The last event of the Mason County Sesquicentennial will be held on Saturday, December 6th from 10:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. It is the Sesquicentennial “Heritage of Faith Tour”and will feature eleven historic county churches on the tour. This is the first of three articles and pictures about the churches you can see on the tour. Following is a short history on four of the churches. There will be two more articles about the remaining churches - First Baptist Church, Mason Church of Christ, Art United Methodist Church, River of Life, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Mason Gospel Church, and the First Christian Church.
St. Paul Lutheran Church
The Lutheran Greman settlers came to this area around 1846 and Pastor Zizelmann, the first of the Lutheran missionary trained pastors, arrived in Fredericksburg. He was also charged to minister to the Lutheran families in Castell and along the Llano River and Beaver Creek. In 1853, Pastor Roehm was called to serve in this Indian Territory. In 1872, Pastor Huber arrived and the St. Paul Lutheran Church was organized with 13 charter members. A rock church was built in 1873. Pastor Ziehe arrived and under his leadership, the current church was built in 1904. Sermons were in German until 1947. The church is now 136 years old and Pastor Tim Scheffel is the current pastor.
Spring Street Gospel Church
Constructed in 1892, this church structure originally served a German Methodist Episcopal congregation. It was the first Methodist church in the town of Mason. Most of the original building is still intact. The pews are the original ones. The bell in the bell tower was donated by Fritz and Ernestine Brandenberger in 1892 and is still sounded on Sunday mornings. The building was sold to the Church of the Nazarene in 1940 when the German Methodist Episcopal Church and the First United Methodist Church were combined. In 1972 the Sping Street Gospel Chruch purchased the church property. It is still owned by them and there are Sunday morning and evening services as well as Wednesday evening Bible study.
First United Methodist Church
On July 2, 1876, the Methodist Church was established in Mason. Up to that point, the Methodists had met in homes or in the first schoolhouse on Austin St. The construction of the first Methodist church building was just a few feet directly west of the Durflinger’s Apple Cottage Bed and Breakfast on Hwy. 29E. Through many years, there were four Methodist congregations (English-speaking North and South and German-speaking North and South)that worked out a schedule to share the building. As they became too crowded, the German Methodist Church North built their new church on Spring St. (now the Spring Street Gospel Church). Then in 1897, the now merged English-speaking North and South built a small church on Broad St. and in 1928 they built the 2-story educational building. In 1939 there was a unification of all Methodist churches and all were meeting in the small building. Finally, in 1950, the present structure was built. The First UMC celebrated it’s 150th anniversary this past October.
Hilda United Methodist Church
Early settlers in the Hilda, Beaver Creek, and Llano River area of Texas were served by Methodist circuit rider preachers beginning the early 1850s. By 1856, Rev. C.A. Grote began the Llano River Valley Circuit. Services were held on the banks of Beaver Creek and in members’ homes. Rev. Conrad Pluenneke was the first minister of the Hilda Church,beginning his pastorship in 1856. In 1862, a combination church/teacherage/Sunday school building was constructed at Hilda. This building was replaced in 1902 with the present structure at a cost of $4000. The architect was Richard Grosse of Mason. The total cost of the structure was $4000. The interior woodwork is original and the altar railing and communion table were constructed by one of Hilda’s early preachers, Rev. William Buerher. The current pastor is Rev. Malford Hierholzer whose grandfather, Rev. John Hierholzer, also served at Hilda and lived in the original teacherage.