Our History

 

Since 1845 

Starting in the late 1830s many Lutherans came from Germany and permanently settled in what became the Brighton Area.

On May 26, 1838, Dr. Ernst Adolph Buek, who at that time was a noted lawyer and botanist, would later become St. George’s first full-time pastor. Along with his wife, Elizabeth, and their five children, they left their home in Hamburg, Germany, to sail to the United States on the ship called, Plymouth. Dr. Buek was a very educated man and brought with him his law library as well as his volumes of Shakespeare, Schiller, and Goethe. They landed at New York on the 14th of July. Then they traveled by boat up the Hudson, through the Erie Canal, and on to Detroit. From Detroit they journeyed by stage to the village of Hamburg. Awaiting them was Dr. Buek’s Heidelberg law school classmate, Ferdinand Grisson, who had apparently encouraged his friend to come for “the good farm land and the lure of an area where many of his countrymen had already settled”.

On the 7th of August the Buek’s purchased 40 acres of land on Pleasant Lake near Hamburg. There, they built a log house, and moved in on the 26th of October, none too soon for protection against the Michigan winter. Dr. Buek is reported to have spoken Italian and French, and of course, German. But his lack of fluency in English and a law degree from Heidelberg hardly served him as a father of a large and growing family on the Michigan frontier. Life for the family must have been hard as they adjusted to their new land. They seem to have subsisted at first, despite dwindling funds, from the pigs and cows that they kept, wild game from the forest and fish from the lake. They also benefitted from Dr. Buek’s ability, inherited perhaps from ancestors who were notable florists and gardeners in Germany, to create productive gardens. Although these floral gardens were perhaps more to the family’s delight then to benefit their sustenance.

In 1842, approximately twenty five German immigrant families along with the Buek’s, began to gather together in Genoa Township for worship with the Reverend Frederick Schmid presiding. Rev. Schmid was the first Lutheran missionary in Michigan and the families shared his pastoral care with several other congregations. For three years they worshiped informally, meeting in log cabins, barns, and under the open canopy of the heavens. Rev. Schmid lived in Ann Arbor and walked, or rode a small pony the distance to Genoa Township to conduct these services.

On the feast day of St. George in 1845, they decided to organize for the purpose of forming a new congregation and building a church. They chose the name: The Evangelical Lutheran St. George’s Congregation of Genoa, Michigan.

In the summer of 1845, it became apparent that funds were needed for building the church. Dr. Buek came to the rescue when he made a return trip to his original church, Evangelisch St. Georg in Hamburg, Germany. He arrived there with a petition requesting donations for the St. George congregation. The church in Hamburg graciously donated $600, a communion set, a baptismal font, a church seal with the imprint of St. George slaying the dragon, a church record book, and an offering plate bearing the date 1845.

In April, 1846, Dr. Buek and his family moved to Genoa township to be nearer to the church. His son, Ben (Carl Aemilius Benjamin) was born on October 31, 1846. Three hours after the baby’s birth, Dr. Buek’s wife, Elizabeth died. She was 41 years old and had borne nine children in eleven years.

On June 14, 1848, the first class of seven members was confirmed by Rev. Schmid in a barn owned by Lewis Dorr.

In April, 1849, the first church was built for $310. It measured 25′ x 36′ x 16′. It was build on two acres located on Herbst Road next to the church’s present day cemetery. The church was built by Lewis Dorr on land that was donated by Richard Behrens.

In April, 1849, the first church was built for $310. It measured 25′ x 36′ x 16′. It was build on two acres located on Herbst Road next to the church’s present day cemetery. The church was built by Lewis Dorr on land that was donated by Richard Behrens.

In July, 1849, Dr. Buek, after being trained by Rev. Schmid, was installed as Pastor Schmid’s successor.

In July of 1852, Dr. Buek moved to Detroit and Rev. L.C. Meyer of Hanover, Germany, became pastor. He preached every fourth Sunday until 1853.

In 1853, Rev. Buek returned from Detroit and resumed his position as pastor. His salary amounted to $40 per year.

In 1855, the congregation doubled in size. The church walls were finished with plaster, and tables and benches placed inside.

On June 30, 1860, Dr. Buek died. He is buried in the St. George cemetery.

In 1861, the congregation purchased land located where Bauer and Crooked Lake Roads at that time intersected.

In 1862, St. George joined the Michigan Synod of which Rev. Schmid was president.

Between 1867 and 1872, the old Hamburg Hymnals which had been used for years, were discarded and the Wisconsin Synod hymn book was introduced. The first organ was purchased, and wafers began being used at the Lord’s Supper.

In 1873, the Ladies Aid Society was organized “to support the work of St. George’s congregation in whatever way its opportunities and abilities shall point out.”

On June 20, 1880, Rev. Albert Abraham Moussa, who was born and raised in Palestine, became the pastor of St. George’s German congregation. Pastor Moussa was a highly educated man. Although Arabic in nationality, he was educated in German, Greek, English, Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin in Jerusalem where he grew up. At the age of sixteen he traveled to Basel, Switzerland, and entered the theological seminary. He was ordained in 1878. It was under his leadership that the church outgrew its original building and went forward with building a new church.

On October 1883, a building committee was selected and the cornerstone was laid. James Collett of Brighton was contracted to build the new church. The new building coast $2,800 and measured 32 feet by 50 feet. The frugal German immigrants then converted the old church into a barn.

On Sunday, April 20, 1884, Rev. Moussa dedicated the new building and the congregation officially had a new home.

In 1888, St. George established St. John’s Lutheran Church, a sister congregation in Fowlerville.

In 1901, the congregation decided to sever her connection with the Michigan Synod and join the Ohio Synod.

Until 1903, services were conducted exclusively in German. It is this year that St. George began conducting services in English every other Sunday.

In 1907, the English Hymnal of the Ohio Synod was introduced.

In 1908, two altar chairs were donated by Caroline Behrens and Mrs. W.L. Stuhrberg. The Behrens sister also presented St. George with a baptismal font in memory of their brother, Philip, who for twenty five years, faithfully discharged his duties as janitor of the church.

In 1909, “A Brief History of St. George Evangelical Lutheran Congregation” was published by The Argus Print of Brighton, Michigan. It was compiled by the Rev. R. J. Graetz, A.M.

On June 1, 1921, the congregation of St. George voted to move the church into the village of Brighton. The site was selected and on April 23, 1922, the cornerstone for the present day church was laid. The old church was then dismantled, loaded onto wagons, and reassembled at the current location. A pipe organ was installed replacing the original pump organ. During the reconstruction church services were held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church who graciously held its own services in the afternoon to accommodate the worshipers from St. George. In September 2006, the original pump organ was located and graciously donated to St. George. It can be seen in the fellowship area where it is on display.

On September 3, 1922, the new church was dedicated.

Also, in 1922, St. George established Grace Lutheran Church, another sister congregation, in Howell.

In 1953, the church was enlarged and a new educational wing was added.

In 1958, a new parsonage was built adjacent to the church.

In 1972, St. George Special Ministries was organized. Linda Anderson (Pastor Anderson’s wife) started religious education classes for a few high school age members of St. George with Down’s syndrome.

In 1980, St. George Special Ministries was incorporated as a 501C-3 non-profit agency under the auspices of St. George Lutheran and St. Patrick Catholic Churches and became a Livingston County United Way funded agency.

In 1995, St. George celebrated its 150th anniversary.

On March 7, 2011, Merrill Herbst celebrated 100 years of life and membership at St. George.