Milestone for Denial Bay Lutheran Church celebrated

A special celebration was hosted on Sunday to commemorate 125 years since the formation of the first Denial Bay Lutheran congregation.

The celebration included a church service in the bush and lunch, and after meeting at the church, the service was hosted a few kilometres behind the Denial Bay Church at 'Handtke's property'.

Locals from the Lutheran Church were joined by members of the Uniting and Anglican parishes to commemorate the occasion, with about 40 people present.

Pastor Andrew Vanderwal said it was great to be able to come together and celebrate.

"It was a privilege to be involved in such a special day," he said.

"These people have a rich history going back so many years, and people came from far and wide to participate in the church service.

"This was a chance to celebrate the coming together of the first congregation."

The history of the Denial Bay Lutheran Church can be traced back to the Far West Coast being opened up for closer European settlement in 1890.

The first Lutheran settlers, the G Handtke and A H Hoffrichter families, arrived in 1891, followed by the W A E Lutz, J Meier and J Moody families in 1893, and the E A Hasting and F H Kloeden families in 1896.

On July 25, 1896, Carl August Heinrich Hoffrichter wrote to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod saying that the Lutheran settlers had come together for a church service on July 19, 1896 and asked if the travelling missionary would visit them.

They also asked for a German school, which eventually shut in 1917.

Pioneer settlers met at the Lutz home until August 1897, when a church and manse was built on a 10-acre block donated by Gottlieb Handtke on Section 8c of the Hundred of Moule, which was dedicated by August 1897.

In 1911, plans were discussed to build a new church, but this did not eventuate until 1920 when the current church and cemetery were built on the same land, before being dedicated in early January 1921.

In the early years the church provided a stable, religious background for those settlers and among the congregation today are many of their descendants.

Renovations and additions have been made over the years, and regular church services are still held at Denial Bay.

Thanks to Sue Trewartha for historical information on the Denial Bay Lutheran Church.