Chicago Lutheran History: Evangelical Church of the Holy Cross- 1886

In 1896, the Lutheran churches of Chicago published Geschichte der Gründung und Ausbreitung der zur Synode von Missouri, Ohio und Andern Staaten gehörenden Evangelisch-Lutherischen Gemeinden U. A. C. zu Chicago, Illinois, a history of their growth in the city beginning with First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, now located on LaSalle and Goethe streets in Chicago. As far as I know, there is no English translation of this document, so I offer this translation to share this history with you. Follow me to get updates about the rest of this work.

Holy Cross has had only 8 senior pastors in its more than 125 years in existence, following a pattern of long-serving pastors in Chicago churches. The shortest tenure was Pastor William Roecker, 9 years, and the longest was Pastor George Mrochen, more than 35 years. Holy Cross still stands, service the their community.

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Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Cross

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The view from the balcony

In the year 1868, Trinity congregation, under Pastor F. Döderlein, founded a school district in so-called “Bridgeport,” and they built a school on Farrel Street near Archer road. The first teacher at this school was Mr. W. Treide, after whom Mr. J. Käppel followed in the office. School was held here until 1881. Because the strong immigration at that time had also very populated this neighborhood with many German Lutherans very quickly, the congregation felt the need to erect a new, larger school building. Because the position of the school was quite disadvantageous, the congregation sold the old school with the land, and they build a two-story, four-classroom brick building on Lyman and Arch streets. The teachers were Mr. J. Richter, Mr. W. Schlüter, Mr. W. Helmkamp, and Mr. W. Kammann.

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Exterior of Holy Cross

Out of this school district emerged the independent Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of the Holy Cross in the year 1886. It was founded on the day of John the Baptist, the 24th of June, 1886. 161 members of Trinity congregation took their peaceful release from the mother congregation and signed the new constitution. As their pastor of the congregation, Pastor Wilhelm Uffenback, previously in Lemont, Ill., was called, and he was installed into his office on the 22d of August, 1886, by Pastor Lochner with the assistance of Pastor G. Löber.

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Holy Cross’s school from their archives. Date unknown

The divine served had to be held, temporarily, in the school. But since the space was too limited, the congregation decided to build a suitable house of God.

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The reredos of the altar at Holy Cross. On the left is St. Peter, and the right is St. Paul, identifiable by the sword he carries.

4 lots were purchased on Ullman street and James Avenue for $2,300, and the construction of the house of God was quickly begun. Already on the 17th of October of the same year, the cornerstone of the church could be laid, at which Pastor L. Hölter took the opportunity to preach a festival sermon. The structure was built without an accident, so the church could be joyfully dedicated on the 31st of July 1887. The festival preachers were the pastors L. Lochner, F. Döderlein, and A. Reinke. The cost of the building amounted to $30,000. The church is solemnly decorated with paintings, towers, three bells, and furnished with an organ. A parsonage next to the church was built at the same time.

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A photograph of the parsonage from Holy Cross’s archives

Already before the completion of the new house of God, a new fifth classroom had to be set up, at which there was a female teacher, but later teacher W. Wellensek was called. (Teacher Wellensiek died in 1892.) In the year 1892, the congregation felt it necessary to erect a second two-story school building. The growth of the congregation vigorously progressed, and, although the Congregation of the Holy Cross had only a small region, it was still a large congregation.

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It numbers 346 voting members and 1838 communicant members. In their school, 480 students were taught by the following 5 teachers: W. Helmkamp, W. Kammann, J. J. Rademacher, L. M. Himmler, and J. Schulze.

A pastor, writer, and geek who lives in Chicago. https://jameshuenink.wordpress.com

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