The Lutheran Churches in Colorado

The first successful attempt to organize an English Lutheran Church in Denver was made in 1884. There had been other attempts before that time but they had proven failures. But in October of the above year the Home Mission Board of the General Synod sent Rev. P. A. Heilman to Denver with orders to organize a church. This energetic pastor gathered together a number of people for this purpose and held the first meeting at the home of Reverend Doctor Weiser, 686 Glenarm Street, at 3:00 P. M., October 19, 1884. The following people were present at this meeting: Reverend and Mrs. Weiser, Mrs. Laura Cree, Mrs. Margaret DeMars, Mrs. Jennie Fisher, Mrs. I. Hildebrand, Mr. and Mrs. George Sheets, Miss I. S. Oakland, Mr. and Mrs. Middlewarth, Mr. Jenkins, Dr. J. W. Exline and Rev. and Mrs. P. A. Heilman. These together with Mr. and Mrs. Crigler, Jim Tyson and B. F. Sadtler who were present the following Sunday constituted the charter membership of the church. Of these nineteen original members of the church only one Miss I. S. Oakland still remains a member.

The first sermon to this newly organized congregation was preached by Reverend Heilman in the Methodist Church on California Street, Sunday evening, October 19, 1884. The congregation first worshipped in a hall at twenty-eighth and Larimer streets. This hall was owned by Mr. George Sheets and was offered free of rent, fuel, light and janitor service. In July, 1885, they moved to Morris Hall at the comer of Twenty-seventh and Welton streets. The Sunday school was organized October 20, 1884, at 2 130 P. M. There were nineteen per-sons present. Rev. P. A. Heilman was the first superintendent. The first church council consisted of two elders and two deacons as follows: Elders, Rev. R. Weiser. D. D., and Geo. S. Sheets. Deacons, Dr. J. W. Exline and James Lyson.

The congregation made such rapid progress that it soon began to lay plans for a church building. On May 3, 1885, the congregation authorized the selection of a site for this purpose and the purchase of three lots. These were later secured at Twenty-second and California streets, at a cost of $6,000. On October 18, 1885, the corner-stone of the new church was laid with appropriate ceremonies and on February 14, 1886, the first service was held in the lecture room. On March 21, 1886, the new church was dedicated.

Rev. Dr. C. A. Wilson is now in charge of the congregation.

At present, January, 1918, there are in Colorado under the jurisdiction of the Rocky Mountain Synod, the following English Lutheran congregations: Boulder, 85 members; Calhan, 37; Cañon City, 75; Colorado Springs, 93; Good Hope, Denver, 30; Messiah, Denver, 176; St. Paul’s, Denver, 235; Elbert, 13; Grand Junction, 39; Gypsum, 33; Pueblo, 60; Trinidad, 35.

The first permanent Swedish Lutheran Church in Colorado, the Augustana, was established in Denver, September, 1878. Rev. A. Lindholm, traveling missionary, organized it. There was a Swedish Lutheran Church established at Golden in 1877, but this lapsed after a few years and its members are now in other churches. There were seven members in the first church, one of whom. Miss Mathilda Peterson, is still active in church work. The first church was built in 1880 at the corner of Nineteenth and Welton, by Rev. John Telleen, who remained in the pastorate until January, 1883. In July, 1884, Rev. G. A. Brandelle came to the church from the Augustana Theological Seminary at Rock Island, Illinois. This was his first charge and he is still in the pastorate of the same church. Doctor Brandelle built the present beautiful church edifice at the corner of Court Place and Twenty-third Street in 1890. It was not dedicated until 1906 when it was clear of debt, the last indebtedness having been paid in 1905. The total cost of the church and parsonage was $62,000. The Augustana Synod met in Denver in that year, Doctor Norelius, head of the synod, delivering the dedicatory sermon. The church now, January 1, 1918, has grown from its small beginning of seven to about six hundred communicants. It was 125 when Doctor Brandelle came to the pastorate. The church in 1917 built a missionary cottage for girls and an Old Folks home at a cost of $16,000.

The United Danish Church in Denver was established in 1893 and has now a membership of no. P. Rasmussen, a theological student, founded this church with six or seven members. They have within the past few years built a fine church at Bannock Street and Fifth Avenue.

There are now fifteen Swedish Lutheran churches in the state, the Norwegians have three. The Danish also have three. The Swedish Lutheran churches in 19 18 are as follows: Augustana, Denver, founded 1878, total parishioners, 692; Bethania, Georgetown, founded 1880, total parishioners, 6; Elim, Longmont, founded 1887, total parishioners, 162; Bethesda, Boulder, founded 1892, total parishioners, 63; Tabor, Pueblo, founded 1892, total parishioners, 174; Bethania, Las Animas, founded 1894, total parishioners, 73; Zion, Idaho Springs, founded 1896, total parishioners, 65; Colorado Springs, founded 1897, total parishioners, 74; Nebo, Victor, founded in 1902, total parishioners, 183; Immanuel, Greeley, founded 1905, total parishioners, 214; Zion, Loveland, founded 1905, total parishioners, 129; Bethania, Denver, founded in 1908, total parishioners, 226; Fridhem, Ault, founded in I908, total parishioners, 451; Bethania, Leadville, founded in 1910, total parishioners, 124; Elim, Haxtum, founded in 19 10, total parishioners, 69.

The German Lutheran

President Buenger of the Western District of the German Lutheran Church in 1872 requested the Rev. J. Hilgendorf, now of Omaha, and long western vice-president-general of the Missouri Synod, to make an exploration trip into Colorado. Hilgendorf explored Denver in quest of German Lutherans, and found eleven families who declared their willingness to organize a congregation. Pastor Hilgendorf held a service with these people. On the first of November Hilgendorf went on to Pueblo. Later he organized a church at Westchffe in the Wet Mountain Valley.

In January, 1873, Candidate H. Brammer was ordained as pastor of the congregation in Denver, the first resident Lutheran pastor in Colorado. On September 7, 1873, Candidate H. W. Hoemann was ordained by Pastor Brammer as pastor of the congregation in the Wet Mountain Valley, Fremont County. In 1881, Pastor L. Dornseif became minister in Denver, and the Rev. E. Saupert became pastor at Westcliffe. Pastor Dornseif was succeeded in Denver, in 1886, by the Rev. H. Rauh, and Pastor Saupert by the Rev. H. J. Mueller. At the time of the organization of the Kansas district, there were four resident pastors in Colorado, viz., in addition to Pastors Rauh and Mueller, the Rev. F. Lothringer in Trinidad, and J. H. Tietjen in Durango. Besides these, the Reverend Oesch of Nebraska supplied three mission posts in northeastern Colorado.

There are today in the Kansas district which includes Colorado, over one hundred German Lutheran churches with approximately twenty thousand communicants.

The work in Colorado and in Oklahoma increased to such an extent that, upon request of the Colorado and the Oklahoma pastoral conferences the synod, in 1909, established sub-boards in these two states.

A sanitarium for tubercular patients in one of the German Lutheran Church establishments near Denver. Over eight hundred patients have been received since its doors were opened in 1905.

History of Colorado

Source: History of Colorado, Wilbur Fisk Stone, Editor, Volume I, Chicago, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1918

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