Drumms Lutheran Church

A Photo Essay

Taken on a Sony NEX 3 digital camera using the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens.

White clapboard church from front
White clapboard church with graveyard from side.

Drumms Lutheran Church is a classic American Protestant church, rising between corn and soybean fields in a valley in Central Ohio’s Fairfield County, and surrounded by a churchyard.

The interior of the church is, at first glance as plain and Protestant as the outside. The windows are square, not arched, and the only pictures in the church are a reproduction of Warner Sallman’s “Head of Christ”, flanked by a duo of brass angels. A musical angel also sits in a corner beside the piano and organ.

If you look closely, however, you will see that this is indeed a liturgical church. There is a paschal candle beside a baptismal font that is clearly designed only for sprinkling.

font and paschal candle

On the altar of the church – and it is an altar- sits not a Bible, but a very substantial ciborium. This is a container for reserving the consecrated hosts- considered by Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians and the Eastern Orthodox to be the literal body of Christ.

Presiding over this church’s little flock is Pastor David Bugh.

Upper body of white man in black jacket and white shirt.

Pastor Bugh is a genial man who grew up in this congregation. He has pastored several different churches in three states, and agreed to serve Drumm’s Lutheran Church when he retired to his childhood home. He is a charming conversationalist, and very willing to let me in and to talk about the history and present of the congregation, building, and churchyard.

Drumm’s Lutheran Church is old, but not as old as you might think it is. The current church building was built at the end of the Victorian era, AD 1890, and became an official Lutheran congregation at that time. The first minister was Pastor E. A. Young, who also served five other churches in a circuit.

However, the churchyard and the congregation, as a gathering of Christian people rather than an organized entity, date from much earlier in the 19th century.

Some time in the 1820s, Johnann Peter Drumm, a patriarch, Revolutionary War veteran, and one of the first European-American settlers in this part of Ohio, established a family graveyard and built a log church near it, primarily to serve as a funeral chapel. This log church sat directly behind the site of the present church and no trace of it remains, but there are still visible headstones from this early era. Unfortunately, because in the late 18th and early 19th centuries headstones were carved from relatively soft stone, usually soapstone, no legible carving survives from this era.

headstone reads "in memory of Peter Drumm"
Because Johann Peter Drumm’s headstone was illegible, a new headstone was erected for him in the 1970s. At the time, his German first name Johann was not known.

The churchyard has continued in active use to this day, and many members of the church, including the pastor, have plots picked out and have monuments carved and put up in anticipation.

The congregation consists primarily of the descendants of Johann Peter Drum, and was never extremely large. The largest ever confirmation class consisted of 19 youths in 1916. At that time, the American countryside was more densely populated than at any time before or scene. Now the congregation is in the single or low double digits. But they know that Jesus said “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”, and are determined to continue meeting to worship and going forth to serve.