HOLY CROSS LUTHERAN CHURCH GREETED THE YEAR 1968
by W. T. Block
As 1968 dawned its first beams of sunrise into existence on New Year's Day, ninety members of Holy Cross Lutheran Church gathered at church the previous evening to worship and implore our Savior for his continued guidance and blessings. Members could hardly ask for more than they had already witnessed in 1967 - the dedication on the previous August 20 of our new sanctuary, that was primarily the gift of one family. For one thing, a new refrigerator had been installed in the kitchen, that had been fully paid for with 100 Big Bonus stamp books (a type of retail trading stamp in common usage during the 1960s). A new floral calendar was posted in the Narthex.
A Christmas letter was received from the family of Keith Dubois, who was enrolled in his senior year at Concordia Seminary. On Jan. 7, the new officers of Ladies Aid and the Dorcas Society were installed, namely, Mrs. C. Terrell, president of Ladies Aid; Mrs. G. Gunter, vice president; Mrs. C. Schubert, secretary; Mrs. K. Wagner, treasurer; Mrs. D. Bryant, LWML secretary; Mrs. D. Nehrkorn, president of Dorcas Society; Mrs. H. Gribnau, secretary; Mrs. S. Marks, treasurer; and Mrs. W. Fehl, LWML secretary.
On Sunday, Jan. 14, Rebecca Leah Caroline Schmid was received through the sacrament of baptism. Mrs. Lillian Hoyle and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Hempel and children, Patricia, Kay, David, Susan, Nancy, Becky, and Norman, were received by right of transfer. The Dorcas Society met on Jan. 18, followed by the Couples Club on Jan. 21. On Jan. 7, 215 persons worshipped in church, with 154 attending Sunday School and Bible Class. On Jan. 21, Elizabeth Elaine Anderson was received through the sacrament of baptism. Sunday School teachers and aides met on Jan. 25, and the Leaguers participated in the zone Walther League tournament at Trinity on Jan. 27-28th. Rev. W. C. Rubke, president of Concordia College in Austin, taught the Bible Class and spoke in the morning service on Feb. 4 to encourage full-time church workers, and Feb. 5 was designated as Clean-Up Day at Lamar Tech's (University's) Luther House.1
The bi-monthly voters group met for the first time in 1968 on Feb. 6. The Ladies Aid hosted a chili supper on Feb. 23. Pam Proft and Lisa Pitman made their debut on the church organ in 1968 during communion, and were soon to be followed by Ruth Doering, Mrs. Jerry Pitman, Susie Schmidt, and Jody Shipley. A total of 244 worshiped in church on Feb. 4, total offering-$1,018. On Feb. 11, David Wayne Harbour was received through sacrament of baptism. Ladies Aid met on Feb. 13 to view slides of Vietnam, and the Dorcas Society met on Feb. 15. Walther Leaguers enjoyed a bowling social on Feb. 17, followed by the Couples Club monthly social on Feb. 18. The chancel and sanctuary choirs met each Wednesday in February. On Feb. 18, Mrs. Harry Murphy and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wolford were received by rite of confirmation. A Ladies Bible Study was conducted on Feb. 13 and 20th. An LWML workshop was conducted at Trinity, Port Arthur, with Pastor Blakelock as guest speaker. A special voters meeting met to decide the sale to the city of a small strip of land bordering on 27th Street. Ash Wednesday service was scheduled for Feb. 28, and the Sunday School teachers met on Tuesday nights, Feb. 8,15, 22, 19. A special invitation was issued through the bulletin for the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. B. Fehl at St. John's, Beaumont, on March 3rd.2
Throughout March, 1968, the chancel and sanctuary choirs met before and after each Lenten service. During the week Sunday prior to March , 236 persons worshipped in church, 234 in Sunday School and Bible Class, and 144 attended the Ash Wednesday service. Pre-registration for the Kindergarten '68-'69 classes began at 10 AM on March 9. The Sunday School teachers met each Thursday evening during march, and the Walther leaguers met on March 3. A total of 252 persons attended Sunday worship on March 3, with 152 attending the March 6 Lenten service, again indicating that the Holy Cross Lutheran congregation was growing with a membership who came regularly to church. The Ladies Aid met on March 12, followed by the Dorcas Society on May 21, and the Couples Club's pot luck social on March 17. The chancel choir held its skating party in Port Neches on March 16, and the Ladies Bible Study met on March 19. A religious display of Bibles, books, cards, and gifts was exhibited in the Narthex. During the week of March 17, John C. Kasper passed away, followed by Christian burial and sympathy extended to his widow, Mrs. Kasper, and his children, Beverly Cogswell, GloriaHilton, J. C. Kasper, Jr., and Elaine Singleton. White sheets were collected by ladies Aid for cancer bandages in overseas hospitals, and the Dorcas Society held a used clothing drive for St. Marks Church in Port Arthur. On March 30, Ronald Lee stepp was received through the sacrament of baptism, and the Herman Starr family were released by transfer to a Kansas church. And on March 31, Mrs. Earl Tompkins and children, Dana Lynn and David Earl, and Mrs. Emma Virgilio were received into membership by profession of faith.3
On April 2, the regular bi-monthly voters meeting was held. The Leaguers met on April 7, which was also Palm Sunday, and the Walther League zone rally met at Trinity, Port Arthur, on April 28. The Holy Cross Easter egg hunt was conducted on Saturday, April 6. The Ladies Aid met on April 9, followed by the Dorcas Society on April 18, and the Couples Club met for a pot luck social and games on April 21. The youth choir met on April 16, 23, 30, and the chancel and sanctuary choirs met each Wednesday. The Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services were respectively on April 11-12th, with 116 and 114 persons attending. The Texas District of the Ladies Aid, LCMS, met in Houston April 15-18, with Pastor Schmid and lay delegate Mrs. Pat Biar attending. On April 14, Easter worship was celebrated with both a sunrise service and regular worship. The newly-organized youth choir elected Ruth Doering as president; Diana Bryant, secretary; Patti Hempel, treasurer; and Pam Proft, reporter. On April 25, the LWML zone rally met at St. Paul's, with Rev. G. Aurich as guest speaker. Five Holy Cross junior high students participated in the Concordia-Austin field day trip on May 3, and on April 28, the Port Arthur Choral Society presented the Easter portion of Handel's "Messiah" at its spring concert at Methodist Temple.4
The Sabine Area Sunday School teachers held the spring meeting and attended a color movie at Trinity, Port Arthur, on May 6. We learned that Pastoral Candidate Keith Dubois had been called to Palestine, Texas. May 12 was Armed Forces Day, with a special offering for the benefit of members of the U. S. Military. On May 18, the Philip Eppler family were transferred to Trinity, Port Arthur, and May 19 was Holy Cross' annual covered dish picnic with a variety of outside games. There was a pastoral conference at St. John's, Beaumont, on May 13. The youth choir continued practice on each Tuesday, and the chancel and sanctuary choirs on Wednesday. The Ladies Aid met on May 14, followed by the Dorcas Society on May 16, and the Ladies Bible Study on May 21. There was an Evangelism Workshop at Trinity, Houston, on May 18, followed by the Ascension Day service on May 23. On May 26, Graydon Cowgill III was received by sacrament of baptism, and Mr. and Mrs. George Nolen and son Steve were received by rite of transer. On May 19, the senior confirmands, Darlene Bryant, Jack Ewing, David Hoelzer, Roger Holmes, Dennis Martin, Vickie McCorkle, Patti Schubert, and Carl Shockey, bore witness of their knowledge of scriptures, and again in the youth service the following Sunday, May 26. Also the Walther League officers installed on May 26 included Nick Ewing, president; Bonnie Nelson, vice president; Joy Lilljedahl, secretary; and Marty Lovelace, treasurer. There was a VBS workshop at Grace, Orange, on May 25, followed by a Holy Cross VBS staff meeting on May 27, at which time schedules, rooms, supplies, and other details were discussed. Graduating from high school on May 30 were Billy Block, Rachel Burton, Dianne DeRuiter, Michael Gillespie, and Jim Turner.5
On June 2, Pentecost Sunday, was also confirmation day for 8 Holy Cross confirmands, their names listed in the foregoing paragraph. On Monday, June 3, Vacation Bible School began for the 3-14 year old children. A total of 138 children were enrolled, with average attendance totaling 106. On June 9, Mrs. Thomas Hawkins of Beaumont was received by rite of transfer. The youth choir continued to meet each Tuesday, with the chancel and sanctuary choirs on Wednesday. The Ladies Aid met on June 11, followed by the Dorcas Society on June 27, and the Couples Club had a family picnic in Port Neches Park on June 16. Pastor Schmid and family left town for a short trip on June 24. Sunday service and Bible Class times were reversed for June 30, with Pastor Meyer of St. John's, Beaumont, as guest speaker. At the VBS closing service on June 14, special thanks was offered to the teachers and staff, who gave so unselfishly of their time, as follows: Mr. D. Hempel, the Misses D. Goodson, D. Graeter, K. Hempel, V. McCorkle, B. Nelson, S. Nelson, M. Shockey, and Mesdames Anderson, Biar, Champagne, Choate, Hargrove, Hempel, McCorkle, Nau, Pitman, Proft, Schulz, Singleton, Struckmeyer, Wagner, Wiedenfeld, Williams, Wolford, and Wukasch.6
On July 7, 1968, Christian sympathy was extended to Mr. Carl Schubert and children in the death of their wife and mother on July 4. On July 5, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Wiedenfeld and family were transferred to Good Shepherd, Irving. Ladies Aid met on July 9 for a report on the LWML convention and to bring canned food and their Big Bonus stamp books, which were being saved for a new stove. The Ladies Bible Study met on July 16, followed by the Dorcas Society on July 18, and the Couples Club's pot luck supper on July 21. Members were invited in the bulletin to attend the wedding of Mary Doering and George Schumann at Holy Cross on July 27. All Sunday School teachers met on July 25. On July 28, Mrs. Austin Aguillard, Pastor (retired) and Mrs. R. E. Brammer and sons James and David, Mr. and Mrs. William Partin and Melissa, and Mr. Albert Schultz were received into membership by rite of transfer. Pastor Schmid and family left town on vacation during the first two Sundays of August, and church and Sunday School times were again reversed.7
Pastor Blakelock was guest speaker at the first two Sunday services of August, 1968. On the afternoon of Aug. 4, Rev. T. Reeder was installed as the new pastor at Good Shepherd, Port Arthur. The bi-monthly voters meeting was held on Aug. 6. All choirs continued meeting weekly at their usual dates and times. The Ladies Aid met on Aug. 13, followed by the Couples Club's hot dog supper and miniature golf on Aug. 18. The Laldies Bible Study met on Aug. 20. There was a special voters meeting on Aug. 27 to discuss Pastor Schmid's call to Redeemer Lutheran in Odessa, Texas. On Aug. 25, Pastor-elect Keith Dubois, the first full-time pastor to emerge from Holy Cross membership, was the guest speaker at the morning service. At 4 PM on Aug. 25, Pastor Dubois was ordained at Holy Cross, with Pastor Wm. Meyer of St. John's, Beaumont, as liturgist, Pastor Glenn Kollmeyer, first vice president of the Texas District, LCMS, as ordinator, and Pastor John Schmid as preacher. Pastor Dubois and his family then reported to his first pastorate at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Palestine, Texas. Holy Cross Kindergarten had already enrolled 25 childrlen for the fall, 1968 semester. The fall confirmation classes and parents met on Aug. 28, and the Holy Cross men were scheduled to hold their annual retreat on Sept. 7-8 at Dies State Park at Dam B. (Steinhagen Lake).8
There were 272 person attending the morning worship on Aug. 25, making it one of the largest church attendances recorded to date. Pastor Schmid returned the call to Redeemer Lutheran in Odessa. Rev. Keith Dubois' name was engraved on our new plaque, designated as "Our Members in Church Vocations," and special thanks was extended to the committee, whose time and talents made the Dubois Ordination Day a success. There were 25 students enrolled in the fall junior and senior confirmation classes. At the Ladies Aid meeting on Sept. 10, canned goods for the needy, Big Bonus trading stamps, and contributions for the mission Christmas tree were accepted. The Couples Club met on Sept. 15 for a "Mexican Fiesta." Also on Sept. 15, Wade Eric Kieschnick and Jaylyn Rene Sturgis were received through the sacrament of baptism. A letter of thanks was received from the Dubois family, and the Dorcas Society met on Sept. 19. On Sept. 17, Mrs. Emmett Boehm was accorded Christian burial. A "Get-Acquainted Tea" was given jointly by Ladies Aid and the Dorcas Society on Sept. 30. The area Lutheran Bible Institute began at Holy Cross on Sept. 24 with an enrollment of 48, and was to continue through Oct. 29. Sept. 29 was Sunday School Rally Day.9
The Walther Leaguers held their zone rally at Holy Cross on Oct. 6. Ladies Aid met on Oct. 7 to see a film. Oct. 6 was also designated as LWML Day, and the LWML fall rally met at Trinity, Port Arthur, on Oct. 17. A total of 261 persons worshipped at Holy Cross on Sept. 29. On Oct. 3 Mrs. Gary Morvant and children and Mrs. C. Taylor were dropped from the membership roll at their own request. The Ladies Bible Study met on Oct. 14, followed by the Dorcas Society on Oct. 24 and the Couples Club pot luck supper and indoor games on Oct. 20. On Oct. 16, Genevieve Lena Thomson and Elmore Joseph Deslatte were wed at Holy Cross. On Oct. 18, Mrs. C. Hebert transferred to Good Shepherd, Port Arthur. On Oct. 20, Darren Lars Creel and Thomas Leland McKay were received through the sacrament of baptism. Oct. 27 was Mission Festival, with Rev. James Eddleman of St. Mark's, Port Arthur, as guest speaker. A special mission offering was taken.10
The Sabine Area Sunday School teachers fall banquet was held at Holy Cross on Nov. 4, with Rev. Virgil Meyer of Dallas as guest speaker. Nov. 3 was Reformation Sunday. On Nov. 10, Mr. Gary Jaetzold, Mr. Frederick Wachsmuth, and Mr. Louis Wukasch were received by rite of transfer. The Ladies Aid met on Nov. 12, followed by the Couples Club "backyard party" on Nov. 17 and the Ladies Bible Study on Nov. 19. Nov. 17 was Loyalty Sunday, and the LWML fall workshop met at Good Shepherd, Port Arthur, on Nov. 21. On Nov. 26, Thanksgiving baskets were delivered to needy families, and the Thanksgiving Day service was celebrated on Nov. 28th.11
On Dec. 3, the B. W. Gillespie family were dropped from membership at their own request. Christmas practice for children began on Dec. 8, and the Couples Club held their Christmas Party at Tom and Skeeter Restaurant on the same date. Ladies Aid held their Christmas party at the church on Dec. 20. A special voters meeting convened to consider a contract for a new pipe organ. The Dorcas Society's Christmas party was held on Dec. 19. On Dec. 15, a special evening Chrismons service was conducted, with carols and the significance that each Chrismon represented. The Kindergarten Christmas program was on Dec. 18, and on Dec. 16, Willard Roddy Moore and Sarah Ann Gardner were wed at Holy Cross. On Dec. 22, Mrs. Morris C. Payne and children, Karl, Donna, Eda, and David, were received into membership by profession of faith. On Dec. 20, the sanctuary and chancel choirs had a "caroling party," followed by the youth choir's "caroling party" on Dec. 23. On Dec. 22-23, the Walther League presented "The Living Nativity." The special children's program was presented on Christmas Eve, followed by the Christmas Day service at 9 AM. Holy Cross Lutheran closed out its 1968 church year by signing a contract for a new organ on Dec. 30, followed by the New Year's Eve service on Dec. 31st.12
On Dec. 29, the 1969 slate of Holy Cross officers were instralled, as follows: F. Kieschnick, president; J. Ludwig, secretary; Wm. Schmidt, treasurer; E. Proft, publicity chairman; C. Wiedenfeld, first vice president; E. Anderson, H. Kieschnick, D. Nehrkorn, A. Shipley, L. Struckmeyer, board of elders; P. Hempel, second vice president, E. Boehm, B.Cogswell, E. Kieschnick, K. Lilljedahl, G. Menzel, board of trustees; J. Pitman, third vice president, G. Davis, R. Kretschmar, B. Morgan, T. Smith, K. Wagner, board of missions; W. Fehl, 4th vice president, D. Bryant, L.Goodson, Wm. Martin, H. Miertschin, C. Messler, W. Nau, H. Schaefer, H. Smits, board of stewards; C. Schubert, fifth vice president, L. Biar, C. Doering, B. Weigmann, C. Terrell, P. Anderson, board of education.13
In 1968, the annual offerings (not including special) totaled $38, 863, for a weekly average of $747. Special offerings included $2,276 for missions; $31 for memorials; $19 for charities; $45 for the Lutheran Hour; and $127 for Armed Forces. The baptized membership as of Dec. 31 was 417 persons, 251 of whom were communicants. Twelve adults and children were added by confirmation and 23 more were added by rite of transfer, whereas 21 members were separated from membership. Nine children and one adult had been baptized, and there had been two weddings and two funerals.
The Dorcas Society's nine members had been very active suring 1968, caring for the altar paraments and communion ware, collecting used clothing, sending cards to the sick, giving prayer books to baptized infants, providing refreshments for VBS, and other charitable projects. The Dorcas Society's officers included Mrs. D. Nehrkorn, president; Mrs. H. Gribnau, secretary; and Mrs. S. Marks, treasurer. The kindergarten under Mrs. Wm. Schmidt; the chancel, sanctuary, and youth choirs had all fulfilled their respective church projects and duties.
The Couples Club had provided the congregaion with a variety of social activities, including picnics, pot luck suppers, and indoor and outdoor games. Mr. and Mrs. Billy Cogswell servd as president, with Mr. and Mrs. K. Wagner as secretary-treasurer. The Walther league had likewise enjoyed an active year, with zone rallies and tournaments, out of town visits, beach parties, and a Christmas party. By no means the least in service, the Ladies Aid had likewise participated in a very active year, with a very diverse variety of church activities.
All in all, Holy Cross Lutheran Church had enjoyed a banner year, with phenomenal church growth and attendance, although perhaps less exciting than in 1967, when th new sanctuaury was completed and dedicated. And as its memberhip entered into the new year of 1969, they prayed for and anticipated God's continued blessings on our congregation.15
1HCLC Buls., Jan. 7, 14, 21, 28, 1968.
2HCLC Buls., Feb. 4, 11, 18, 28, 1968.
3HCLC Buls., Mar. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 1968; the Mar., 1968 Calendar; 1968 Annual Report.
4HCLC Buls., Apr. 7, 14, 21, 28, 1968; also April, 1968 Calendar.
5HCLC Buls., May 5, 12, 19, 26, 1968: May, 1968 Calendar; 1968 Annual Report.
6HCLC Buls., June 2, 9, 14, 16, 23, 30, 1968; June, 1968 Calendar; 1968 Annual Report.
7HCLC Buls., Jul. 7, 14, 21, 28, 1968.
8HCLC Buls., Aug. 5, 12, 18, 25, 1968.
9HCLC Buls., Sep. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 1968.
10HCLC Buls., Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27, 1968.
11HCLC Buls., Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24, 28, 1968.
12HCLC Buls., Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 1968.
13The 1968-69 Annual Report.
15The 1968 HCLC Annual Report.