From the Constitution of Friedens United Church of Christ:
The Mission Statement of Friedens United Church of Christ
Friedens United Church of Christ in keeping with being a part of the Kingdom of God declares its mission to be an organization that is rooted in the love and teachings of Jesus Christ. We strive to provide a loving, caring Christian community that is open to all who wish to follow our Lord and Savior. We are committed to supporting the needs of our local community as well as the wider Church and the world. This will be accomplished by sharing the Word of Christ through worship, community outreach, missions and by keeping Jesus Christ at the center of everything we do.
- Acknowledges Jesus Christ as our sole Head
- Acknowledges all who confess in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior as our brothers and sisters in Christ
- Looks to the word of God in the Scriptures
- Looks to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world
- Claims the faith of the historic church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant Reformers
- Affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own
- Recognizes two sacraments: baptism, and the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion
- Recognizes the rites of confirmation, ordination, consecration, marriage, and burial
“We join in covenant with God and one another to seek and respond to the Word and the Will of God. We propose to walk together in the ways of the Lord, made known to us. We hold it to be the mission of the Church to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world, while worshipping God and striving for truth, justice, and peace. As generations before, we depend on the Holy Spirit to lead and empower us. We pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God, and we look with faith toward the triumph of righteousness and eternal life.”
Statement of Faith
As a congregation of the United Church of Christ, we value the expression of our faith through the words of the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith (in the form of a Doxology):
We believe in you, O God, Eternal Spirit,
God of our Savior Jesus Christ and our God, and to your deeds we testify:
You call the worlds into being, create persons in your own image, and set before each one the ways of life and death.
You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
You judge people and nations by your righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Savior, you have come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to yourself.
You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.
You call us into your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.
You promise to all who trust you forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, your presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in your realm which has no end.
Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto you. Amen.
Friedens United Church of Christ was founded on December 13, 1874 under the name "Die Evangelische Freie Protestant Gemeinde" (The Evangelical Free Protestant Congregation).
After a time of having services in homes of interested families, the congregation was organized on December 13, 1874 under the name of "Die Evangelische Freie Protestant Gemeinde" (The Evangelical Free Protestant Congregation).
The first constitution was signed by the following charter members: Elias Burke, Rudolph Hoge, Johann Riebold, Charles Metzger, Friederich Hoge, Julius Nill, Adam Feldner, Jacob Mahler, Henry Mumme, Frank Heddergott, Peter Bernhardt, Frank Holtgrave, William Schulz, Phillip Gross, Fritz Schuler and William Freulenau.The first Congregational Meeting was held on January 3, 1875 in the local Presbyterian Church - now the Pentecostal Church, since the congregation did not have a building until November of 1875.
The first pastor to serve the congregation as a resident pastor was Rev. Dietrich. Peter Cumman whose term of ministry started in 1876 built the first parsonage with his own hands, conducted regular services and also taught Sunday School. Unfortunately, the ministry was short as he died in 1881 having served the congregation only five years.
There followed a period in the history of the congregation when it had a pastor and then short periods without the services of a pastor. Because of this situation, it became more difficult to pay the pastor a living wage. The pastors who served for only a short time were all "free" pastors and were not members of the denomination. Friedens Church then dictated a pleas to the German Evangelical Synod of North America and asked for a pastor who was a member of that denomination. The synod sent a recent graduate of Eden Theological Seminary, the Rev. Ernest Rierneyer in the fall of 1887.
The first couple to be married in the newly organized church was Henry Gindler and Barbara Witman on February 3, 1878. They were the grandparents of Irwin Dollinger, deceased; Marie Dollinger; Oscar Gindler, deceased; Harold Gindler; Elmer Gindler and Irene Kotzman. Their daughter, Maria A. Gindler, the mother of Marie Dollinger, was the first baby baptized in the newly organized church in 1878.
Rev. Ernest Rierneyer served the congregation until the summer of 1891. A new parsonage was built during this time. His successor was Rev. N. Hansen who served from July 1891 to August 1895.
During Rev. Hansen's time at Friedens he also aided a small group of men in Collinsville to draft a constitution which became St. John's Evangelical Church of Christ. Until they could erect a church, every two weeks Rev. Hansen walked from Troy to Collinsville to conduct services in the First Presbyterian Church, which they rented for $1.75 each service.
May 5, 1889, the congregation reorganized as the German Evangelical Friedens Gerneinde (German Evangelical Friedens Congregation) and became a member of the denomination. The German Evangelical Synod of North America; later dropped the word German from its name.
Rev. G. Plassman began his ministry on September 1, 1895 to August 1900 when he resigned.
At the beginning of Rev. Plassman's ministry, there were 38 active members and about 25 or 30 families who were interested. The Sunday School enrollment was 100 pupils, 10 teachers and a lay superintendent. A young Peoples League was organized, and a hard working group of 30 ladies known as the Ladies Aid. A German school was held during the months of April through September. A vacation during the month of July helped to lighten the task of farm work.
A steeple was added to the church building in 1897 and a bell was purchased the same year.
Four ministers served from 1900 to 1910 when Rev. Krickhan came to serve. Rev. Krickhan served only two years - he was noted for the invocation of a Daily Vacation Bible School. It drew a large attendance from surrounding areas and was watched with great interest by other churches and communities.
Rev. Martin Hulz came to Friedens in 1902. During this time, the present parsonage was built and dedicated on March 24, 1913.
Rev. Hulz organized and directed the first large and excellent choir of the church, which became known throughout the area and was asked to sing at various community functions.
Rev. Hulz conducted the last confirmation class held in German. He left the ministry in June 1917.
Pastor John Dippel came to Friedens in March 1917.
In a report dated July 14, 1918, it was noted that since raising the necessary money for expenses was falling short, it was resolved that Friedens Evangelical Church of Troy, Illinois adapt the method highly recommended by the Synod and known as the "Duplex Envelope System" as their new method of raising money.
In 1918 a flu epidemic prevailed and a quarantine was placed upon all churches and schools. The first meeting since July 1918 was held in January 1919.
At this time English language began to be used in the church. The change was gradual - - one service a month was in English - - then it became one service a month in German - - finally all services were in English except the communion service on Good Friday.
Money seems to have always been a big concern. Notation made of unpaid salaries in the amount of $121.00. The cash on hand of $2.37 was paid leaving an unpaid balance of $118.63 as the actual debt.
In May 1919 complaints about the condition of the cemetery was brought before the Council and it was also known that the men did not have the necessary time to take care of it. The chairman moved to appoint 3 ladies to get the cemetery cleaned up. The ladies were Mrs. Alice Bone, Mrs. John Wilhelm and Mrs. George Ottwein. These ladies set to the job as noted in later meetings. They enlisted the help of Mrs. Bone's Sunday School Class and after cutting and raking, a farmer hauled away the hay, but the minutes for the following year noted that the farmer cut the hay and hauled it away, however the Sunday School Class earned $50.00. Later, there was a motion at the meeting to have signs printed, and a notice put in the Troy Call prohibiting livestock from -grazing in the cemetery!
In July 1921 a motion was made to vote on building a new church and in January 1922 it was decided to tear down the old church and dig a new basement. The Presbyterian Church again offered their church basement for services. On October 8, 1922 a motion was made to ask individuals for money at 4% interest and the balance amount needed from the Bank of Troy.
On November 5, 1922, at a special meeting, it was decided to sell the old parsonage to the highest bidder at public auction. After a final decision was made on a definite plan for the new building, bids were sought and on February 28, 1922 Hug Lunber of Highland was chosen with the lowest bid. On March 2 some changes were proposed that amounted $656.00 bringing the contract price to $15,496.00 without windows and a pipe organ. The organ from Treu Pipe Organ Company of St. Louis was chosen with 8 set of pipes at a cost of $1,766.26.
The art glass windows came from Jacoby Art Glass Company in St. Louis and cost $1,207.00.
Pews and furniture was purchased from DeMoulin Brothers and Company in Greenville at a cost of $1,561.20.
The committee then called for volunteers that saved many dollars. It is noted that Mr. Henry Buhrmester of Edwardsville furnished the paint at cost, and that included his labor. The cost of paint and labor was $86.81. The final figure was approximately $22,000.00 for the building and furnishings. The Building Committee was honorably discharged with thanks.
On April 8, 1923, Rev. Dippel had tendered his resignation, and on May 20, 1923 Rev. Niedernhofer was chosen by a secret ballot at a special meeting.
On January 17, 1924, a chili supper was given by the men of the church and during this social gathering a Brotherhood organization was temporarily established with the aid of the E. St. Louis and Collinsville Brotherhoods. Henry Bernhardt, Jr. was appointed President, and Wm. S. Weber, Secretary. These appointed officers then received applications and succeeded by getting a total of 22 members. This became a permanent organization on January 24, 1924. At this meeting, Rev. Niedernhofer read scripture passages and offered prayer.
On January 24, 1924, the men met and after reading the constitution of the E. St. Louis Brotherhood instituted their own constitution with some deletions and additions. The election of officers was Henry Bernhardt, President; A. F. Schurman, VicePresident, Wm. S. Weber, Secretary and Fred Pape for Treasurer. The following committee chairman were chosen: Jule Gaertner, Membership; Elmer Schaake, Entertainment; Leonard Schurman, Visitations; Charles Bangert, Devotionals.
During the Brotherhood meeting of May 1, 1924, it was decided that picnic season was close at hand and that on June 15th "a big picnic shall be given!" George Wilhelm, H. G. Pape and H. Schaake were on the appointed committee.
On June 8, 1924, a special meeting to discuss only the picnic; then another special meeting was scheduled for June 10th. On June 10th, a motion was made and duly seconded to postpone said picnic!
On December 5, 1924, the Ladies Aid suggested to the Brotherhood the purchasing of 2 hogs to be used for meat and sausage at the meals given on the day of the Golden Jubilee. Mr. Deimling offered to furnish meat and sausage at cost - as good as this may sound, there was much discussion and finally a motion was made and seconded that a committee of three buy either hogs or hams and make the sausage! Which they did. Also at this time a motion was made and carried to order 150 Elmhurst hymnals, and that the presidents of all classes and organizations serve as a committee for the 50th anniversary.
The minutes did not give details how the 50th anniversary was celebrated except the notes on the purchase of meat for a "celebration meal" - however, the minutes of January 11, 1925 made motions to thank the Ladies Aid, Retiring Officers and the Sunday School Teachers for their services.
After many discussions and votes, the addition of a bathroom was voted on by secret ballot and this time it carried 13 votes for and 6 against - but at the very next quarterly meeting on January 3, 1926, it was decided to table this undertaking and appoint a committee of two to solicit members for donations for this project. George Ottwein and Charles Bangert were appointed for this project.
On May 9, 1926, Rev. Niedernhofer's resignation was accepted, and would allow him to leave June 1st. At this time, it was decided to use a student if necessary; the cost being $5.00 plus expenses. By June 1st, Rev. Gerhold had given a trial sermon and by secret ballot was chosen to serve Friedens and would be paid $1,300 plus house rent.
In the fall of 1926, bids were being sought on a different furnace - steam heat was being considered, and on October 26, 1926 at a special meeting, there was a unanimous vote for it. The committee of five whom drew up specifications were George Wilhelm, Clarence Lory, Robert Bohnenstiehl, George Ottwein, and F. J. Michael - but, at a special meeting on November 10, 1925, all the bids were rejected by a vote of 25 to 1. A committee of three was appointed to purchase a pipeless furnace. August Schurman, William Weber, and John Feldmeier served on this committee.
It was at that time the Ladies Aid was given permission to rent the basement. Rev. Gerhold turned in his resignation and asked for release by October 9, 1927. On October 16, 1927, Rev. William Wille received the required 2/3 majority vote after having lost the first election on October 9, 1927. He served until January 1928 when the congregation again had the task of choosing a new minister.
Rev. Theodore Goebel from Marshall, Oklahoma served as minister until July 1928 when Rev. Albers began his ministerial services and did so until December 1, 1931.
The search for a new minister to replace Rev. Albers started in October 1931 when it was moved to send delegates to Hookdale, Illinois to hear Rev. Richard Mornhinweg preach. There was a trial sermon on November 15, 1931 here in Troy. At a congregational meeting the same evening, it was voted 76 yes votes to 6 no votes to hire Rev. Mornhinweg as Friedens' pastor.
In January 1932 the Rev. R.H. Mornhinweg began his pastorate.
Pastor and Mrs. Mornhinweg deserve a large share in the history of Friedens United Church of Christ having served faithfully and reverently since 1932 and giving the greater part of their life’s ministry to members of the church and in service to the community. They are much beloved and appreciated. (Taken from the History of Friedens United Church of Christ 1874-1974, 100 Year Anniversary Book).
During Rev. Mornhinweg’s pastorate many changes took place. It was noted in past history that congregational meetings became shorter and some jobs became appointed rather than elected positions. Bertha Weber Loyet was the organist until Alma Gebauer and Marie Dollinger were appointed and Val Ottwein was appointed as janitor.
In 1934, The German Evangelical Synod of North America. merged with the Reformed Church to form Evangelical and Reformed Church. At this time Friedens name changed from the original Evangelical Free Protestant Congregation to Evangelical and Reformed Church.
In 1939 St. John’s Evangelical Church in Black Jack, a rural community south of Troy merged with Friedens after the Black Jack church was destroyed by a tornado. The interior of the Troy church was redecorated and in 1941 a complete new heating system was installed. In 1943 it was voted to have the entire cemetery placed under perpetual care, and in 1948 the exterior of the building was tuck-pointed.
1949 was the 75th anniversary year for the church and the sanctuary was again redecorated. It was noted in the 75th Anniversary Book, the church records show that there have been 643 baptisms; 397 children have been confirmed; 175 weddings; and 406 funerals. Approximately 9000 guests have partaken of holy communion.
On January 13, 1952 Rev. Mornhinweg’s 20th anniversary as pastor of Friedens was celebrated with more than two hundred guests attending a potluck dinner in his honor. It was noted that during this 20 year period, the congregation had increased to 300, there were 179 baptisms, 85 weddings, and 125 confirmands. The auditorium had been redecorated twice, the kitchen remodeled, and rest room facilities added.
In the January 1956 congregational meeting the need for more room was brought forth and a study group for possible expansion was appointed by the president Harold Schmidt. In November of that same year the committee expressed its findings and church expansion was begun, supported with bond sales.
The plans included moving the parsonage one block south onto property purchased from Mrs. E. Breve. The church was then to be enlarged to fill the entire block. The Lion’s Theater was to be used for Sunday school during the entire expansion period. A new organ was purchased and installed during this same year.
The building expansion was finished and dedicated to the Glory of God on Sunday morning, July 19th, 1959. Charles Bangert was president.
The last of the bonds, sold to fund the church expansion, were paid in full in November 1968 and a note burning ceremony and potluck dinner was held to celebrate the event in January of 1969.
That same year, 1969, brought another name change to Friedens. The denomination of the Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with the Congregational Church and the local congregation changed its name to Friedens United Church of Christ.
The early 1970’s brought a renovation of the bell tower by the youth group and Sunday school class of Pam and Glen Gindler. In 1973 an air conditioning system was installed for the entire church and in 1974 Friedens celebrated its 100th year anniversary.
The 100th anniversary celebration was first mentioned and organized through the monthly newsletter which was started in February 1974 with co-editors Thelma Huston and Sue Klaus. In it, the Anniversary Committee was named: Chas. Bangert, Joey McDowell, Sue Klaus, JoAnn Longhi, Louise Rinkel, Al Ludwig, Arthur (Swiss) Kamm, CIndy Spencer, Hilda Ottwein, and Linda Rinkel.
Photos and articles were collected for the new Centennial Directory and events were planned for the upcoming year. A centennial float was entered in the homecoming parade with members wearing period clothing. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Ottwein, Mr. and Mrs. Dale Willimann, and others for designing and building the float.
The January 1975 newsletter notes that there were 109 members and 14 teachers in Sunday School with Joe Estes, general superintendent, Betty Depping, department superintendent, Amy Willimann and Stan Huston, recording and financial secretaries, and Marie Hazzard, treasurer.
The May newsletter notes that Rev. Mornhinweg submitted his resignation as of August 1,1975.
On July 27, 1975, 270 people were in attendance for Rev. Mornhinweg’s retirement service. Approximately 350 attended the open house in his honor.
Interim Pastor Dr. John Schmitt was welcomed on September 7,1975 with a potluck reception in his honor after church.
On January 1,1976 began Rev. Rodney Wells pastorate at Friedens. Mary Emmons was hired as the church secretary and the Christian Board of Education was established.
The next several years were filled with hard work and high hopes. A Finance Committee was formed to check into the financial feasibility of another expansion of the church. After a year of investigation, it was determined that the church was not, at that time, able to finance such an expansion. A Lon- Range Planning Committee was formed, Friedens became a shelter for families without power during a severe ice storm, a church softball program was begun, and the Sunday School enjoyed much growth.
The year 1980 was another landmark year in the life of the church in that another redecorating of the interior of the church was done and the new hymnals were dedicated. The 50th ordination anniversary of Rev. Richard Mornhinweg was celebrated along with the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary.
January of 1981 brought the resignation of Rev. Rodney Wells. During that year the children's church program was started under the guidance of the Christian Board of Education and handicap accessibility was a topic of concern.
Pastor June Heisler became the new interim minister in January of 1982 and the decision to purchase the Schmerbach property was made that December. The Women’s Guild devoted many hours of labor and a considerable amount of money to refurbish the parsonage including a completely rebuilt kitchen.
Rev. Allan Mason began as pastor in January of 1983 and the year started off with a contest to “name the house” on the newly acquired Schmerbach property. Leona Stunkel submitted the winning name, the Friendship House (Friedens in German means Friend). The house was used for Sunday School and Youth Fellowship.
The next several years showed much growth in the community as well as in the congregation and it was determined at the April 1986 Congregational Meeting that the long-awaited expansion of the church was to become a reality with the addition of an educational wing.
Construction on the new wing began in June of 1987 and was dedicated in 1988. While the building of the wing was a blessing for the expansion of the church it took it’s toll in the congregation and according to Rev. Mason’s pastoral report “brought forth difficult times” including his decision to resign in 1989.
Interim Pastor Hale Schroer came to Friedens in August of 1990 and Pastor Jane Hillman took over as pastor in December of that same year. Pastor Jane’s vision for the future of Friedens was to “lead with our strengths.” Invitation and acceptance, teaching about God’s redeeming love, and serving one another with joy were the strengths listed in Pastor Jane’s first pastoral notes.
The next several years were dedicated to church growth and financial stability. Youth involvement, a young couple’s group, adult education, and care giving ministry were just a few of the long-range goals to get more people involved and grow the congregation.
In 1993 the Women’s Guild sponsored remodeling of the kitchen, including installing a dishwasher and center stainless-steel cabinets and counters. The Church Council along with the Christian Board of Education named 1993 “The Year of the Red Brick.” The goal was to pay off the remaining debt on the educational wing. This goal was achieved in April 1994. That same year, giving exceeded the church budget, Kris Klaustermeier renovated the inside of the bell tower as his Eagle Scout project, the new church directory was completed, giving and attendance were up, and a ministerial review was completed, and Friedens began inviting seminary students to teach and preach during the school term.
The year 1995 brought the adoption of a new constitution and by-laws and the creation of several boards. The April congregational meeting tackled some major renovation issues and it was determined, by vote, to replace the boiler, remove asbestos, add an elevator, parking lots, restrooms, and a sign at the total cost of $223,193.38. These items were completed over the next few years along with hiring an administrative assistant as well as part time pastor Nancy Goss in the fall of 1996. A new sound system was installed in the summer of 1997.
Pastor Jane welcomed 22 children through baptism and 26 new members in 1998 and this was also the year that Karen Hanson became the new Christian Board of Education Director. The cemetery drainage project was completed, the church offices were relocated, and a Consecrating Stewards Program was established.
Another renovation of the sanctuary, chaired by Ron Klaustermeier and supported with bond sales was done in 1999 in anticipation of the next year’s 125th anniversary celebration.
The year-long celebration began on Sunday December 5th with the church service and luncheon. A special mission for the year was announced, CAIM (The Council for American Indian Ministry) and the goal was to meet or exceed $1250.00. Anniversary keepsakes and yard signs announcing the anniversary could be purchased throughout the year, and a new pictorial church directory was completed and distributed.
Special monthly celebrations were planned and carried out by the Anniversary Committee including, an all-congregation photo shoot, concerts, a confirmation reunion, an anniversary float for the homecoming parade, an ice cream social, a church picnic, and several pot lucks!
Pastor Karen O’Rourke accepted the position of Pastor for Youth & Family Ministry and Praise Worship began.
“The monthly celebrations were reminders of our cherished heritage and opportunities to greet old friends and make new friends. I give thanks for the hard work of our anniversary committee members.” (Taken from 2000 Yearly Reports, Pastor Jane).
An adult daycare program Our World Troy, administered by an outside entity, began in March 2001 at Friedens. Easter Seals took over the program at Friedens after the previous company closed out but ultimately also closed their program due to lack of participants.
Friedens worked at keeping abreast of and integrating new technologies. A new church website was started and periodically updated by talented church volunteers. New computers were purchased for the office, Pastor, and CEB Director and televisions and computers were added for Sunday School use. The sound system equipment moved to the balcony and was enhanced by new IT, video, and sound equipment. A projector and screen were installed and services were then projected in the front of the sanctuary.
Some church repairs included roof repairs in the sanctuary and elevator entrance, new front doors, and wall repair and painting in the narthex. The Women’s Guild did a remodel of the kitchen which included painting the cabinets and replacing the doors and drawer fronts and installing new countertops. A new ceiling and lights were also installed in Fellowship Hall.
In 2003 the church contracted out the cemetery mowing. Up to that point, cemetery staff and volunteers did the mowing.
Hand bells were purchased and a new church bell choir was started. The 50-year-old organ was replaced with a new one from Wicks Organ in Highland with the installation of organ pipes.
A church bus was also purchased for adult and youth activity transportation and for community use. The church also purchased a defibrillator and members were trained in how to use it.
The scrip program was started as an ongoing fundraiser for the church. A new pictorial directory was produced in fall 2004.
Friedens continued to be an active church. The youth group held fundraiser dinners and went skiing, on float trips, had fun at Raging Rivers, and took mission trips. Church fundraisers included Easter breakfast, the chicken dinner in May, and sausage dinner in October. A puppet ministry was started. Adult education opportunities included a video series and book and bible study. Adult activities included Bunco, a Shrimp Dinner, Talent Show, Health Fair, and Trivia Night. VBS and the Block Party were well attended by Friedens and local children and families.
Church leadership was focused on growth and making our church more welcoming while still engaging our church families. Church flyers were sent out to advertise Advent/Christmas and Holy Week/Easter services. Church members were involved in wider community activities including Relay for Life, a float in the Homecoming Parade, passing out refreshments at the community Movie Nights, and the Chamber of Commerce Fall Festival and Santa House. The church held public concerts in the park and at church and started the community Blessing of the Pets services.