Farrar Congregation Observes 150th Anniversary

Sunday, May 24, 2009
Salem Lutheran Chruch, Farrar

Farrar Congregation Celebrates 150th Anniversary

Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding with a special service on Pentecost Sunday, May 31 at 9:00 am with a potluck dinner following at Noon. Between the two events there will be a historical display and a DVD presentation of some of the over 400 old photographs that have been gathered by congregation members. The guest speaker for the service will be Rev. Richard C. Resch of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Rev. Resch is Kantor of Concordia Theological Seminary and of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Co-Director of The Good Shepherd Institute of Pastoral Theology, and an Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions for the Seminary. He has produced five CDs with the Seminary Kantorei; four CDs in collaboration with his wife, Barbara, and the St. Paul's Lutheran Church Children's Choir; one CD on the Kramer Chapel organ for the CTS Alumni Association; and a new two-CD set for The Good Shepherd Institute--Hymns of Comfort and Peace: Hearing God's Promises in Times of Need. He was also the Executive Producer of the Institute's DVD Singing the Faith: Living the Lutheran Musical Heritage. His wife Dr. Barbara Resch serves as an associate professor of music education at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. They have two children, Matthew and Allison.

Salem congregation was founded on May 16, 1859 by eleven young men who had settled in the area around what is now Farrar during the prior five years. The land in the area had originally been purchased by Scotch-Irish and English settlers, many of whom were associated with the Abernathy Settlement in the area now known as Longtown and York Chapel. The original members of the congregation were Julius Saupe, August Lorenz, Heinrich Bachmann, Friedrich Koenig, Hermann Koenig, Christian Magwitz, Bernhard Mueller, Friedrich Boehme, Zacharias Mehlhorn, Julius Kirmse, and Heinrich Brandes. They ranged in age from 22 to 32 years with an average age of 28 years. Several of the founders had ties to the Lutheran congregation at Paitzdorf (now Uniontown) and they called as their pastor Rev. Karl Theodore Gruber, a son of the pastor that had led the immigration to Paitzdorf and was serving as pastor of the Frankenburg congregation, which was located two miles south of Perryville and later relocated their church to Friedenberg. His congregation gave him permission to have one service per month at this branch congregation. In 1860 the Salem congregation dedicated its first church building which was described at that time as "ein fruendliches Blockhaus" or a friendly log cabin.

The congregation grew rapidly after its founding with an influx of Lutheran settlers from the neighboring Saxon settlements and additional new immigrants from the areas of Saxony and Hanover in what is now Germany. In 1867 a Christian day school was started in the congregation with the church building also serving as the school. The present church building was erected in 1886. It was expanded in 1927 and 1953 and the interior was completely remodeled in 1984. School buildings that were built in 1892 and 1926 were replaced by the present school building, which was dedicated in 1958. In 1996 an addition to the school was dedicated that contains church and school offices, meeting rooms, and a gymnasium.

The town that is now Farrar grew up around the church and by the 1890's had two general stores, two blacksmith shops, and a creamery. In 1892 a petition was filed for the establishment of a post office in the community to be named "Salem" after the name of the congregation and the township in which it was located. The petition was presented by Mr. R. P. Farrar, who owned one of the general stores, taught at public schools in the area, and was to be the first postmaster. When he found that the name "Salem" was already used for another post office in the state, he suggested that it be called "Farrar" on a temporary basis until another name was selected, but that never happened and he became the namesake for the town. Thus, the predominately German town was given a Scotch-Irish name. The area also was nicknamed "Jammerthal" which is German for "vale (valley) of sorrow". The use of this name was prevalent during the late 1800's and early 1900's, but no one seems to know its origin. The vale probably referred to the spring fed valleys of the Omete Creek and its tributaries in which Salem's founders had settled.

This year Salem congregation is observing the 150th anniversary of its founding with special Thanksgiving services throughout the year. Salem congregation is giving thanks and praise to our Lord and Savior for the many years of blessings that He has bestowed upon us. We are thankful to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for the strong foundation of His Word that was laid for us by our forefathers. Salem invites everyone to join us in our celebration of that occasion on Sunday, May 31.

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