St. John Lutheran Church and School of Kilmanagh
St. John congregation was founded on April 18, 1876.  Two years prior to this Reverend J.L. Hahn, pastor of the Immanuel Church at Sebewaing, had been coming into this neighborhood and conducting divine services for the few scattered brethren in the faith, who had settled in the wilderness around Kilmanagh.  
These settlers were handicapped in regularly attending church in Sebewaing because of the almost impassable roads. Some of those pioneers had to make this distance afoot and were often obliged to walk along fallen trees to avoid sinking knee-deep in mud.  Reverent Hahn was summoned to Kilmanagh to baptize an infant and thereafter offered his services to the settlers as time and conditions would permit.  for a while he preached in the home of Karl Pobanz, whose child he had baptized, and later in a little log schoolhouse in Brookfield Township about a mile southeast of Kilmanagh. 
After about two years, some expressed the wish that a congregation be organized in this community, and there being several charters, as well as some communicant members of the Immanuel church at Sebewaing, among those wishing to organize her, the permission of that congregation was first obtained. 
On the 18th day of April 1876, Reverend Hahn announced a meeting and came to Kilmanagh, bringing with him the form of a constitution to be adopted by the future congregation.  There were 12 members in all, a mere handful, but they were sincere in their faith and zealous in their undertaking, as the records of those first years fully testify. The organization took place in the home of Frank Thompson, then residing in Kilmanagh. (This home is now owned by Mr and Mrs Raymond Bolzman).  The first officers were Elders - Frederick Schaefer and Frederick Layrer; Trustees - Karl Nimtz, Frederick Brenner and Gustave Sonntag.  Clemens Martini served as first secretary of the congregation. 
CornerStone The congregation made plans for the building of a church and a small lot was donated by Frank Thompson.  Soon a church was built and dedicated in 1876.  Reverend Hahn preached the dedication sermon.  Sunday school began in January of 1877 and classes were taught by members of the church.  From its beginning the congregation continued to grow so that in 1882,they found it necessary to call a pastor.  In 1882 the group of worshipers bought property with buildings for $363.25.  These buildings were to serve as a parsonage and a school.
 In 1887 the present church was becoming too small so an additional parcel of land was acquired to the north of the church property and a frame church was erected. with the cornerstone being laid on June 28.  Dedication of the church took place on October 4, 1881.  The principal speakers for this occasion were Reverendt Arndt, Reverend Bergemann, and Reverend Sievers addressed the assembly in English.  three years later a parsonage was erected in 1894.  It was on April 3rd 1888 the congregation joined the Missouri Synod.   
When in 1901 the work of the pastor grew to such an extend that Pastor Schumcher was overburdened, it was decided to give him a helper for the work in school.  The first school board consisted of August Draeger, August Rehbein and George Kundinger.  In 1901 a call was issued for a teacher to Leopold Sippel and he was installed September 1 of that year.  Enrollment of the Christian Day School at this time was 86 students.  St. John Congregation celebrated its 25th Anniversary on September 22nd 1901.  

Mrs Gugels Class
    The celebration was held in the Herman Fibranz Grove, as the church was too small to hold the capacity crowd.  Reverend Hahn preached in the morning, Reverend Wilkening in the afternoon and Reverend Heinecke in the evening.  In its 25 years of existence the congregation had grown five-fold.In 1902 the congregation purchased a dwelling from Sam Elenbaum for $800.00 to serve as the home of the teacher.
In 1903 a building committee was chosen consisting of J. Gettel, F. Engelhardt, L. Wissner, G, Scmidt, G. Kundinger, and a. Woldt to find a site for a new school.  Two acres were purchased from G. Kundinger for $125.00.  In 1904 Paul Dohne accepted a call.  At this time a one story, brick structure, large enough to seat 80-100 children was erected and dedicated October 14, 1905.  The offering on the day of dedication for the school fund was $25.54.  Paul Dohne taught until 1910.
In 191, St. John congregation purchased four and one-half acers of land from Mrs. Haase of Sebewaing for $1000.00 to be used as its cemetery.  This future cemetery was then laid out in lots. Prior to this, the congregation shared cemetery use with Immanuel Lutheran Church of Sebewaing.  
Dedication of new school,Jan 17 1954.
J.W.C. Bischoff became the third teacher in the spring of 1911.  During this time a pipe organ was installed in the church at a cost of $1500.00 In 1913 additional improvements were made on the school and Mr. Bischoff organized the first choir.  The following year the choir was granted permission to erect a bowling alley in the school yard. 
The REverend Emil Voss of Bach served as vacancy pastor until Reverend Alfred Stoskopf was installed in 1915 as the second pastor of the congregation.  For some time he also served the group at Elkton.  Pastor Stoskopf's salary at this time was $1200.00 a year. 
St. John Lutheran Ladies Aid was organized on January 23, 1919, with 35 members. First officers were: Pres: Mrs August Gettel; V.Pres., Mrs. John Dronsella; Secretary, Mrs. Max Strauch and Treasurer, Mrs. John Sonntag.  The object of the society was to foster Christian fellowship; to beautify and improve church property; to support financially and by personal service, the work of the church. They have assisted the church in countless ways in the past with many worthwhile project and still continue to do so today.  On December 2, 1971 they honored Mrs. Chris Fahrner on her 90th Birthday.  
old school build in 1905.
   
School and Teacherage Built  
In 1920 the congregation purchased the Herman Kappen home for $2900.00 which was from then was used as a teacherage.  for some time the congregation owned two teacher homes.  Present school - completed in 1962
The congregation undertook an extensive remodeling program of the church building in 1922.  Divine services were still held every Sunday morning in the German language.  The congregation had 94 voting members, some 300 communicants and approximately 550 souls.  sixty-five children were attending school. The church records at this time showed a total of 1007 baptisms, 502 confirmations 187 marriages and 207 burials.  
School enrollment increased to such an extent that in 1925, Alma Spomer, the first woman teacher was engaged as teacher of the lower grades in a second room arranged for that purpose in the old school building.  Also at this time a number of members were released to form a new mission at Owendale.      
On January 8 1925,  it was decided to hold both German and English Services. This continued until 1949, when the demand for more English services increased.  
An extensive remodeling program in the church parsonage was completed in 1926.  The building committee consisted of Louis Janke, Rudolph Wissner, and Herman Fibranz.  The Congregation celebrated the 50th anniversary of its existence with jubilee services on May 30th 1926.  On November 1, 1939, the congregation was incorporated with the state.
Tragedy struck St. John congregation on March 24, 1941.  when the church which had served as a house of worship for 50 years was completely destroyed by fire.  The congregation immediately named a building  committee consisting of Paul Fibranz, Rudolph Wissner, Wm. Roemer, Christian Roemer and Clemens  Woldt.  Construction of a new, larger, brick exterior building began.  The building amounted to $29,011.50.  Dedication of the new church was April 19, 1942.  Preachers were Pastors Zeile, Schmidt and Niezke.  A Wicks pipe organ with chimes was purchased for the new church building.   At this time the congregation sold the older teacherage for $300.00. 
Teacher E.F. Gugel submitted his resignation July 17, 1947, after serving as teacher for nearly 27 years.  At this time the 8th grade was added to the school curriculum.  August Heubner was then installed as teacher May 30, 1948.   
The 75th Jubilee

In 1948 Reverend A.D. Stoskopf announced his resignation after faithfully serving this congregation for 33 years.  Reverend Ernst Essig accepted a call and was installed February 29, 1948 to become the congregation's third minister.  Two services were now conducted on the first, third and fifth Sundays of the month in German and English,  and English worship only on the intervening Sundays.

 

The 75th Jubilee Service celebrating the founding of the congregation was held in 1951. A future fund was approved and started at this time to aid in any future changes that may again be needed with regard to the present educational building.  In its 75 years of existence there have been recorded 1289 baptisms, 749 confirmations, 329 marriages, 301 burials.  At the time of the 75th celebration St. John;'s congregation had a membership of 502 souls, 349 communicants and 92 voting members.  Our Christian Day school had an enrollment of 37 students taught by teacher Leonard Weber.
Due to the unexpected illness of Mr. Heubner in early 1948, Mrs Victor Wissner was engaged as teacher to finish the school year. At this time a new teacherage was built. The old teacher home was sold for $3000.00 and this applied as payment on a new home.  At this time also our local L.L.L. was founded. In April on 1949 Mr. Heubner's resignation, due to his health, was accepted and Mrs. Wissner continued as teacher through the 21950 school year.  A call was extended to Leonard Weber and he was installed in 1950.   His family was the first occupants of the new teacherage.  Our St. John's choir which had been inactive for a time was reorganized int he fall of 1950. At the time of the 25th Anniversary of the congregation it was noted that during the first 25 years the congregation had increased five-fold in communicant membership.  During the past fifty years the growth of the congregation  had not been so  phenomenal.  The reason for this is that in the early yeas the people first settled and inhabited this area.  These people had to be gathered in the congregation.  Mission opportunities were greater.  Since that time we have entered in the era of the automobile and better roads.  The mission opportunities and possibilities for growth in membership are thus not as great as during the early years of our congregation's history.  Yet in spite of the changes of the times the congregation has held its own and is quite stable as far as membership is concerned.
In June of 1953 a new school building was erected next to the 1905 school building.  It was connected in such a way as to allow for future plans to replace the 1905 building with new classrooms as needed.   

In 1956 Pastor Essig left St. John after 8 years of service to accept a call to Fairgrove, Michigan.  Reverend Adolf Bickel accepted a call and was installed as the fourth pastor of St. John.

At the quarterly meeting July 9, 1961 it was resolved to tear down the old school building and replace it with a two room structure. The building committee selected to oversee this project was: Norman Binder, Harlan Gettel, Victor Wissner, Wilbert Struch and Arthur Bergman.  The present brick school with an office ws completed and dedicated on October 21, 1962.  The oldest member Leonard Kundinger, baptized by Reverend Schumacher opened the new school, combining the old with the new.  In 1965, Pastor Bickel accepted a call to Napoleon, Ohio, after nine years of service here.  There was now an 18-month vacancy which was filled by Pastor Waschilewsky of Linkville, St. Paul's.
In 1966 the congregations of St. John of Kilmanagh and St. Peter of Bach decided to combine their Christian education by consolidating their schools. For the first six years the school building at Bach and the one in Kilmanagh were used with four teachers. In 1973 it was decided to use one building in Kilmanagh and to eliminate kindergarten class.  This school is presently the Bach-Kilmanagh Lutheran School.  In 1966 a call was extended and accepted by Reverend Edward Reinker and he served the congregation until his retirement in 1973.  The Reverend Henry Brinker, from the seminary was a candidate assigned to St. John in 1973 as its sixth pastor. He served until 1976. Left to Right: Margaret Gettel, Mararet Dubey, Alma Kundinger, Margaret Farhner, Marie Woldt, Ida Bolzman,Myrtle Wissner, Mary Lutz, Elsie Bolzman and Martha Haag. Ten members of the St. John Lutheran church of Kilmanagh, who were 70 or over, were honored at a party for Mrs. Farhner in December  1971.
Continued Growth of the Church and School...  
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 Teacher Leonard Weber Class 1954-1955
In 1975 an extensive redecoration of the church was made, a free standing altar, painting, installing new doors, furnace, carpeting and concrete parking log. Many willing and helping hands were busy to complete this project.
On April 25, 1976 the church celebrated in 100th Anniversary with the theme, "Rejoice in the Lord".  Special services were held each month of the year and events planned. Highlight of the celebration was August 15, when Reverend Oswald Hoffman, Lutheran Hour Speaker was the guest speaker at an outdoor worship service.
Reverend Wayne Wentzel accepted a call and became the pastor in 1977.  In 1980 construction of a new parsonage next to the church property began,  Tha land was purchased from Orin Englehardt.  An auction sale and bake sale netted almost $4000.00 for this building fund.  the house was dedicated June 12, 1981, and shortly after the Wentzel family moved into the new home.  Reverend Wentzel served as pastor until he accepted a call to St. Peter, Mt. Clemens in January of 1983. 
In 1988, Mrs Margarita Farhner, our oldest member of the congregation passed away at the age of 106.  She had been an active member here for many years. She was given a birthday party at the age of 90 by the Ladies Aid in 1971.  At age 100 the congregation helped her celebrate with a birthday party in the church basement.  At age 105 she was still active and going to the polls to vote. 
Reverend  Robert Pfaff was installed and ordained as our pastor in a joint installation-ordination service in June 1983.  he served until 1988.  
  The curriculum at the school was expanded in the 1987-88 school year with the addition of "The Little Lamb Early Learning Center."  Mrs. Ken Haas entered this phase with two kindergarten pupils and 12 preschoolers.
Pastor Ollendorf from the Linkville congregation accepted a call and was installed May 2, 1989,  He is presently serving the spiritual needs of this congregation.
On April 26, 1992, St. John observed the 50th anniversary of their present church building with a special worship service in praise and thanksgiving of the many blessings bestowed upon them.
The 20 pupils in the first three grades of Kilmanagh Lutheran school and their teacher, Mrs. Leonard Weber, were extremely happy Monday Morning when they moved into their recently completed building shown in the photo on right. 
Taken from the Pigeon Progress on January 22, 1954
 

 

   
   

 

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