CHAPTER XI. The German Baptist Church of Minonk.
The German Baptist church of Minonk was started as a The Mission of the German Baptist church of Peoria, and was continued as such until 1867, a church building having been erected the year before (1866). In the summer of 1867 it was decided to organize a church consisting of 13 members as follows:óRev. Fredrich Melchert and wife; John Aggrerle and wife; Fredrich Rocho and wife; John H. Memmen and wife; G. J. Pielstick and wife; Henry Fulse and wife; Aaron Memmen. A Sunday school was maintained throughout the life of the church, Superintendent, John T. Jodiums. G. J. Pielstick was the first clerk. No Deacon was elected for 15 years, the pastor filling all the offices. The first Deacons elected were William Holman and Fredrick Melchert Jr. who served for many years.
The first pastor was Rev. Frederick Melchert who served for 3 years. After Rev. Melchert came Rev. Fellman who served for 13 years, The next pastor was Rev. F. Hoffman, remaining 3 years. Rev. G. A. Geunther then took up the work and remained as pastor 4 years. Rev. Wm. Pfeiffer came as the next pastor, remaining 3 years and was followed by Rev. H. Bens who served 3 years. The next pastor was Rev. Albert Hinz, who remained 4 years. After him came Rev. D. Zwink who served 1 year and 9 months and he was followed by Rev. G. E. Lohr who remained 3 years, and after this pastor Rev. H. Bens filled the pulpit again for a short time. The last pastor was Rev. Schroeder, how long he served the records do not show.
In order to
make a deed to the property a meeting was called November 18th, 1910, of
all the church members left, and proceeded by electing Rev. J. Meis
chairman, and H. Vosberg, John Funk and John T. Jochums trustees and Miss
Meta Garrels, clerk. It was voted unanimously to deed all the church
property in Minonk to the German Missionary society of the German Baptist
church of North America. This closes the history of the only German
Baptist church in Woodford county.
The Minonk Baptist church was organized June 6th, 1858, consisting of fifteen charter members. A, H. Danforth was chosen the first clerk and was the only one left of the original members at the fiftieth anniversary. Acting on the invitation of the members, a council was convened for the purpose of examining the members in regard to church doctrines and articles of faith. Having found that thev were orthodox, it was recognized as an independent church. The pastors present were Rev. G. S. Baily, Metamora; Rev. F. Ketchem, Panola; Rev. C. D. Merrit, Washburn; and the Richland church was represented by Elder M. L. Fuller. The church was officially recognized on June 20th, 1858. The services were held in the East Side school building until the church was built. On July 30th, 1859, having been without a pastor for 13 months, a call was extended to Rev. C. D. Merrit. At this time Berry Hall had succeeded A. H. Danforth as clerk. He was to collect $11.00 to pay for a lot upon which to build a church. We must remember that lots at that time were on the open prairie. In March 1860 the church voted to allow Rev. C. D. Merrit to preach half time at the Belle Plain church.
Many from this organization being enlisted in the army, they still kept in touch with the church by writing letters and receiving letters from the members. Having been without a church building for six years, they decided to build. The church having been completed it was dedicated October 10th, 1864. The building committee consisted of Rev. C. D. Merrit, D. P. Kenyon, J. P. Danforth, S. D and M. A. Cushing. The cost of the building, completed was $3,691. The dedication taking place a bright, clear Sunday. The building was considered a fine structure for that time. The original church went thru many changes and still to the older members it was still the old church. A man by the name of Baily was the builder, he being assisted much by volunteer work by some of the members. Sometime, we do not know just when, a Baptist church situated seven miles west, came and united with the Minonk church. In the year 1873, the original church being small to house the congregation, it was decided to build an addition of 16 feet to the north end of the structure. The membership was then 2co. The following men were appointed a committee to raise funds and to superintend the work: Rev. C. D. Merrit, J. A. Simpson and A. H. Danforth. In July the contract was let to S. A. Baily for $850, the total expense being $968.90. For a period of a few years the church enjoyed great prosperity, receiving many new members and good work was done.
On Sunday morning, January 30, after having served the church for nearly seventeen years as its pastor, Rev. C. D. Merrit informed his congregation that it was his wish to resign his labors as pastor, the same to take effect in February. The church still wishing to retain him as pastor decided not to accept his resignation so that he continued as pastor. But in the following year he again offered his resignation, saying that he would be obliged to leave on account of his wife's health. They accepted his resignation and drafted resolutions in regard to the Christian fellowship of pastor and church.
After a month's deliberation and consideration, on March 4th, 1887, a call was extended to Rev. George Sutherland to become pastor and he remained with the church until April 15th, 1879. The next pastor was A. J. Caldwell, extending from June 1st, 1880 to May 16th, 1881. Rev. J. J. Shipp was the next pastor. He closed his labors on August 24th, 1882. One event of his pastorate was his marriage to Miss Gertrade Miller in the church at an evening service. The next pastor was Rev. Minch, who held the pastorate from October 8th, 1882 to January 20th, 1884. For a short time the church was supplied by Rev. S. B. Rundler. A little later a call was extended to Elder Coffman and after him came Rev. Burnham. Until this time the church had no parsonage, the pastor living wherever he could get a house. Brother Burnham started the move to build a parsonage. A building committee was appointed, the cost not to exceed £800. Brother Burnham resigned soon after its completion and Brother Shipp took up the work, remaining three years. In 1891 the whole design of the church was changed, the total cost was $1324. In July 1892 Brother Shipp resigned and was followed by Rev. Swift. While Brother Swift was there he was ordained. Rev. Wiley commenced his labors in June 1892 and remained four years. Rev. Moon followed and after him came Rev. Wallace, who commenced his labors in July 1900. About this time the church began to think about erecting a new building. Mrs. S.M. Parks died in December 1902, and in her will she set aside $2000 as a nucleus for a new church. While this was a good start, had not the minister, Rev. Wallace, and the trustees urged and planned for a new building it is doubtful whether anything would have been done. Rev. Wallace resigned in June 1906, having worked hard for a new church and having constantly kept the new church project before the congregation. After him came Rev. McCormick, who led the people thru the trying period of erecting a new house of worship. The old church building was torn down July 1907 and the same month ground was broken for the new church. In November 1907 the corner stone was laid with due ceremony, and the building continued all winter. The church services were held in the Woodman hall and in the German Baptist church during the period of the erection of the new building. The dedication service began at 10 a. m., January 3rd, 5909, presided over by Rev. Wallace, a former pastor, the protestant churches and pastors taking part in the exercises. The dedication sermon was delivered by Rev. J. B. Thomas, of Chicago.
Brother Baker, of Walnut, became pastor on January 24th, 1909, and a council was called to ordain him. It convened for that purpose on June 22nd, 1909. The council was organized by electing Brother Wallace, of Utica, moderator, and Brother Barnet, of Clinton, clerk. Sixteen delegates were present, representing eight churches. The ordination sermon was delivered by Rev. Baker, the ordination prayer by Rev. Straus, of Benson; charge to candidate Rev. Fuller, of El Paso; charge to church, Rev. Shipp, Graymont; benediction by the candidate. Rev. Baker served the church until November 7th, 1909, when a call was extended to Rev. W. H. Trolliver, of Indiana, to become its pastor. He closed his work there April 1st, 1912. On August 1st, 1912, Rev. J. C. Oranger took charge of the church as its pastor. The officers are as follows: Trustees, A. H. Parks, Tom Pickard, Heddo Vosberg, R. H. Parks, W. S. Morrison, C. E. Ridge and Otto Ravnehorst; deacons, James Ridge, H. P. Parks, Jacob McChesney, William Hohlen and Joseph Pickard. Present membership 214.