"Blessed to be a Blessing"
It's hard to imagine a time when there wasn't a church in Madison called Faith Lutheran. Grass grew where mortar and brick now are firmly set. What there was,though, was the Will of God and a small group of unselfish people with remarkable faith. It's probably no accident that the church bears the name of their hope.
In the 1950's church services were held in homes; and at one point the mission was almost abandoned. But our little band of the faithful didn't let that stop them. They had no intention of giving up. In 1960 they contacted Rev. Ora Riemer of Cross Plains; and on August 7 of that year the first service was held.
But grass grew where the church now stands. They held that first service - and the next three - from the top of a concession stand in a drive-in theater. Then in early September Rev. Riemer was called to his Eternal Home.
In October of 1960 they borrowed a pastor's lectern from a funeral home, and a tape recorder from a Madison store. The next few services were held at the Thompson Glass Dairy, with the Rev. J Strelow of Farmers Retreat officiating. Then for several months, services took place in the American Legion Hall.
And during these months, our dedicated few weren't sitting still. They were working diligently to establish a congregation and a permanent home for the church. On Feb 12, 1961, the Constitution of Faith Lutheran Church was drawn. Its original signers were Lee and Mitchell Dunker, Tom and Viv Burg, David and Ruth Rueter, John and Fauna Mihalko, Mrs. Pat Austin, and Mrs. Agatha McKay. George and Phyllis Maslyar joined them shortly afterward.
Finding a home wasn't easy. The Mission Board couldn't help financially, and there was a division in the church. But not among our founders, who hung on to their dream. In September of 1961 financial help was found, a lot purchased, and a building erected. That building is now our fellowship hall. The first service at the present location was on March 4, 1962; and the first Easter Sunrise Service on April 22. Rev. Daniel Hentscher of Cross Plains led the services. The first V.B.S. took place in August, with 15 children attending.
On Feb. 12, 1964, Rev. William Gramlich, retired, began serving as Pastor. New help was arriving for our founders; the membership had grown to 44 baptized and 28 communicants. The operating budget for the year was a whopping $4000!
1965 saw the LWML organized at Faith. In 1968 the church established its first parsonage, and Rev. Don Wunrow was the first resident pastor. The alter guild was organized in 1969.
In the spring of 1971, a ground-breaking service was held, with Tom Burg, George Maslyar, Rev. Wunrow, Norman Patzer, and Don Serverson attending. On October 12 of that year the Sanctuary we now enjoy was dedicated. Since 1972, Rev. Ed Schulze (1972-1976), Rev. Robert Hall (1977-1989), Rev. Robert Waller (1990-1992), and Rev. Jeffery Pflug (1993-present) have stood in its pulpit and served the church faithfully.
In 1975, the church sponsored a Vietnamese refugee family. In 1976, a new parsonage was erected, as well as a new educational wing for the church. The parking lot was paved in 1981. In 1985 the Ladies Guild presented the church with pews for the overflow. The present pipe organ was dedicated in 1989. Recently, we received the loving gift of a bell tower and a preschool has been established.
There isn't room here to list all the wonderful roads that He has led us down since 1961. So many have given so much. We ask that He will continue to show us new paths to follow in His Service.
Some of that group who served as our founders have been called Home to be with their Lord. We honor their memory with great respect. A few remain, still serving. And if you ask them about that time, probably they will smile, and remember much. But they will be too modest and too salt of the earth to take any credit for what happened way back then. Most likely they'll insist that they had little to do with it, that He did it.
But He chose their hearts and hands and determination to build His church, and they were willing to take up His banner. We owe them much, and we are reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 18:20,
For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.