Every church unsung servants. These are the people who dust the pews every Thursday, change light bulbs, fix a balky door, unstop an overflowing toilet clean up the mess afterward. They sing in the choir, teach Sunday school, and serve on boards and committees and prepare the altar for worship. No one will write a poem in their honor, sing their praises at a banquet or even send a bouquet.
Like every church, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Collinsville, Illinois has had many such people over the years. Today I want to single out Jeanette Cohill.
As the congregation approached its 150 anniversary in 1998, it was time to get a handle on its archives. 150 years of minutes, letters, notes, publications etc. were kept in a basement room which also served as a conduit for rain water. It was also in a state of chaos. As churches are wont to do, they kept everything. Multiple duplications from multiple sources, check stubs going back to the 1800’s, documents with no accompanying information and countless photos with unidentified people beyond the memory of the current generation.
We needed someone who had the courage, the willingness, the ability and the stick-to-itiveness to bring order to the massive mess. It also takes a sense of humor; after all, we are dealing with the human side of the church. Jeanette was just the person to take on project.
Did I mention mildew? Every sheet of paper, every book of minutes written in German script carried an odor. The best place to do the sorting was on the front porch. The material was also moved out of the church basement into a small windowless room on the second floor of the school.
Jeannette spent untold hours sorting, organizing and deciding to discard what was not historically important. Even after the 1998 sesquicentennial the work continued, because history keeps moving on. Jeannette recruited Mildred Eigenbrodt and they continued the work.
However, as our own personal history rolls along, time and age catch up with us. Jeanette has not been able to keep at the work for awhile.
In recognition of the countless unsung servants of the church, I am recognizing one of them, Jeanette Cohill. On behalf of the church everywhere, thank you to the unsung servants.
Ron Jansen, pastor emeritus