St. John Church celebrates 130 years

St. John Church was settled in the farming area of Uhland by families of German descent. The settlers began to conduct worship in their homes until a church could be erected. It is reported that Anna Wisian Arnold, one of the original members, spent many hours preparing for the organization of the congregation. She would ride in her buggy or walk from house to house getting people interested in joining her and her family in worship services at their home, along with her husband Valentine Arnold.

In 1889, the Rev. Christian Friedrich Hofheinze served as the founding pastor for the St. John Church. Its official name was The German Evangelisch St. John Church of Plum Creek. The first officers were Rev. C.J. Hofheinze (president), Theophelus Hofheinze (secretary) and trustees Ludwig Wisian and F. “Karl” Thoene. The families continued to worship in their homes and received the sacraments until 1891 from a Lutheran pastor from Maxwell.

In 1891, the congregation was given permission by the trustees of the Plum Creek School to have services there every first Sunday of the month. The same was arranged in the Live Oak School for services every third Sunday. This same year, the small nucleus of Christians decided to call Rev. C.J. Hofheinze their own pastor. He had assisted them in organizing their congregation and served them until 1900.

The ladies of the congregation decided to build a church. Mrs. Henry Schubert and Mrs. Valentine Arnold passed a petition and got pledges for funding. In November 1893 the first church building was dedicated. It was built without a steeple and located on a hill on Cotton Gin Road in Uhland on land sold to the church by Ludwig Wisian for $60.

In 1899, the Plum Creek Frauenverein (Women’s Guild) was organized with 25 charter members. That same year, they provided funds to add a steeple to the church, and for a bell to be installed. The bell may have been installed at a later date because is has the date of 1905 on it.

In the early years of the church, the only language spoken was German. However, it was noted, in a newspaper clipping that an English Bible was donated in sacred memory of Mr. Herman Seeliger by his daughter, Mrs. Max Schiwitz. Also, the portrait of the Lord’s Supper was donated in honor of Mr. Otto Graef Sr., who had served as president of the church board for many years.

In 1949, the second building for St. John Church was built and dedicated at its present location in the village of Uhland. This land was a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Max E. Schiwitz.

One hundred and thirty years later, St. John Church remains a lasting icon in the community. The congregation will have a 130-year celebration entitled A Legacy of Faith with guest speaker Pastor Michael Newman, Texas District President, on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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