Our mission of interpreting, promoting, providing educational opportunities, documenting, and preserving the history of the 1839 German-Lutheran immigration to Perry County, MO is a mammoth task that brings us challenges and joy each day. We are committed to keeping our doors open 360 days a year while spreading the news of this early Mississippi River American story. It is a story of faith, perseverance, stability, suffering, and pioneering. Part of putting our mission into action is our multi-year project to assist regional congregations in providing digital copies of their church records. As many of you know, I’m from a little town in southeast Kansas (on the Oklahoma border) called Baxter Springs. Baxter is about 19 miles from Joplin, Missouri. In 2014, my little hometown had a significant tornado. Pictured is my “FEMA” badge that was required for me to get into town to check on my Daddy, friends, and other family immediately following the storm. It was bizarre to have to “sign up” to drive into a place that is a part of my existence. For all of my hometown folks, the Baxter tornado brought back memories of the 2011 killer Joplin tornado–many of us lost friends and family in that storm. Our memories were fresh as to what devastation can happen in a matter of minutes. So, how does this fit in east Perry County, MO? After the Joplin tornado, our Zion Roots research library founder, Ken Craft helped us to promote an effort of documentation, so that we would not experience a loss of “everything” like many congregations and families suffered in the tornados west of here, and of course to have the records available in our research library for patron use. I am so proud of our Lutheran Heritage Center research team for what they have accomplished since 2011. We have digitally preserved numerous congregational records. Today our team picked up the Trinity Friedheim, Missouri church records to be digitally recorded by our team. When completed, the records will be available for researchers, but just as vital, the “living” church books will be returned to the home site, and they will have digital and paper copies of the records to store off-site in a safe location.
Trinity Lutheran Church, Friedheim, MO
Another step in our preservation and documentation journey is to collect church histories and anniversary booklets from international LCMS congregations, as well as other congregations in this region. I arrived today with a postal delivery from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Potter, Nebraska. Pastor Ted Bourret responded to our request for their 85th Anniversary booklet (2003) with a wonderful letter. He noted that they will celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2018. We look forward to receiving their centennial celebration book! I will always have a special place in my heart for Nebraska. Doc received his final degree at UN-L and we lived in Lincoln for 13 years. Our children came home to us while we lived in Nebraska. What a wonderful city, in a great state. You can still hear Doc shout, “Go Big Red!!” and we have been in Cape Girardeau, Missouri for nearly 20 years.
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Potter, Nebraska
This week has started out with stepping forward in our mission in a brisk fashion. As I write this, the guys in the research library are helping a patron with an internet request, and are working on an index of ship rosters and passengers. We just had a nice little rain shower, and all is well with my soul. Take Care, Carla L. Jordan