Salem Lutheran Church in Gretna will continue to celebrate its 150th Anniversary throughout the year, according to Carol Gegenheimer Scioneaux, the anniversary committee chairperson.  

Next up on the celebration train is a Hook & Ladder Cemetery Tour on Sat., Sept.16.  Pastor Larry Beane will lead a tour to include some Lutheran founding fathers and other notable Salem tombs at the historic cemetery. 

Ticketholders will meet at the Red Maple Restaurant at 5:00 p.m. for light refreshments which are included in the ticket price, with drinks available for purchase. At 6:00 p.m. the walking tour of 10 to 12 gravesites will begin.

One gravesite that will be included is that of John Hepting, 20 Aug 1836 – 24 Aug 1909, who was the Original Secretary 1871 – 1874 and served as President 1877 – 1880 when the church became Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church on Aug. 5, 1880. Hepting was instrumental in building the first Salem schoolhouse in 1877.

Another gravesite is that of Louis Oscar Fried, 11 Apr 1895 – 22 Apr 1914, first casualty during the 1914 American-Mexican War. There was a major procession through the streets of Gretna for his funeral that was officiated by  Reverend Wismar, Pastor of Salem Lutheran Church.

The small tour group will be limited to 30 people, so it is anticipated to be a sellout. Tickets are $10 per person and are Advance Sales only. Contact Grace Beane at 504.450.2034 for tickets.

“We are planning a Saturday Evening Prayer Service to celebrate our anniversary with the community on Sat., Oct. 28 at 6 p.m.  There will be no communion, and we would like lots of visitors to join us, all are invited and welcome.  We will also have a reception afterward in Schmid Hall,” Scioneaux said.   

Salem’s celebrations started with the Salem German Heritage Event that the German American Cultural Center held in July. That well attended event featured historic papers and pictures from the archives, plus food and drinks, mostly German in nature, all with German music in the background.

The cakes from Bae’s Bakery, located at 731 Lafayette St. in Gretna were delicious and historically fitting for this German celebration. The cakes provided a real authentic experience with the alcohol tastings. The following is a description of the cakes with some historic information.

The Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake) is a Sweet Cake with Honey and Almonds. Legend has it that in 1474, the cake received its name after a group of bakers, who were defending their town, Andernach,  threw beehive nests at the invaders from the neighboring town of Linz am Rhein, stinging them and making them flee. To celebrate their victory, they baked a cake, using honey as a key ingredient to commemorate the event.

The Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) is a

Chocolate Cake with Cherry and Whipped Cream. It is believed that the cake can be traced back to the 1500s, back when Europe first saw chocolate being available. The story goes that it was created in Germany’s Black Forest, a region known for its sour cherries and kirschwasser, a brandy made with cherries.

The Apple Strudel is a paper-thin Pastry with Apple. One of the most popular treats in any traditional Viennese cafe, this iconic dessert is considered by many to be the national dish of Austria. Often mistaken for being of German origin, the oldest known strudel recipe dates back to 1697 and can be found today in a handwritten cookbook in the Vienna Town Hall Library.

The advance story of the Salem German Heritage Event was featured in the article of July 9, 2023.  (Click here to read it).

Salem has commemorative Christmas ornaments for sale.

“This initial ornament is the first of a series that we plan to order each year.  Next year’s image has not been determined, but it will be something related to our history.

If anyone would like to order the commemorative Christmas ornament, the cost is $10 and will need to have the order in by Sun., Oct. 8. Contact Grace Beane at 504.450.2034 to order,” Scioneaux said.                  

Celebrations will conclude in December with the signing of Salem’s 150th celebration banner and the ringing of the historic bells 150 times.

The Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in 1871 and was the first Lutheran Church in Jefferson Parish that still exists. The church, located at 418 4th St. breathes history.

The first church was built in 1872 and replaced by the second church in 1913.  Due to damage in the 1915 Great Hurricane and subsequent storms, this church became unsafe and was demolished in the 1940s.

The current church, completed in 1951 is of Romanesque architecture, built of red brick and stone trim with biblical inscriptions carved over the entrances. Several elements of the previous churches have been incorporated into the building, including the three bells in the tower from the first church. History in its congregation as well, several members in the church today are descendants of some original members from the 1800s.