160 years of Hanover

Saturday, October 14, 2006
Hanover Lutheran Church, 2949 Perryville Road in Cape Girardeau, is celebrating its 160th anniversary this month. (Photo by Fred Lynch)

Hanover Lutheran Church, the oldest Lutheran church in the Cape Girardeau area, is celebrating its 160th anniversary this month.

Hanover Lutheran Church has grown from a log structure to the present church on Perryville Road. While the first church building was built in 1846, Hanover's history goes back to 1827 when the first recorded Hanover family, that of shopkeeper Julius Toeller, arrived from Germany, according to a printed church history.

In 1835, Daniel Bertling, a cabinet maker, arrived. He opened his shop for Lutherans to worship, and a circuit rider would periodically administer sacraments. Eleven years later, Bertling offered land to build that first log church and establish a cemetery.

The name Hanover comes from a German tradition. According to the historical booklet, churches in Germany were referred to as the Evangelical Lutheran church at whatever village they were in. Hanover in German is "hohen Ufer" which means "on the high bank of a river."

The church's first assigned pastor, Christian August Lehmann, came in 1847. Under his guidance, the congregations of Eisleben in Scott City and Trinity in Cape Girardeau were organized.

As Hanover church grew, so did the need for a school. During those early years, pastors were also schoolteachers, and it is believed that Lehmann, the first pastor, also taught in the first school, which was held at the church. In 1885 the Christian Niemier family sold two acres to the church, which is where the present church is located. At that time were built a school and a parsonage, and across the road followed a church in 1887, which was used until 1967 and still stands. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is still used for special occasions.

"We have a German Christmas service in there every year," said Dale Steffens, head elder of Hanover Lutheran Church. "We have a lot of people in their 60s and 70s who come from other churches to our service. It's the language they grew up with. We have a packed house whenever we have that service."

Henry Krueger Jr. donated the land on which stands the old church and school. In 1923, a one-room brick school building was built, and an addition was built in 1935. It also still stands next to the old church, and serves as a museum of Lutheran history in Southeast Missouri.

The current church was dedicated in 1969 and expanded in 1987. Steffens said another expansion is being planned to clear out some old buildings on the property and build an annex that will include classrooms, a full-size kitchen and a gym. The kitchen will be large enough, he said, to make the sausages that are sold at the church's sausage dinners every March and November.

Hanover has about 700 members. Services during the celebration are at 7:45 and 10 a.m., and the museum will be open from noon to 2 p.m. The Rev. Ellis Rottmann, president of the Missouri District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, preached the first celebratory sermon Oct. 8. Former pastor the Rev. Jeffery Sippy, and the Rev. William Matzat, a former interim pastor, will preach Oct. 22 and 29, respectively.

This week the Rev. Daniel Hackney, the current pastor, will bring the message, with a fellowship period between services.

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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