 1960, average attendance dropped somewhat from a year earlier, but offerings were considerably higher, with the following averages: Sunday School, 53; church attendance, 76; and Sunday offerings, $228.78
The Easter season came rather late in 1960, with Palm Sunday arriving on April 10th. Saturday, April 16th, was the date of the Holy Cross' Sunday School Easter egg hunt, and early Sunday morning, April 17th, the congregation attended their second area Easter Sunrise Service at the Don Drive-In Theater on Highway 69 (near Highway 73). This was followed by the regular Sunday School and Easter divine worship at the church. From April 18-21st, Pastor Schmid and his delegate, H. Miertschin, attended the 37th Regular Convention of the Texas District, Missouri Synod, at St. Paul's in Austin. On April 25th, the congregation delegates attended the spring session of Sabine Area Sunday School teachers at St. Paul's in Groves, followed by the Lutheran Women's Missionary League spring rally at Trinity Church in Port Arthur on April 28th.79
On May 1st, Mr. and Mrs. D. Clark and family and Mr. and Mrs. M. Kube and daughter were received into membership. May 13th was Congregational Fellowship Night, and Mr. R. Major showed slides of his lengthy residence in Israel and Baghdad, Iraq. On May 22, the adult and junior choirs presented their Spring Choral Service at 4:00 P. M., entitled "The Life of Christ in Word and Song," in which the congregation participated. On May 24th, ninety-one "enthusiastic supporters of personal evangelism" attended the first spring planning session at Holy Cross Church of the area Lutheran Open House between November 6-10th. Rev. O. A. Waech of Saint Louis addressed the planning group. "The Lutheran Open House," said Pastor Waech, "will be a special effort to invite people to come look us over." On May 29th, Mr. and Mrs. H. Klein were received into membership through confirmation.80
On Pentecost, June 5th, Gwenda Bollman, Sherry Davis, Robert Gribnau, Lynne Hughes, and Jackie Martin became communicant members through children's confirmation. Mrs. G. Davis was the Ladies Aid delegate to the LWML Convention in Dallas on June 7-8th. On June 10th, Diane and Karen Deruiter were baptized. On June 12th, Mrs. G. Cowgill was received into membership through baptism and confirmation. Judy Cowgill and Mrs. J. Deruiter, Jr. were received through confirmation, and Mr. J. Deruiter, Jr. was received through transfer. On June 17th, Miss Charlsene Hudson was wed to Charles R. Smith, the Holy Cross organist, and on June 19th, little Hampton Leo Hughes was baptized.
On June 23rd, the second planning meeting for the fall Lutheran Open House in November convened. On June 26th, Rev. G. Fehl, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. B. Fehl, was the guest speaker. During the second quarter, church attendance was up somewhat, but offerings decreased, with averages as follows: Sunday School, 57; church attendance, 84; and weekly offerings, $200.81
July, 1960, was an especially busy month in the life of Holy Cross' members. On July 3rd, little Beth Michelle Biar was baptized. July 10th was the deadline for bringing good, used clothing to the church. At the July Ladies' Aid meeting, Mrs H. B. Kieschnick reported that 110 pounds of clothing had been shipped to Lutheran World Relief in San Antonio for use in Chile. Vacation Bible School began on July 11th and ended on the 22nd. At the VBS closing service on the 22nd, it was reported that eleven teachers and eighty children, ages 3-14, were enrolled, with an average daily attendance of 58. On July 17th, the Walther Leaguers held their swim party, and on July 23rd, the congregational men had a picnic on Cow Bayou. Rev. L. Roehrs of Port Arthur replaced Pastor Schmid during the latter's vacation between July 25th and August 10th.82
At the June meeting of Holy Cross Ladies' Aid, Mrs. B. W. Gillespie announced that the draperies for the Sunday School rooms and the pastor's study had been completed. Mrs. H. B. Kieschnick outlined the dire need in Chile for warm clothing and blankets. And Mrs. G. Davis reported on the eleventh biennial convention of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League, Texas District, which 500 women attended.83
Other than the scheduled meetings, church activities dropped off considerably during August. There was a congregational ice cream social on August 12th, and the Ladies' Aid conducted their bake sale on August 27th. On the 28th, the J. Shaklee family were received into membership by transfer.84
Perhaps activities were even quieter in September. On the 7th, the R. Major family were released by transfer to Pilgrim Lutheran in Houston, and the Sunday School Rally Day service was held on September 27th. At their monthly meeting, the Ladies' Aid reported that $79 profit had been realized from the August bake sale.85 The third quarter attendance and offerings averaged as follows: Sunday School, 51; church attendance, 81; and weekly offerings, $206.
The last quarter of 1960 began on a gladdening note with the wedding of Miss Ann Heller to Mr. Joe Horne. A new adult instruction class began, and on October 9th, the Walther Leaguers traveled to Baytown, after which they began their sale of Christ-oriented Christmas cards. On October 16th, Mr. and Mrs. William Gregory and family were received into membership by transfer, and on October 23rd, James Richard Morgan was baptized.
On October 16th, final preparations for the area Lutheran Open House were made when 300 laymen from eight congregations met at St. John's in Beaumont. Mission Festival day fell on October 26th, when the guest speaker for the occasion, Lutheran missionary George Winkler, told of his experiences in Hong Kong. On October 27th, Pastor Schmid gave the opening devotional when the LWML zone meeting was held at Holy Cross. More than one hundred women registered for the meeting, and Rev. Winkler gave the keynote address on Lutheran activities in his country. On October 30th, more than one thousand area Lutherans met at 4:00 P. M. at the Union Hall auditorium in Port Arthur to hear Rev. Carl A. Gaertner, first vice president of the Texas District, deliver his message on "Evangelism-Reformation Style." Pastor V. Buvinghausen served as Liturgist, whereas Fred Zoch, accompanied by Bernard Gastler of Trinity School, directed the mass choirs. Also on October 27, Midcounty Review published an 18-column inch advertisement (4-inch by 9-inch) of Holy Cross Church about the November Open House evangelistic services.85
There was a special prayer and communion service on November 2nd. From November 6 through 10th was Lutheran Open House week at Holy Cross, with Rev. Richard O. Ziehr of Baton Rouge as guest missioner during the five evening evangelical services. A slate of church officers for 1961 were nominated. At the monthly Ladies' Aid meeting on November 8th, the ladies decided to give a gift instead of a bag of fruit to each of the children at the Christmas Eve service. The group also decided to make up layettes for overseas distribution through Lutheran World Relief and to buy the material for making twenty choir robes. They then elected the Ladies' Aid officers for 1961 as follows: Mrs. Louis Biar, president; Mrs. Herbert Schaefer, vice president; Mrs. Dudley Bryant, secretary; Mrs. Gerald Davis, treasurer; and Mrs. H. B. Kieschnick, LWML secretary.
On November 20th, the "Call-A-Month Club" was organized, and on November 24th members assembled to worship at the Thanksgiving Day service. On Sunday, November 27, Rev. Gottfried Press, the district counselor, and Mr. H. Kaspar, the circuit stewardship representative, were guest speakers to explain "what part we play in our church program." At the LWML zone workshop at St. John's on November 29th, Pastor Schmid and Rev. L. Roehrs led topics.86
On December 2nd, the Ladies' Aid shipped its layettes to Lutheran World Relief. On December 4th, little Angela Renee Martin was baptized. The election results for 1961 church officers were as follows: G. Davis, president; H. Miertschin, vice president; L. Biar, secretary; T. E. Smith, treasurer; F. Kieschnick, financial secretary; H. Kieschnick, Sunday School superintendent; W. Fehl, B. Gillespie, H. Schaefer, elders; E. Boehm, B. Cogswell, W. Martin, and E. Wiegmann, trustees; D. Bryan, J. Gietzen, and B. Morgan, board of stewardship; and K. Dubois, C. Smith, and C. Terrell, board of missions.
The Ladies' Aid held their Christmas party on December 15th and installed their new officers on December 11th. On December 9th, the Walther Leaguers presented their play, entitled "Good and Faithful Servant," and gave a basket of food to the needy. A Christmas Candlelight Service was conducted on December 20th. The children's Christmas Eve Service was held on December 24th, followed by Sunday School, divine worship, and communion on Christmas Day, December 25th. On December 29th, there was an open house at the parsonage.87
The year 1960 proved to be another banner year, with 24 communicant members added to the rolls during that year. Three members had been lost to transfers, and of ten baptisms, two had been adults and the remainder were children or infants. There had been two marriages in 1960, and during that year, average Sunday morning attendance was 82 and weekly offerings averaged $224.
Also during 1960, church income equalled $15,094 from offerings and Mission Board subsidy, but they still fell $800 short of projected requirements. The largest expenditures had been for world missions, $2,076; payments on church, $4,000; utilities, $769; organist and choir, $340; and the pastor's salary, $4,080. The 1961 budget would anticipate offerings and subsidies totalling $16,613. Indeed, the Holy Cross membership had experienced another year of expansion and progress.88
76"Ladies' Aid Elects Officers," Midcounty Review, Nov. 19, 1959, p. 5 and Jan. 7, 1960; HCLC Buls., Jan. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 1960; 1960 Annual Report, p. 9.
77"New Projects Set For Ladies' Aid," Midcounty Review, Feb. 18, 1960, p. 11; HCLC Buls., Feb. 14, 21, 28, 1960; and 1960 Annual Report, p. 9.
78"Ladies' Aid Chile Supper," Midcounty Review, Mar. 17, 1960; HCLC Buls., March 6, 13, 20, 27, 1960; Annual Report, p. 9.
79"Lutheran Convention" and "Holy Cross Ladies," Midcounty Review, April 14, p. 17, and April 21, 1960, p. 13; HCLC Buls., Apr. 3, 10, 17, 24, 1960; 1960 Annual Report, p. 9.
80"Concert Scheduled" and "Lutheran Open House Planned," Midcounty Review, May 19, p. 17, and June 2, 1960; HCLC Buls., May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 1960; Annual Report, p. 9.
81HCLC Buls., June 4, 12, 19, 26, 1960; Annual Report, p. 10.
82"Ladies' Aid Meeting," Midcounty Review, July 21, 1960; HCLC Buls., July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 1960; Annual Report, p. 10.
83"Lutheran Ladies Meet," Midcounty Review, June 23, 1960, p. 6; HCLC Buls., Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28, 1960; Annual Report, p. 10.
84"Holy Cross Ladies," Midcounty Review, Sept. 29, 1960; HCLC Buls., Sept. 4, 11, 18, 25, 1960; Annual Report, p. 10.
85"Lutheran Open House Week," and "Rev. Carl Gaertner," Midcounty Review, Oct. 20, 1960, p. 15; and October 27, 1960, p. 10; "Lutherans to Rally," (Port Neches) Chronicle, Oct. 27, 1960; and "100 Lutheran Women at Zone Meet," (Port Arthur) News, Oct. 29, 1960; HCLC Buls., Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 1960; and Annual Report, pp. 10-11.
86"Rev. Ziehr Lutheran Speaker," and "Lutheran Ladies Meet," Midcounty Review, Nov. 3, 1960, p. 18; Nov. 23, 1960, p. 7; HCLC Buls., Nov. 6, 13, 20, 27, 1960; Annual Report, p. 11.
87HCLC Buls., Dec. 4, 11, 18, 25, 1960; Annual Report, p. 11
88 1960 Annual Report, pp. 1-11.