History of Christ Lutheran Church in Arcadia, WI
The Beginning Years - 1863 to 1887
1863: Earliest Beginnings in Glencoe
Rev. Ernst Stube, a Lutheran
medical missionary, serving a congregation at Fountain City, WI,
began serving families in the Buffalo County Township of
Glencoe, near the village of Arcadia. He traveled to the
Glencoe area once a month for twelve years, meeting in homes, to
bring the Gospel to the pioneers.
1866: Land Donated in Glencoe Township
Three acres of land was donated on
April 12, 1866, by George and Susan Barbara Keller, to be used
for a place of worship and a cemetery. (from the records
of Lee Wieland, Cemetery Board)
1875: Glencoe Church Formally Established With a
Building and Pastor
The Glencoe families called a
pastor of their own. The Rev. Ernest Giesel was called
from the Augsburg Synod (or maybe the Iowa Synod) and lived in
the home of one of the church members. The congregation
was formally organized with a written constitution and the name
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. A Glencoe church
building was also constructed in 1875. (The church was
located at the site of the present day Glencoe Lutheran
1876: Earliest Beginnings in Montana
Rev. Giesel, who was serving the
Glencoe area Lutherans, also began holding services in the homes
of the Lutherans he found in the Buffalo County Township of
Montana. He served the area until 1877.
1877 to 1884: Early Ministers Serving Glencoe and Montana
The Glencoe church and Montana
Township Lutherans were served by three Iowa Synod pastors and
one from the Wisconsin Synod—Rev. Christian Probst, 1877-1879
and Rev. John Burchard, 1879-1881 were from the Iowa Synod.
Rev. John Weirauch was from
the Wisconsin Synod, serving from 1881 to 1883. In 1884,
Carl Ziebell, an Iowa Synod theological student served as pastor
for six months.
1884 to 1886: Church Constructed in Montana —Arcadia
Rev. Julius Badke, a
Wisconsin Synod pastor came to serve St. John’s Church in
Glencoe township and continued to minister to the Montana
Lutherans. A parsonage in Arcadia was purchased for the
Badke family in 1885.
About 1885, under the leadership
of Rev. Badke, a church building was constructed for the
Lutherans in the Montana township. (The location of
the Montana church was at the site of the present day Montana
An interesting note found on page 6 of a 2002
report titled, “Town of Montana Land Use Plan” prepared by
Town of Montana Landowners, states the following
information about the history of one of the churches in
the Montana Township: “German Evangelical Lutheran
Christian Congregation was organized on October 22, 1885,
when Frederick and Wilhelmina Dorn deeded one and a half
acres to the church for the total of $2. Then on May
22, 1929, the church trustees deeded it for $1 to St.
John’s Christ Lutheran parish in Arcadia. A cemetery
1887: Church Officially Organized in Montana — First Arcadia
The Montana congregation was
formally organized in about 1887, with the name Christ
Church. A small frame church was built in Arcadia in
1887 so that parishioners would not have to travel to Glencoe to
worship on Sunday, but it did not become a separate
congregation. Rev. Badke left in 1887.
The Years of Division - 1888 to 1904
1888 to 1897: Dissent Begins
The next three ministers, Rev.
Albert Froehlke 1888-1890, Rev Carl Rutzen 1890-1896, and Rev.
Herman Gerhard 1896-1897, were Wisconsin Synod pastors. In
1897, congregational disunity forced Rev. Gerhard to leave after
serving only ten months.
1897 to 1904: Division
The Arcadia area Lutherans divided
into two groups. In 1897, Christ Lutheran Church in
Montana township, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Glencoe township and a few of the members attending the church
in Arcadia, called an Iowa Synod pastor, Rev. Adolf Werr.
Besides holding services in the two township churches, he also
held services in an upstairs room of the parsonage in Arcadia
for the few Arcadia members that had called him.
Around this same time, Rev.
Theophil Brenner from the Wisconsin Synod’s seminary was called
by the remaining majority of the Arcadia Lutherans. Rev. Brenner
held services in the little white frame church that had been
built in Arcadia in 1887. Rev. Brenner stayed for a year
or less and was followed by Rev. David Metzger, from the
Wisconsin Synod, who also served St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in
Whitehall. It is not known how long Rev. Metzger stayed.
In an apparent effort to restore
church unity, Rev. Werr changed from the Iowa Synod to the
Wisconsin Synod and continued to serve at Glencoe, Montana, and
the Arcadia parsonage, but unity was not restored, and Rev. Werr
left in 1904.
The Building Years - 1904 to 1956
1904 to 1907: Moving Forward
St. John’s of Glencoe and
Christ Church congregations were served by Rev. G.F. Hanselmann,
an Iowa Synod pastor, from 1904 to 1907. Rev. Herbert Zumhingst,
from the Ohio Synod became the pastor in 1907. It was
under his leadership in 1910, that the church building was
erected in Arcadia and the first English services were
conducted. All previous services had been in German.
1910: Two New Church Buildings
St. John’s Church of Glencoe and
Christ Church of Montana joined to construct a church building
in the village of Arcadia, to serve their members who had
retired from farming and moved to Arcadia. A new
congregation was not organized in the village, and any new
member living in Arcadia was constrained to take membership in
either one of the township churches. This new building was
dedicated in November of 1910, with only eighteen families from
the combined parish giving financial assistance and manual labor
towards the construction. The majority of the congregation
had deemed the services in the upstairs room of the parsonage to
be sufficient and did not contribute to the new building. Rev.
Zumhingst served the congregations until 1913.
It was also in 1910, that St.
John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Arcadia, which had
associated with the Wisconsin Synod, since the split back in
1896-97, built a new, larger church to replace the small frame
church built in 1887. The new building was across the
street from the old frame church and the old church was enlarged
and improved to be used for fellowship activities. (This church
remained with the Wisconsin Synod until 1959, when it became an
Independent Lutheran Church and in 1962, the congregation
In 1911, the Ladies Aid was formed.
1913 to 1956: Rev. Muedeking begins 43 Year Pastorate
On February 3, 1913, Rev. George
F. Muedeking, a recent graduate of St. Paul Luther College and
Seminary, was installed as the new pastor of St. John’s of
Glencoe and Christ Church of Montana and the associated group at
the new church building in Arcadia. His entire
ministry was spent in Arcadia—43 years until his death, at the
age of 73, in 1956. Rev. Muedeking was an active member of the
community and had a good relationship with other churches in the
community. He was active in the American Lutheran Synod
and served as president of the Marshfield conference. His wife,
Rosalie (Brodt) also contributed to the ministry of the
congregation. At the beginning of his pastorate, the
combined parish consisted of 51 families but grew to 242
families by 1949.
1913: The Senior Choir was organized.
1914: The Sunday School was established.
1923: Educational Building
The residence next to the Arcadia
church was purchased and converted into an educational facility.
1929: A Merger to Form One Congregation
Rev. Muedeking was instrumental in
merging the two congregations into one Arcadia church. St.
John’s Church of Glencoe and Christ Church of Montana, dissolved
themselves, deeded their property, and reorganized and
incorporated themselves as the “St John’s-Christ Lutheran
Congregation of Arcadia, Wisconsin.”
1930: the Women’s Missionary Society was organized.
1930: The national American Lutheran Church (ALC) was formed
in 1930 from the merger of the three conservative Lutheran synods
of German-American origin—the Iowa, Ohio, and Buffalo
1931: Midweek religious education classes were established.
1938: The Junior Choir was organized.
Several times during the 1940s and 1950s, Rev. Muedeking, served
the Tamarack Lutheran Church in rural Arcadia, when they were
without a pastor.
1946: A Luther League was formed for high school age youth.
A Hammond electric organ was purchased
1949: Church Addition
The Arcadia congregation had
increased to 526 total communicant members and the church was
usually filled to capacity. Members decided to enlarge the
building by erecting a brick veneered addition using lumber
sawed from logs donated by farmers of the congregation and also
using lumber salvaged from St. John’s Church of Glencoe, where
services had been discontinued. Excavation for the basement
began on April 19, 1949, and the new addition was dedicated on
Sunday, November 27, 1949. The enlarged church could comfortably
seat 550 and an overflow crowd of about 650. The original
Glencoe church bell was placed above the balcony of the new
1951: A new parsonage was built next to the church.
1953: Vacation Bible School began in Montana and Arcadia.
1952-1956: Interns Serving Under pastor Muedeking
A. Garbrecht, 1952—Capital Theological Seminary
Berg, 1953—Luther Seminary (Arcadia native)
A. Schmidt, 1954—Wartburg Seminary
Benninga, 1954-55—Wartburg Seminary
Kruse, 1955—Wartburg Seminary
Malpert, 1956—Wartburg Seminary
William Roessler, 1956—Wartburg
1956: Rev. Muedeking dies.
Up until his death on June 9,
1956, Rev. George F. Muedeking, actively served the congregation
for 43 years.
The Post-Muedeking Years - 1956 to 1989
1956-1963: Pastor Schultheiss
Rev. Walter E. Schultheiss, a
graduate of Capital Seminary came to Arcadia and served St.
John’s-Christ until 1963. He also served Tamarack Luther
Church in rural Arcadia until July 1958, when Tamarack formed a
partnership with Mount Calvary Lutheran in Trempealeau, Wi.
1959: Montana Lutheran Church Closed
The last Sunday service was held
at the Montana Christ Church on April 19, 1959. ( Date was found
in the Ushers’ Record Book.) During the last years, services had
been held about once a month. Sometime later, the building
was razed. The bell was salvaged and has been preserved by the
1960: The national American Lutheran Church (ALC) merged
with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was of
Norwegian-American origin, and the United Evangelical Lutheran
Church, of Danish-American origin, to form a new body that was
also named the American Lutheran Church (ALC). (Wikipedia)
1960: Church Name Changed
The congregation name was changed
from St. John's-Christ Lutheran Church to American Lutheran
Church of Arcadia.
1960: Assistance to New church at Trempealeau, WI
The congregation assisted in the
start of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Trempealeau, WI.
1962: Reunited Arcadia Lutherans
On November 25, church property
from St. John's Independent Lutheran Church, Arcadia (the former
Wisconsin Synod, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church) was
transferred to American Lutheran Church of Arcadia.
1964-1968: Pastor Benson
American Lutheran Church of
Arcadia was served by Pastor Howard B. Benson, who helped the
church study and plan for a new educational addition.
1965: Church Educational Addition
A two story church educational
building addition was dedicated on October 3.
1969-1981: Pastor Radke
Pastor Wayne G. Radke became
pastor of American Lutheran Church in Arcadia in 1969. Three
intern pastors served under Pastor Radke. They were, with
Earl Vorpagel 1978,
Keith Koslow 1979,
Gary Lunberg 1980.
1971: Missionary Support
The congregation voted to support
missionaries, Art and Millie Wyse in Cali, Columbia.
1972: Bethel Series Adult Education & support for Joy Lutheran
The congregation began to support
the work of Joy Lutheran, a new church in Prescott, WI.
The Bethel Series of Adult
Christian Education started and in 1975 there were eight
teachers and 120 students involved.
1974: New Enclosed Entrance
Under the leadership of Rev.
Radke, a new enclosed entrance was added to the church.
1975: 100th Anniversary
The one hundredth anniversary of the
congregation was observed with a vesper service
at the site of the Montana Church on June 15, a vesper
service at the site of the
Glencoe Church on August 17, and a full day of
celebration at American Lutheran Church in Arcadia on September
7. Membership was 692
baptized members and 494 confirmed members.
The congregation began helping
support Lee Bonhoff, missionary to Cameroon, Africa in 1977, and
also his wife, Torborg, in later years. Missionary support
for the Bonhoffs continued to about 2000.
1981-1985: Pastor Stendahl
Pastor Howard Stendahl became the
new pastor of the American Lutheran congregation in 1981.
1982: Pipe Organ
A Casavant Opus 3547 pipe organ
was installed in October.
1984: Fellowship Hall Remodeled
The basement fellowship hall was
1986-1994: Pastor Whitmore
Pastor Claire Whitmore served the
congregation from 1986 to 1994.
During Pastor Whitmore’s time of
serving the congregation, the American Lutheran Church of
Arcadia became a 501(c)(3) sponsoring organization for the
Arcadia Food Pantry for Trempealeau County, located in St.
Joseph’s Hospital in Arcadia. The Pantry received
government commodities matched by local donations and food was
available to all low income citizens of Trempealeau County. It
was completely run by volunteers from the Arcadia area.
This partnership lasted through 2016, when the pantry was forced
to move to another city, due to the lack of a suitable site
location in Arcadia.
A parking lot behind the church,
was completed in 1987.
The New “Christ Lutheran” Years - 1988 to the present
1988: On January 1, 1988, the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America) came into existence, by the merging of three Lutheran
church bodies— The American Lutheran Church (ALC), the
Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and the Association of
Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC) . (Wikipedia)
1988: First Parish Ed/Youth Worker
A Parish Ed/Youth Worker position
was added in 1988. Five Youth Directors served the church
between 1988 and 2011— Nicole Harmel (1988-1991) David Schiopota
(1992) Julie Gates, Erin Wright, and Kris Knutson, who also
served as church musician (2000-2010).
1989: Church Goes Back to Historical Name
During the pastorate of Claire
Whitmore, the church name changed from American Lutheran Church
of Arcadia to Christ Lutheran Church.
1990: Member, Lara Fetsch became an ELCA missionary in Hong
1994-1995: Pastor Irwin Flatten served as an interim pastor.
1995-2003: Pastor. Arthur W. Sharot, Jr. served Christ Lutheran.
1996: a grand piano and electronic digital piano were purchased to
enhance worship services.
2000: 3 Octaves of Handbells and Choir Chimes were added to the
church musical repertoire.
In 2002, Christ Lutheran began a missionary sponsorship with Rev.
Tim and Yuriko Mason in Japan.
2003-2004: Pastor Rodger Knudson served as interim pastor.
2004: Member, Paul Forsyth started as an ELCA Global Missions
Young Adult Missionary to Japan.
2004-2007: Pastor Breck McHan served as pastor.
2006: A class was offered to train members to be Stephen Ministers
who care for people in distress.
2007: Pastor Chris Hallemeier and Pastor Ron Walter served the
church as interim pastors.
2007-2008: Pastor Kris Fahey served as interim pastor.
2008-2017: Pastor Peter Jonas served Christ Lutheran
Church. Interns from Wartburg Seminary who served under
Pastor Jonas were—
David Murphy 2011-2012
Rhia Wilkin 2012-2013
Kim Sturtz 2013-2014
Josh Knudsen 2014-2015
Gus Barnes, Jr. 2016-2017
2012: the Mt. Sinai Hispanic Church began using Christ
Lutheran Church for worship services.
2014: Member, Jenna Putz started as an ELCA Global Missions Young
Adult Missionary to Argentina.
2018-2019: Pastor Robert Schoenknecht & Pastor Thomas
Bryan served as interim team pastors.
Pastor Cheryl Matthews is serving as pastor.
Information for this
church history summary was gathered from the following
Lutheran Church, Dedication booklet, November 27, 1949
Church, Arcadia, WI, Anniversary 1875-1975 booklet
Christ Lutheran Church,
Arcadia, WI, 1992 Directory
Olson, Daniel S. The
History of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Arcadia,Wisconsin, Church History CH3031 with Appendix 2 ,
December 12, 2005.
Lutheran Witness, January 1962, monthly newspaper published in
the interest of Mondovi and LaCrosse conferences of the
American Lutheran Church, La Crosse, Wisconsin