OHIO CITY — St. Thomas Lutheran Church, 6299 German Church Road in
Ohio City, is beginning a year-long celebration of the church’s 170
years of ministry to the local area.
The road, German Church, was
named after St. Thomas because of its inception as a German church.
Church services, as well as many of the early church records, were in
Some of the headstones, located in the
Evangelical/Prostestant Cemetery, which is shared with St. Paul’s
Reformed Church in America, are in German. The cornerstone of the
current church structure is dated 1898.
The year of events will
kick off with a fish fry this Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The fry
is a Thrivent financial action project. Proceeds will go to church
ministries at three local schools, Crestview Heritage Board, Lincolnview
Bible Board and Van Wert Cross Over the Hill.
The earliest roots
of the church ministry were sown in 1839 when German immigrants that
began to settle in the community and began to hold services in each
other’s homes. One of the most noted preacher/missionaries that moved
into the area was Frederick Wyneken, who came upon the German settlement
at Schumm. As he served for a short time in Willshire Township, it is
anticipated that some of the early pioneers of worship of the St. Thomas
Church in Harrison Township may have also received their preaching from
In 1846, J.G. Burger came to Van Wert County from Marysville
and organized Zion Lutheran in Schumm. At that time, the early
beginning of St. Thomas Church was being held in a log cabin. Following
the untimely death of Burger, John George Streckfuse was called to Zion
Schumm. In the summer of 1947, 170 years ago, he organized St. Thomas
Under the leadership of candidate Erhardt Riedel,
installed on Dec. 29, 1850, a constitution was adopted and signed on
Oct. 6, 1854 by the pastor and nine members.
congregations shared the same pastor, St. Thomas, Zion and St. John’s of
Convoy. As the congregations began to grow, each began to offer their
own teaching of children at different periods of the week. Early in
1876, St. Thomas purchased a public school building and continued to use
it until 1899.
Records show that by the time St. Thomas
celebrated its golden jubilee celebration, there were 189 souls, 113
communicants, 46 voting members and 38 children in the summer school.
Steady growth continued and on the celebration of the diamond jubilee on
Sept. 17, 1922, there were 239 souls, 176 communicants, 66 voting
members and 35 children.
Over the years, various building and
musical updates and the commitments of generations of faithful families
have kept the church in consistent service to the community.
such member, Greg Ilderton, is very active in planning this year’s
celebration event. Ilderton’s wife, Marti, has been involved with the
church for 60 years. Ilderton’s father told him of a time when there was
a two-lane bowling alley associated with the church and young people
would be paid 25 cents for setting up the pins.
The next immediate
activity will be the annual seminarian recognition dinner on Sunday,
March 26, at 11:30 a.m. Later in September, a former pastor, Robert D.
Schuler, pastor from 1969-1982, will be giving a guest message.