Apache 125 Historical Presentations



Rev. Dr. William B. Kessel 

William Kessel was born and reared on the Ft. Apache Indian Reservation where his Grandfather (E. E. Guenther) and Uncle (A. A. Guenther) served as WELS missionaries. He attended the University of Arizona earning his B. A., M. A., and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology with an emphasis on Apache religion. Dr. Kessel also graduated from the Evangelical Lutheran Synod seminary. During his career he served as a parish pastor for 17 years and as a university and parochial college professor for 25 years. The majority of his four books and 60 published articles focus on either Native American history or Biblical Christianity


This paper will not be a standard mission history itemizing congregations and mission personnel. Neither will it be a strict chronological summary spanning the decades. Instead, it will be a demonstration of the efficacy of Scripture. When God’s Word is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit causes it to take root in the heart, souls are saved, and the new life in Christ is lived. The effect of the Gospel on Apaches from 1896 to the present on the Ft. Apache Indian Reservation will be witnessed in the very words spoken by Apache Christians. 


Rev. Eric Hartzell


In 1958 the Hartzell Family moved to East Fork Mission from Globe, Arizona.  Pastor Eugene Hartzell served as missionary at East Fork for 25 years.  Pastor Eric Hartzell graduated from East Fork grade school and high school (1965).  He attended D.M.L.C and graduated in 1969.  For a four year time he served as a tutor and instructor at Watertown, Wisconsin at the WELS Prep High School and College.  He spent one year in the Japanese Mission at Tsuchiura teaching the missionaries children and helping out with the work where he was able.  In 1976 he graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and served six years as missionary in Zambia, Africa at Mwembezhi.  In 1982 he received the call to East Fork Mission and Canyon Day on the Fort Apache reservation and served there for 14 years.  In 1996 he moved to the new mission congregation in Georgetown, Texas and served there as pastor and as circuit pastor for the Capital Circuit of the South Central District of the WELS.  In 2016 he was called to Globe, Arizona where he presently serves as pastor.


This presentation will try and show how things began…the survey for a place to do mission work, steps taken that brought the first missionaries to the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, the initial philosophy of the work, and the first missionaries.  By presenting the lives and character of the first mission players, both Apache and White, it is hoped that the attender will be able to see our roots and perhaps also understand better why it is we do what we do in this special place and among these special people.   


Introduction to the start of the Apache Mission

The video presentation below tells the story of the beginning of the WELS Apache Mission through narrated photos. This video is a gift by the first missionary's family - relatives of Johannes Plocher. 

Pastor Dan Rautenberg

Native American Mission

Field Coordinator

Apache  Christian Training School  (ACTS) Director