Establishment of the Congregation at Wallis, Texas
(From an original script written in German and translated by the Reverend Dr. Lambert Mehl Concordia, Missouri Advent 1991)
A number of evangelical Lutherans who lived in and around Wallis had agreed with each other to build a church in their area. But since they did not have the required means for this project, they decided to hold a collection. Several individuals went to known Lutheran congregations and received pledges for this purpose. After a sum had been collected, they bought a piece of land on which the church was to be built. The goal was to build a church in the fall of 1900. They did all this by themselves, for they had in mind to have everything in order and then turn their attention to obtaining a Lutheran pastor.
Pastor Gogelin of Bellville heard about their concerns and activities and conferred with them. After a number of families had been visited and had been invited to a congregational service, the first service was held on July 15, 1900. From that time, services were held every second or third week in homes.
Fall came, but the planned church had to be postponed because of a disastrous storm on September 8-9, which caused a nearly total crop failure, and the monies could not be collected.
Up until that time the congregation had not been organized. Then Pastor Gogelin advised the members that, in order to carry on with their services, they needed as Christians to establish order. The group then met and decided to organize as a congregation. In a meeting on October 28, 1900, the short constitution of the Iowa Synod was discussed and accepted. The congregation received the name “St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Wallis, Texas.” The number of organizers was six (F. Spreen, R. Rust, Gerh. Spoede, Heinr. Spoede, Gust. Wittlief, Wm. Spreen). -by Pastor Gogelin (Transcribed by Past. L. Heinemeier)
The congregation under Pastor D.A. Jud:
In the year 1903 the Mission Committee called Pastor D.A. Jud, who served the congregation from 1903-1906, at first once a month, then twice a month. During this period the project to erect a church was carried out. On the first Sunday in November the church could be dedicated to the Triune God. Since the pastor could not obtain any help for this occasion, he himself did it. In the morning service his text was Ps. 103:1-3, and in the afternoon, Ps. 27:4. On Jubilate Sunday (May 6), the first confirmation took place. There were five children (Albrecht, William, Erna Engelking, and Anna and Antonia Chermosky). -by Pastor D.A. Jud (Transcribed by Pastor L. Heinemeier)
The congregation under Pastor L. Heinemeier:
In the month of July, 1906, St. Paul’s Congregation turned to Pastor L.
Heinemeier of Sealy, Texas, for services since it had been vacant for two months as a result of the departure of Pastor Jud. The cause (motive) and occasion were as follows: The congregation had belonged to the Iowa Synod from its beginning and hoped to be served by it. While Pastor Muller of Giddings, Texas, who had held services in Bellville once a month, had offered to preach at Wallis on Sunday evenings on those Sundays, the congregation did not accept the offer. Since there were no more offers during that vacancy, the congregation felt the need to turn to Pastor Heinemeier of Sealy. It sent its president, Fr. Spreen, to confer with him. But since Pastor Heinemeier was at a pastoral conference at that time, the arrangements were made by letter, namely that he appear with the congregation in their church in Wallis on August 19 at 3:00 in the afternoon to discuss the matter of calling a pastor at which time he explained the doctrinal differences between the Missouri and Iowa synods, after which the congregation unanimously called him to be their pastor and established the call in writing. Pastor Heinemeier served the congregation for one year. The following year, 1908, a vicar was assigned to Pastor Heinemeier to help him at Wallis. This vicar, Dautenhahn, taught the confirmands and conducted services regularly. In the year 1909, Candidate P.G. Krause was called to Wallis. He labored in the congregation with much grief and worry because, while still a member of the Iowa Synod, a number of members were accepted who were lodge members and who, after much instruction regarding the sinfulness of lodgery, had to either quit the lodge or Christ’s true church.
With the Lord’s help, everything turned out well, for the lodge members left the church. From that time forward there was new life in the congregation so that after seven years the congregation became a different congregation. The Lord blessed it and caused it to flourish.
Candidate L. Temme 1916-1922
After Pastor Krause left, Candidate L. Temme was called to be the pastor. He accepted the call and was ordained and installed on the seventh Sunday after Trinity in 1916. At first he labored with much favor and good will. He preached regularly at Wallis and Chesterville and faithfully served the school. From his third year on he had much trouble and sorrow. There was much unrest and disunity. Finally the recalcitrants separated themselves from the congregation and started another congregation and engaged the Iowa Synod to serve it. As a result of the war the language problem also caused distress. Added to this was the fact that the pastor’s health suffered more and more. After three operations and a decline of his physical condition, he was forced to resign from the ministry and enter a sanitarium. Some events and conditions which affected Pastor Temme were the following: In 1917 the congregation formed a parish with Chesterville and the following year the Wallis congregation became self-supporting. Until then it had been under the Mission Commission (Board).
A terrible catastrophe struck the congregation on October 7, 1916. Early in the morning-as the school opened-there was a storm. Suddenly lightning struck the church. Several children were in the school. Three of them were hit by the lightning. One of them was affected so severely that she died by evening.
Another happening during Pastor Temme’s ministry and which must be mentioned to complete the record was the establishing of the Ladies Aid, which is still in existence. This happened in February 1918. This organization was organized properly and to the glory of God.
After Pastor L. W. Temme resigned at Easter 1922 because of his failing health, the congregation was served for a period of five months by vacancy pastors. Pastors MJ. Scaer of Sealy, P. G. Brust of Wharton, and HC. Biermann of Shiner served the congregation faithfully. During that time several calls were sent to pastors, but none were accepted.
Pastor M.C. Stoppenhagen, who had been serving congregations at Swiss and Hattelsville, was called in September. Although the congregation at Swiss Alps did not want him to leave, the members finally gave him their peaceful dismissal after carefully considering the covering letter.
Pastor Stoppenhagen was installed on the 14th Sunday after Trinity on September 17, 1922, by Pastor MJ. Scaer. There was still some unrest in the congregation, partly as a result of the language question and partly because some former members who had joined the Iowa Synod church tried to have the congregation go back to the Iowa Synod. But after all members were visited and were invited to a meeting, they all appeared, even some who had never been members appeared. One of the main items on the agenda was also the matter of enlarging the parsonage. After lengthy discussion, the decision was unanimous to add two rooms to the parsonage. Building of the two rooms was completed in the fall of 1922. Although the congregation had clearly decided on which Sundays the services would be in German, there was still constant agitation to change the decision until some withdrew from membership entirely.
In the meeting in January 1924, the congregation decided to become a member of the Synod.
This decision again stirred up hot blood and several were against the move and, though these members could not be convinced, there was nothing more to do but to carry out the decision. As the Synod met in 1924 at Bisel (1) the congregation was accepted as a member. Mr. Wm. Ludwig was present at the Synod as the delegate of the congregation.
The congregation now consisted of 16 voting members and were united in their faith and determination and faithfully gathered to hear God’s Word and seldom missed services, although some were negligent and caused problems and concern.
After Pastor P. Stoppenhagen resigned as pastor (in 1926) the congregation was served by Pastor Scaer (Sealy) until Pastor H.M. Hansen of Lutherville, Arkansas, accepted the call sent to him. He also served Pattison, but he was here only one year, for he again accepted a call to Lutherville, Arkansas.
During the time Pastor Hansen served at Wallis, there was also a change in pastorates at Sealy. M.G. Scaer accepted a call to Wilson, Texas, and three months later (September) the undersigned (Schreiner) was called and accepted also the call to Sealy. Since Pastor Hansen had accepted a call in February to his former congregation, the congregation asked Pastor Schreiner to serve it during its vacancy.
The congregation then engaged in calling but without results. Since the undersigned knew that the mission cost was $1,100 a year to serve Sealy, Wallis and Pattison by two missionaries, he offered to serve all three places as a self supporting parish. This then took place, but after six months Wallis and Sealy became self supporting. Pattison was then served from Lyons. Everything went well and progressed. Divine services were well attended. Yes, in 1933 the congregation (Wallis) became self-supporting. Candidate R. Nerger was called, accepted the call and was ordained and installed on the 15th of February 1933.
Copy typed by Ruth Hansen Rodewald Concordia, Missouri