Centennial Moments

Researched & Written by David Goeke


At the very first meeting of the Texas District in 1906, among the topics of discussion was the matter of the district’s ministry to the black community. Well intentioned though it may have been, no significant inroads were made among blacks until about 1930. Strange as it may seem, this first black mission was in Vernon, Texas. The July, 1931, issue of the Texas Messenger (the newsletter of the district), shows a photo of a group of black Lutherans (some 25 in number) with the following article:

"The above cut brings a picture of what we believe to be the first negro mission in Texas. This mission was begun about the first of the year by Rev. H.J.Peimann, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church at Vernon, Texas. Services are held every Sunday afternoon at a cottonpicker’s shack owned by Mr. Karl Haseloff, one of the members of Zion Lutheran Church. Besides the regular sermon, a lesson in Drewes Catechism is studied at each meeting. These negroes not only listen attentively and sing well, but have insisted from the beginning, that they raise an offering at each meeting to pay the preacher. The young children have been taught every Saturday afternoon by Prof. Lehenbauer, the regular teacher of Zion Lutheran Church. During the summer vacation Prof. Lehenbauer has been conducting school with eight of these children every morning. Let us pray the Lord that the seed here sown in school and church service may bring forth much fruit unto eternal life."

Today there are precious few black congregations in the Texas District. . . .and precious few blacks who are members of largely white congregations. We thank God for the black pastors that we have in the Texas District. . .and we pray God that soon and very soon we will no longer look at race, color or ethnicity in the body of Christ, but rather that we will see each other through the "color blind" eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ.