Atonement Lutheran Church 
 "We are called by God to serve and witness to all in response to God's grace."

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A personal history by Carolyn Kalk
(As written for the 95th anniversary celebration of the congregation, in 2000.)

How do you compress 95 years of church history into a printed page or two when that church has been the focal point of your life for 66+ years? (Plus the first five I do not remember.)

Because I heard the story so many times I can just see my grandparents, Lena and George Luety sitting around the table of Ruth Thompson's parents talking about the need for a Lutheran Church in Beloit that would use the English language for worship. The four Lutheran congregations, all on the west side of town, were not interested in teaching "the faith of the fathers in the language of the children." Soon April 9, 1905, Atonement Lutheran Church was chartered with 32 members.

We could use a lot of dates, tell about physical changes in our house of worship, recite some interesting dollar amounts and it would tell the basic story of how Atonement developed through ups and downs of its early years. But the Church of Jesus Christ is made up of earthly shepherds and their flocks. It is people who make the story of Atonement unique.

I do not suppose I actually remember the pastorate of C. C. Roth and his wife Gertrude. Because they did come back to Beloit, when they retired in 1952 and were again part of Atonement, events of their era are clearly recalled. The organ was moved to the chancel (Mrs.. Roth was the organist), the basement floor cemented, a steam boiler and new electric lights were installed, the paving of the street was paid for and the congregation became self-supporting!

I can remember Frank A. Berg who came in 1935 in time to help us celebrate our 30th Anniversary as a congregation. Dad was finance chairman of the occasion and my great uncle Carl had the honor of burning the mortgage. New copies of the black hymnal were being used then.

The church "office" was in the newly purchased parsonage at 843 Wisconsin and the first Mrs. Berg (Pauline) probably with the help of older kids ran off the Sunday bulletins and got out the necessary mail. (Mrs. Berg died in 1942 and Pastor Berg later remarried an Atonement member, Margaret Joch.)

Twenty-five men and five women served their country during World War II. Sgt. Laverne Borck was killed in action. Pharmacist mate George Kiesling, missing-in-action, was never found but prisoner-of-war Col. John Thompson (Ruth's brother) was freed.

Confirmation classes were switched from Saturday mornings to Wednesday evenings during the war! While growing up we were members of the "Light Brigade", Children of the Church" and then advanced to Luther League of which Betty Reinholz was advisor.

With the help of his oldest son, Frank Jr., Pastor Berg started Faith Lutheran Church in South Beloit. A branch Sunday School was established in the Old loan School out on Prairie Avenue Road. Those were the days when lots of people sang in the choir, ours had 19 women and 11 men and I still cherish the anthems we sung back then.

Pastor Berg commended a great deal of respect. As youngsters we stood in complete awe of him. When he "retired" most of us were shocked and could not believe he would leave us.

When it came time for our 70th anniversary we "canonized" Pastor Berg. Not the least of the reasons for honoring him was that he had influenced four young men to enter the ministry: his youngest son, Harold, (who died in 1989), James Nelson, Ronald Moen and David Reynolds.

Atonement also had three other sons for the ministry: Frank A. Berg Jr. who died in 1951. Rudolph Schultz, who later became president of (the old) Carthage College, was confirmed by our first regular pastor, P.H. Roth. "P.H." went on to become President of (the old) Northwestern Seminary in Minneapolis. When invited back to our anniversaries he always shared the story of holding church services in a dance hall (over a theatre on Fourth Street) and having turn the pictures toward the wall!

Pastor Trevor Sandness came to Atonement on 1956. We got a new parsonage on White Avenue and a part-time secretary for the office. His love of music helped us accept the new red hymnal and he added a new dimension to our worship by chanting.

The newsletter came into being and I was the editor! It was the thrill of a (then young) lifetime to have an article from it reprinted in THE LUTHERAN. (It dealt with children not behaving in church and his gentle reply to the situation.)

Following the completion of the education wing, the remodeling of the basement and redecorating of the chancel, Pastor Sandiness left after 5 1/2 years to be nearer Maria's parents in Minneapolis.

Death claimed our next two pastors. David Archie was here 8 years until his unexpected death in 1970 at the age of 42. He was mentor to an intern pastor for a year, a positive experience for all of us. Concerned with people outside the doors of his congregation, he reached out to people who were unloved or who by some folks standards, were unlovable. Looking back it seems as if he knew he was not going to have enough time to get everything done that needed to be.

Pastor Ellis Waggoner came the next year, settling into a new parsonage at 1331 Eleventh Street. This guitar- playing Pastor was into things contemporary such as Christmas Eve service in Hoefer's barn! Our first Breakfast Club for neighborhood school kids started then. He was just 34 years old when he died in 1973.

For the second time within 29 months Atonement was without a leader but the Lord provided. Pastor Berg had returned to town to really retire in 1966 and was much help to both young pastors. Pastor Elmer B. Sterner became our pastor later that year. He pioneered use of lay people in worship and the offering of communion every Sunday in this church. Because we had been introduced to and were using a contemporary service we got a "heard start" on the use of the new green hymnal. He resigned to do counseling with alcoholics, a field he had always been interested in.

Pastor Michael Sullivan and Carin (whom he met in the seminary where she was also a student) came to Atonement in 1985. Once again we got "two for the price of one", a pastor's wife committed to his calling. Although busy studying or working, she also shared her own special gifts with us. Less formal in his style of leading us in worship, "Pastor Mike" did a fine job of down-to-earth preaching. Both of them related well to a very large segment of the congregation, providing the nucleus of our church family.

When we celebrated our 85th anniversary in 1990, Pastor Sullivan and Carin had been with us five fruitful years, the congregation was growing, and we had many good programs in place. We felt that "God's in His Heaven and all's right with the world".

Then on April 22, 1994, it came to a completely unexpected end when Pastor Mike resigned as pastor of Atonement Lutheran Church. It was a blow worse than death and besides shock, we felt anger, pain, betrayed and abandoned.

It took some time for us to realize that God was still in His Heaven and that Atonement would survive another challenge in his ministry. We were without a pastor for 15 months. During that time we had been strengthened by a whole lot of God-given resources--our faith, each other, strong council leadership, Synod guidance and direction, supply pastors, Stephan Ganzkow-Wold, Kenneth Tansor, Ralph Ryberg, John Froiland and interim pastor Joel Diemer, the gentle giant with a hearty laugh. All have been apart of our healing process.

Then Pastor Bisbee began his ministry August 1, 1995. We waited until fall to celebrate our 90th anniversary, and Pastor Sterner returned to preach that day.

The Bisbee's stayed only a year before returning to the Combined Locks area to establish a mission church. He was planning to organize the FOCUS mid-week program here and he had us using the Chicago Folk Service, complete with guitars and drums, twice a month.

Again we found ourselves in need of an interim pastor and the Synod put us in contact with Joe Cotner, a graduate student at the University of Madison, studying Hebrew, hoping to teach it at a seminary eventually. His studies completed, he is now a campus pastor at Northern IL U, DeKaIb. We welcome the family back to our worship service this morning and Pastor Cotner will ask the blessing at our dinner.

"Pastor Randy" Krause was at Christ Lutheran Church, Sharon. WI, when he responded to our call, beginning his ministry May 1, 1997. He brought with him his gracious wife, Ann, an informal style of preaching, a beautiful voice and our communion preparation hymn, "This Touch of Love". He possesses a great sense of humor and personifies the JOY that all Christians should have as children of God but, as a group, we Lutherans are not readily able to express. Our involvement in Neighborhood Night Out indicates his concern about reaching out to others.

God's blessing to the folks who have joined us since our last anniversary celebration. You certainly have been a blessing to our congregation. To those who have left us in that interval of time for whatever reason we pray the Lord Jesus Christ is still present in each of their lives.

DOROTHY DIETZEL ZINNECKER, 95, had been named honorary chairperson of the committee planning our 95th Anniversary celebration, Sunday, May 7th. Not only is Dorothy the oldest member of our congregation in years, she holds the oldest membership, joining in 1924. She sang in the choir for over 35 years and was church secretary about 15 years.


A.C. Anda   April through November, 1905
Charles R. Dunlap   November 1, 1905 to February 1, 1906
Paul H. Roth   May 1, 1906 to April 1, 1913
Walter Krumweide   May 1, 1913 to December 31, 1913
F. R Webber   January 1, 1914 to January, 1916
G. Cowles Smith   June 12, 1916 to February 13, 1922
Carl C. Roth   December 10, 1922 to November 1, 1930
C.F. Schneider   December 1, l930 to October 31, 1934
Frank A. Berg   February 27. 1935 to July 29, 1956
Trevor J. Sandness   August 29, 1956 to February 15, 1962
David Edward Archie   May 1, 1962 to August 21, 1970
Ellis E. Waggoner   April 1, 1971 to January 18, 1973
Elmer B. Sterner   June 10, 1973 to August 31, 1984
Michael A. Sullivan   May 1, 1985 to April 22, 1994
Douglas Bisbee   August 1, 1995 to July 28, 1996
Randall N. Krause   May 1, 1997 to July ,2000.
Timothy Heinecke   August ,2001 to June 15, 2004

Tina Koenig Ray August ,2004 to January 10, 2016

Nancy M. Raabe   May 2, 2016 to present



The late Rudolph Schulz, D.D. was confirmed here in 1908 by Pastor P.H. Roth. He served as president of Carthage College when it was still in Illinois.

Two sons of our late Pastor Emeritus Frank A. Berg, Frank Jr. and Harold entered the ministry in 1944 and 1953 respectively. Both are deceased, Frank Jr. in 1951 and Harold in 1989.

James Nelson, Ronald Moen (Brother of Margaret Peterson, Florence Buchholz and Joe Moen) and David Reynolds (son of Morse and brother of Curtis) also became pastors. All three were confirmed by Pastor Berg. We've some how lost track of Jim but Ronnie is in Washington State, and Dave is a retired navy Chaplain. David preached at our 85th anniversary service.

Though no longer in the ministry, young David Archie did follow in his dad's foot-steps until family circumstances became overwhelming.

After being laid-off from the company she where she had worked for 22 years, Deena Laird found the sign she had been looking for--she had been praying for a sign that she was to enter full-time ministry.  She attended Wartburg Seminary, did her internship at First Lutheran in Wales, Wi, and was ordained at Atonement in the summer of 2007.   Following her ordination, she accepted a call to St. Peter's, Arenzville, IL & St. John, Bulff, IL.  After serving faithfully in these two congregations for about a year and a half, our Lord called her home to be with Him.