Between 1904 and 1948, seven orphans died who were living at the Lutheran Children’s Home (now the Bremwood campus of Lutheran Social Services in Iowa) in Waverly.  They were buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School Cemetery.  Although they were named on headstones, there was no information about their relationship with the Children’s Home and St. Paul’s, where the children worshipped and received confirmation instruction.

The Evangelical Lutheran Orphans Home in Waverly was first opened in Andrew, Iowa in 1864 by German Lutherans for orphans of the Civil War.  It later relocated to Waverly and took in orphaned and destitute children.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School supported the home with financial gifts and many people in the Waverly Community have family ties to children who lived at the home.

When Jim and Carla Janssen, members of Redeemer Lutheran in Waverly, learned of their stories from Pastor Mark Anderson, Northeastern Iowa Synod Assistant to the Bishop, they decided a good Lenten project would be to raise awareness of the story of the orphans and the work of the Children’s Home with a monument at the cemetery.

They raised awareness, spearheaded initial fundraising, found a company to create the monument and partnered with St. Paul’s to complete the project.

On All Saints Day the monument was dedicated at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Cemetery honoring seven orphaned children and recognizing the connection with the Lutheran Children’s Home and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School.

“This monument dedicated to the children who died at the orphanage is both a heartwarming and heartbreaking tribute,” said the Rev. Dr. Arthur Bergren, lead pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church & School.  “I am thankful to everyone who made this possible.”

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Would appreciate knowing the names of the children who died @ the home. Are any of them Heidemanns?

  2. Great story! Lutherans in Iowa have a history of compassion that extends a long back back. Thanks, St. Paul’s.


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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.