Lebanon Evangelical Lutheran Church is today fifty years
and two days old. It
was organized Sunday September 17, 1893. The
organization took place under the
pastoral care of the late Rev. B. W. Cronk in a nearby
school house known as the Barber
School. The organization was the outgrowth of a
community Sunday School which had
for years before been conducted in this school house, and
Rev. Cronk, who was at the
time pastor of St. Luke’s and Salem churches, had for
some time, perhaps from 1890,
been giving these people regular service in connection with
the Sunday School.
At the organization of the congregation there were eight
Charter members: Eli Powlas,
John W, Powlas, Maggie V, Powlas, Fleming W. Cauble,
George H. Waller, Sarah L.
Waller, Joseph T. Carson, and Martha L. Carson. Then in
the early part of 1894 three
other names were added to the roll: Catherine Walton, J.
D. Cline, and his wife C. L.
Cline. Since these three persons were added to the
congregational roll before the
congregation was received into the synod, their enrollment
also makes them Charter
Members, and thus brings the number from eight to eleven
Charter members. Mrs. Cline,
above mentioned, soon afterward departed this life, and
was the first to be buried in the
Even before the organization of the congregation much
work had been done for
the building. Eli Polwas had given the lot and almost all, if
not all of the timber, and the
other members and friends of the congregation had logged
and prepared this timber for
use. The BailyBrothers of Woodleaf, who were not
members of the congregation, but
friends, did the sawing of the material free of charge.
With this good beginning a building committee of three was
appointed to carry on
the work. This committee was: Eli Powlas, Fleming W.
Cauble, and Joseph T. Carson.
The first congregational meeting was held February 5,
1894, and elected the first council:
Eli Powlas, elder; and G. H. Waller and W. F. Cauble,
deacons. John W. Powlas seems to
have been secretary and perhaps treasurer from the
organization. This council and their
successors were to be the trustees of the church property.
Returning to the church building---among those doing the
work special mention
should be made of George H. Waller, a carpenter by
trade, who was a charter member
and member of the first council and I trust of the
congregation. Mr. Waller did much of
the work and oversight of the building. Also special
mention should be made of Mr.
Waller’s cousin T. J. Waller, who at the time was not a
member of the congregation, but,
like his cousin, was a carpenter, and did much of the work
and oversight. And while Mr.
T. J. Waller at the time was not a member of the church,
he was confirmed October 25,
1896, and has ever since remained most faithful to his
vows and has been one of its most
useful members. Today he is one of the three living
members who has reached the ripe
age of 80 years and above; the other two being J. D. Cline
and Stokes H. Barger. For
almost 50 years these three men lives have as members
of the congregation run parallel
with almost the entire history of the congregation. Like
trees they have planted in this
“House of the Lord to flourish in the courts of our Lord”,
and during this time they have
“Flourished like palm trees and grown like cedars of
Lebanon”. May they still long live
and “Bring forth fruit in old age and be fat and flourishing”.
As to church fixtures, Mr. James Owens, a cabinet make
of Woodleaf (he is still
living0 mad the pulpit and lectern still in use, and an altar
which has since been
superceded by the present altar, which is more beautiful
and more churchly. For this
furniture, Mr. B. T. Thompson, a good friend of the
congregation, gave a fine walnut log,
which was sawed and placed in a dry kiln, but was
accidentally burned. The material was
then donated by Mr. T. J. Waller.
Owing to Pastor Cronk’s resignation in the early part of
1894 there was no
pastoral care until the arrival of the second pastor, the
Rev. V. Y. Boozer, who began
serving July 15, 1894.
At the annual meeting of the North Carolina Synod, held in
Organ Church in
May, 1894 the congregation mad application for
membership and was received into the
Synod, being placed in a pastorate with Salem and Grace
Congregations. Indeed so
earnestly and so zealously did the little congregation and
its friends work, event the
greater part of the without pastoral oversight, that when
their new pastor arrived July 15,
the church was so nearly completed as to enable the
congregation to hold the first service
in the same.
September 30, 1894, the first class was confirmed and the
administered. Those who were confirmed at the time
were: Stokes H. Barger, Rosa Irene
Powlas, Margaret Elizabeth Powlas, and Ola Overcash.
The members of this
confirmation before the congregation were received into
the synod. Since they were
confirmed and partook of the first communion, may they
not also be considered charter
During these fifty years of congregational history the
church has been served by
fourteen regular pastors, together with varied supply
service at intervals. The Rev. B. W.
Cronk, its organizer and first pastor, resigned soon after
the organization in the very early
part of 1894. There followed a vacancy of several months
without any pastoral oversight.
The second pastor, the Rev. V. Y. Boozer, was called and
began his services July 15,
1894 and served the congregation one year. He in turn
was succeeded by the third pastor,
the Rev. H. N. Miller, Ph.D., who probably began his
pastoral services the middle or
latter part of the summer 1895 and served until perhaps
May or June of 1897 when he
relinquished to become president of Mont Omeona
Seminary. It was during Pastor
Miller’s pastorate that the church was dedicated, Sunday
November 22, 1896, about three
years and two months after its organization. After Pastor
Miller’s resignation the church
was supplied during the summer by theological student W.
W. J. Ritchie. The Rev. H.A.
Trexler was called and entered the work as the fourth
pastor probably in September, 1897
and served until November, 1904. In the meantime Grace
and Salem required the full
time pastor at the annual spring meeting of the synod in
1904 Lebanon was taken out of
the pastorate and placed in a newly formed pastorate with
Providence Church of Rowan
County and St. Matthew’s of Davie County and was named
the Lebanon Pastorate.
However, as the newly formed pastorate did not succeed
in getting a pastor until the
middle of November, Pastor Trexler by special
arrangement continued to serve until the arrival of the new
pastor, who was the writer of this sketch, the Rev. L.P.
Boland arrived November 17, 1904 and served until
January 31, 1908.
It was during his pastorate that the parsonage was built.
Eli Powlas, in his 81st
year, again had given the lot and enough timber---------
something like 15,000 feet-----for
the framework. He gave the deed June 14, 1904; about
one month after synod formed the new pastorate, and then
passed on his eternal reward on June 26, just twelve days
signing the deed. When the writer arrived November 17 the
members of the congregation
and friends had already logged, sawed, and placed the
material on the grounds apparently
several months before. As the lot and framing material
were furnished by Lebanon,
Providence, and St. Matthew’s gave the siding ceiling,
flooring, windows, and doors.
Special mention should be made of Rev. W. R. Kethchie, a
retired minister of
Providence, and his son, Hubert, of St. Matthew’s who did
all the sawing and nearly all,
if not all the kiln drying and dressing free of charge. Also
special mention should me
made of Mr. Starret of Providence who made and gave
the sashes. Most of the work was
again done by members and friends of the pastorate, and
the necessary money needed
was raised proportionately by the three congregations.
Special mention should again be
made of G. H. Waller who did practically all of the framing
and much of the other
carpenter work free of charge.
Pastor Boland was succeeded by the Rev. T. C. Parker
perhaps in March or April,
and not later that May, 1908, and served until February or
March, 1913. It was during his
pastorate that the church was recovered and possibly
After Pastor Parker’s resignation a vacancy occurred that
lasted for more two
years. During this time the congregation was supplied by
theological students, nearby
pastors, and such other services as could by secured.
Theological student H. S. Petrea
supplied the summer of 1913. Student John L. Morgan
supplied in the summer of 1914.
From the record, Rev. O. W. Aderholdt must have supplied
March and April of 1913.
Rev. I. E. Long from Mooresville evidently supplied in
1914. Also Rev. G. O. Ritchie of
Salem and Grace served the latter part of 1914 and the
greater part of 1915. Besides these
men the treasurers’ report shows that Rev. J. L. Yost, J.
K. Efird, W. C. Buck and Rev.
Mr. Zambeck must have preached at least one each. In
the very latter part of the year
1915 the Rev. V.R. Stickley became the regular pastor
and served until the latter part if
not the whole year of 1920.
Then again another prolonged vacancy of five and one half
or six years occurred;
from the latter part of 1920 to the first of June, 1926. This
vacancy was again filled by
theological students and nearby pastors and such other
service as could be produced.
Such theological students as Oscar F. Blackwelder, S.
White Rhyne and others preached
at least once each in the early part of the vacancy. From
the treasurer’s report, the Rev. H.
E. Shenk must have preached at least once or more the
latter part of 1920. Rev. Clarence
Fox must have supplied January, February, and perhaps
March of 1921, and Rev. George
H. Cox, D. D. supplied for April, 1922. From what we
glean from the presidents report in
the 1923-1926 minutes of Synod the Rev. J. L. Yost
supplied the congregation almost all
the year of 1923, and Rev. W. G. Cobb all the year of
1924 and part of 1925. The
remainder of the year 1925 was supplied by the Rev. John
L. Morgan of Troutman and
during the summer by theological student H. C. Castor, at
which time the church was
again repainted. It was June 1, 1926 that the prolonged
vacancy was broken by the call
and acceptance of the Rev. E. F. Troutman who served
from June 1, 1926 to April 1,
1929. Pastor Troutman was succeeded by the Rev. C. F.
Kyles who served from June 1,
1929 to May 15, 1932. Pastor Kyles was succeeded by
the Rev. R.H Kepley, who served
from June 1, 1932 until April 30, 1935. It was he as a
cabinet maker as well as a good
pastor, who made and donated to the congregation the
beautiful and churchly altar and
hymn board; our good member, Mr. W. D. Myers having
donated the material. Then it was also during Pastor
Kepley’s pastorate that the church celebrated its 40th
anniversary—just ten years ago at this time. This
anniversary was preceded by a five day
service each evening; services being by the Rev. E. F.
Troutman, C. F. Kyles, V. Y.
Boozer, and L. P. Boland, all former pastors, and Rev. W.
G. Cobb, a supply pastor. It is
because of such service that it is eminently appropriate to
have Pastor Kepley with us
today to bring us his able message for this occasion.
Pastor Kepley was succeeded by the Rev. Olin G.
Swicegood, who served from
June 1, 1935 until June 1, 1937. It was during his
pastorate the church was again covered.
Pastor Swicegood’s successor was the Rev. H. A. Kistler
PhD who served from
September 1, 1937 until his Lord and Master called him up
higher on May 7, 1938.
Pastor Kisltler was succeeded by the Rev. C. A.
Misenheimer, who served from June 15,
1938 until April 1, 1937, and was succeeded by the Rev.
J. D. Stoner, who became pastor
June 1, 1939, and who is still serving at the present time.
Of these fourteen pastors four—
the Reverends Cronk, Miller, Stickly, and Kistler—have
passed from death unto life.
Pastors Stickly and Kistler received their calls to the higher
and better life in the nearby
parsonage. Four of the others—The Reverends Boozer,
Trexler, Boland and Parker—are
retired ministers; Rev Trexler being the oldest ordained
minister and probably the oldest
living minister of the United Evangelical Lutheran Synod of
NC. His ordination dates
back 57 years to 1886. Of the remaining 6, the Reverends
Troutman, Kyles, Kepley,
Swicegood, Misenheimer and Stoner, all are still in the
service and promise many others
years of service. Some great author perhaps
Shakespeare, once said “he was a part of all
he ever met”. If this is true and I believe it is, then how
great should the lives of this
congregation be with all its regular pastors and supply and
other sermons preach on
special occasions from this pulpit.
During the 50 years the growth of the church has been
slow; her battles between
life and death have been many and hard. Her location on
the border of Lutheranism, with
so many nearby congregations’ older and stronger and
more influential has been to her
disadvantage. So have the old and strong churches of
other denominations such as the
Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians. But by the
grace of God she has lived and
still lives and serves. Her present confirmed membership
of active and inactive is 119.
During her history she has served around 275 members
and her infant baptism from
Cronk to Stoner has been 195. In educational advantages
her children have availed
themselves of all that the common and high schools give,
and at least 25 have taken
advantage of higher institutions. At least 8 have graduated
from colleges and two have
taken training in nursing. Today 10 of her sons are in the
service of their country, and the
11th has his summons to go. The congregation has given
no sons to the ministry, but two
of her daughters have gone to the foreign fields as
missionaries. Five of her daughters
have married Lutheran ministers.
The congregation has with joy looked forward to this year,
and especially to this
day and this celebration. For this day and for the years to
come we gave the mother a
white dress last year, both within and without. In the early
part of this year we gave a new
carpet. Some time since Misses Maude and Annie Powlas
gave the congregation 30
copies of the word edition of the Common Service in
memory of their mother, Mrs.
Maggie V. Powlas. The congregation itself has recently
purchased 35 copies of the Parish
School Hymnal. The Powlas children have given a brass
cross for the altar in memory of
their grandfather Eli Powlas, and two vases in memory of
their mother, Maggie V. Powlas. Pastor Stoner has given a
new altar antependium in memory of his father J. K.
Stoner. Some time since Pastor Stoner also gave a bulletin
board for the vestibule. W. D.
Myers has given a new pulpit antependium for the church
in memory of his father and
mother, B.D. and Sarah E. Myers. The J. D. Cline children
have given a new
antependium for the lectern in honor of their father J. D.
Cline and in memory of their
mother, Laura A. Cline. Mrs. W. A. Cauble and children
have given new book marks for
the Bibles on the pulpit and lectern in memory of their
husband and father, W. A. Cauble.
H. J. Thompson and children have given a new Bible for
the lectern in memory of their
wife and mother, Sarah Eliza Thompson.
With these and other birthday gifts for the spiritual mother
to follow we bring this
sketch to a close with the prayer and best wish of the
congregation and friends that this
dear mother may ever live and faithfully serve her Lord and
Master in the future as she
has so humbly and quietly and faithfully done in the years
1890-1894 B. W. Cronk
1894-1895 V. Y. Boozer
1895-1897 H. N. Miller
1897-1904 H. A. Trexler
1904-1908 L. P. Boland
1908-1913 T. C. Parker
1915-1920 V. R. Stickley
1926-1929 E. F. Troutman
1929-1932 C. F. Kyles
1932-1935 R. H. Kepley
1935-1937 Olin G. Swicegood
1937-1938 H. A. Kistler, PhD
1938-1939 C. A. Misenheimer
1939-1943 J. D. Stoner
1948-1950 Luther Sloop