American Lutheran Church
The American Lutheran Church of Filley, Nebraska, was organized on June 21, 1931. The following people and their families were among the early founders of the church: Rev. John H. Reents, George Wiese, Lorance Anderson, Martin Alberts, Albert Neels, Reiner Dissmeyer, William Siefkes, Henry Huls, Alberts, Mrs. Archie Peterson, William W. Ehmen, A.H. Glade, Oliver Anderson, Henry Remrners, Henry Meints, Deidrich Remrners, Torn Schuster, Orville Milburn, John W. Leners, Henry Schlake and Herman Dorn.
The first officers of the church were William Siefkes, secretary; Alfred Alberts, treasurer; Tom Schuster, Albert Neels & Reiner Dissmeyer, trustees. Some early trustees following these included George Wiese, Lawrence Anderson and Diedrick Remmers.
Pastor Reents of Christ Lutheran Church, Pickrell, Nebraska, had been conducting services in the former Filley Christian Church building since February, 1931. The old church building had not been used for some time. The arrangement was somewhat unique. The community owned the church building and their committee leased the building to the church for merely maintaining it. This arrangement remained for ten years.
One of the reasons the church was established was to have church services conducted in the English language. Most members were of German descent and other churches were primarily conducting services in German.
Pastor Reents’ salary at that time was $25.00 per month. In 1934, Orville Milburn was hired to be the janitor for a salary of $15 per year.
The congregation grew slowly during the depression years of the “thirties”. Membership records grew in volume, but the records of transfers were equally voluminous—people were on the move. In the early forties, the membership had grown to families and the congregation bought the property from the community for $3 00.00. The average Sunday attendance was 105, with about 55 families as members.
In 1940, Reverend Reents became an army chaplain. Reverend AG. Wendt of Wymore and Reverend C. August Decker of Sterling served the church until 1942. Then the congregation joined forces with American Lutheran Church of Adams, Nebraska, and called Pastor C. Schulte to serve them. In 1945, when Reverend Reents returned from military duty, Pastor Schulte resigned his pastorate. In December, 1945, Pastor J.H. Reents was reinstalled as the pastor of the congregation.
In 1947, it became apparent that more room was needed. Additional ground was purchased for $175. An application was sent to the War Assets Administration in Omaha, Nebraska to purchase the chapel at the Army Air Base at Bruning, Nebraska. purchase the chapel for $2,296.00. The chapel was dismantled at the Air Base in six days and brought to Filley. The cornerstone was laid on July 13, 1947. At that time it was the tallest building in the town. All the work of putting it up, except for the installation of plumbing and heating, was done by members of the congregation and volunteers. Martin Alberts was the chief carpenter and William Siefkes and Henry Frerichs were his assistants. Members of the building committee were John Baehr, Ed Flesner, and Raymond Schuster.
The new edifice had a full basement and seated 360 people in the sanctuary. It came complete from Bruning and included furnishings. It was dedicated 011 December 21, 1947, a Christmas present in more ways than one. The attendance for that day was 1,681. Reverend Erwin G. Fritschel, President of the American Lutheran Church Central District, Reverend John Volk of Sterling, and Reverend C. August Decker of Clay Center, Nebraska, were speakers at the dedication service.
By 1953, the congregation was over eighty families. In 1954 the congregation transferred sixteen families to form the nucleus of the Peace Lutheran Church in Lewiston, Nebraska. Although that sacrifice hurt, new families came—the Lord blessed such sacrifices also.
On July 29, 1956, the American Lutheran Church celebrated its 25th anniversary. Former Pastor, Rev. Carl Schulte conducted the service. Donald W. Flesner, former member, was also ordained at this service by Pastor- 1.1-1. Reents.
A new parsonage was built and dedicated on January 25, 1959. The parsonage building had begun in August, 1958. The land on which the parsonage is located was donated by Tom Schuster. Total cost of the parsonage was $13,470.00. William Siefkes was in charge of the building committee and Wilke Jurgens was chairman. Other members were Leland Sorenson and Henry T. Jurgens- Many others gave time and hard work to the construction. Pastor Richard Fruehling gave the dedication ceremony.
On August 30, 1959, Rev. Reents Preached his farewell sermon to the congregation. Rev. Paul Lohnes was then called to serve the church.
The church was remodeled at an estimated cost of $12,000-$15,000.00 in the early part of 1965. With the exception of altar fixtures, the entire sanctuary was new. A new pulpit and lectern were added along with the choir seats, pews, and an organ. Chairman of the building committee for the remodeling was Raymond Wiese. Ervin Parde was the congregational president. Pastor John H. Reents addressed the congregation. At that time, the church had a membership of 300 baptized member and 200 confirmed members.
On July 9, 1967, ground was broken for a new fellowship hall and kitchen. The old basement was converted into nine classrooms. While the construction was going on, Sunday School classes were held in the old Filley Grange Hall and parishioners’ homes which were close to the church. Total cost of this project was $25,000.00. The services for dedication were held on January 7, 1968, with Pastor Andrew Staby, assistant to the President of the Central District, Dr. Fritschel, as speaker. Building committee members were Edward Bruns, Arthur Dorn, Ehme Wallman, Glenn Rocke, Wilke Jurgens, Frank Wiese, and Raymond Wiese.
On November 18, 1973, the mortgage on the building project which was begun in 1967, was burned. Pastor Paul Johnson, an assistant to Central District Bishop Archie Madsen, was the speaker.
On September 4, 1975, the church was struck by lightning and destroyed. The fellowship hall was saved, but damaged. After much work, the fellowship hall was restored and church services were held in it.
On March 28, 1976, groundbreaking for a new church was held. Turning the dirt was Ernest Siefkes, chairman of the building committee. Also participating were charter members Mabel Remmers and Lena Siefkes, and congregational president Robert Baehr. Other members of the committee were Edwin Williams, Mrs. Irene (Harvey) Hippen, Mrs. Lydia (Wilfied) Jurgens, Marvin Wolken, John Dom, and Norman Mortensen. The church was designed by Aitken, Hazen, Hoffman, and Miller of Lincoln. General Contractor was T.C.I. of Tecumseh, Nebraska. Total cost of rebuilding was $220,944.00. It has a seating capacity of 290.
Dedication of the new church was held on December 5, 1976, with a total of 1,114 people attending three services that day. Speakers were Central District President Archie Madsen, former pastor Paul Lohnes, and Pastor William Jurgens. In the evening a music program was presented by the “Gospel Notes.” Offering for the day was $5 372.00.
The cost of the new church did not include the piano, organ, altar, lectern, pulpit and the large cross in front. These items were given as memorials to the church in honor of loved ones. These memorials and those that donated them are individually listed in our memorial record book.
Pastor Paul Kenyon preached his last sermon in Filley on May 22, 1977. Pastor John Plantz of North Dakota was then called to serve the congregation.
At the church’s 50th Anniversary in 1981, there were 289 baptized members and 195 confirmed members. At that time, there were still two charter members living. They were Mrs. Mabel (Diedrich) Remmers and Mrs. Lena (William) Siefkes. Both ladies had sons who were baptized and confirmed at American and were still current members at that time. They were Chris Remmers and Ernest Siefkes.
Pastor Dell Tschudin and his Wife Janet were welcomed to the congregation in January, 1982.
On October 13, 1985, the mortgage was burned for the present church building. Those participating in that ceremony included: Chris Remmers (Congregation President), Pastor Del Tschudin and Bishop Wayne Weissenbuehler.
On January 1, 1988, American Lutheran Church became a member of the newly formed Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
The new millennium of 2000 brought more positive changes to our church home. Sheets of red metal roofing were added to the church and fellowship hall. The three wooden crosses outside the front of the church were re-covered with metal sheeting to preserve them. The congregation has voted for and raised money to add central air conditioning to the sanctuary and wall units to the fellowship hall. Our basement has undergone some improvements as well. A classroom was transferred into a new secretary’s office. The multi-purpose room has also undergone a transformation with new carpet, couches and a conference table and chairs given with memorial monies.
Community activities which we are involved with include donating to the Food Pantry, members of the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Another recent project is serving meals at Warren’s Table in Beatrice. Area churches and other organizations take turns serving a hot meal to those in need.
Our current minister, Melody Brindel, was installed in July, 2005. The budget for 2006 is $79,000. There are now 329 baptized members and 238 confirmed members. On June 18, 2006, the congregation celebrates its 75th anniversary.
This is a picture of the original Filley Christian Church that became the first building to house the American Lutheran Church. This picture was taken from a Gage County historical book. There are no known original pictures available.
This picture was taken in 1981 at American Lutheran’s 50th Anniversary. In the from are Lena Siefkes and Mabel Remmers, last living charter members of the church. Behind them are their sons, Ernest Siefkes and Chris Remmers. Both Ernest and Chris were baptized, confirmed and American members at that time.