Christ's Lutheran Church in 1978

In February a special "Mortgage Burning" service was held to celebrate the complete debt liquidation after the last payment was made on the Fellowship Hall mortgage. The following is an excerpt from the February issue of The Scroll(1):

Unless otherwise indicated in a footnote, excerpts from church records or from The Scroll are cited in Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], Chapter 9. (Close)
Pastor's Corner:… In spite of the cold and grayness we have cause for celebration at Christ's Church. We are debt-free! We can touch the torch to our mortgage and brighten all the corners of our church with gratitude and optimism for the future.… Pastor Kortrey

The following is from the Church Council Minutes of February 14:

The pastor outlined the gay rights ordinance currently under consideration by the [Woodstock] Town Board. The pastor sent a letter, under his own name, to the Board outlining the Church's position--that while he is strongly against homosexuality, he is in support of anti-discrimination.
Dear Mrs. Cadden and Members of the Town Board

Some months ago, after careful consideration, I signed a petition calling for a town ordinance to protect homosexuals against discrimination.… As a Christian and as a Lutheran pastor I believe that homosexuality is a departure from the heterosexual structure of God's creation. It is a life style, furthermore, which I cannot personally condone or encourage. However in the stated view of the Lutheran Church in America with which I wholeheartedly concur, "persons who engage in homosexual behavior are sinners only as are all other persons--alienated from God and neighbor."

But the homosexual is often the special and undeserving victim of prejudice and discrimination. I have known this to be a fact, clearly documented in the experiences of homosexual men and women with whom I have counseled in thirty years of Christian ministry. Furthermore, in my view, such prejudice and discrimination is present in the Woodstock community in spite of our claims of openness and tolerance.

I believe it is the responsibility of Christians to show understanding and to seek justice for all those in our society whose different style of life renders them vulnerable and suspect. I believe it is in the spirit of the Christ in whom I believe, to be a reconciler in my community, and a healer.

Therefore, I respectfully urge you… to enact an ordinance as petitioned in the homosexual rights petition.

Respectfully yours, Walter Kortrey

Attached to the minutes were also letters from the ministers of the Overlook United Methodist Church and the Woodstock Dutch Reformed Church. Both of them disapproved of homosexuality. The Methodist pastor, Douglas Osgood, supported civil rights for homosexuals, whereas the Reformed pastor, Harry Tysen, felt that the Board should not consider an ordinance that would "sanction or protect immoral behavior."

The following is an excerpt from Pastor Kortrey's Report to the Council on May 9:

… [Are] we really the community conscious, community serving, strong and energetic congregation that others see us to be?… I don't think so. I see apathy and a falling away and a ground-swell of inertia in most area's of the church's life.… A revival of interest, participation and enthusiasm for the work of the whole church is much needed here.… Will you take a long, careful and critical look at our life and work with me and in honesty and love, face the facts and then, with new energy and determination, plan for the future and work at it?
[ Pastor Walter Kortrey ] The Council Meeting Minutes for that date included a letter from Pastor Kortrey, pictured here, to the congregation, postdated June 6:
Dear Friends in Christ:

I am in a conflict of emotions as I write to tell you that I have accepted a call from the Lutheran Church in America, Office of Communications, to serve on the Editorial Staff of the Lutheran magazine, and therefore I hereby submit my resignation as Pastor of Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, effective July 31, 1978.

A genuine feeling of regret comes over me when I contemplate leaving this good ministry and so many dear… friends. Six years ago I was a stranger and you took me in and together we have seen good things happen for the Lord's sake in this congregation and community.

In all honesty… I must share my excitement and eagerness for the creative work of a writing ministry with The Lutheran.…

I know the Holy Spirit will guide and direct Christ's Church congregation as with the assistance of the President of the Metropolitan New York Synod, you begin your quest for a new pastor and shepherd.

In the Name of Jesus, Walter A. Kortrey

Paul Swank came out of retirement to conduct services as an interim pastor.

The Seedling Play Group continued their licensed all-day child-care program in the parsonage (otherwise vacant, because Pastor and Mrs. Kortrey had their own home). The following is from the Council Minutes of August 10:

Seedling Day Care (housed in the parsonage) requested permission to install flooring in the kitchen and dining room.

Pastor Swank expressed that he was glad to be with us and filled us in on the duties of Vice Pastor.

The 3-year-old Friendly Visitation Group, led by Erwin and Elsa Holumzer, continued their regular ministry of visits to two area homes for senior citizens located in Lake Hill. As Erwin Holumzer, 58, wrote:

The programs consisted of hymn singing, prayer and story telling in the form of past and present experiences of both visitors and residents. We have given gifts to each resident such as a pocket aluminum cross with a poem, a midget Bible, sea shells. cakes and cookies. Christmas cookies were baked and packaged into individual packages for each resident by the women of the church and a Christmas card, made by the Church School under the leadership of Peggy Johnson, accompanied each package.… We give thanks to God, through Jesus the Christ, for this enriching experience of visitations and the reception of love shown to us by the residents of both homes.(2) Quoted in ibid., p. 136. (Close)

There was a large and active Sunday School and a children's choir.

The following is from the Council Minutes for October 17:

Treasurer's Report--September balance $9,916 ($30,740 in 2006 dollars).

Eleanor Anderson will take care of clean-up schedule. Merritt Rose weatherstripped doors and outside lights were repaired.

Dr. Graefe called Dave Villard [council president] and asked if we wanted to interview Pastor Glen Stone.

During this year, our congregation considered purchasing the green 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship hymnbooks. As historian Mark Anderson has pointed out, the music in the Lutheran hymnals had been steadily revised since the 1888 common service book (the Book of Worship, the 1898 edition of which our congregation had acquired more than seven decades earlier), eliminating most of the old Protestant and "gospel" favorites of other sects in favor of old-fashioned Lutheran hymns of Reformation days. The 1958 Service Book and Hymnal, which our congregation had purchased in 1963, had apparently been the apogee of this trend; the book had included many of the harmonizations of J. S. Bach as well as some beautiful plain-song melodies. With this new Lutheran Book of Worship, there was something of a reversal. Almost all of the Bach works were eliminated, and there were more works from early nondenominational American hymnals, folk-influenced songs, and "modern" harmonizations of many of the old favorites. The publication was also part of the new movement to use "inclusive" language, in hopes of eliminating confusion regarding gender.

Anderson illustrated the fascinating history of this newest hymnal's publication(3):

Quoted in ibid., pp. 158-60, citing Schalk, Carl, God's Song in a New Land: Lutheran Hymnals in America [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1995], p. 177. (Close)
The work was begun by the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (LC-MS), a synod that has historically been antagonistic toward the synods that Christ's Church has been affiliated with. The LC-MS invited the other Lutheran synods to participate in the preparation of this book. It was a time in American Lutheran church history when it seemed as though a unification of all the disparate Lutheran churches in the United States might be within reach, and work on a major new book of worship was seen as a possible major step in that direction. Ironically, once the work was finished, the ardor of the Missourians for fellowship had once again cooled, and they withdrew their support for the book.… [This book] contains 520 hymns, canticles, and chants, three settings of the communion liturgy, and an emphasis on baptism and congregational singing of the psalms. The hymnody
included a significant number of hymns from that normative core of Reformation hymnody, and… for the first time in American Lutheranism… provided an official place for the Hymn of the Day in the Eucharistic liturgy.
As with all the previous hymnals, the editors and promoters would have us believe that we are becoming more authentically Lutheran, in the pattern of the Reformation and of that great patriarch of American Lutheranism, Henry Muhlenberg:
The services of The Lutheran Book of Worship embody the tradition of worship which received its characteristic shape during the early centuries… and was reaffirmed during the Reformation era. As such, they are an emblem of the continuity with the whole Church and of particular unity with Lutherans throughout the world. At the same time, the services are adaptable to various circumstances and situations. Freedom and flexibility in worship is a Lutheran inheritance, and there is room for ample variety in ceremony, music, and liturgical form.

Having considered their resources and their customs, congregations will find their own balance between fully using the ritual and music possibilities of the liturgy, and a more modest practice. A full service should not allow secondary ceremonies to eclipse central elements of the liturgy, nor should a simple service omit essential or important parts. Every service, whether elaborate or spare, sung or said, should be within the framework of the common rite of the Church, so that the integrity of the rite is always respected and maintained.(4)

Ibid., citing the Lutheran Book of Worship, p. 8. (Close)

Here is some more from the Council Minutes for October 17:

Worship and Music committee members who attended the Poughkeepsie workshop on the new Lutheran Book of Worship met at Magda Moseman's house. Magda suggested we have a congregational meeting on December 3rd to decide whether or not to order the new hymnals before the end of the year at the saving price.

And this is from that December 3 meeting (after the 11 a.m. worship service, a "Special Congregational Meeting to Consider the Lutheran Book of Worship":

Meeting opened by Dave Villard [council president]. A quorum present.

Magda Moseman, Chairman of the Music and Worship Committee discussed the multi-synod development of the book, the introduction of materials from the book to the pastor, music, and lay leaders in the fall at St. John's in Poughkeepsie. She noted that 150 copies plus special organist, pastor, and altar editions could be acquired at an introductory price of $1,153.00 ($3,574 in 2006 dollars) plus freight.

Barbara Pickhardt, organist, pointed out that some hymns have been deleted, some added and that the music is in a lower key making it easier for most people to sing. [She did not mention that our organ, in its high tuning, rather than the hymnal, was probably the culprit and that the new accompaniments would thereby offset the difficulties.]

Doris Blatter, music director, noted that there are three liturgical settings and each has options. There is greater opportunity for congregational participation.

The Worship and Music Committee recommended that the books be purchased [following in the steps of other progressive Lutheran congregations].

Unanimously approved by the congregation.
Alice Weider
Magda Moseman

Then, in the December 12 Council Minutes, we see:
Magda requested approval to purchase special editions of the new hymnal--Minister's edition, Altar Book, Accompaniment edition, Liturgy and Organist's edition, hymns. Passed.

[ Historic pipe organ ] Meanwhile, the congregation was adjusting itself to the pipe organ it had obtained 7 years before (click the picture to enlarge it), originally built in 1885 by Hook & Hastings for the Baptist Church of Hopkinton, NH. According to historian Anderson(5):

Ibid., p. 156. (Close)
The Hook and Hastings organ is almost perfectly matched to the acoustic and architectural space of the church building. It is a small, single manual (keyboard), and pedalboard instrument, with a tracker action (direct mechanical linkage), and with a limited number of stops. It was built in Boston in 1885, just ten years prior to the dedication of Christ's Church.
Our Hook and Hastings organ has been placed on the register of historic American pipe organs. Unfortunately, however, there was a problem:
Over the years and even in the beginning, we were a little disappointed in that we felt the organ was capable of producing better results than we were getting. We had great difficulty in finding competent tuners.(6) Quoted in The Scroll, November 1979. (Close)
According to Anderson:
What was not known when the organ was purchased… was that the instrument is pitched nearly a half tone higher than standard tuning. It is not possible to add lengths to pipes and so it will always remain at that high pitch. This can be a challenge for tenors trying to sing high parts! It was also quickly learned that wind instruments (clarinets, trumpet, oboes, etc.) could not tune high enough to play with the organ.(7) Quoted in Anderson, For All the Saints, op. cit., p. 156. (Close)
It would still be more than another year before the organ would be brought up to its full potential.

Here is some more from the December 12 Council Minutes:

Michel Berg, Chairman of the Family of Woodstock Board of Directors, and Emily Sach, Director of the Seedling Day Care Center presented an informative talk on what Family is all about.

Kingston Glass has corrected the problem with the storm windows in church.

There will be three services on Christmas Eve. Mark Anderson has asked if we could have a service on Christmas Day. All approved.

On December 10th, Peter Koehn; Harold and Jane Rineer and their children, Jeanne, Scott and Curtis were received in membership.

The Woodstock Region in 1978

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The United States in 1978

[ Jimmy Carter ]

Jimmy Carter (Democrat) was President. The 95th Congress was in session. (The midterm elections that year would elect the 96th Congress.) A dollar in that year would be worth $3.10 in 2006 for most consumable products.

This is a placeholder for information on the United States during this year. The information will come soon. The footnote at the end of this sentence is also a placeholder; please don't click it.(3)

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The World at Large in 1978

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