Reverend Calvin Schnucker
Who would have dared to suggest in 1936 when we celebrated the 50th year, that we would be privileged to help prepare for the 100th anniversary. I have personally known all the pastors that served Ramsey with two exceptions: Jacob Huenemann who died a few years before I was born, (I did know his widow, who for years lived near Garner) and the present pastor whom I have not met as yet.
- My education resume is:
- Diploma, Pleasant Prairie Academy 1922.
- Diploma, Coyne Electrical School (Chicago) 1922
- B.A., Northern University of Iowa 1929.
- B.D., Rutgers University (New Jersey) 1932.
- M. Div., New Brunswick Seminary, 1932.
- D.D., Witworth (Spokane, Wa) Honorary, 1943
- In Ministry:Public School Teacher, 1923-1928.
- Organizing Pastor of Frist Community Church, Clifton, N.J. (Reformed) 1929-1932.
- Ordained by Pleasant Prairie Classis, 1932.
- Pastor of Ramsey Reformed Church 1932-1942.
- Program Director of Iowa Christian Rural Fellowship 1936-1946.
- Professor of Rural Church at the Theological Seminary of University of Debuque 1942-1970.
- Dean of Seminary (Presbyterian) 1956-1970.
- Retired as Dean Emeritus 1970.
REFLECTIONS ON THE YEARS AT RAMSEY
Some random reflections and observations concerning the ten years of service to and personal growth in the Ramsey Community.
The stock market’ had just crashed (1929-1932), businesses were going bankrupt, farmers were losing their land, and banks were closing, some never to open again. Into this situation the Ramsey Congregation called me, their second choice, to be pastor. I accepted the call, my second choice. Little did I realize the strength of character, the depth of spiritual conviction, and the breadth of intellectual comprehension with which I would be surrounded during the ensuing ten years.
I was very fortunate because I had been preceded by two great pastors: W.T. Jansen (1898-1905) and G. Haken (1906-1932). They differed from most of the Frontier preachers of their day who presented the Gospel mostly as an emotional experience; they, on the other hand, were strong on expository preaching and Biblical and theological instruction. To step into such an environment was an exhilirating experience. The Consistory stood back of almost every developing program and consistently upheld the work of the pastor. More Christian Education Classes, a strong youth program, music on all age levels, family orientation, mission emphasis, work and play, laughter and tears welded this Christian Community together. The Ramsey Church wasn’t merely in the community—it was COMMUNITY with Christ at its axis. By 1937 the church building had to be expanded because of inadequate space.
During these years the people of the church taught me, their pastor, much about compassion and love, understanding and tolerance, personal dedication and sacrifice.
Looking back after fifty years my service can best be summarized by saying for ten years Pastor and People shared their best with each other and experienced God's Blessing for their efforts.
In my first years at Ramsey, Sunday Morning services were all conducted in the German language.. My German was academic and left much to be desired. So my sermons were usually short—18 to 20 minutes at best. One Sunday after services I was visited by two of the elders who were representing the consistory. After hemming and hawing they finally came to the point. It was their opinion that my sermons were too short - I should preach longer and more in the style of my predecessor, at least thirty minutes. Poor me! I responded to them with the assurance that I would try. After much pacing of the floor in the parsonage, I came to a decision. On the shelves in my library 1 had a volume of German sermons, preached in the Evangelische Kirche in Germany by a preacher of the 1850 to 1890 period. The sermons were long, academic, and dry. I purloined three of the longest ones (Thank you Pastor Pank) and studied each one thoroughly until I was very easy and at home with them. Then for three Sundays I preached Pankian sermons that each lasted 45 minutes. After the third Sunday I was again visited by the two elders. This time they came directly to the point, "Ja, Dominie, (they spoke in German) we think you had better go back to preaching the way you used to do". So I put Pank back on the shelf.
Since the beginning of Creation, Kossuth County had been dark at night. Here and there a farmer tried to cut the darkness with a Delco, 32 volt lighting system. Most of the farmers used kerosene lanterns and lamps. Then came the revolution which forever changed the style of living. Working with many able people during the mid-thirties we succeeded in forming two R.E.A. cooperatives to serve the rural people of both Kossuth and Winnebago Counties. At last the time came to throw the switch. Lights went on all over German township and the adjacent areas. Wilhelmine and I stood out near the road and watched as lights began to twinkle all around the horizon. Life would never be the same. Electrical power had come to the people. The old generator powered by a Chevy motor which Hank Plasier and I had put together and placed in the old cave east of the parsonage had for several years brought light to the remodeled church - and the old Delco plant in the basement of the parsonage could both be retired.
Rev. Calvin Schnucker