Sunrise services were longtime Brookfield tradition in Kiwanis Park

My wife always reads what Chris Stach writes about the history of Brookfield. She asked whether I had read his piece titled “Gimme shelter” (CURRENTS, Jan. 26), the history of the shelter at Kiwanis Park.

Chris Stach’s history of the shelter revealed that there were only two photos known to exist of the old “pavilion” built in 1937 as a relief project under the WPA. One of them was photo depicting “an Easter sunrise service held in the late 1940s.”

I can recall speaking with one of the former deacons of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Brookfield, Mr. Arthur Johnske, who died in 1974. His recollection of those Easter sunrise services was just reaffirmed in a phone call to one of the veteran members of our organization, Mr. Orville Mueller.

Orville Mueller married the daughter of Pastor Oscar Rockhoff, who was the pastor of St. Paul’s from 1919 to 1954. Art Johnske told me how the deacons of St. Paul’s would set up the benches at Kiwanis Park on the Saturday before Easter for the sunrise service.

The Board of Deacons, he said, would have men assigned all during the night before the Easter sunrise service to make sure that their labors the previous day were not in vain. St. Paul’s of Brookfield had invited members of sister congregations along what the affectionately called the “Q Zone” to celebrate the feast of Christ’s resurrection with them at 6 a.m.

I am not sure how many responded, but the figure “thousands” was used. St. Paul’s of Brookfield was responsible for hosting the service. Those who were invited to preach the sermon at the service were some of the most well-known pastors of the synod of which St. Paul’s was a member.

When the sunrise services were no longer held at the pavilion in Kiwanis Park, they were moved to the Riverside-Brookfield High School gymnasium. Early in the 1960s, I can recall that the speaker at the sunrise service was Dr. Martin Marty.

Shortly after the sunrise services at RB came to an end, our congregation continued the tradition of the sunrise services by holding them in our own gymnasium. Invited as speakers were those who were well known in our own church body.

Since those early years, many congregations have begun the practice of having their own sunrise services, hence what was long a tradition for those who attended the original sunrise services at pavilion mentioned in “Gimme shelter” came to an end.

But sunrise services are still held at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brookfield, still also at 6 a.m.

Rev. Walter Otten, pastor
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church


Letter didn’t address Riverside coach house concerns

The letter of Village President Harold J. Wiaduck Jr. that appeared in the Jan. 26 issue of the Landmark (“Riverside coach house rules not unreasonable”) in response to my questions regarding the use of coach houses clearly does not address the concerns I noted–that the single-family property owners should be able to use their coach houses for purposes directly related to their single-family primary dwelling.

These uses might be a playroom, study, library, extra bedroom, etc. Mr. Wiaduck’s letter refers only to the use as other than single-family, specifically multifamily, use.

My concerns have no implications relating to multifamily use. Mr. Wiaduck has not addressed the issue of the use of coach houses by only the immediate single family owning the primary residence.

I do not propose any violations to the character of Riverside as a single-family community.

Paul Straka


PEP throws stones, but has no solutions of its own

I have just received the latest Brookfield Monitor missive from the PEP Party. Before I started to read it, I mentioned to my wife, that it would actually be nice to hear what the PEPs would actually do to improve Brookfield, rather than just read about them criticizing Bill Russ and the VIP Party.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed yet again. In the three years since I moved to Brookfield, all I have read from PEP Party members is about Bill Russ being to blame for this, and Bill Russ being to blame for that. No doubt the PEP Party will probably blame Mr. Russ for the recent heavy snowfall too.

I am not affiliated with any political party, and came to Brookfield with an open mind about politics. Like all residents, I am concerned about my property value, taxes, crime and local services.

While Mr. Russ has been village president, I have seen property values rise, overall crime decrease and local services maintained at an adequate level. I see the roads being improved on a steady basis, and it is a comfort to know that they will be plowed and salted as soon as there is snow, unlike many of our neighboring communities.

However, reading the Monitor, one would believe that Bill Russ is some sort of demon. For about the 20th time, I read about how he grants favors to his friends, gets reductions on his water bill and is singularly responsible for crime in Brookfield. No mention, of course, about his achievements.

An example is the reference to the proposed ban on campaign signs for the next election. Mike Garvey and the PEPs inform us that “our guess is Bill Russ could not deal with not seeing his name on signs so he would not let (Tom) Nowicki live up to his handshake agreement. After all–we know how much Russ likes to put his name on things.”

Isn’t it the truth that Mike Garvey hates seeing Bill Russ’ name on things because, as a wannabe village president, he would prefer to see his own name on everything instead.

So come on, Mr. Garvey, let’s stop the schoolyard jibes at Mr. Russ and instead try to come up with some solid proposals and plans for the future of Brookfield, because that is what we want to hear. Then we can make our election choices based on something tangible.

Ian Tiele


Thanks for all of the heartfelt support of our troops

Our son, Brian Merson, returned home just about a year ago, finishing his nearly six-year enlistment in the United States Marine Corps. He served in Iraq, as written about in this paper (“Brookfield resident extends military tour to stay involved with war effort,” NEWS, April 9, 2003)

He is safe, uninjured and a decorated veteran, having won several commendations for his bravery and conduct in the face of danger and the protection of his fellow soldiers. We as his parents thank God for all His blessings.

Brian said he was warmed deep in his heart by the letters he received from Sunday School class students?”some children as young as 5 or 6, writing, of course, with the help of compassionate adults.

We would also like to thank all the people who called with encouragement and brought over numerous supplies for shipment to Brian. The loyal support of the Brookfield VFW, Brookfield village officials, people we met in town who knew Brian and told us they were praying for him, and the entire congregation at LaGrange Bible Church all helped make a difficult time a lot easier for us to endure. Brookfield and LaGrange came together for us, and we will never forget it.

We would like to ask that while U.S. and its coalition members are still embroiled in Iraq, that everyone support our troops over there. Have your church pray for our troops at regular services, Bible studies and especially children’s classes.

Pray for the troops individually and contact their friends, relatives and neighbors back home. It will mean so much to those who receive a phone call, letter or brief conversation when you meet them. We guarantee it.

Charles and Darlene Merson