Parishoners proud of rural church

Pure Nebraska
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 12:08 PM CDT
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The Gruetli Church, which is pronounced “Greet-lee”, is located near Columbus, and it’s definitely a source of pride for lifelong members.

We caught up with Donna Kummer to talk about it. “Gruetli means peaceful valley,” Kummer said. “Our descendants came from Switzerland. It was in the 1860s when the Swiss immigrants came to the area, and started settling. First, they had church in homes or at the local one-room school. But then John Eisman donated 8 acres of land for a church and cemetery, and that’s how it all got started.”

The heritage of the church is Swiss German. In the beginning, the services were in German. And at one time, men sat on one side, and women and children on the other. That changed a long time ago. Kummer has many other memories of the church. “I remember when they would find a beautiful cedar tree, and on Christmas Eve, they would put candles on it,” Kummer said. “They would light the candles after the service, and they would sing Silent Night. It was beautiful. We’ve had weddings here, and we’ve had funerals here. The church is just a meeting place for the neighborhood.”

The building is the original structure from the 1900s. “We have services here from Memorial Day to Labor Day,” Kummer said. “In 1975, the Gruetli church and the St. Luke United Church of Christ in Columbus merged. So after Labor Day, we go into Columbus to worship. We try to have Christmas Eve services here and Easter sunrise services. There are many memories here for my memory bank.”