Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix.’ "
DETAILED HISTORY OF CONGREGATION
AUGUSTANA EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
HICKORY NORTH CAROLINA
SEPTEMBER 16, 1905
Was the first meeting of parties interested in organizing a congregation in this area. Pastor A. L. Grouse of Saint Stephen’s Lutheran Congregation (Missouri Synod) and Rev George Romoser of Old Saint Paul’s Lutheran Congregation (now ALC), along with a few of their members, met together. Rufus Mosteller was elected Chairman and Rev Crouse secretary. Rev Crouse stated the purpose of the meeting. Both pastors said they would release any of their members desiring to join the new organization. A survey was made and forty-six souls all were ready to join. Eleven of whom were male communicants. Rufus Mosteller, W. P. Hawn, George Bolick, L.M. Holler, D. Settlemyer, C Fred Bolick, Albert Sigmon , J. T. Cline, J.P. Cline, Raymond Hull, and Ephriam Bolick. Mrs. Lela Hawn Lutz is now the only living charter member ( as of November 1, 1977)
Temporary officers were elected: L. M. Holler Chairman and J. P. Cline secretary. Rev Romoser and Rev Crouse were asked to present a constitution in time for Dedication. Rev Romoser was asked to deliver the first sermon and he and Pastor Crouse were asked to serve until a permanent organization was established and a permanent pastor called.
September 24th, 1905
The first service was held, followed by a meeting to solicit funds and material for building the new church.
October 22nd, 1905
A constitution was presented and adopted as the constitution of Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Congregation.
A building site was offered by J. T. Cline and accepted. In the meantime, service and Sunday School were held at various times, in an unfinished dwelling offered by J. T. Cline and now occupied by MRs J. P. Cline. This is the house just to the east of our church.
In April 1907 application was made for membership in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The church built by members themselves, was dedicated on May 26, 1907. In October Saint Stephens, Augustana and Christ Church formed a parish and Rev George Long was called and installed in the parish. In December 1908, a parsonage was bought.
In the early years, an organ was presented by J. T. and J. P. Cline. Also in the early years a resolution was adopted to give 50% of all funds received through envelopes for Synodical Purposes. Somewhat later this action had to be repealed.
Pastor Long was followed by Pastor Martin Heinicke. Pastor Chris Kuegle served next and vacancies were served by professors from Concordia College Conover.
In 1921 Christ Church withdrew from the Parish and Pastor Kuegle remained with Saint Stephens and Augustana. He was followed by Pastor Worth Setzer. In 1924 Saint Stephens requested full time services of Pastor Setzer. Rev F. A. Freed, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church was asked to serve Augustana at times to be arranged. The Ladies Aid was organized during his ministry. Pastor Freed was followed nineteen years by Rev Lyn Rittman.
During Pastor Rittman’s ministry, (1943-1950) Augustana began service every Sunday preaching at 9:00 and Sunday School at 10:00 AM. Also, Augustana began issuing a church bulletin. Printed by Paul Sigmon of Christ Church. In 1945, the individual communion cups were first used. During this time, Mr. Will Hawn resigned as Treasure after Forty Years of service. Also, a building fund was started.
Pastor Rittman was followed by Reb R. E., Wunderlich and during his ministry a Parish Hall was dedicated. The arrangement with Christ Church ended in 1955 and Augustana was served but Rev J. L. Summers as supply pastor. Under him the 50th Anniversary was celebrated with an afternoon service at which Pastor Freed preached.
In 1956 Rev David Luedke was called to serve Augustana and Redeemer, Catawba NC. The parsonage next to our church was built in 1957 and first occupied by him. Around that time, a second-hand pipe organ was put into use. During Rev Luecke’s ministry the congregation grew significantly. At least twelve adults were baptized. Although many who joined the congregation in those years are no longer part of our fellowship, about one fourth of our communicant members who worship at least occasionally came into the congregation while Pastor Luecke was here. In those years Augustana had an active Luther Laymen’s League men’s fellowship.
When Pastor Luecke left in 1962. The arrangement with Redeemer was terminated. Rev Oscar Klinkerman was called as Augustans’s first full time pastor. During his brief ministry, the Education Building was dedicated and an improved record keeping system begun.
In 1964 Rev Charles Bunzel began a seven-year ministry here, during which he gave special attention to the young people, not only of our congregation but of the entire area. Also during this tie Bill Holler of Augustan served five years as Chairman of the Trustees of Camp Lynn Haven. In 1969, the communion rail was installed and later an electric organ was purched. For several years, the Catawba Opportunity Scholl for retarded children was housed in our facilities. During Pastor Bunzel’s ministry the congregation continued to grow in members and in stewardship.
In the summer of 1972 Rev Harold Oliver accepted the call as pastor of Augustana. He reinstituted the issuing of a periodic newsletter, called “Our Ministry Together” which is usually mailed to member’s homes. The Newsletters, bulletins, and other publicity are typed and run off by Bernice Holler, who was hired as part time secretary in 1964.
Since 1972 an evangelism training course has been conducted each winter, in which member have learned to better speak their Christian Faith, and people in the community have been visited. In 1972 Miss Lela Bolick retired from teaching Sunday School after many years. Her faithful service as organist for 35 years was also recalled at that time. In1975 Miss Bleaka Hollar was recognized for the score of years she has cared for our altar and communion ware. She has not missed a Sunday School class or service in 23 years. Miss Bolick has missed only one or two times in 28 years. Another of our women Mrs. Ruth Creal, has been serving as President of the Carolina District of the Luther Women’s Missionary League since the fall of 1972. Pasto Oliver accepted a call to Zion Lutheran Church Cincinnatian Ohio in May of 1977.
The Rev Connor L Corkran Jr was installed as pastor of Augustana on September 25, 1977 having served formerly at St Matthew’s Marion NC (1971-1975) and Good Shepherd Warenville Illinois (1975-1977), Also in September of 1977 Bleaka Hollar Retired after thirty-four years of loving service caring for our altar paraments and communion ware.
Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix.’ "
"TOGETHER WE PRESS ON"
Around 11 o’clock p.m. in the evening, on April 4th 1991, the beautiful and historic building that we called home here on the property of Augustana, went up in flames. That wonderful building , where, so often, the members would come seeking refuge from an evil world to be met with the Holy Word of God and to receive His washing of renewal and His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins, was gone. We were heartbroken. We were distraught. We asked, "Lord to whom shall we go?" Or "Where shall we go?" But, with or without a Holy Place to worship, a faithful man, ordained and prepared for that very moment, stepped forward. +The Reverend Williard Mueller+ and the saints of Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church began taking steps to put brick to mortar and metal to beam, and soon, the new building stood as a beacon of Christ once again here in Hickory.
What did Satan expect? Did he truly believe that he could burn us to the ground when we have a God who has placed His Holy Spirit within our hearts? Did the Devil think he had won or accomplished anything? No. He had accomplished nothing. In fact, our God, through The Holy Spirit, strengthened the faith, the resolve, and the back bones of the saints here. Satan did nothing. Christ, as always, won the victory.
The doors of our new building have long been open. All have been welcomed. Regardless of how long our new doors have been opened, may we never forget the faith and courage that it took to bring us to where we are today. God shall continuously be praised for what He has done here at Augustana. We will forever remember that Augustana is the Confessional Congregation on the hill that stands as the light of hope in our community. May we also forever remember this day. On February 14th 1993, the new doors were opened, and the first Divine Worship Service was held in these new halls. On that day, sins were confessed and absolved. On that day, the Law and Gospel of God were proclaimed. On that day, the body and blood of our Lord were consecrated and given for us to eat and drink.
So, on this day, February 14th 2016, we will do the same. 23 years ago we gathered for the first time here in this holy place. We shall forever give thanks to God for His good work here from the building to His people. From ancient times, the Phoenix has been a symbol of our Lord, Jesus Christ. In mythology, the Phoenix was burned and consumed into flame by fire. At its death, and from the ashes, it arose again to new life. Similarly, Christ, in reality, was extinguished on the cross of Calvary, and rose to new life three days later, and left the tomb empty for Himself and for all who believe on Him. So, also, was Augustana burnt to the ground, and by faith was rebuilt, and now is a structure set apart for His Holy people to worship. Today, Augustana stands as a reminder of Christ’s glorious Resurrection from the dead.
May the Phoenix, sewn on the vestment to be consecrated today, be a reminder of where we have been, where we are, and where we will be; in Heaven with Christ. May the pastor who wears this vestment remain faithful to his calling and to the people under his care. May we forever call upon the Name of the Lord!
Pastor: Grant this, O Lord unto us all.
April 4th 1991
The Reverend Williard Mueller+ and the saints of Augustana Evangelical
DID NOT LOOSE FAITH LED BY REVEREND MUELLER GOD'S HOUSE WAS RESTORED
WHO CAN STOP US
THE LORDS WORK NEVER STOPS
AUGUSTANA LUTHER CHURH STILL STANDS ON THE TOP OF THE HILL