Pohocco's 125 + 1 Through the Eyes of Its Members (August 2021)
My Church. That’s how I word it when I mention Pohocco. It’s home, family, friends. It’s where my family was raised, baptized, and confirmed. It’s Christmas plays, Easter celebrations, potluck breakfasts and lunches. The year 2020 was a challenge, but we managed to get through it. Now to move on to bigger and better times.
RORY KIM & RAGENA SOMMERER
We joined Pohocco Church because of the smaller congregation. We both came from small town country churches with the family feel. Pastor Orduna brings a down to earth sermon that relates to everyday life. Everyone makes you feel welcome.
Pohocco to me is friendly and welcoming. When I joined the church I felt welcomed into the “family”. From what I see that trend continues today!
We started attending Pohocco in September 2000, but didn’t become members until 2002.
Pastor Schmidt and Gerry had a special bond. Then Pastor Schmidt helped me get through the grief of losing him. Then along came Pastor Johnice who was with me during the last days of my daughter Mindy’s life. That was such a comfort. Hats off to these two amazing people.
I have enjoyed watching the children grow into such awesome young adults. I like the ceremony we have for our graduates. They know they are loved.
I am blessed to be a member of Pohocco Lutheran Church amongst so many caring people.
When asked about my church, I must admit that I belong to a wonderful one. My church family has been with me through many things both happy and sad. Weddings, baptisms, and Christmas Programs are some of the happiest moments. But they have also been with me through many hard times like hospital stays, personal challenges, and deaths of my loved ones. Pohocco is such a blessing.
DON & PAT STIENIKE
After retiring and deciding to move closer to our children and grandchildren in Omaha, we’d bought a home near Fremont. Wanting to do some remodeling before we moved in, we were driving from central Nebraska to work on weekends when our kids could help. On each trip we’d drive by Pohocco Church, and having been members of Our Savior’s Lutheran in Dannebrog, we decided to attend one Sunday morning. As we drove in, we read the sign on the marquee that said something to the effect of “If you are not baptized, come here and we’ll see that you are before you leave” (obviously I don’t remember the exact wording!) Anyway, we looked at each other and said “a cult or what?” and drove out of the parking lot.
Later that weekend, we talked to some people who knew parishioners who attended Pohocco and said “No, they are very nice, sensible people.” So the next week we gave it a try and have been here at Pohocco ever since - for 11 years!
We’ve been very happy with our choice of Pohocco, so many caring and welcoming people. The leadership of Pastor Schmidt and now Pastor Orduna, has fueled our spiritual sides and the congregation feels like family. Thank you Pohocco, and a special thanks to all the founders and former parishioners who helped to make the church what it is today. God has blessed us with many opportunities to share with other family members in Christ.
Thank you Pohocco Lutheran Church.
KEN & JANEY GAUGHEN
Our letter to Pohocco Lutheran Church 125+1. The good Lord led us to Pohocco Lutheran Church after our move from Cedar Bluffs. After attending church services a few times we knew this was going to be our home church. Pastor Johnice, Pastor Harold and the congregation were so welcoming. We became Pohocco members September 23, 2018. Alleluia!
We also want to thank you for the services online during the covid lockout, church is better in person. We hope nothing ever closes our church again. One of my favorite Bible verses 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear. But of power and of love and of sound mind.”
We want to thank everyone who’s delicious recipes in the Pohocco cookbook. Yum!!
God’s Blessings to All! God Bless America!
RICHARD "Richie" WINKELMAN
Pohocco has been at the center of my life’s biggest events from my baptism through my wedding. Pohocco’s congregation is made up of a tight knit community that is supportive of all its members. Celebrating 125 years in existence is a testament to members past and present in a commitment to putting the church as a whole before all of us as individuals.
The Pohocco Lutheran Church reaches through my family’s history, very likely to the founding of this church. Tom and Louise Nelson were early members of the Church, perhaps founding members. Louise Nelson, nee Pedersen, had emigrated from Denmark, and later she and Tom assisted her brother, my grandfather, Gotfred Pedersen with his immigration from Denmark finding him employment with Nels Nelson (Tom’s brother) as a farmhand. Gotfred became a member of the Church, and married Nels’ daughter, Ruby (an only child due to her mother being killed in a run-away horse carriage accident on the Platte River bridge with Ruby being rescued from the river as an infant). Nels and Gotfred built a new house on the family farmstead for the newly-weds and Ruby and Gotfred raised 5 children including my father Earl in that house and in the Pohocco Lutheran Church where they were baptized. Ruby died in the late 1950s, Gotfred moved to Fremont, and my mother and father moved into the family home. Although my father and mother were members of a church in Fremont, the Pohocco Lutheran Church always felt more like my church in that it was only 2 miles from my home, I attended Bible school there every summer, participated in Christmas pageants, attended soup suppers, and attended family and family friends’ weddings and funerals. This is where my friends from my community gathered. I left the area in 1972 to attend college and subsequently relocated to various communities in the U.S. eventually settling in Lincoln in 1989. As occurred with the previous generation in the late 1950’s, my father and mother moved to Fremont in 2013 and my wife Pam, and I moved to the family homestead in 2014. It took us several years after that to return to the Pohocco Lutheran Church, but I am now back home in my church.
Our story about Pohocco. When we moved into the area 30+ years ago, We were looking for a small country church. Our first service we attended made us feel right at home. We were invited to coffee after the service in the small basement which shared space with Sundayschool rooms behind sheets hung as dividers. Our children found a new set of adopted grandparents-Orvil and Dorthy Boettner, who took them under their wings and later in life, roles were reversed- the boys looking after them. The fact Pohocco is still here and still growing is proof, despite it’s not the “little country church”- a new building and then another addition, the members are sharing God’s love thru their actions of a “Family”. With God’s grace Pohocco will continue for many more years.
From the first time I walked through the doors of Pohocco Lutheran Church I felt like I had come home to my Lutheran roots. I felt then and still do believe I am where I need to be. Each Sunday I find something in the sermon that speaks directly to me. My fellow congregants have become lifelong friends. Today as I left church a childhood song came to mind, “I feel the joy joy joy joy Down in my Heart . . . I’ve got the love of Jesus down in my heart''. I truly have the love of Jesus and know without a doubt I will spend eternity in Heaven with him.
JAN, CHRISTY, BRYCE & AVA REESON
Pohocco is a place of comfort for us. It is a place that feels like home. Even if we are away for a few weeks...walking through the doors feels like coming home. The church members care for each other deeply and are always willing to help and support each other. Our kids were baptized in this church, received their first communion, and will both be confirmed in the church. Pohocco is a place where we have met some of our closest friends. These friends have become our family. Pohocco is a place where we have laughed, cried, grown, learned, and most importantly...come together in the name of God.
JEFF & BARB FREY
It started out as a job playing the Keyboard and turned into our church family. A friend of a friend introduced me to Pohocco Church. I was greeted with open arms by many of the members and Pastor Johnice. After 6 months of playing and attending church, my Husband and I transferred our membership.
The members are all so friendly. Almost every week someone comments on the music that is played and I feel very appreciated and part of a family. The church reminds me of my home church I grew up in.
Pastor Johnice preaches from her heart and the sermons really apply to everyday life and are very interesting.
I am so glad that a friend of a friend introduced me to Pohocco Church.
Pohocco has been my church for as long as I can remember. From my early childhood attending services and Sunday school, vacation bible school and the great soup suppers that were held in the old church I have learned to appreciate all the hard work and dedication of each and every parishioner that has attended this church. Many years ago I was elected to the church council. While serving on the council I once again learned how Pohocco is held together by the never ending commitment to make our church strong and vibrant. During that council term I was involved in the process of building the current building. That was a time of some struggles and many moments of reassurance that this congregation would stay together to make sure our church was here for the future. Through it all our congregation showed exactly what they are made of by supporting and contributing to the construction process and continuing to make Pohocco the church home that I love. I think the congregation at Pohocco has continued to be a welcoming and friendly place to be. I can't imagine not being here in the future. This church, the congregation, Pastor Orduna, have solidified why our small country church has been an instrumental part in my life. I am looking forward to helping this church continue to be a place where you feel at home.
I've been a member of this church for around 40 years. During that time I've seen a lot of changes, both good and bad. I credit this church being here this long to Pastor Ed Danitschek. He saw the church membership slowly decreasing, lack of kids involved, and brought around the idea of building a new church to draw more members. Our church building was about 100 years old and was in need of replacement. There were a lot of members in favor of this plan, a lot against, but with faith we followed his lead. It's great to see our church thriving. I wish he was here to see this day but I know he and Alice are watching. My granddaughter wanted to go to church and I tried Fremont churches, wondering if she would know some of the kids. I finally said we are going to our church this Sunday. That was it. She loved it. What does this church mean to me? Home
THESE DOORS LEAD TO THE HOUSE OF GOD
When you enter our church, this is the first thing you see. I believe it is true.
In the early 90’s this congregation was at a crossroads. The congregation was falling in numbers. The building was falling apart. The bell tower was rotten and there was fear that the bell would at some time come crashing down. The stairs to the basement were steep and narrow. The electrical would only
handle two roasters or a fuse would blow. The congregation was falling apart. Some were ready to let the church dissolve, as many of the other small country churches in the area had. Some didn’t want to do anything. However, a few members thought we should build a new church.
At the time we were blessed to have Pastor Edward Danitschek as our leader. He suggested we vote to see where we stood in our opinions. Those in favor of building a new building held a small majority. I accepted the job of putting together the numbers for the project. We voted on the plans. I drew the
blueprints and got bids for the foundation, lumber and framing. The rest of the work, members of the congregation would do. I felt that we could build the church for $125,000.00. We only had $50,000. Our congregation is independent, we do not own the land, [it is in a life trust.] So there was no way to borrow money. There was only one thing to do. Throw caution to the wind and put our faith in God and hope we could get it built. So the day came to vote on what to do. It was not a good day. We voted to build. There were some opposed. We were told we would fail. We were told all we would hear from the pulpit was pleas for money. Unfortunately, some members walked out, never to return. So now our small congregation was even smaller. While we were debating the project Pastor Danitschek said “a church is like a plant, if it isn’t growing, it is dying.” We voted again to go ahead and build.
The day of the ground breaking Pastor Danitschek called me aside and said with a tear in his eye, “ I fear we are making a mistake here.” I put my arm around him and said, ”we will not fail, I will see to it.” The hole was dug by Roger Goree , the foundation put in and the building framed. The time came to shingle the roof. I think every member of the church showed up. The women were fixing food and drink, and men were all over the roof. It looked like an Amish barn raising. We shingled it in a day. We ran out of money. We held a pork roast dinner to raise funds. We had a little model of the church with a sign, “Donations.” At the end of the day we were shocked to find over $15,000 in the model. This was not from members, but from friends and neighbors. They wanted us to succeed. Over the next year money kept coming in. Sherry Bode, who was treasurer at the time, said she couldn’t believe it. She said money came in from out of state even. Pastor told her that happens sometimes.
We would use the altar, pews and windows from the old church. New windows and doors were donated by members. Bill Cramer led the siding and painting, we all helped pour concrete, and install the plumbing, and electrical. I led drywall and finish carpentry. The Ondracek family always helped and
Jim built all the cabinets. It was our hope to be done in time for the centennial of the congregation, but we were out of money. We were $20,000 short. Dorothy Boettner came forward and offered to lend us the money with interest so we could complete on time.
We dedicated the new building on the one hundredth anniversary of Pohocco Lutheran Church. Before the service, Pastor and I hugged. We did it! Within two years we held a mortgage burning. I can think of no other congregation that had the courage to do what we did. We completed on budget. Everyone that
voted to build, did their part when it came time to work. It took us two years to complete and we have a church to be proud of. We put our faith on the line to put up this building. We have always welcomed visitors. Many have joined. Our church owes no money. It is just a plain simple church. Our church owes no money. People come to hear the word of God. God will see that we will have the where-with-all to keep operating. He always has. I believe the words on our front doors.
Hi! I am Morgan Ondracek and considering that I have been attending Pohocco Lutheran Church for over seventeen years now, I guess you could say that I have grown up here. At just a few weeks old, I was baptized in this church, received my first communion, was confirmed, and matured into a young adult.
To me, Pohocco is more than a little church out in the country. It is a place of family, friends, fellowship, and above all, God. The smaller the church, the closer the congregation can grow as a congregation and family. I have visited many different churches throughout the years, and none of them are quite like Pohocco.
Many years ago, my grandparents started attending Pohocco. My dad, uncles, and grandpa helped to build the new church building, and ever since then, the Ondracek’s have always sat in the same two pews. No matter how much encouragement Pastor Johnice may give us to adventure to the other side of the aisle, we have yet to do so other than a few times when our pews are filled.
There are so many memories from Pohocco Lutheran Church that have filled my mind over the years. Whether that be dancing and singing in the Christmas programs, being the only girl in confirmation and racing the boys to the comfy chairs, or watching my family grow up, the memories are endless. The annual Easter egg hunt, Christmas Eve service, Soup Supper, and Trunk or Treat bring the church family together.
To me, Pohocco is more than a little white church surrounded by a corn or bean field. It is a place to grow in my faith and relationships but also watch others grow in theirs. I love this church, and it holds so many memories. It is a place of family, friends, fellowship, and above all, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“Pohocco Church, South of City Observes Double Anniversary”
(Fremont Newspaper - May 1950)
Pohocco Lutheran Church, located six miles south of Fremont, will mark two anniversaries Sunday.
On May 9, it will be 55 years since the congregation was organized under the leadership of Rev. A. Kirkegaard, and this past Christmas, it was 50 years ago that the present church was built and dedicated.
Rev. Adolph Kloth of First Lutheran church is also pastor of the Pohocco Church.
During the 55 years 12 pastors have served the congregation. They are A. Kirkegaard, A.W. Lund, C.C. Kloth, E.R. Andersen, M.T. Jensen, James C. Petersen, N.B. Hansen, F.C. Schuldt, C.O.Gulleen, F.G. Rasmussen, M.C. Hagedorn and the present pastor.
During most of the 55 years the small parish had only irregular service. Since 1946, however, there have been regular services every Sunday morning.
The women’s group meets twice a month, and Sunday school follows the regular weekly service. Youth work of the parish is done in collaboration with that of First Lutheran Church.
The church has recently been completely redecorated, making it one of the several well-maintained open country churches in this vicinity.
The anniversary program Sunday, to which the public is invited, is, 10 a.m. , divine service with sermon by former pastor James C. Peterson, offering for his traveling expenses; 12 noon, fellowship dinner served by women of the church; 2:30 p.m., informal service at which Reverend Peterson again will preach, offering for the redecorating fund.
85th ANNIVERSARY (May 4, 1980)
Pastor Keith McKay
The information for this history was gathered from a paper written by Howard Christensen in 1950, on the occasion of the fifty-fifth anniversary of the church and from another paper written by Mrs. Paul (Helga) Magnuson on the seventy-fifth anniversary. Other facts were from the records of secretaries of past years.
If the present older generation of the congregation, when they were the middle-age group, had interviewed the older members, many interesting facts and stories of human interest could have been included in the history of the church.
Perhaps our excuse is, as someone once remarked, “Youth looks to the future, middle-age is concerned only with the present, and old age lives in the past.”
Today we are celebrating the 85th anniversary of the organization of the Pohocco Lutheran Church congregation and the 80th anniversary of the dedication of the church building.
In the midst of our celebrating, we should review some of the struggles faced by the pioneers, as they built their church, from which they, their children and we, derive benefit to this day.
Under the leadership of Pastor A. Kirkegaard, these pioneers began to meet for Lutheran worship services and Sunday School in the respective homes. This resulted in formal organization of a congregation on May 9th, 1895. The name was Danish Evangelical Church, and all services were conducted in the Danish language, as this was then a Danish community. Later, services were held in Danish only occasionally, and eventually discontinued entirely.
By the year 1899, the founding members felt themselves strong enough spiritually and financially, to begin planning for the building of a house of worship. With Mr. Christian Larsen, Mr. Andrew Nelson, Mr. Julius Christensen and Mr. Rasmus Christensen taking the initiative, the wheels started turning. Mr. Julius Christensen donated the land for both church and cemetery, and the others mentioned, gave substantial cash donations to start the building fund. Mr. Andrew Nelson then became ill, so Mr. Christian Larsen and Mr. Rasmus Christensen canvassed the immediate territory, as well as some of Dodge County for building donations, which were well subscribed with a Christian heart.
Mr. Martin Nelson was the carpenter, and the members provided him with bed and board. In June 1900, the church building was dedicated under the pastorate of the Reverend A. W. Lund.
The first wedding in the church was that of Miss Anna Nelson to Mr. Andrew Christensen, on December 20, 1900. They were married by Pastor Lund.
Mr. and Mrs. Christensen, who had been active in church and Sunday School work prior to their marriage, continued their efforts as a team. Mr. Christensen was Sunday School Superintendent from 1900 until his death in 1944. The initial Sunday School enrollment numbered about 40.
Mrs. A. W. Christensen and her brother, Adolph Nelson secured donations to the amount of $50 for a new organ. In 1903, a Pastor Riisdall was serving the church from Wahoo. It was a long cold ride by horse and buggy, so Mrs. Christensen and her brother, again collected donations and bought a fur coat for the pastor, which, no doubt, was gratefully received.
The first Christmas service and children’s program was held in 1900.
The Ladies’ Aid was organized in 1916. This organization is now called the Pohocco Lutheran Ladies. Some of the members of the original Ladies’ Aid still meet to quilt. No matter under what name they serve, they have been hard and willing workers. Many church projects have been accomplished, through their efforts. Each year they serve a Mother-Daughter Party and a Soup Supper, both affairs open to the public. They also have a Guest Day, inviting women of other churches as their guests. A ‘Back to School’ party is held for the young people, and a December party for the adults. They are clever, too. In the past 10 or 12 years, whenever church suppers have been served, they have always managed to have dishwashers -- the men of the church.
In 1923, the basement was built, complete with a kitchen. Two years later, the chancel was added to the church, and the beautiful stained glass window installed. Many of the furnishings of the chancel and nave have been given through memorials, in memory of departed loved ones.
Until 1932, $10 a year had been paid to the member performing the janitor work. That year it was decided that members should take turns at this job, without pay. This plan is still in use. In 1933, Pastor N. B. Hanson generously offered to take a 25% reduction in his salary, which offer, of necessity, was accepted by the church board.
A committee was set up to canvas for pledges in 1934. In the secretary’s report for that year, a list of members and their pledges are recorded. The amounts range from 5 cents to 25 cents a week. This may seem laughable to the younger generation. But, at that time, anyone with a dime for offering, considered himself fortunate, and 25 cents was a munificent donation.
So, with the dedication, devotion and determination of the members, the little church ‘weathered’ the depression.
For many years, no appointed time had been set for church services. At one time they were held every other Sunday, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes in the evening. In 1947, following the suggestion of Pastor Adolph Kloth, services were held early in the morning. This effected an increase in attendance, and the morning hour has been the schedule ever since.
After the drouth years of the ‘30s, diminishing of membership, younger members marrying, and seeking their fortunes elsewhere, which is the way of the world and must be expected, brought the church to a very low ebb. Then we were joined by the good friends of Leshara, and later, other families that have come to make their homes in the community. They and their families have contributed so much, as pianists, Sunday School teachers, board members, carpenters, in any capacity needed.
Their small children increased the enrollment of the Sunday School. We are happy to say those small children are now the young people of the church and are still faithful in attendance and assistance. We are proud of you.
In the late 1950s, Evelyn Christensen Reid doubled the area of the churchyard and cemetery with a gift of land. Mrs. Reid is the granddaughter of Julius Christensen, donor of the original ground for church and cemetery.
Through donations and the efforts of church organizations in holding bazaars, suppers, food sales, and serving at farm sales - and the ever faithful and willing men of the church - with planning and soliciting, much hammering, sawing and painting - all in good fellowship and pride in their work - by all this we have been able to keep the building in good repair. Many improvements have been added. A new gas furnace, beautifully panelled basement with tiled floor and a completely furnished kitchen with running water. Mo more wrestling with 10 gallon milk cans with their clanging lids. In 1972, the church was entirely redecorated, and new carpeting was laid in 1974, this work being done, as usual, by the men of the church.
The congregation of the Pohocco Lutheran Church could not have survived without the help of our Lord and Savior and the blessings of devoted pastors through the years, beginning with Pastor Kirkgaard, under whose leadership the church was founded. The pastors who followed him were: A. W. Lund; C.C. Kloth; Riisdall; E.H. Anderson; F. D. Schuldt; M. Jensen; N.B. Hanson; James Adolph Kloth; John W. Leaf; Robert Carlson; Noel Vetter; Vice-Pastor Philip Ekblad; Robert L. Hoeft and present pastor, Keith McKay.
Now the Pohocco Lutheran Church has completed 85 years. And so we pray that for the next 85 years,
The Grace of Christ our Savior,
The Father’s boundless love,
With the Holy Spirit’s favor,
Rest upon it from above.
“Pohocco Lutheran Church Receives Birthday Gifts”
(Wahoo Newspaper - May 4, 1995)
Members of the Pohocco Lutheran Church are planning to give themselves a special present for the church’s 100th anniversary: a new church.
For the past two years, the congregation has been helping to construct a new building.
Even before the ground-breaking ceremony in November 1993, the church members have been active in the creation of this building every step of the way.
The growing congregation and the need for new facilities for Sunday school and other church gatherings led the members of the church to a vote to build a new building in March 1993. Several fund-raising efforts enabled the church to fulfill its wishes to create a new place of worship.
But, the history of the church will stand.
The design of the building was modelled after the original structure both of which are located along Highway 77 about seven miles south of Fremont.
The church’s altar, stained glass window, pews and other furniture items have been moved into the new church.
More parking, five Sunday school rooms, a kitchen and a larger sanctuary will also be a part of the new church.
A special centennial quilt was made by several of the women in the church. It was originally designed by Eloise Kammerer and will be an additional feature to the new church. The names of the members of the church were embroidered in the quilt which displays the dates 1895-1995 in honor of the centennial anniversary.
A flower was copied from a design on a window above the door of the old church. It was traced and appliqued onto the quilt and will preserve the memories of the window which will not be moved to the new facility.
The construction is almost completed and the congregation is ready to move in.
Final plans have not been announced pertaining to the fate of the old building. Church members expect that it will be moved to a new location.
This Sunday, the church will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Along with this event, the new church will be officially dedicated.
1995 - HISTORY FROM CENTENNIAL BOOKLET
Thoreau has said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Today as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Pohocco Lutheran Church, we will look back to the beginnings and attempt to discover the dreams, the struggles, and the successes of those hardy pioneers to whom we owe our church today.
In 1895 a number of Danish Lutherans settled on land south of Fremont. Because of the mode of transportation, and no bridge over the Platte River, to attend a Lutheran Church in Fremont was virtually impossible, and so a group of dedicated men and women met in respective homes for Lutheran worship services and Sunday School. One can imagine the women scurrying to clean their houses and prepare food for those who would attend the services. Under the leadership of Pastor Anders Kirkegaard, of the First Lutheran Church of Fremont, the Danish Evangelical Church was formally organized May 9, 1895. It should be mentioned that Pastors Anton Marius Anderson, J.J. Risdall, and A.S Nielsen worked with the Pohocco settlers, prior to the stronger leadership of Pastor Kirkegaard.
Pastors from the First Lutheran Church of Fremont continued to serve the Pohocco congregation until 1948.
After 4 or 5 years of meeting in the homes “the founding members felt strong enough spiritually and financially to begin planning for a building of a home of worship.” The initiative was taken by Mr. Christopher Larsen, Mr. Andrew Nelson, Mr. Julius Christensen and Mr. Rasmus Christensen. Julius Christensen donated the land for the church as well as a cemetery (which, although called the Pohocco cemetery, remains a separate entity.) The other members gave substantial cash donations to start the building fund. They “hitched their trusty horses to their buggies and canvassed the immediate territory” extending their requests into parts of Saunders County and Dodge County. A goodly sum was collected and building began. Mr. Martin Nelson was hired as the carpenter. Members of the congregation furnished his room and board. With the assistance of many willing hands, a building was completed, and in June of 1900, the church building was dedicated under the pastorate of the Reverend A.W. Lund. It was during this period that the services were changed from Danish to English, and the name was changed to Pohocco Lutheran Church. The younger people were happy to have the sermon in English, while some of the elder members resisted the change. However, the dissension soon faded and harmony prevailed.
Miss Anna Nelsen was the first bride of the new church, being united in marriage to Mr. A.W. Christensen. They were married by Pastor Lund. After their marriage they remained active in church and Sunday School work. Mr. Christensen was Sunday School Superintendent from 1900 until his death in 1944. Sunday School classes were conducted for all, from preschoolers to adults. The first Christmas service and children’s program was held in the new building in 1900.
With the untiring work of the ladies of the newly formed congregation, additions and improvements were added; an organ was purchased, a basement was completed, a chancel was added, electricity and plumbing were installed, thanks to the dedicated work of the Pohocco ladies and men. These improvements came neither easily nor quickly, but with God’s help, progress was achieved.
In 1948 the Pohocco congregation voted to discontinue the arrangement with First Lutheran and share a pastor with the Alma Lutheran Church of Mead. An alliance which continued until 1989.
In 1950, the 50th anniversary of the Pohocco Lutheran Church was celebrated. As is noted in later writings,members of the congregation, although few in number, kept the building in good repair. This was done through donations, church supporters, bazaars, quilting and faithful and willing labors of both the men and women of the congregation.
In 1959 the roof was reshingled. Later a gas furnace was installed, the basement was remodeled, and running water became a reality, thanks to the late Anna Christensen for her generous donation in her will. In 1972 the church was redecorated. In 1973 the roof was reshingled again. And in 1974 a new carpet was laid, adding to the beauty of the interior.
In the late 1950’s, Evelyn Christensen Reid doubled the area of the churchyard and cemetery with a gift of land. Mrs. Reid is the granddaughter of Julius Christensen, donor of the original land.
As in the earlier years many improvements, including the addition of restrooms in 1975, and the installation of an air conditioner, were accomplished through efforts and contributions of members and friends.
In 1989, following the death of Donn L. Nelson, husband of Janet Nelson and the brother of Alice Johnson, the family purchased the first stained glass window in Donn’s memory. This inspired other members to go on from there with memorial windows, until all windows now depict biblical themes in beautiful stained glass colors. These windows, and the beautiful picture of Christ placed in the chancel, many years previously, greatly enhances the beauty of the church.
With a growing congregation, the building in need of repairs, and a growing number of Sunday School pupils, the congregation voted on March 28, 1993, under the leadership of Pastor Edgar Danitschek, to build a new facility. Pledges were taken, and to date a goodly sum of donations has been collected from members, friends, and various businesses. Groundbreaking ceremony for the new church was held on November 7, 1993, and thanks to the labors of many of the members, the cornerstone was laid October 2, 1994. Today, May 7, 1995, we are dedicating the new church in conjunction with our centennial celebration.
As one looks back over the records of the last 100 years, it is evident there were trying times as well as good times. There was no bridge over the Platte River, so the horse and buggy were forced to go through the water. It is reported that on one occasion “the horse became frightened and so unruly that the two occupants were thrown out of the bugg”. Another time, an organ was donated for Sunday School use. After a most difficult time getting it into the basement, it was completely out of tune, and soon would become completely ruined by the dampness, so after a few years it was moved upstairs.
In 1924 it was voted to pay the organist $20 a year (raised to $25 in 1951) and the janitor $10 a year.
In 1933, a schedule was set up for members of the congregation to do the janitor work, a practice which continues today with one exception. In 1933 the men were the volunteers. When did the practice change to have the women do it? Also, up until this time, services were held twice a month. It was now decided to try to conduct services every Sunday. Since this would require more money for the pastor's salary, heat, etc., pledges were collected. The average amount pledged was 15 cents weekly.
It is with pride and thankfulness that today we are able to celebrate our 100th anniversary in the new Pohocco Lutheran Church. Our gratitude extends to the pioneers who, through faith, prayer and hard work were able to envision a church in the Pohocco community, to the fortitude of them and subsequent members who, although faced with hard times and trials, never gave up. Also thanks to all the pastors who served the congregation throughout these 100 years, from Pastor Kirkegaard to Pastor Danitschek. And most of all, we offer our greatest thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who has given strength to all.
Letter to Prospective Members from Pastor Edgar Danitschek - 1996
(Pastor at Pohocco starting in 1990)
Hello and Welcome,
From your friends at Pohocco Lutheran Church! We would like to extend an invitation to visit our Church.
Pohocco Lutheran Church was founded May 9, 1895, when it became formally organized by a number of Danish Lutherans. It was called the Danish Evangelical Church. After years of meeting in members' homes, a building was completed and in June of 1900, the building was dedicated. During this period the services were changed from Danish to English and the name was changed to Pohocco Lutheran Church.
We are a small church, which offers a comfortable place to gather with friends and neighbors to worship the Lord. After the service, everyone enjoys coffee and rolls. It is a time to visit with each other and get to know one another better. Then the children go to Sunday School and adults can go to Bible Study.
During the year we have a Mother-Daughter Party, Pork Roast, Church Picnic, Guest Night (where we invite interesting guests to come and speak), Soup Supper, Sunday School Christmas Program, Christmas Dinner Party and a beautiful Candlelight Christmas Eve Service.
With a growing congregation and our building in need of repairs, our congregation voted to build a new Church. It was finished and dedicated May 7, 1995, but not before a lot of hard work. Everyone came together to make it happen. The men helped roof, paint, put up siding, the women helped paint and stain woodwork and made food for the workers. Everyone helped in one way or another, which tells a lot about our Church.
If this sounds like your kind of Church or even if you’re just curious, come join us for a service or one of our events. Church Services are every Sunday at 9:00 am and Sunday School and Bible Study are at 10:20.
“Out with the Old, In with the Old”
by Dorothy Boettner (printed in Country Extra - November 2006)
Lovely Pohocco Lutheran Church is located so close to the farm where I used to live that I could hear the bell peal every Sunday morning.
Its roots go back to a Danish lad, Julius Christensen, who immigrated to America, worked his way west to Nebraska and laid claim to an 80-acre homestead in northern Saunders County in 1870. Other settlers came, not only from Denmark, but Ireland, Scotland, Germany and elsewhere, and Julius helped them all.
When they felt the need for a church and cemetery, he donated the land and some supplies, and in 1890, Pohocco Lutheran Church was built and dedicated.
Pawnee Indians shared this land with the pioneers, and the name of the new church came from the Pawnees’ Pohok Hill, their holy place located just a few miles away on the bluffs of the Platte River. The settlers respected this sacred site and helped preserve it.
In fact, there’s a small granite marker on my grandfather’s farm near the church that commemorated 100 years of peace between the Pawnees and the pioneers. But sadly, the tribe eventually moved north to reservations.
The little congregation grew and prospered until the Great Depression and the droughts in the 1930s took their toll. The winter of 1936 caught the members without enough money for coal to heat the church. They voted to close until spring, but the ladies of the congregation wouldn’t hear of it.
They swiftly cut large blocks from some donated white fabric and sold them for $1, with the opportunity to have names embroidered on them for 10 cents. The whole community responded, and names and dimes flowed in. The women worked feverishly to sew the pieces into a quilt. And when it was auctioned off, lo and behold, there was money for coal.
Pohocco’s membership declined quite dramatically in the late 1950s and ‘60s as young people moved away to find jobs. The congregation had about given up hope, but received new life when a large group from the neighboring village of Leshara joined them.
As the congregation approached its 100th year, members were faced with a troubling decision. They dearly loved their old church, but it was sorely in need of expansion and costly repair. However, the existing building sat too close to the highway to be enlarged.
The notion of demolishing the old church with its beautiful stained glass windows and altar was troubling, and there were weeks of indecision and sometimes bitter arguments.
Then Dick Gehrman, a member and drywaller by trade, proposed: “I would like to create for you a blueprint for a new building. It would be exactly like your beloved old one, but more than three times the size. The stained glass windows and altar could be saved.”
Members voted resoundingly for the proposal and sprang into action. Great were the fund-raisers, with contributions flowing in from the community and friends near and far.
On May 8, 1995, the new building was dedicated with thankfulness and great pride. All of the old furnishings found a home in the new church, including the painted window of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that graces the old altar.
Only the old church bell would not fit. So it hangs from an arch nearby.
Today the congregation has 163 members and fills the pews each service with generations of families. Last November, the church basement was filled to overflowing with more than 400 people attending the annual church supper. The entire profit from this effort was sent to two churches in Louisiana that lost almost everything in Hurricane Katrina.
And once again the Ladies Quilt Group rose to the occasion. They sent the profits from their quilt raffle to these churches as well.