When people immigrated to America from other countries, they brought their language, culture and their religion. Many people came to this country seeking religious freedom. Delbert and Alvin Apetz’s father came to Nebraska from Germany. The two boys went to a parochial (church-affiliated) school where the children spoke German. Church services were in spoken in German. Leroy Hankel spoke German at home never learning English until he went to school. But York County, and most other rural communities, also heard Swedish, Czech, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Russian, French, Spanish, English, Irish brogues and Native American languages. America is a diverse country and that diversity is expressed through its religious life as well.
Small towns seemed to have a church on every corner – each representing the town’s diversity of religious denominations and beliefs.
Carla Due (left) says she remembers that the churches in her town didn’t get along. She wonders why there were – and still are – so many different churches. Stan Jensen says different churches usually worked together to sponsor social functions for young people. He says on Sunday evenings, “The Baptists would have a social and all the other young people from the community would join in. And then the Lutherans would have one, and everybody else would join in. So there was a fair amount of that social activity.”
Written by Claudia Reinhardt and Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. First written and published in 2003.