Pastor Loeber Was Never Pastor of Trinity

EPSON MFP image

The building in the foreground in the above photo was not Trinity Lutheran Church.  It never was Trinity Lutheran Church.  And Rev. Gotthold Loeber was not the first pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church.  Folks here in Altenburg may be ready to string me up for such heresy, but there is a reason for these statements.  The congregation in Altenburg did not get named Trinity Lutheran Church until 1918.

When Rev. Gotthold Loeber began keeping the church’s books in 1839, he recorded that this congregation was called the Evangelisch Lutherischen Emigrantengemeinde, which translated would be Evangelical Lutheran Immigration Congregation.

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Cover Page of Trinity, Altenburg Church Records

By the way, this photo may also be the first indication that this town was to be called Altenburg.

At this point, I am going to speculate on why the church decided to have its name changed in 1918.  I may or not be correct.

The Revenue Act of 1917 was passed by the United States Congress.  That legislation was primarily designed to raise money to fight World War I.  However, that piece of legislation was the first law which enabled people in America to deduct gifts given to a church from their income taxes.  Here is what I think is a pertinent portion of that legislation:

“Contributions or gifts made within the taxable year to cor-
porations organized and operated exclusively for religious, charita-
ble, scientific, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of
cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which
inures to the benefit of any private stockholder or individual, or to
the special fund for vocational rehabilitation authorized by section
7 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, to an amount not in excess
of 15 per centum of the taxpayer’s net income as computed without
the benefit of this paragraph. Such contributions or gifts shall be
allowable as deductions only if verified under rules and regulations
prescribed by the Commissioner, with the approval of the Secretary.”
I am guessing that there were rules and regulations prescribed by the Commissioner which had to do with how churches had to be organized in order to properly allow their members to make tax-deductible contributions legally.
It was also a time period when German organizations had to be very careful in demonstrating their loyalty to the United States.  After all, we were at that time fighting a war with Germany.
Probably the first visible external evidence of the new name of the church in Altenburg is this plaque on the front of the church, which was not placed there until 1951.  A church sign was placed outside the church in 1960.
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A few other churches in Perry County also have histories concerning their church names.  Below is a portion of the first page of the church books of the congregation in Paitzdorf (later renamed Uniontown).
Cover Page Paitzdorf records
Church Records – Grace, Uniontown

This congregation became known as Grace Lutheran Church in 1929.

Here is a portion of the first page in the church records of the congregation in Frohna.  Rev. Keyl did not even mention that the church was Lutheran when he began these records.

Cover Page Frohna records
Church Records – Concordia, Frohna

The congregation in Frohna is said to be the last of the local ones to become named, taking on the name of Concordia Lutheran Church sometime around 1930.

Lest I offend someone in the Loeber family, let me state that Rev. Gotthold Loeber does have the honorable distinction of being the first pastor of the Lutheran congregation in Altenburg in 1839.  He just was never pastor of a church called Trinity.


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