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Celebration set Saturday

Posted 8/16/17 (Wed)

Celebration set Saturday

A night of food and song this weekend at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, rural Zeeland, also will include the screening of a short film.


"We'll Meet Again In Heaven," by Ron Vossler, reveals,through translated letters, the fate of the Germans from Russia families who did not immigrate to the prairie.


The event is set for Saturday (Aug. 19). Food will be served from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by the program at 7:30. All are welcome.


St. Andrew's is located at 29th Ave. SE and 90th Street SE, Zeeland.


There will be a freewill offering. Anyone unable to attend and wanting to support this effort may mail donations to St. Andrews Lutheran Preservation Committee, Carol Gerber, Treas., 8760 34th Ave. SE. Wishek, ND 58495.


The letters featued in Vossler's film, written by and sent to families with names like Bader, Bender, Ketterling, Heiser, Hochhalter, Martel, Heupel, Kraemer, Boschee and others have been called "Extremely Important Historical Documents" by scholars. The film has been shown on public television stations across the United States.


Vossler's books and films related to this topic will be available for purchase, with proceeds going to St. Andrew's Church.


The St. Andrew's historical site will be 125 years old in 2018. Preservation Committee members hope to do roof repair on the steeple and paint the 1893 sod church with other needed repairs. In 2018, plans are to have several church services officiated by former pastors.


Guests on Saturday also will be able to tour both the 1893 and the 1906 church structures.


St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, known as the "Beacon of the Prairie," was founded by 15 families from South Russia who came to the Dakota Territory to take up homestead land beginning in 1884.


The property includes a 29X22 foot stone church, dedicated in 1893 as Andreas Gemeinde. To build the church, the founding families paid a total of $395. Each adult male member donated 15 days of labor.


Using the architecture style they had known in Russia, founders used materials from the land and transported sandstone by ox and stone boat, horses and wagons from a bluff, 12 miles northwest of the site. The stone church is one of the only structures of similar architecture and style left on the prairie today.


In 1906, a tall white, carpenter gothic style church, 26X60 feet with a 10-foot square bell tower entry rising 60 feet to the steeple and cross was built.


Keeping clergy to serve a country parish is difficult, so regular services are no longer held at St. Andrew's. Instead, the buildings are used for special events.


The churches and cemetery have been maintained all these years by the families who remain actively involved — including the St. Andrew's Centennial German Choir. Choir members have performed through the region for the last 25 years.