A Hill Country ‘Church in the Wildwood’ Reminds Us of Simpler Times

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When the crowd of a hundred or so people gathered on the first day of Advent at Cave Creek Lutheran Church to sing The Church In The Wildwood it wasn’t the first time this song was sung there; the first time was in the inaugural worship service in 1884, but it was in German, and the song was called Vom Kirchlein im Thale.  

Cave Creek Lutheran Church

Cave Creek Church Crowd

Photo: Robert C Deming

After a few minutes of song led by Pastor Clint Pluenneke, in a burst of light, the country church turned into a vision of Christmas; the crowd cheered and there were smiles and laughter all around as they headed into the fellowship hall for (what else?) steaming tangy bowls of venison/beef chili and tamales.  The congregation is too small to afford a full-time pastor, so Clint also serves as the youth minister at Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg.

Venison/Beef Chili in the Oldest Rural Church in Gillespie County

Cave Creek Church Chili

Photo: Robert C Deming

The chili is without compare, and the dessert table a wonder to behold. Although some in the congregation have roots back to the start of the church, Lee and Darlene Cunningham only moved to the community two years ago. They are now part of the family, and her pies are delicious!  Congregation President Steven K. Mohr (he asked to have the “K” added to his name because there are Steven Mohr’s all up and down the road) is especially welcoming and was kind enough to light the candles in the sanctuary for a photo.

The Sanctuary shows it’s Old World roots.

Cave Creek Church Sanctuary

Photo: Robert C Deming

The original 1884 church building was completed for about $600 and still stands today.  The bell was installed in the bell tower in 1890, and in addition to being rung as a call to worship, was tolled when the pastor received word of the death of a member of the church.  As of the 10th anniversary, the founding membership included 38 families. 162 children and one adult had been baptized, and there had been 10 marriages performed, and 25 funerals. Services and Sunday School classes were conducted in the German language; there was discussion in 1919 (during WWI) to change the services to English, but that change didn’t occur until 1942.  A “fully equipped” bathroom was added to the parsonage in 1935, electric lights installed in the church in 1939, and the wood-burning stoves in the church were replaced with A gas furnace in 1958.

The Pastor’s View

Cave Creek Church Pastor's View
Photo: Robert C Deming

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