Harmonie Church between Wright City and Innsbrook in Missouri had a service and reception in honor of its 180th anniversary.
Harmonie Church, situated on Stracks Church Road between Wright City and Innsbrook, celebrated its 180th anniversary with a service and reception on Nov. 19.
About 60 people attended, the Rev. Doug Kraus said.
“It just all went really well,” he said.
Kraus has served the church for 5 years and is the only living person to have been pastor at Harmonie.
During its anniversary service, the church celebrated with the blowing of a shofar by Grant Allsberry, a ritual that dates back to biblical times. There was also music by trumpeters Greg and Grant Allsberry, guitar player Mike Twente and organist Pat Golden, and a historical presentation by Gene Cornell.
Kraus also led a prayer of Thanksgiving during the service.
The Warren County church can date its history back to Missouri’s frontier days when the Rev. Herman Garlichs traveled 13 miles along the Charrette River to visit people and shepherd the flock.
Garlichs came from Germany as an immigrant.
“Things were not good in Germany,” Cornell said during his presentation. “They were oppressed by their government, they were oppressed by their church, … it was not responsive to their needs.”
Garlichs though, Cornell said, quickly learned he wasn’t cut out to be a farmer. He was encouraged to become a minister, so he went back to Europe to gain that knowledge and came back to Missouri to minister.
The earliest baptism in the church’s storied history happened Sept. 3, 1843.
But the church is probably better known for the Rev. Karl Strack, for whom the church was once named and for whom the road that passes directly by it is named.
Eventually, it became known as Harmonie.
“This church is different,” Cornell said. “Its name is Harmonie. That says a lot about the people. They wanted to be harmonious. These people wanted this to happen. They wanted to be together. … They knew that together they could make the place a better world.”
The church would flourish until the 1930s, when the last regular services occurred. No one associated with the church knows why, but there were no regular weekly services at the site from 1932 until 1990.
Work to restore the church began in 1990, but then disaster struck – a fire burned the church to the ground. It was so hot, it even melted the bell.
But that may be what saved the church, Kraus said.
“From those ashes, I really think people were inspired to come back and build it back,” he said.
Crews were able to locate the plans for the original frame church and rebuilt the building. The bell was remolded, and still to this day rings from the church steeple.
“I think there’s always been built into our DNA that we’re wanting our tribe to survive,” Kraus said. “We’re so divided now in our country and in our world that I think the only one who wins when we’re divided is the devil. And if we can work together better, there can be a lot of work on climate change, on feeding everybody, on getting proper housing. It’s going to take all of us to work together to get those problems solved.”
Now, Kraus said, the church wants to help solve those problems by bringing the community together.
“It takes more than just one hour of worship,” he said. “It takes doing things together.”
He also thinks that the Rev. Strack would approve of Harmonie’s current mission.
“I think that he would be happy that we are worshiping, happy that it’s a regular occurrence, and we don’t just try to focus on one hour on Sunday but we try to encourage people to live as Christians throughout the week,” Kraus said. “I’m hoping that he would smile. I hope that he would bless us.”
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at email@example.com