In 1889, Killeen’s streets were dirt covered, and candles or lanterns lighted homes. People traveled by horse or carriage, and most of them worked the land planting cotton and corn.
But inside a small family homestead on the town’s outskirts, regular church gatherings started in the Daude home.
Like many parishioners of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Killeen, Phyllis Sawyer has marked key milestones at the church. Now, as it prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary April 6, she reflected on the church that has been life-forming.
“I was born, baptized and raised and married here,” Sawyer said. “This church is very important to me.”
The great-granddaughter of the church’s first pastor, H.F. Daude, Sawyer is creating the church’s official history book with photos and lists of baptism records, weddings and funerals.
Coinciding with the anniversary is
the church’s move to its new facility at 3801 S. Cunningham Road.
“The final pages of the book will be of the new church,” Sawyer said.
Linda Barts, chairwoman of the anniversary committee and secretary on the church council, said the new church is still in the finishing stages of construction and they are hopeful it will be ready in time for the anniversary.
Barts is excited about the celebration events April 6. “We’ll have a special service with Bishop Kanouse from Dallas presiding, and hopefully some of our previous vicars that served their internship here will be able to attend,” she said.
A catered barbecue meal will be followed by line dancing and music from a gospel group from Michigan. “We may add a few things more but we’ll have enough to make it a busy day,” Barts said.
Walter Daude, grandson of founding pastor H.F. Daude, still resides in the original family home on Old Farm-to-Market 440, close to the church’s cemetery. He welcomes the opportunity to get together with old and new church members to commemorate the historic event.
“I’ve seen a lot of the church’s celebrations but this one is special, and we should be proud of our church,” he said. “I think we need to celebrate all year long.”
Daude, 79, is optimistic about the upcoming move, since it is the fourth one for the church. “We’ve moved about every 50 years, and so it’s time,” he said.
Retired Army chaplain, history buff and church member Charlie Brinkmeyer takes a keen interest in the church’s legacy.
“I think the anniversary is phenomenal and I’m really looking forward to it, especially when you think about how it all started so many, many years ago,” Brinkmeyer said.
The church has had 18 pastors in its history, and the Rev. Ray Zischang has served for the last 20 years. “Our vision for the future is to follow the growing community as we take time to remember our past,” Zischang said. “The anniversary gives everyone a chance to share their memories, and a good farewell leads to a new, good beginning.”