Out of sincere desire to worship God, a group of 10 men met to organize St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church June 10, 1883. These men are the charter members of our congregation. They are William Bergmann, Joachim Bohnsack, John Christoffer, Fredrich Evert, William Fritz, William Kopplien, John Putensen, Peter Reickmann, Jacob Schehr, and John Stofferahn. These men and families had been contacted by Pastor G. Haar, the pastor of a rural church in the Lytton vicinity. That congregation is now known as Emmanuel and St. Paul, Lytton, Iowa. This is our mother congregation.
The first council was instructed to contact the Iowa Railroad Land Company of Cedar Falls, making inquiry about the possibility "of receiving a lot for the purpose of building a German Lutheran Church." The railroad company donated the lot on Second Street, with the restriction "if the society (congregation) is ready to commence building this season and upon their completing a church within one year from the date, will execute a deed of it to them, for church purposes. This form provides that the lot shall be used for church purposes only, and that in case it shall cease to be so used permanenty, it shall revert to the company."
With young enthusiasm, funds were gathered for the building of the first House of Worship. The church 24x36 feet, was dedicated in the fall of 1884. It was a day of great joy to the congregation. Much had been sacrificed as those early days were hard and trying on one's faith and courage, but they persevered by the grace of God. Before the completion of the church, worship services were conducted in homes and school houses. Baptisms were performed in the homes on Sunday afternoons. Funeral services were conducted at the home of the bereaved family.
In 1885 the congregation adopted the name, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church. It had been known as the First Lutheran Congregation of Griggs township. At this time affiliation was also established with "Lutheran Synod of Iowa and other States." In 1930 this Synod, with three other Lutheran groups, formed "American Lutheran Church."
In 1887, under the leadership of Pastor C. Schroeder, congregations were established at rural Correctionville and Salem Lutheran north of Rock Branch. A preaching station at Cushing was established, which became the nucleus for St. John's Lutheran Church to be organized about 10 years later. Thus St. Paul Congregation is in a sense the spiritual mother of two daughter congregations.
Short postorates and non-resident pastors seemed to stand in the way of growth. With the first resident pastor in Holstein it was hoped for definite progress. The following year a lot was purchased and a modest parsonage and schoolhouse were erected. "But God's grace would not let the tender plant die." Auxiliary organizations were called into being -- the Ladies' Aid in 1904 and the Luther League in 1906.
The English language was introduced as a medium of religious instruction, which permitted the congregation to grow and flourish. A new parsonage was constructed in 1924. On Palm Sunday, April 5, 1942, it was decided to erect a new church, 36x90 feet. Dedicatory services were held May 30, 1943. For the first time in its history the congregation carried out a major building project with no remaining debt.
The congregation found its facilities limited for the promotion of adequate religious instruction and other organizational activities, so in May 1954 ground was broken for the addition of a Parish House. The dedication of the new unit took place March 24, 1956. Another parsonage was built in 1978 to accommodate a second pastor.
St. Paul's congregation grew and developed because of the love, loyalty, interest, and sacrifices of its members. Indeed, there were days of discouragement and seeming defeat, but with faith and undaunted courage the members of St. Paul Congregation have moved onward. The past 100 years have been good to us; the Lord has blessed us richly!
St. Paul Lutheran Pastors
G. Haar- organized the congregation
J. Jeuter- 1883-1887
C.E. Schroeder- 1887-1889
N. Hansen- 1889-1890
E.H. Gabriel- 1894-1906
G. Langhammerer- 1906-1922
S.H. Sandrock- 1923-1931
N. Mattheis- 1932-1941
A.H. Geske- 1942-1951
W. Striepe- 1951-1971
R. Peterson- 1971-1981
L. Peterson- 1975-1981
Dean L. Moe 1982-1985
Frank E. Phillipp 1982-1986
Marilyn G. Hanson 1986-1992
Keith Sievers, interim pastor 1993
Curtis Benson 1993-2016
Matthew Martens, interim pastor 2016-2017
Bob Lewis 2018 - 2023
St. Paul Lutheran Interns
Byron Bunge 1973
Neil Vik 1987
William Duffy 1988
Dan Luett 1989
Althea Sondahl 1990
Steve Mehl 1991
Lewis Thompson 1992
JoAnn Lemme 1993
Bogart Nomad 1994
Bill Nielsen 1995
Carl Hansen 1996
Directors of Youth, Ministry and Education
Jim and Kris Kistenmacher 2001- present
St. Paul Lutheran has continued to grow steadily with membership and ministry amidst many changes and challenges. For more info, visit the Holstein Centennial and Quasquicentennial History books, available at Stubbs Memorial Library, Holstein.