Sabetha’s First Lutheran Church celebrates 70 years


Sabetha’s First Lutheran Church celebrates 70 years on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

A huge milestone has officially been reached by the First Lutheran Church (FLC) in Sabetha. The church is celebrating its 70th anniversary today, April 27, 2022.

FLC – located at 311 Cedar Street in Sabetha – has grown and changed substantially over the past 70 years, including the number of members, church location and the addition of the preschool. FLC has a long history in Sabetha and it started back in 1952.

FLC History

In the early spring of 1952, under the leadership of Rev. Bernard O. Raabe – Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fairview – a community survey of Sabetha indicated the need of a Lutheran Church.

On April 27, 1952, 41 people attended the first Lutheran church –The Lutheran Mission – service held in the American Legion Home on Main Street in Sabetha, which had been rented for $25 per month. On the following Sunday, the first Sunday School classes were held with 14 enrolled. By the end of the first year, average attendance was 53, with a Sunday School enrollment of 23. The congregation also had 37 communicant members.

On Jan. 11, 1953, 12 voting men were present at a meeting to form the FLC of Sabetha. Then, plans for the future took place. With the help of the District Mission, six lots were purchased, architects Ramey & Himes of Wichita were consulted, and ground was broken for a Chapel in June 1953.

The American Legion Home located on Main Street was the original location of the Lutheran Church in 1952.

The group purchased building lots at the current location – 311 Cedar Street – and built the first building while meeting at the Legion Home. The building committee – consisting of Alvin Bauman, Norburt Pierson, Kenneth Carpenter, Kenneth Kruse, Melvin Schuette and Pastor Raabe – hired two builders, Jim and William Nedrow. With over 4,000 man hours of donated labor by members and friends from neighboring congregations, the 70 foot by 20 foot Chapel of contemporary design, with seating capacity of 120, was dedicated to the Glory of God on Nov. 29, 1953.

In 1965, a new parsonage was added to the property of FLC, under the leadership of Rev. Carl F. Juergensen.

In 1979, ground was broken for an addition to the original structure. The addition is the current worship area with the original portion serving as overflow seating. Since it opens directly into the worship area, it quickly increases temporary seating capacity. The large organ, which was purchased in 1985, is located in the original part of the building.

In 1989, a preschool was started with five students, with classes being held twice a week. At the time, Wilma J. Moser served as teacher/director.

In 2006, FLC joined with three other area Missouri Synod Lutheran Churches – Immanuel in rural Fairview, St. Paul in Fairview and Zion in Hiawatha – to form the Northeast Kansas Partnership.

Present Day

Currently, these four congregations of the Northeast Kansas Partnership share the services of two pastors, Rev. Michael Dunaway and Pastor Ian Kinney.

Reverend Dunaway has been preaching at FLC and ministering to its members since March of 2007.

“It has truly been a blessing to have been called to serve such a wonderful group of God’s faithful,” Reverend Dunaway said. “They are truly a blessing to Pastor Kinney and myself, as well as to the city of Sabetha and the Northeast Kansas community.”

This photo depicts the First Lutheran Church in Sabetha in 1953.

Pastor Ian Kinney was ordained at Zion in Hiawatha on June 26, 2021.

“[I am] honored and humbled,” Pastor Kinney said. “Jesus promised that the gates of hell could not prevail against the Church and while many think He means the gates of hell are attacking the Church, they forget that gates don’t move. They are gates and all they do is stand still. When Jesus says this, He is making clear that the gates of hell cannot stand against the eternal forward march of the Church.” 

“For 70 years now, my congregation has been part of that forward march,” Pastor Kinney said. “Christ and Him crucified is our anthem and this is what has motivated these saints for 70 years now. The purity of God’s Word and the gifts of His sacraments are what we rally around as Christ tramples the Serpent underfoot in our lives. I am honored and humbled just to be part of it. Seventy years of God’s Word being preached, of His sacraments being administered, God’s love being shown, and Christ’s mercy being given, what a legacy. Seventy years of First Lutheran Church in Sabetha being part of that eternal and global march of the Church trampling down the gates of hell underfoot. I am truly honored and humbled to be part of this historic milestone.”

Currently, FLC has 275 members. Each Sunday, Sunday School for youngsters and adults begins at 9:15 a.m. and worship service is at 10:30 a.m. On the last Sunday of the month, FLC also has a potluck breakfast during Bible Study. The public is welcome any time.

The First Lutheran Preschool celebrated its 30 year anniversary in 2019. Currently, the preschool – located at 225 B Second Street in Sabetha – has 33 students enrolled.


A 70th anniversary celebration was held Sunday, April 24, following the 10:30 a.m. service. The celebration included a catered meal by Buzz Café and featured a speech by Bud Bauman.

Editor’s Note: History of the First Lutheran Church was compiled from the book “A History of Sabetha, Kansas and Surrounding Area, 1854-1976.” The information comes from multiple sources including Reverend John F. Domsch and Esther White.

Heather Stewart208 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.


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