This body of Lutherans-as indeed the whole Missouri Synod, of which it is a part-takes a firm stand on the basis of the Church of the Reformation; accepting the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, as being throughout the inspired Word of God, and the only rule and standard of doctrine and life. It accepts, as a true and correct exhibition of the doctrines of Scripture, the entire confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as contained in the Book of Concord of 1580. Its central doctrine is: full atonement by Christ, and justification by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus. Holding. that two can not walk together except they be agreed, it rejects altar fellowship, and practices close communion. Holding that no one can serve two masters, it will not receive into voting membership any person belonging to an oath-bound secret society. Holding that the command to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, is still binding it has always aimed to establish and maintain .parochial schools. The affairs of the congregation are man-aged by the members, every male member of the age of twenty-one years, having signed the constitution, is entitled to a vote. Regular sessions are held the first Sunday of each month at 2:30 P. M. One-third of the members constitute a quorum. Majority rules. Absentees waive the privilege of voting.
In the beginning of 1856 a small number of Lutherans, foremost among them Mr. M. Kurz, applied to the Missouri Synod for a faithful Lutheran pastor to attend to their spiritual wants. By request of Synod, Reverend C. A. T. Selle, of Crete, Illinois, investigated matters, and preached the first Lutheran sermon in this section of the country. This was April, 1856. On June 19, the congregation organized with a membership of seven. Reverend F. Ahner being duly called was ordained and installed August 31, by Reverend W. Mueller, of Chicago. Having, as yet, no house of worship, services were held in the old Second Presbyterian Church until the Summer of 1857, when a building site was purchased on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Thirteenth Street. A frame building on the ground was remodeled for parsonage and school.
The First Church
During the following Winter and Spring a neat brick church was erected by Mr. George Riess, contractor. It was dedicated on the third Sunday after Easter. Though the membership had by this time increased to seventeen, yet it was quite a venture, as The Third Church By the grace of God the congregation experienced a steady growth, and again it became necessary to provide more room. A building committee, consisting of the board of trustees and the Messrs. C. Haensgen, W. Schroether, J. Kirsch, J. Bruchmann, W. Kurth, C. Schillinger, H. Lange, H. Brunswig, C. Schoede, with Teacher E. Selle as secretary, was appointed in November, 1895. Plans were furnished by Messrs. Drack and Kerns. The contract was let to Mr. Nic. Juhl. The following year, the old church was torn down and the new one erected. This magnificent building is a Gothic structure, sixty-two by one hundred and two, surmounted by two spires one hundred and eight and one hundred and sixty-two feet respectively; seating capacity, 1,000; cost, $25,000. The interior is tastefully decorated with freizes and paintings by Artist H. Voege. It was dedicated December 20, 1896, by Reverend C. A. Mennicke, assisted by the Reverend E. D. Mennicke, Reverend A. Brauer, Reverend Professor F. Streckfuss, Reverend Professor L. Wessel.
The first pastor, Reverend F. Abner, serve from August, 1856, until August, 1857. when he accepted a call to Grafton, Wisconsin. His successor, Reverend C. A. T. Selle, was installed in July, 1858. During his pastorate the congregation formally connected with the Missouri Synod. In 1861 he accepted a call as professor of the Teachers Seminary at Fort Wayne, Indiana, later on at Addison, Illinois. He was succeeded by the present pastor, Reverend C. A. Mennicke. This eminent divine, a graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, arrived at Rock Island, May 14, 1861. He preached his first sermon on Whit Sunday and was ordained the ninth Sunday after Trinity. He is still serving faithfully, sharing the joys and sorrows of his flock. In 1880, his health being greatly impaired, he was granted a vacation for a trip to Germany. During his absence Reverend August Haensgen gratuitously served as pastor pro tem. Upon his return he entered upon his duties with renewed vigor. In 1886 his son, Reverend A. C. Mennicke, was in-stalled as assistant pastor, serving in this capacity until April, 1892, when he accepted a call to Edford, Henry County, Illinois. In 1893 Professor Reverend Selle, having resigned his professorship, located at Rock Island and served as assistant pastor until March, 1898, when he resigned. Shortly afterward, while on’ a visit to Chicago, he departed this life; his remains were brought to Rock Island and interred in the Lutheran Cemetery. Since July 31, 1898, Reverend E. D. Mennicke, second son of Reverend C. A. Mennicke is ably filling the office of assistant pastor.
The parish school is as old as the congregation. It was taught by the pastors until the Summer of 1862, when Mr. F. Moeller was installed as teacher. He held this position for forty years, resigning in 1902. He was succeeded by Mr. I. Kaspar. In 1856 a second teacher was added in the person of Mr. H. Brakesuehler; he was followed successively by the Messrs. Trenhold, Kleinsteuber and Doescher. The latter resigned in 1873. In 1866 a third teacher, Mr. A. Schoeverling, was called. In 1869 he was succeeded by Mr. E. Selle, a gifted educator, who is still in active service. The schools were carried on separately, one on Twentieth Street and one on Thirteenth Street, until 1876, when the Twentieth Street school w as moved to Thirteenth Street. In 1885 the Thirteenth Street property was sold, and the schools were transferred back to Twentieth Street., where a commodious school had been built. In 1900 it was found necessary to branch out. Teacher F. Moeller began teaching on the bluff. Teacher E. Selle retained in charge of the Twentieth Street school and Reverend E. D. Mennicke gathered and taught a class in the lower part of the city. Being successful a school house was built on Eighth Street (1901) and placed in charge of Mr. F. Lustfeld; he was succeeded by Mr. E. Rolf in the Summer of 1906. In 1903 a new school was erected on Thirty-sixth Street, and placed in charge of Mr. I. Kaspar.
The following anniversaries were celebrated:
Twenty-fifth anniversary of the congregation, July 19 and 20, 1881. Twenty-fifth anniversary of the pastor, Reverend C. A. Mennicke, July 18, 1886. Twenty-fifth anniversary of Teacher F. Moeller, August 26, 1887. Twenty-fifth anniversary of Teacher E. Selle, July 19, 1891. Fortieth anniversary of the pastor, Reverend C. A. Mennicke, July 23, 1891. Fortieth anniversary of Teacher F. Moeller, September 26, 1902. Fortieth anniversary of Teacher E. L. Selle, June 25, 1906. Fiftieth anniversary of the congregation, June 24, 1906.
December 5, 1869, a number of members organized as the German Lutheran Cemetery Association, and purchased a twelve-acre tract on Twenty-fourth Street, South Rock Island. Two acres were resold. Four of the remaining ten acres were immediately plotted out for sale. Subsequently the whole tract was donated to the congregation. Mr. W. F. Schroeder, treasurer; Mr. H. Schoeve, sexton.
Associations Within The Congregation
(1) Mutual Aid Society in case of death. (2) Mutual Aid Society in case of sickness. (3) Ladies Society. (4) Mission Society. (5) Young Men’s Association. (6) Young Ladies’ Association. (7) Mixed Choir.
The Church Council, comprising all the officials, is a board of supervisory character; it consists of: Pastors-C. A. and E. D. Mennicke. Teachers–E. L. Selle, Imanuel Kaspar, E. F. Rolf. Elders-Charles Haensgen, W. F. Schroeder, H. Lange, J. Roehr, W. A. Schroether. Trustees-N. Juhl, H. Clemann, C. Schoede, N. Hoffmann, W. Schumann. Schoolboard–H. W. Horst, chairman; C. Borst, A. Seidlitz, Reverends C. A. and E. D. Meunicke, E. L. Selle, Imanuel Kaspar, secretary; E. F. Rolf. Janitor– J. Rohwedder. W. F. Schroeder, chairman of congregation. E. L. Selle, secretary of congregation. C. Haensgen, treasurer of congregation. H. Lange, assistant treasurer congregation.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908