Ebenezer Moravian Church
Watertown Moravian Church
Ebenezer Moravian Church
[south of city]
1987, Prior to Renovation
Family names as Strehlow, Klatte, Flath, Witte, Hans, Klausch, Botzel, Klar, Gerbsch and Eberle, had immigrated to the United States from the province of Brandenburg, Prussia, and settled in and near Watertown, in the spring of 1851.
Ebenezer Moravian Church, located four miles south of Watertown, marked its 150th anniversary in 2003.
Ebenezer Moravian Church was one of the first churches established in the Watertown area. In the spring of 1853, the Rev. John G. Kaltenbrunn, a former teacher and Moravian missionary from Silesia, Germany, left New York City for Jefferson County to minister to a small group of German immigrant families who had requested a pastor from the Moravian Church.
Only a month and a half after his arrival, on June 17, 1853, 13 families signed the charter that established Ebenezer as the first Moravian church in southern Wisconsin and one of the first Moravian churches in the state.
Lake Mills and DeForest
With contributions from the Home Mission Society of New York, the members built a one-room log cabin in the fall that served as parsonage, house of worship and schoolhouse. That same year Kaltenbrunn started a German day school, which continued to hold classes until 1925. From Ebenezer he traveled the surrounding area establishing preaching places that eventually became organized congregations in Watertown, Lake Mills and DeForest, and earned him the reputation as the "Father of the Moravian Church in Wisconsin." [File on Lake Mills Moravian]
Originally incorporated as "The Moravian Church in the Town of Watertown," the name was changed to Ebenezer after the congregation dedicated its first church-building on Oct. 5, 1856. The name derives from the Watchword for that day, I Samuel 7:12, "Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and called its name Ebenezer, for he said, 'Hitherto the Lord has helped us."' This verse was also chosen as the theme for the 150th anniversary. WDT, 06 11 2003
The Moravian Church is a Protestant denomination with more than 500 years history, preceding even the Reformation. From its inception, the Moravian Church has emphasized God's love for all people, fellowship and understanding. The Moravian Church of America is comprised of nearly 160 congregations and 50,000 members of all walks of life, in 17 U.S. States and two Canadian provinces.
Link to Ebenezer Moravian Cemetery file
Watertown Moravian Church
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First church building, 605 Cole St, erected in 1855. It also provided room for the parish school and the teacher resided in the rooms at the rear.
Church building erected in 1864. Dedicated August 14. This second building was replaced by the present church in 1904 and has since been enlarged upon and improver.
01 06 Dwelling of Rev. Mr. Kaltenbrunn, pastor of the Moravian Church, was destroyed by fire WD
03 20 PURE THOUGHTS . . .
Next Sunday evening the Moravian C. E. society will hold a special temperance meeting, to which all are invited. A programme suitable to the occasion has been arranged, and the topic is "Pure Thoughts, Pure Words, Pure Deeds."
05 22 UNION SERVICE AT REFORMED CHURCH
The German Reformed church, on Cole Street, which has undergone a remodeling, including a new steeple, was formally dedicated last Sunday with appropriate ceremonies. Three services were held, the first at 10 A.M conducted by Rev. C. H. Nott, of Milwaukee; the second at 2 P.M., were Rev. H. Rusterholz, of Montello, preached, and the third at 7:30 in the evening. The latter was a union service, in which the Congregational and Moravian churches joined. Rev. G. C. Weiss, of the former, delivered an English address, while Rev. A. Haupert, of the latter, preached in German. At all meetings the attendance was large and the dedication awakened considerable interest. The ceremonies were in charge of the pastor, Rev. E. Hinske. WR
08 08 Rev. ALBERT HAUPERT DEPARTURE
One of the most noteworthy events in the annals of the Y.P.S.C.E. of the Moravian Church took place last evening in the chapel of that church when a sumptuous feast in the form of a farewell banquet had been prepared in honor of the beloved pastor, Rev. Albert Haupert who will shortly leave for another field of service. The tables were arranged so as to form the letter "E" signifying “Endeavor.” Covers were laid for 60, all of whom with but a few exceptions were members of the society. On each place lay a handsome souvenir in the shape of a booklet, having a “C.E.” monogram inscribed on the cover and the name of the person assigned to that place inscribed below. Shortly after eight o'clock the young people, who had up to this time been indulging in games on the parsonage lawn, repaired to the chapel and took the places assigned them by the committee. A hymn was sung, which was followed by a moment of solemn silence, in which with bowed heads blessing was being inaudibly invoked by the assembled guests. The well prepared and wholesome food, of which here was in a great abundance, was then passed unsparingly. After the wants of the inner man were satisfied, Miss Bertha Marquardt as toastmistress, called upon Rev. Karl Mueller, as one who for some years had been a co-worker with Rev. Haupert, to make a speech appropriate to the occasion on behalf of the society. In responding, Rev. Haupert thanked the society for the token of appreciation shown him on this as well as on other occasions, and assured them that the gratitude and love shown him and his family would ever remain sacred in his memory. WG
06 14 The cornerstone of the new Moravian church was laid last Sunday afternoon by the pastor, Rev. E.C. Meinert with appropriate ceremonies. The stone is Wausau red granite and was presented to the church by J. J. Archie & Son’s. On the face of the stone is the following inscription:
EZ. BRUEDER JERNEINDE.
The local newspapers were placed in the stone, also a history of the church and the names of the church societies, a number of coins of U.S., and the old coins taken from the cornerstone of the old church which was built in 1864.
The congregation, however, was organized in 1854, and the doings of last Sunday took the nature of a golden jubilee, as well as that of laying the cornerstone of the new church.
11 17 The new Moravian church will be dedicated on Sunday, November 20. Bishop J. Mortimer Levering, president of the provincial elders conference of Bethlehem, Pa., will officiate, preaching the dedicatory service in German at 10 a. m. and English at 7:30 p. m. The afternoon service at 2 o'clock will be a jubilee service, the congregation having been 50 years old September 11. Offering for the new church will be taken up at every service. The public is cordially invited.
12 04 Rev. D. C. Meinert, of Nazareth, Pa., formerly pastor in Watertown, appointed assistant principal of Linden Hall seminary at Lititz. WG
04 21 In accordance with an old-time custom, the members of the Moravian Church will assemble at their house of worship Easter Sunday before the dawn of day and proceed to the Moravian cemetery, where a service will be conducted and the rising of the Easter sun greeted with joy and gladness, mingled with songs of praise for the rising of Christ.
10 01 New bell placed in the belfry of Moravian Church WG
05 02 The body of men attending the meeting held at the Turner hall Sunday afternoon was composed mostly of men from our leading Evangelical churches and was proof of the facts that the desire of the state workers to be of service to our young men is sincerely appreciated by many of the Christian men of our city. State Secretary F. E. Anderson made an earnest and powerful appeal for a stronger and cleaner Christian manhood for Watertown—a manhood that shall come forth victorious over temptations to sin; a manhood that has enough of love toward his brother men to reach down a helping hand to those who are still conquered by the servant to sin. The state Y. M. C. A. quartette rendered songs suitable to the occasion
At the union service at the Moravian church in the evening, the number attending was so large that the annex had to be thrown open to provide seats for all . . . Mr. Charles Puehler . . . spoke on the work throughout the stat e and of the splendid report it was receiving from various cities, because they recognize its value to young men and boys. WL
09 04 Charles Fischer attends provincial synod of Moravian church.
10 01 Mission Fest largely attended; large delegations WG
07 27 Moravian Church Interior Decorated
The Moravian Church during the past few weeks has been undergoing some changes in its interior which will greatly add to its beauty and attractiveness. The organ has been removed from its former position and placed directly in the rear of the pulpit, together with a platform for the choir, which change will make it better for the speaker and the congregation. The beautiful art window removed from the rear of the pulpit has been fitted in the former organ recess while another window of prism glass reflects its beauty. The interior walls have been repainted and decorated, the artists being J. B. Murphy and his assistants, the decorations being in keeping with the interior finish. Arrangements are under way to open the auditorium on next Sunday if possible and special speakers and musical talent has been secured for the occasion. WG
01 11 Nowack, William, Carl and little Ruth
The special missionary services at the Moravian Church last Sunday evening at which the Rev. William H. Nowack gave a report on the Ebenezer mission at Pi Yang Hsien, Honan Province, China, was attended by over two hundred interested members of the local churches. Little Ruth Nowack, aged 7 years, eldest daughter of Rev. Nowack, dressed in Chinese costume, sang “Jesus Loves Me,” in the Chinese tongue. Although the audience showed no signs of being weary after listening for a full hour, Rev. Nowack thought he had done the subject justice. Carl F. Nowack has been acting as home secretary for the mission, publishing the missionaries’ circular letters and forwarding gifts from friends. WG
10 08 MORAVIAN CHURCH ANNIVERSARY
Last Sunday a mission fest was held in connection with the 60th anniversary of the first Moravian church in Watertown. Large delegations of Moravians were present from surrounding towns. Rev. Albert Haupert of Green Bay, a former pastor, delivered the anniversary day address at the morning service, and also delivered an address in the evening. Rev. D. C. Helmich of Ebenezer was also present and took part in the ceremonies. WG
07 17 Moravian greetings sent to Congregational on Centennial
08 31 CENTENNIAL PLANS
The Moravian Church in Watertown, located at North Sixth and Cole streets, will observe its centennial in September. Plans for an extensive celebration have been made by the congregation. The church, as many another in the Western District of the Moravian Church in America, is the product of hardy pioneers who came to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. A number of those families, among which one finds such family names as Strehlow, Klatte, Flath, Witte, Hans, Klausch, Botzel, Klar, Gerbsch and Eberle, had immigrated to the United States from the province of Brandenburg, Prussia, and settled in and near Watertown, in the spring of 1851.
These people had all been members of the State Church in Germany. But they had been ministered to by Joachus Niedershoe and his wife, diaspora workers of the Moravian Church in Europe.
02 23 Rev. HARBERG NAMED PASTOR
The Rev. Thorlief Harberg, pastor of the Moravian Church in Northfield, Minn., has been named pastor of the Watertown Moravian Church and will take over his duties here in September. The Rev. Mr. Harberg will succeed the present pastor, the Rev. Dr. Victor L. Thomas, here since 1944. Dr. Thomas will move to Madison in September to assume his new duties as president of the Western District of the Moravian Church in America, to which he was elected last year. He succeeds Bishop I. R. Mewaldt of Madison in the office of the district presidency. The new minister of the Moravian Church is no stranger to Watertown. He is known among the Moravian community here and has been a visitor at various times in Watertown and has appeared as a guest preacher at the local church.
12 22 The Christmas story, as depicted in the display called “Putz,” is an annual event at the Watertown Moravian Church, Sixth and Cole Streets. The Bethlehem scene of that first Christmas is again visualized in this year’s display. At the appropriate time during the telling of the Christmas story, lights go on revealing the shepherds, the angel, the mother Mary, etc. By way of explanation, the pastor of the church, the Rev. Thorlief Harberg, said that the word “Putz” simply means a decoration, but American Moravians use it in a special way to mean a distinctive kind of Christmas decoration. WDT
03 04 PARSONAGE DEMOLITION
Demolition of the old parsonage of the Watertown Moravian Church is well under way in Cole Street. The building is being torn down to make way for the start of the new Christian educational center of the congregation which is to utilize the site. The church recently announced plans for the construction of the addition. The church acquired a new parsonage last year and the pastor, the Rev. Thorlief Harberg, has occupied it for some time. It is the former Martha Grabow residence at 501 North Sixth Street, directly across the street from the church. WDT
01 23 NEW CHRISTIAN EDUCATION BUILDING
The Watertown Moravian Church will dedicate its new Christian Education Building with special services on Sunday. The pastor, the Rev. Thorlief Harberg, will preach the morning sermon at the 10:30 o’clock worship service. His topic will be: “Our Church: Monument or Instrument.” A community open house at 4 p.m. will provide an opportunity for everyone to inspect all the facilities and enjoy the refreshments served by the Women’s Fellowship in Bohnsack Hall. WDT
01 08 BUILDING PROJECT
A $50,000 building project is to be undertaken by the Ebenezer Moravian Church. The annual church council of the congregation was held Sunday with the election of officers. Elected for 1966 were Dellmar Schwartz, elder (three year term); John Gehler, trustee (three year term); Clarence Lenz, trustee (one year term to fill the unexpired term of Ronald Winter); Douglas Rabbach, secretary; Carl Neathery, general treasurer; Donald Wesemann, financial secretary; Roy Neathery, bujilding fund treasurer; (all for one year terms); Edwin Ohm, cemetery committee, (three year term); John Schlesner, Christian education committee (two year term). WDT
03 11 SKETCH FOR CHRISTIAN EDUCATION BUILDING
Yesterday’s announcement that the construction of an addition to the Ebenezer Moravian Church providing for a Christian Education building had been approved was followed today by the release for publication of the above sketch prepared by the architects, Thern Associates, Inc., of Oshkosh. Overall dimensions of the addition will be 88 by 50 feet, with an extended carport to the west. It will provide 10 classroom areas including a pastor’s study, and folding partitions will enable the opening of four classrooms to provide a dining area to seat 130 people. The building will be one story high and will be of brick face. Negotiating of contracts has been authorized. WDT
06 04 CORNERSTONE FOR CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ADDITION
The laying of the cornerstone for the Christian education addition to the Ebenezer Moravian Church will form an important part of the congregation’s annual mission festival on Sunday, June 5. The cornerstone ceremony will be at the close of the afternoon service with the Rt. Rev. I. R. Mewaldt, Moravian bishop, Madison, officiating. Eugene Kelm, chairman of the building committee, and Edwin Schroeder, chairman of the board of trustees, will place the stone after the pastor, the Rev. Bernard E. Michel, has deposited the documents to be sealed by the stone in their container. WDT
09 28 CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ADDITION TO BE DEDICATED
The Christian education addition of the Ebenezer Moravian Church will be dedicated at services on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 10:30 a.m. The Rt. Rev. I. R. Mewaldt, Madison, will be present to officiate in the act of consecration of the new building. The Rev. Carl R. Nowack, former pastor, will share in the service along with the present pastor, the Rev. Bernard E. Michel. The new Christian education facility adds ten classrooms to the church plant. Four of the class areas open into a dining facility for 130 persons. One of them serves as a study for the pastor. WDT
10 09 CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ADDITION DEDICATED
The near $60,000 Christian education addition to the Ebenezer Moravian Church was dedicated and opened on Sunday. The Rt. Rev. I. R. Mewaldt, Madison, led the rite of dedication in consecrating the building for purposes of Sunday school training, youth instruction and congregational fellowship. Nearly 500 people from the communities of Watertown and Johnson Creek and from the Moravian congregations of southern Wisconsin visited the new building at the open house Sunday afternoon. WDT
10 15 FAREWELL FOR REV. HARBERG
An “Open House-Farewell” for the Rev. and Mrs. Thorlief Harberg is being planned by the members of the Watertown Moravian Church for Sunday evening, Oct. 23, from 7 to 9 o’clock. Neighbors and community friends of the Rev. and Mrs. Harberg, as well as members of the congregation, are invited to attend, according to Gerhard Axmann, who is the master of ceremonies for the occasion. The Rev. and Mrs. Thorlief Harberg will leave Watertown, Oct. 28, moving to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Rev. Mr. Harberg was recently called to the position of general secretary of the Moravian Denomination’s Board of Christian Education and Evangelism, Northern Province. WDT
10 26 MARQUARDT MEMORIAL MANOR
The Moravian Church seeks to provide skilled nursing care in its proposed 60-bed nursing home, Marquardt Memorial Manor, which will be built on a 40-acre plot of land in the northern edge of Watertown. The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare recognizes three types of nursing home care for the aging: skilled nursing care, personal care and residential care, it was pointed out. All three types of care will be provided in the Marquart Memorial Manor, according to Karl Fischer and Boyd Flater, co-presidents of the corporation. However, the prime need is for skilled nursing care. The proposed plans have been submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Health in order to meet requirements for skilled nursing care. WDT
04 22 Members and friends of the Watertown Moravian Church will celebrate the dedication of its new pipe organ and the rededication of its remodeled sanctuary on Sunday. There will be two celebration events. The old organ was purchased by the congregation in 1937 from a Milwaukee firm that rebuilt old theater organs. Because of badly needed repairs, the congregation voted to purchase the new instrument from the Schantz Organ Company of Orrville, Ohio, a firm that has been a leader in pipe organ construction for over 100 years. The instrument consists of two manuals and pedal divisions. The great and pedal organs are exposed in the center of the chancel wall and form a visual frame around the cross. There are 19 ranks plus a one-half rank extension for a total of 1,125 pipes.
12 22 Rev. Jack Hicks’ Christmas gift to Rev. Eric Schulze
05 30 Marquardt Manor has been in existence for about 15 years, and much effort has been placed on buildings and building improvements. This spring the home is concentrating on the exterior, including the planting of trees and the making of flower beds. A total of 80 trees have been planted. Much of the money for this project has been provided by the various Moravian Church Sunday school classes and other Moravian Church organizations (women’s fellowships, dartball teams, etc.) The Sunday school teachers and the children from the Watertown Moravian Church, 510 Cole St., visited Marquardt Manor to see the trees which their donations had provided. Four flower beds are also in the process of being planted by two of the volunteers, Mrs. Betty Cudnohowski and Mrs. Ruth McEntire.
10 28 The final service for Barry and Valerie Lehman, pastors of Watertown Moravian Church, is set for Sunday. The Lehmans moved to Watertown in 1984. Barry Lehman began his ministry on July 1. Valerie Lehman entered Nashotah House seminary in 1986 and graduated in June 1989. Following her ordination, she was called as co-pastor of the local congregation. Barry Lehman earned a doctor of ministry degree from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1993 and has been a part-time alcohol and drug abuse counselor with Family Resources Associates of Watertown and Lake Mills since 1995. They have recently accepted the call to become co-pastors of the Chaska, Minn., Moravian Church. They will begin their ministry there on Nov. 1. WDT
05 26 Dr. Frederick Lemke scholarship program, WACF WDT
12 20 A small brick home at 609 Cole St. was the original home of the Watertown Moravian Church, now located at 510 Cole St., about a block to the west of the original building.
The Moravian congregation in Watertown has its roots in the pioneers who came here from Germany in the mid-19th century.
Names like Strehlow, Klatte, Flath, Witte, Hans, Klausch, Botzel, Klar, Gerbsch and Eberle immigrated to the United States from Brandenburg, Prussia and settled near Watertown in the spring of 1851. They had been part of the state church in Germany but they learned about the Moravian Church from Brother Joachus Niedershoe and his wife who were church workers.
By May of 1953 Father John Gottlob Kaltenbrunn arrived in Watertown and the congregation was formed. The congregation was officially organized on June 17, 1853, and the congregation took on the name Ebenezer, just south of the city limits.
By September of 1854 a second congregation was formed, this one in the city. It was done with the blessings of the Ebenezer congregation. Original founders of this congregation were August Volkmann, George Marquardt, August Schiffler, Gustave Eberle, Henry Homan, Henry Bruns, Frederick Gerbsch, Louisa Volkmann, Marie Marquardt, Catharine Schiffler, Marie Eberle, Marie Homan, Henrietta Gerbsch and Louisa Gerbsch. In addition there were eight children for a total of 22 souls.
The first board of trustees were Henry Homan, George Marquart and Frederick Gerbsch. Brother Kaltenbrunn was voted to become pastor.
On Sept. 16, 1854, just months after Watertown was incorporated as a city, the trustees completed purchase of a building lot which was later known as 609 Cole St. It was 50 feet wide and 108 feet deep. The cost was $80 of which $40 was given by the Ebenezer congregation, $15 from members of the new congregation and $25 as a loan from the Ebenezer congregation. That was big money back in those days.
The following year, in 1855, the congregation began construction of its church and school building. The building was 18 by 36 feet. In it was the worship area and the school room for a "Universal Christian School." Subjects to be taught at the school included religion, reading, arithmetic, writing in German and English, orthography, geography, history, English speech, singing and "other advantageous knowledge." Tuition was set at a maximum of 25 cents per month.
The teacher was to be paid $100 a year and was to get living quarters and wood for fuel.
The building was ready for plastering by July 4, 1855. Lumber for the building was obtained from timber donated by the Ebenezer congregation from their cemetery. Bolz and Quintmeyer made a donation of 1,000 bricks. Individual congregation members donated labor and cash. One person was hired by the month to dig the cellar and otherwise assist with the building project. When it was all done, the new building cost $500. School went into session on Sept. 10, 1855.
With the opening of the school, the congregation learned it was carrying a debt of $105. To give you an idea of the size, at that same time, the pastor's compensation was $9.50 per quarter. But, by Christmas of 1856 the congregation was free of debt.
In 1863, the school was turned over to the "English and German Christian Academy of the City of Watertown" and by 1870 the school was closed.
The year the school was turned over to this society the congregation saw the need for a new church building. In November of that year the church council voted to move ahead with plans and on May 5, 1864, the cornerstone was put in place on the present building at Sixth and Cole streets.
After that time, the original building was sold and used as a private home until it was demolished in 2003. WDT
Abstracted from Watertown Daily Times, 09 14 2004
The Watertown Moravian Church congregation celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2004.
The Watertown Moravian Church was a product of pioneers who came to this country from Germany in the mid-19th century. These pioneers had experience with the Moravian Church in Germany prior to their travels to the wilderness of the Midwest and applied to the governing board of the Moravian Church in America, located in Bethlehem, Pa., to supply them with a minister for their spiritual needs.
In response to the request, the board in Pennsylvania sent the Rev. John Gottlob Kaltenbrunn who arrived in Watertown in early May 1853. Since most of the families lived in the country south of Watertown, the center of worship for the newly organized congregation was located there. The first Moravian congregation in this area was organized on June 17, 1853, and was named Ebenezer.
Soon thereafter a number of other families in the city of Watertown joined the group and the need for a separate and local organization became apparent. At a meeting held on Sept. 7, 1854, it was agreed to meet again on Sept. 11 for the purpose of organizing a new congregation. The newly formed, congregation was incorporated as of that date under the name "The Moravian Church in the City of Watertown." There were 22 people who were part of the first church with names such as Marquart, Volkmann, Schiffler, Eberle, Homan and Gerbsch.
The first property was a parcel of land which was 50 by 109 feet. The purchase price was $80. The building that was erected in 1855 was on the south side of Cole Street between North Sixth and North Eighth streets. It was decided to operate the school as a Christian Day School, then spoken of as a "Universal Christian School."
By 1863 the school was turned over to a Christian Society which was incorporated the following year as "The English and German Christian Academy of the city of Watertown." The school was officially closed in 1870.
In November of 1863 at the meeting of the congregation a decision was made to proceed with plans for a new edifice. Sufficient funds were received so that the work could be started the following spring and the cornerstone could be laid on May 5, 1864. Progress on the church building was so rapid that both roof and tower were added five weeks after groundbreaking and the interior completed early in August, 1864.
The entire cost of the new church was $2,512.62. There were 52 communicants and 60 children. Sunday School attendance ran between 80 and 90.
In 1903 plans for a new church began to take shape. It was the 50th anniversary of the congregation and the new building became known as the Jubilee Church. The bid from J. A. Denning of Janesville for $11,856 for the entire building ($10,738 for the church without the chapel) was accepted. The first church was tom down at a cost of $350 which included clean-up of the old lumber and bricks for reuse in the new building. The bell in the church tower was added in 1907. In 1928 a Milwaukee architect was hired to draw up plans for a thorough remodeling of the church sanctuary, entrances, chapel and second floor Sunday school rooms, and a new heating plant.
In 1934 the use of the German language was discontinued at the regular services of the church.
In 1936 a new pipe organ was purchased and installed by Wagnerian Organ Company of Milwaukee for $2,000. The Mamre Moravian Church bought the old organ for $50 and is still in use by that congregation.
In preparation for the 100th anniversary an extensive remodeling of the downstairs, the choir loft and Sunday School rooms of the church was done. At that time there 420 communicant members and 126 children. Under the leadership of Pastor Thor Harberg in the early 1960s the congregation voted to build a new Christian Education wing. It was dedicated on January 31, 1965, with the inclusion of the cornerstone from the first church built in 1864.
There have also been building improvements in celebration of the 150th anniversary.
08 25 Watertown Moravian Church recently made a donation to the city’s Truancy Abatement Program, which is a cooperative effort between the Watertown Unified School District and Watertown Police Department to curb truancy in the middle and grade schools WDT
06 15 160th anniversary
Ebenezer Moravian Church was one of the first protestant churches organized in the Watertown area. The Moravian Church, the oldest protestant denomination, was founded in 1457 by the followers of the Czech reformer, John Hus, who was tried for heresy at the Council of Constance and was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415. The Moravian Church or Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren) as its officially known, was founded 60 years before Martin Luther formulated his 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. The English name Moravian is derived from the Czech Province of Moravia, where followers of Hus lived before seeking refuge from persecution in 1722 on the estate of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf in Saxon, Germany.
In the spring of 1853, the Rev. John G. Kaltenbrunn, a former teacher and Moravian missionary from Silesia, Germany, arrived in Jefferson County, to minister to a group of German immigrant families, who had requested a pastor from the Moravian Church. Only a month and a half after his arrival, on June 17, 1853, 13 families signed a charter to establish the Ebenezer Moravian Church as the first Moravian Church of German immigrants in Wisconsin. The first Moravian church in Wisconsin was founded in 1849 in Milwaukee by Scandinavian settlers, who moved to Green Bay in 1850 and to Door County in 1853, where they established Ephraim. In the fall of 1853, members built a oneroom log cabin four miles south of Watertown which served as a parsonage, house of worship and a school. The German day school that Kaltenbrunn established continued to hold classes until 1925. A man of incredible vision and energy, Kaltenbrunn traveled the surrounding area by horse and wagon and established numerous preaching places, some of which eventually became organized congregations in Watertown, Lake Mills and DeForest.
As membership increased the members of Ebenezer decided to build a new brick church in 1856 with $500 that Kaltenbrunn had raised from congregations in the East. Originally incorporated as “The Moravian Church in the town of Watertown,” the name was changed to Ebenezer after the church building was dedicated on Oct. 5, 1856. The name derives from the Watchword for that day, 1 Samuel 7:12, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Jeshanah and called its name ‘Ebenezer’ for he said, ‘Hitherto the Lord has helped us.’” The current church edifice, built in 1890 of yellow Watertown brick after the congregation outgrew its first building, has undergone numerous structural changes and modernization over the years. In 1950-51, the church was enlarged to include a new chancel area and Sunday school rooms in the basement. In 1966, the Christian Education wing was added and in 1987, a major construction project added a new narthex that provides handicap access, renovated the area below the sanctuary and redecorated the interior of the church.
During its 160 years, 25 pastors have served Ebenezer; the current pastor is the Rev. Jane Gehler. From its beginning, Ebenezer has had an active Christian Education program for all ages and music has played a significant role in the life on the congregation. The church has always had a choir and a band, and its 108-year-old tracker-action pipe organ, built in Pekin, Ill., is one of just a few surviving intact Hinners organs and is still played for services today.
Members of the community are cordially invited to attend the 160th anniversary celebration of Ebenezer Moravian Church. All church facilities are handicap accessible.
Ebenezer Moravian Church is located at N8095 High Road, the corner of High Road and Ebenezer Drive, one-half mile west of state Highway 26. WDT
Establishment of Marquardt Manor by Watertown Moravian Church
History of Watertown, Wisconsin