Gloria Dei is located in Lodgepole, Nebraska. Worship time on Sundays is 10:30am.
Our congregation’s history began with the former St. John’s Lutheran Church which occupied the site about 12 miles northeast of the village of Lodgepole. The area there was homesteaded by pioneers who broke sod on the bare prairie. One of the first frame buildings was a church, known as St. John’s. It was organized in 1888, and along with the first building, a small two-room parsonage was built. Initial pastors of the congregation were names Dekof and Nitky.
In 1895, many of the original settlers left the area because of drought and crop failure. Those who remained worked hard to keep the congregation going. Additional hardships like grasshoppers worsened the situation and the congregation was vacant until 1909 when Pastor J.A. Bahnsen was called. New families in the area allowed a congregational re-organization. The congregation remained active, and in late 1917 built a much larger parsonage.
In the late 1900’s – early 1920’s several of the families left the area and resettle in the village of Lodgepole. These people decided to organize a new congregation in town. The group met in the early summer of 1920, held the first worship service on December 5, 1920, and formally organized with the adoption of Articles of Incorporation on May 22, 1921.
They named their new congregation “Immanuel Lutheran Church” although in the records of the times the wording appears differently. In the late 1920’s, the St. John’s congregation declined to the point where it was disbanded. The property was turned over to the Immanuel congregation and later it was returned to private concerns. In 1922, the first structure for Immanuel Lutheran Church was built. During this first decade, St. John’s and Immanuel shared pastors. During the 1930’s and 1940’s Immanuel Lutheran remained a small congregation. Following WWII, rapid growth in membership let to the decision to build a new and larger structure. The little old church was crowded for worship, and having only a partial basement, Sunday School classes met in the parsonage basement and garage. Ground breaking ceremonies for the new building were held June 12, 1954. The new cornerstone was laid March 13, 1955 and the new building was dedicated in a day-long service on February 12, 1956. Approximately 1,800 persons attended those observances. The old structure was demolished and materials from it used in the construction of a new house in Lodgepole.
In 1968, the congregation was informed that it was not properly incorporated under Nebraska law. The Secretary of State’s office would not permit the use of the present name, “Immanuel” since an American Lutheran Church congregation 16 miles northeast of Lodgepole was also called “Immanuel Lutheran Church”. Three congregational meetings resulted in the present name, “Gloria Dei” chosen from a field of 11, which included “St. John’s”. The congregation has been thus known since March 1968.
On May 23, 1971, Gloria Dei witnessed the 50th Anniversary of its beginning. In May 1996, Gloria Dei witnessed its 75th Anniversary. In the summer of 2000, Gloria Dei joined Grace, Berea and St. Mark’s in the Tri-County Parish. We were able to maintain individual services with the shared pastors, Jack and Dawn Coffey. The Coffey’s stayed with us from 2000-2007, and Pastor Sarah Cordray came after and stayed until February 2014. Today we continue the mission of the past: “To Gather”. It is what we have always done and will continue to do in our future. We gather together to worship and pray, we gather to work for our church and to witness for our God. We go about our jobs in the best way we can, prayerfully and faithfully. We gather to glorify God; to make His name known to all. God is alive and well at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Lodgepole, NE.