The following article is located at:http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2001/fall/21.108.html
On Tuesday morning after my installation as pastor of New Cana Lutheran Church in southern Illinois, not far from St. Louis, Leonard Semanns came by my study to orient me to the community. He brought along the elders, three men charged with the spiritual oversight of the congregation, which in practice amounted to making sure that Sunday services ran on time and that Confirmation instruction was provided. As I would learn in succeeding weeks, they gathered every Sunday in the sacristy for ritual kibitzing before and after each service.
The trustees, on the other hand, were in charge of the church's physical properties. They weren't required to possess the spiritual aptitude of the elders. Unlike the trustees, who were almost always old and retired, and unlike the members of the cemetery committee, who were even older—older than the dirt they supervised—the elders tended to be middle-aged, the sons of trustees.
That morning Leonard and his cousin Gus spread out a hand-drawn map of the parish with each house and farm labeled. Members of the church were marked in red. The two of them, along with elders Bud Jordan and Ronnie Semanns, stood in their overalls in a respectful circle around my desk.
Their running commentary reminded me of a "talking map" I had once seen at the Gettysburg National Battlefield. Press a button near the site of a particular battle, and a recorded voice begins explaining it.
I had been heard to complain that the church kept no roster of its members. How can you organize a church without a list? I wanted to know. With their talking map they were remedying the situation.
"That would be Milfords' place. Him and Clara moved there when his dad quit farming. You want to see a man plow a straight furrow, you watch old Ben." Leonard and Gus exchanged knowing looks like a secret handshake. "You want to see the crookedest furrow in county, then I believe you'd have to visit Martin's place in the spring."
The four laughed uproariously. They were not bothering with last names and may have noticed my confusion. "Milford's Clara and Martin's Clara are both Dullmanns—of the Cherry Grove Dullmanns. Their mothers were cousins. Semanns and Dullmanns have been close."
"Semanns is the right name for farmers, isn't it," I said. "You know, since it means seed in Latin." The four looked at me without expression.
Leonard continued as if I hadn't spoken. "So you can see, Pastor, that every house on the Loop Road belongs to a member."
"What's the blank space behind the church?" I asked.
"That ain't nothin' but the Brush," said Ronnie. "We don't have any members from the Brush. That's mainly Irish and Hoosiers back in there. No church people."
"You know, Trash," Gus clarified.
"Have we ever had members from the Brush?" I asked. The only non-Semanns in the group, Bud, who worked as a plumber when he wasn't farming, recollected something. "There was one, an immigrant . …" Then he stopped mysteriously and gave no indication that he ...