History of the Windsor Apostolic Christian Church
The church began with the immigration of four believers from Yugoslavia. They were Katie Eisenloffel, Adam and Rozina Hitter and their daughter Theresa. This group of four German speaking believers met together in a rented room each Sunday. The teaching form the pulpit was provided by the Detroit, Akron and Mansfield teaching brethren.
In the meantime Bro. George Gal and his wife Sis. Magdalena, along with their little daughter Madeleine had left Romania, boarding the ship "Estonia" in Danzig on Feb. 8, 1924. The Gals' intention was to immigrate to the U.S.A. However, the immigration laws did not permit them to do so. They then decided to immigrate to Canada. They arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Feb. 20, 1924. They moved to Montreal, Quebec on Feb. 22, 1924 and lived there for approximately one year. Immigrants were generally required by the Canadian Government to move to Western Canada to populate the farms. However, because the Gal's had a small child, they were allowed to stay in Montreal. Bro. Gal found work immediately, shovelling snow for $0.25/hour. His wife earned extra money by doing housework. Mathias and Helen Sabo came to Montreal in 1924 as well and got together with the Gal's. They wrote to elders in Ohio for permission to start a church in Montreal. The elders gave them permission but the two families were only allowed to read the Bible, pray and sing. They were not allowed to preach.
After looking in Ontario and Quebec for churches, the Gal family and the Mathias Sabo family moved to Windsor because the closest church was in Detroit, Michigan. They were advised by elder Bro. Wendel Kalman of Akron to make this move. In the same year they were joined by Joe and Lydia Sabo. They made an effort to worship in Detroit. However, the U.S.A. government wanted a $500 deposit. They were also required to take an oath that they would return to Canada and not remain in the U.S.A. At this time there was no tunnel or bridge that linked Detroit and Windsor. The people were required to cross with the ferry. When the ferry was in the middle of the Detroit River, they were required to take the oath. They were not allowed to "affirm." The Gals and Sabos refused to comply so they had to remain in Windsor.
Next came Bro. Andy and Sis. Magdalena Meng with their son Jack, the Sandor Vegh family, the John Barbu family and the John Botosan family. At this time, Elder Bro. Weldal Kalman and ministering Bro. Andrew Meng cam from Ohio to organize and formalize a church. Up to this point, Bro. Mike Bartolf came to serve the members in the German language, and Bro. Louis Koprince came to serve in the Hungarian language. In the beginning, when the church had no minister, the believers sang and read from the Bible during their gatherings, but no one preached. In order to establish ministers within their own group, the elders established some rules. In order for a brother to be eligible to become a minister he had to have his wife and children living with him in Canada. Bro. Vegh being the oldest Hungarian brother, did not qualify to become a minister because his family was still in Europe. Therefore Bro. Gal, even though he was the youngest brother, was elected to be the first Hungarian minister in Windsor, since he had his family with him. The reason some brothers were alone, was so they could first find work and establish themselves before bringing their families to Canada. However, they were advised by the church to send for their families as soon as possible. This advice was for the benefit of the brothers and their families. The newly-arrived immigrant believers were also asked to get letters of recommendation from their European churches.
The Gal family lived on Cadillac Street, above an old candy store they rented for $10.00/mon. This is where services would be held in the future. Bros. Gal and Vegh bought boards from a lumber yard and made benches for the church. Up to this time they gathered in homes.
Joseph Megyesi was the sponsor for many European immigrants who first had to go to the Canadian West to work on the farms. Due to the harsh winters and the hard work on the farms, some of the believers began to slowly move to Ontario. Bro. Megyesi warned them that Ontario gets a lot of snow as well.
As the church grew, bigger facilities were needed. There were 14 believers at this time. However, they continued to worship in the candy store on Cadillac Street because believers were too poor to afford larger facilities. This same year Bro. Andrew Meng became a minister in the German language.
The Windsor Church was registered with the Canadian government as the "Apostolic Christian Church."
More families which came from the West and Europe were: Jack Langenek, Litza Sapergia, Dan Schneider, and others. The first person to be baptized was Lydia Pinter.
Church meetings were held in the 1400 block and 1200 block of Drouillard Road.
1928 - 1934
Immigration was heavy during these years. In particular, many believers came from Yugoslavia where religious freedom was not encouraged. Some families whose names were found in records included: Merkle, Altenhof, Dikan, Christian Vogel, Ludwig Jahn, John Stammler, Joe Valihora, Louis Varga, Nick Beleutz, Elizabeth Binder, Dana Bachwanski, and the Frank Binder family who returned to Yugoslavia in 1934.
In 1931, church services were held at Litza Sapergia's home on Seminole street.
The second baptism included the following: Katie Grailach, Helen Vegh (George Hunyadi's wife), Margaret Vegh. Other conversions which took place included Vinka Murgarski, Elizabeth Eder, Paul Bachik, Nick Miros and John Stammler. In 1930, there were 25-30 believers and by 1933, the membership increased to 58 believers.
Visiting elders who served at baptisms were: Frederick Schiller, Dan Simon, Glisha Obrodov, Wendel Kalman and Mike Hrubic. During this period, the following teaching brothers were in service:
German: Jack Langenek, Andrew Meng
Serbian: Fabian Crnec, Joe Valihora
Romanian: John Barbu
Hungarian: George Gal, Louis Varga, Bro. Fekete.
The first Apostolic Christian Church was purchased for $1400.00. A $100.00 discount was given because it was paid in cash. The building was located on Albert Street. At this time the membership numbered approximately 75 believers.
Brother Michael Langenek was baptized.
Brother Michael Langenek became the first English speaking minister in the Windsor congregation.
1943 - 1944
Some of the families left Windsor and purchased farms in Rodney, Ruthven and Harrow, where churches were also established. Some of the families who moved were: Gal, Sapergia, Varga, Valihora, Meng, Vogel, Altenhof.
During the 1940's families moved back to Windsor from other parts of Canada. They included: Vlanich, Cholak, Eremic, Dusan Jevremov, Steve Azlen, Rudy Bernhardt, Kalman Fekete.
Fred Binder was the first refugee to arrive in Windsor after World War 2. He was 17 years old when he arrived.
This was the beginning of the post war immigration from Europe. During this year, Bro. Mike Langenek was reunited with his mother, Apolonia, and his two sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth. Brother Ludwig Jahn sponsored members of his family to come to Canada. They included his mother, Margarethe, his sister, Else Braun (war widow) with her two daughters, and his brother, Karl Jahn Sr. with his wife Else and their six children.
The first Adult Choir began during the 1940s.
1949 - Early 1950s
The following families arrived: Ernst Stammler, Heinrich Krumes, Joseph Phillips, Alfred Schmidt, Bertha and Elizabeth Stammler, and Katie Stammler (war widow) with her three sons.
After this period, immigrants arrived steadily through the years including Nemceks, Robert Kern, and Willie Prattes.
Sunday School was started in the early 1950s.
The Albert Road church location became too small due to the growth of the Windsor congregation. The building was sold for $12,000 and a lot was purchased on Lillian Street. A new church building was erected on that site. The Albert Road building now houses a church of another denomination. Our membership steadily grew to 150 believers due to baptisms and the immigration in the 1950s.
The first Annual Sunday School Picnic was started in the late 1950s.
The membership continued to grow from the continuous influx of immigrants and numerous baptisms.
Toward the latter part of this decade, Christian Ritzmann and Steve Azlen were ordained as the first resident elders.
Adult Choir was started again in 1963.
Story Hour, a Sunday evening program for the children, and our annual V.B.S. were started in the 1960s.
The Christian Friendship Group (C.F.G.) was started in the mid 1960s.
There soon was a need for larger facilities as the average attendance increased to the point where it exceeded the seating capacity of the Lillian Street church building. A building fund was established and with the Lord’s help, we were able to raise sufficient funds to purchase 6 acres of land in the outskirts of Windsor. A third of the property consists of wooded land. In 1975, the church on Lillian street was sold. The new owners tore down the church and turned it into an apartment building. Sis. Elizabeth Langenek resided in this building for many years. With God’s help and through the encouragement, sacrifice, financial support and united effort of the membership, ground for a new church building was broken on August 14, 1975.
OUR NEW CHURCH BUILDING
By Bro. Ted Varga
Sitting, standing, sweating in our church’s confining walls at the corner of Lillian and Giles had many of us looking for relief. A building committee was finally formed to address this need for relief in whatever way the Lord would lead us.
First, it was in the form of a possible expansion at the current location. The more we investigated our needs and looked at our current facility, the less the two became compatible. The overall size of the lot for building and parking were totally inadequate. It seemed that our congregation had to mature to the point that the only proper solution to our suffering was to leave the city limits for a large enough property. The Lord brought this to our attention by some vandalism and neighbourhood complaints, as well as having to put up with the annual bicycle races on Giles Boulevard. Finally, the building committee received the authority from the church to purchase a suitable lot and plan a new facility.
Through the dedication and hard work of the building committee, especially Brothers Fred Binder and George Palanacki, some planning specifications for capacities and general building plans were sketched up and even a lot was found. The location of the lot was on North Talbot just east of Howard Ave. (just east of the entrance of the current Lakewood Estates development). The process of obtaining zoning changes to build a church began in earnest, but the Lord was not through with us yet. As time and legal matters progressed, He also showed us that there were better layouts than what we had in mind (which at the time looked very similar to the Mansfield church). This came in the form of an invitation to a Christian Businessman’s Organization, which was dedicated to helping churches plan new facilities, for a meeting to see what methods other churches used in planning new facilities. We had a tremendous meeting (at Bro. George Palanacki’s home) where through their presentations, we first saw the general layout of our new facility. Once we received permission to copy those plans, we began in earnest to make changes to the original concept, to make it suitable for our needs.
After many meetings and consultations, we were ready to present the drawings to the congregation. The Lord however, had other plans. We were now unable to build on North Talbot Road due to the surrounding neighbours, who did not want a church beside them. However, He opened the door for us to trade our unusable property for another lot on Howard Avenue, south of Highway 3. It seemed right to our dear Lord to bring all things together at once - a new lot, new plans, new neighbours, a new township and by early 1975 we had a price from a general contractor. Now we had to see if, as a congregation, we were ready with our wallets to make the change that our hearts had desired so much, and once again, the Lord worked His miracle and the pledges were there to meet the planned cost. With His help, we were finally ready to start.
The contractor (John Drazic) had to arrange for engineering drawings to be prepared in order to obtain the building permits, but when the Lord opened the doors, all things just flowed naturally.
In the fall of 1975, we broke ground and prepared for the footings to be poured. Our first surprise came in the form of a panic call from Bro. George Palanacki who urgently requested an on-site meeting that evening because the plans on paper were not representative of what we wanted in real life. As we arrived in later afternoon, we stood in the foyer area and knew that we made a mistake. You see, we wanted a large foyer - we promised our congregation a large foyer - and what we saw in reality was less than half the size of the foyer we wanted. An on-the-spot revision moved the mechanical room and kitchen to the outside of our planned limits and added another 25% to our dining room. Were we ever thankful as the walls were going up that this change was made. As most of us recall, even this new foyer was not large enough, until we removed the storage room (this was just done in 1995).
The excitement mounted through the winter months, as the building was nearing completion, and as we examined each of the decisions we made, we could surely see the Lord’s blessings. Whether it was the movable glass doors between the dining room and sanctuary, the plan for a hexagonal sanctuary or the many, many decisions we worked through, the Lord blessed the dedication, the unity, and the desire to do what was best for our congregation. It wasn’t a fancy church, but then we didn’t want one like that. It was a practical facility because this was our desire and to date, it is still very practical and overall, very little changes have occurred. Thankfully, we needed a larger Sunday School facility, and each room had to be modernized (including our brand new carpet in the sanctuary), which all took coordination, dedication, perseverance, trust and cooperation, but mainly it took waiting on the Lord to work things out, and till this day He has not let us down. It is my prayer that He will continue to be the centre of all our plans, so that they will be correct according to His Will and for the benefit of the congregation.
In May, 1976, we held our first service in the new building. The dedication service was held on June 27, 1976. At this time, the membership was approximately 190, with an average attendance of 250, and an average Sunday School attendance of 86.
WINDSOR CHURCH DEDICATION
Gratefulness to our Heavenly Father emanated from the depths of our hearts as the long awaited day of our church dedication became a reality on June 27, 1976. The Lord provided for us a glorious summer day and we especially thank Him for this added blessing.
The main dedication service took place in the afternoon with Elder Bro. George Freund using the text from 1 Kings, reading several selected passages from chapter 8 between verses 22-61. The Lord chose to reveal through Bro. George certain thoughts. Among these thoughts were that churches are not tombs for the saints but are hospitals for the sick where they can come and find a remedy for their sins and comfort for their distressed minds. The opportunities here are great and we should direct our efforts towards those who are tired of sin. He reminded us that this building is not the church, but that we are the church. We have a grave and sober responsibility. We must maintain the faith. Remember what you have learned and from whom you have learned it. It is not easy to remain with the faith. The devil invites from every hand to accept watered down repentance and false doctrine. There is no improvement in the plan of salvation! The Bible is our guide and our road map. He posed a question. Will this building last longer than the church, or will the church last longer than the building? He exhorted us to STAND FAST! If you stand fast on the point that those baptized are truly repentant, you will grow. God will look down and He will bless!
Elder Bro. Tony Betz from Mansfield then presented the message in the German language. Immediately following the two messages from the Lord through His servants, our choir presented a special program under the direction of Bro. Ted Varga. Some of the selections included: "Awake Thy Thanks To Render," "Holy Art Thou" and "Bless This House."
Supper was served for all, following the expression of greetings from the various churches represented. They were extended from Akron-Area churches, Columbus, Washington, Tremont, Mansfield, Medina, Beverly Hills, Kitchener, Rodney, Harrow, Hamilton and Toronto. Many of these dear ones were with us on Saturday evening also, for the services and fellowship which we shared. Saturday evening services were conducted by Elder Bro. Andy Kozy who expounded on Luke, chapter 18:15-30. He directed his thoughts toward the unconverted because the Lord sought the one that was lost and it is the same today with the Lord. He is still seeking the one that is lost.
Sunday morning services were conducted by Elder Bro. Tony Betz and were based on 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. We were exhorted not only to dedicate this building but to dedicate our lives to the Lord. In the Sunday evening services, five of our Sunday School Junior Choir members presented us with a program of four hymns which included: "Holy Spirit Faithful Guide" and "Fairest Lord Jesus."
Elder Bro. Walter Meyer used Romans, chapter 10:8-15 to inspire us toward contributing to the needs in the missionary field.
We wish to express our appreciation and thanks for the many who made the great effort and sacrifice to join with us in this memorable occasion which will live on in the hearts of our congregation. Most of all we wish to thank our dear Lord from Whom we received the necessary help and guidance as we proceeded in the building program. We will ever be grateful to Him for the great gift of a church building which He has provided for us.
Bro. Mike Langenek became resident elder in 1971. He passed away in 1979. In June 1979, Bros. Karl Jahn, Lazar Perisic, and Adam Rehmann were ordained as resident elders of the Windsor congregation.
In 1987, a five acre parcel of land which adjoins the present church property was purchased by the Windsor congregation.
In 1987, the Youth Choir was started for the young people, ages 13 and up.
The Windsor Men’s Choir was started in 1988.
By 1991, the Sunday School was bursting at the seams from the amount of children in our congregation. Work was started on a new addition to the church, with a large meeting room and two smaller classrooms being added.
In 1992, with the united efforts of members in the Windsor congregation as well as aid from some of the brothers in Ohio, the old, leaky roof over the sanctuary was taken off and a new, improved one built in its place.
Starting in 1994, a church beautification project was started. Over the next two years, under the direction of a few brothers, with the help of many of the youth, the entire property was wonderfully landscaped.
In 1995, one of the old Sunday School rooms was converted into a toddler room for children ages 1-2.