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(Brochure contributed by Mary Neff Hurst, -- July 1, 2008)

1900 - 1950
Fiftieth Anniversary
Emmanuel Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Corner Grant & Highland Avenues
Etna, Pennsylvania


         1900                                                                               1950

Fiftieth Anniversary
Emmanuel Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Corner Grant and Highland Avenues
Etna, Pennsylvania

Charter Members

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. J. Charles
Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Dosch
Mr. and Mrs. John Fleming
Mr. and Mrs. Wm. McCully
Mr. and Mrs. R. J. McLaughlin
Mr. and Mrs. Wm. H. Miller
Mr. and *Mrs. Wm. Meiss
Mr. and Mrs. John Vidt
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Weibel
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Weibel
Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Wheeler

                           J. J. Keil                                     Mrs. Rachel Hilbert
                                   Miss Marjory Keil                   Miss Martha Vidt
                                   Mrs. Anna Kestner                  James Shuker
                                   Mrs. Annie Lee                        Mary E.  Seel
                                   Miss Nellie Weibel                  Miss Tillie E. Seel*
                                   George Weibel                         Miss Emma E. Seel*
                                    Henry Weibel                          Mrs. Maria Pfischner
                                    Mrs. Wm. Charles, Sr.            Mrs. Minnie Schultheis
                                    Mrs. Emma Hartung                Mrs. Mary Shellaby
                                    Charles Hartung                       Mrs. Wm. Weibel
                                     Isaac Hartung                         Wallace Weibel
                                     Miss Emma Hartung*              Miss Ella Schreiber
                                     Mrs. Jacob Henry                    Harry Pope

                           *indicates - "still active in Emmanuel".



    Although the formal history of Emmanuel Lutheran Church does not begin until January 21, 1900, the date the congregation was regularly- organized, its real beginnings are to be found in the history of the West Etna Union Mission Sabbath School. This union mission school came into being as a result of the efforts of members of several different denominations who recognized the need for such an institution in the West end of town. Under the direction of Mr. W. J. Smith and Mr. Albert Lambing, funds were secured from the general public for the purpose of erecting a chapel orr Vilsack Street.  After the chapel was dedicated in May, 1894, a union Sunday School was organized with about one hundred members. The Board of Trustees elected to manage the affairs of the organization came from 7 different denominations, as follows:
    Joseph Ingram, Baptist Church; Arthur D. Weston, Baptist Church; William K. Girty, Presbyterian Church; J. S. McMillan, Presbyterian Church; E. A. Patterson, Methodist Church; Albert Lambing, Methodist Church; J. A. Myer, English Lutheran Church; Wm. J. Smith, English Lutheran Church; J. L. Robertson, United Presbyterian Church; John Deer, United Presbyterian Church; George Pfischner, German Lutheran Church, and George Trube, German Evangelical Church.
    These trustees appointed a committee to secure ministers from neighboring towns to conduct services every two weeks and to arrange for leaders for the regular Tuesday evening prayer meetings. During the five and two-third years of its existence, the union mission school had three superintendents:
    Mr. Albert Lambing, Methodist Church; Mr. Arthur D. Weston, Baptist Church, and Mr. George Kammer, U, P. Church.


   Rev. C. B. King, Missionary President of Pittsburgh Synod, upon visiting the mission in October, 1898, suggested that a Lutheran Church be organized, since the largest number of workers in the mission were Lutherans. No action was taken on this suggestion until he re-visited the mission in November, 1899, when he found that a sizeable group of members had developed a strong desire for a Lutheran Church. He realized that the time was ripe and made a house-to-house canvass of the community, accompanied by Emma Seel, securing


the names of forty-eight persons as charter members of the proposed organization. The congregation was regularly organized on January 21, 1900 as Emmanuel Evangelical English Lutheran Church with forty-eight charter members whose names are listed elsewhere in this program. The organization was effected in the mission chapel, where the first two services were held. The mission organization continued in existence for several weeks, when the mission trustees sold the property, including chapel, chairs, bookcase and organ, to the new organization for $438.87. This amount, $438.87, was not divided among the 7 different denominations who sponsored the Union Mission, but was all given to the Union Mission on Butler St., Etna. Pa., which is now the Nazarene Church.


    In February, the month following organization, the lot at the corner of Grant and Highland Avenues was purchased for $1400 from Mr. and Mrs. George Trube. Tho' they had been offered $2,000 for it, Mrs. Trube's love for the church prompted this donation of $600. Since this lot seemed ideal as a permanent location for the church, it was decided not to move the old chapel to the new lot but instead, to erect a new, more elaborate building.


    Rev. Jerome M. Guss was installed as first pastor on March 15, 1900. and with the following men as first Church Council, began his pastorate. Elders: Wm. H. Miller, Wm. J. Charles and R. J. Mc-Laughlin, Deacons ; James Shuker, Edward Weibel and J. J. Kiel. The
Ladies Aid and Missionary Society was organized the same day and the treasurer chosen that wintry night, with snow knee-deep, was Miss Tillie E. Seel, who has been their faithful, efficient treasurer, continuously, throughout these 50 years. The first communion service,
held on April 15, 1900, was attended by the entire congregation of 52 members and also bv three visitors. Plans for the new church building rapidly took shape with the result that the cornerstone was laid October 14, 1900 at a service attended by a large delegation of ministers and laymen from the Pittsburgh Synod,, which was in session at the time in Mt. Zion Lutheran Church of Pittsburgh. The new church, costing about $7,000.00, was dedicated on January 20, 1901, just one day short of a year after the organization of the congregation, the pastor being assisted in the dedication service by Rev. H. H. Weber, D.D., of York. Pa.



   It was necessary that the Advisory Board of Home Missions help to pay the $700 annual salary of the pastor for only four years, giving $300.00 a year for the first two years, $187.50 the third year, and $75.00 the fourth year. The Board of Church Extension lent $1500.00 without interest which was paid back toward the close of 1906,  whereupon the Board donated $300.00 to the congregation. In May, 1904 the parsonage was purchased for $3,750.00. The second mortgage on the church was burned on January 21, 1907. The mother of Mrs. J. J. Keil, Mrs. Rachel Hilbert, then ninety-two years old, applied the match.


   During the first four years, 270 persons were received into the fellowship of the church; thus, the church quickly grew and was blessed both in a spiritual sense and in a financial way. The number of organizations continued to grow and the Sunshine Bible Class, itself organized on February 28. 1909 with twenty-one members, in turn organized the Home Department of the Sunday School in April, 1910.


   After over ten years of earnest and faithful work, Rev. J. M. Guss resigned from the pastorate on November I, 1910. Rev. T. B. Uber was installed on March 6, 1911. On April 18, 1912, the first mortgage on the Church ivas burned, lighted by Grandmother Pfischner.
   Since the Sunday School had been constantly growing, it now appeared that larger quarters ivere necessary. Therefore, in 1912 the church building was extensively remodeled, being raised to provide a large Sunday School room and other facilities on the ground floor. In addition, the main auditorium was rearranged and redecorated. The debt incurred at this time was $5,000.00. In this same year, the Men's Bible Class, aided by the Carnegie Foundation, donated the pipe organ which was installed in the remodeled main auditorium.
   Rev. T. B. Uber resigned to take up work at Carthage College, Illinois, leaving on September 1, 1913. Rev. M. R. Hamsher was installed in November, 1913. During Ins ministry, the Sunshine Bible Class, in March, 19H. placed the present bell in the tower. The first issue of "Emmanuel's Messenger," which was a monthly publication containing news items and announcements concerning the church and


its organizations, appeared February I. 1914. From this beginning this publication evolved into the weekly bulletin which is now used to show the order of service and congregational information. In September, 1914, Rev. M. R. Hamsher left to accept a call to a much larger congregation. Rev. A. M. Himes accepted a call to the pastorate in September, 1914, and carried on the work until approximately eight months after the start of World War I, leaving December 1. 1917.
   In April, 1918. Rev. B. H. Pershing xvas installed. During his pastorate a campaign was begun to raise funds to pay off the debt of live thousand dollars which had been incurred in" remodeling the church building. In about ten months between June 23, 1918 and April 20, 1919, the required amount was raised and again Grandmother Pfiichner applied the match which started the burning of the mortgage. During the war. thirty-six young men of the congregation answered the call to the colors arrd were stationed in various parts of this country, overseas, or in the naval establishment, contributing to the victory over the Central Powers. Three of this number died in service:

Floyd Beveridge
William   John   Miller
Robert Miller

   On December 7, 1919, a special memorial service was held to honor those who had been in the armed services. The twentieth anniversary of the organization was celebrated the week of January I8 to 25, 1920 with nine special services and meetings, thus marking the completion of twenty years of service to the community and to the Master.


   Rev. B. H. Pershing resigned from the pastorate on June 1, 1921. In November, 1921, Rev. H. F. Obenauf accepted the call and continued in the work until April, 1928. On September 20, 1924, the Young Womens Missionary Society was organized. The twenty-fifth anniversary of the congregation was celebrated from January 18 to 25, 1925. During this ministry the idea developed of securing ownership to the entire block surrounding the church so that, eventually, an enlarged and integrated physical plant could be built, the first step being the purchase of the Highland Averrue house in 1926.
   After Rev. H. F. Obenauf resigned from the pastorate. Rev. W. B. Clancy was called on September 30. 1928, and was installed on November 11, 1928.


   Although much or rhe fourth decade of the Emmanuel's life wis clouded by the economic depression, perhaps the greatest single event of its life up to that time occurred in the beginning of the decade anil consisted of the organization of the Bethlehem Congregation. The part played by Emmanuel indicates that the congregation had come of age and could successfully handle its own affairs in addition to helping to found the new congregation by releasing 55 members, of ivhom 3 were councilmen and 7 were Sunday School teachers, to form the nucleus of the new church. Following the dedication of the Berhlehem Chapel on August 10. 1930, the Bethlehem congregation was formally organized on September 14. 1930 with Rev. W. B. Clancy, Jr., the son of Emmanuel's Rev. W. B. Claney, as first pastor.
   In March, 1931, the choir was robed, the robes being furnished by the Sunshine Bible Class. The thirty-fifth anniversary of the congregation was celebrated the week of January 20 to 27, 1935 with special services on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. During th/St. Patrick's Day Flood of 1936, the doors of the Church were thrown open to meet the needs of the flood sufferers. There were more than 1000 meals served. Men were given lodging in the church, while the women and children were taken to the homes of members of the congregation. In November, 1937, a new roof was put on the church building. On January 11, 1939 the present constitution was adopted by the congregation, after being duly posted for the period required by the previous constitution.


   The desire of the congregation to secure ownership of the entire block surrounding the church was finally realized in December, 1940 when arrangements were closed for the purchase of the Morton property for $4250.00. In January, 1941, the Men's Booster Class installed a cloak room over the vestibule, thus providing more seating capacity in the main auditorium. In February, 1941, the Memorial Chimes Fund was started for the purpose of adding chimes to the pipe organ. The required funds were quickly obtained and on April 22, 1941 the chimes were dedicated to the memory of:
   James Sbuker, Mary E. Seel, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Seel, Rev. Henry A. Seel, Louis A. Andres, Walter L. Endres, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Vidt, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. C. Fincke, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Bverley, Mr. and Mrs. J. A Kleeb. C. Milton Otte and Mrs. Ralph

H. Beyrleye.

   In September, 1942, the pews in the main auditorium were changed to provide a center aisle, and in 1943 the outside entrance to the study was built.
   During World War II. seventy-seven men and women of Emmanuel responded to their country's call, and were stationed over practically all parts of the globe. Three of this number made the supreme sacrifice - Harry Coles, Raymond Delo, and Allison Meiss. Starting in the early part of the war, the Men's Booster Class sponsored a "Cheer-up" Fund to send gift bows to those who were in service, and a committee, consisting of the O. Harman family, the T. Tolley family and Rev. and Mrs. W. B. Claney, was formed to carry out the program. Twelve hundred boxes in twenty-eight shipments were sent, together with regular copies of the church bulletin, to all those in service who could be reached. To defray the expense involved, $2509.25 was donated through the "Cheer-up Jar" and by various organizations of the church and Sunday School. For those to whom boxes could not he mailed a sum equal to the cost of the box was invested in War Savings Stamps. After the war, on Octuber 24, 1946, a banquet in honor of those who had been in service was held.


   In June, 1946, an investigation was begun on the possibility of rebuilding or remodeling the Church building to take best advantage of the entire ground, now owned by the congregation. Mr. Arthur Steinmark, architect, who recommended that the present building be remodeled, since it was sound, was commissioned to prepare tentative plans on June 3. 1947. These plans contemplated the building of a more dignified entrance to the church, the extension of the building to the alley behind the church, the building of a Sunday School building on the site of the present parsonage, and the use of the remodeled Morton house as a new parsonage. A continuing drive was started to build up a Building Fund so that a beginning on this program could be made in the not-too-far-distant future, with each member of the congregation being asked to contribute a regular amount to the fund by means of the church envelopes. Since such contributions are kept in the Building Fund, a steadily increasing sum is being built up. It is to be hoped that the special impetus of this Golden Anniversary Year will advance the fund to the place where the first step in the building program can be taken.
   Early in 1947 the new electric console for the pipe organ was installed, largely paid for by the $2450.00 bequest made to the church

by Marjorie Keil Benton as a memorial to Mr. and Mis, J. J. Keil.
   Worthy of note is the fact that Emmanuel also carried its share of Benevolence, and that on July 29, 1947 the funds raised for Lutheran World Action reached $2500.00.
   About the middle ot 1949, Rev, W. B. Claney, after serving almost twenty-one years at Emmanuel and approximately forty-one years in the ministry, decided to retire and
presented his resignation to the congregation. He preached his final sermon on July 14, and formally left the pastorate on August 1, being later elected as Pastor Emeritus
of the congregation. After hearing a trial sermon, the congregation unanimously sent a call to Mr. John T. Braughler, Seminarian, on September 11, 1949. Since Mr. Braughler was not permitted by church regulations to accept until January 1, 1950, the call was received and tentatively accepted by Rev. H. Reed Shepfer, D.D., president of Pittsburgh Synod, until that date, when formal action on the call can be taken by Mr. Braughler. He will become a fully ordained minister in the late spring of 1950 and will be able to begin his first pastorate at Emmanuel at that time.


   Events have shown that the foundations laid by the forty-eight pioneers, fifty years ago, were of a sound nature. Even though the future at times may have looked black, God has always shown the way and has blessed each step forward. With expanding plans for the future, a people young in spirit, and the likelihood of obtaining in a short time a pastor who has a vision of service, this first fifty years appears as only the beginning of Emmanuel's service to God and the community. May God grant that this may be so.



Rev. Jerome M. Guss ........................................................1900-1910

Rev. Thomas B.  Uber ........................................................1911-1913

Rev. Merle R.  Hamsher .....................................................1913-1914

Rev. A.  Merle  Himes ........................................................1914-1917

Rev. Ben. H. Pershing ........................................................1918-1921

Rev.  Henry F. Obenauf .....................................................1921.1928

Rev. Wm. B. Claney, Sr.  ....................................................1928-1949

Rev. A. W. Stremel, D.D. - Acting Pastor .......................1949-1950

              John T. Braughler - Pastor Elect, called September, 1949.
                                                 To assume charge - June 1, 1950.



  9:30 A. M.    Sunday  School.

11:00 A. M.    Worship Service

Sermon - Rev. Walter D. Guss of Greensburg, Pa.

(Son of First Pastor of Emmanuel)

  8:00 P. M.    Confirmation Reunion

Rev. Carl Maier

(Member of Class of 1919)

Now Pastor at Donora, Pa.


  8:00 P. M.   Sunday School Night

Guest Speaker - Rev. F. L. Gibbs, D.D.

Director of Christian Education

Council of Churches af Allegheny County, Pennsylvania



8:00 P. M.    Congregational Night

Address - Rev. H. Reed Shepfer, D.D.
President of Pittsburgh Synod
Memorial Service


8:00 P. M.    Community Night.
Speaker - John D. Mclntyre


8:00 P. M.    Preparatory Service.
Rev. A. W. Stremel, D.D.
Chaplain, Western Penitentiary


  9:30 A. M.    Sunday School

11:00 A. M.    Holy  Communion.  Reception  of  New  Members.
Rev. Wm. B. Clancy, Jr.
Superintendent of Bethesda Children's Home
Assisted by Rev. W. B. Claney. Sr., Pastor Emeritus
John T. Braughler, Pastor-Elect



Charles F. Seitz                                     Harold  E.   Park
George F. Kleeb                                    Wm.  C.  Vidt
Frank A. Fincke, Sr.                              Allan T. Tolley
John A. Orris                                         Earl A. Monroe

Edward C. Bergman
General Superintendent

Thomas W. McNaller                           Allin T. Tolley            
Theodore J. Fincke                               Waldo R. Baumgartel                          
Assistant Superintendents
Mrs,  Lois Kleeb, Recording Secretary
Miss Carolyn Hamon, Treasurer

Mrs.  James  Shuker,   President
            Mrs. Florence Stauffer, Vice President
                     Mrs. Otto Fincke, Recording Secretary
                           Mrs. Helen Fransich, Cor. Secretary
                                 Miss Tillie E. Seel, Treasurer

Mrs.  J.   Silas  Mac Donald, President
         Mrs. Russell Schroth, Vice President
               Miss Clara A. Vidt, Secretary
                     Mrs. Russell Schroth, Treasurer

                               William Fincke, Scout Master
                                                                        Robert Kunard, Assistant Scout Master

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