St. Paul’s Lutheran celebrates 150 years

St. Paul’s Lutheran in Howards Grove celebrated 150 years Sunday June 17.

In the summer of 1862, the Civil War raged as President Lincoln struggled to keep the country from dividing. Wisconsin had been part of the United States for less than 15 years. And just west of Sheboygan, a gathering of immigrant farmers and merchants met to hear God’s Word in a land which was far from their native Germany. Pastor J.P. Sprengling worked with this small group to begin St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in the town of Herman. In 1868, the new congregation was received into membership in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

150 years later, St. Paul’s Lutheran is a gathering of over 700 people. On Sunday, June 17, they hosted a sesquicentennial celebration with a worship service and reception afterward. The president of the Wisconsin Synod, Pastor Mark Schroeder, was the guest preacher for the 3:00 p.m. service.

Rev. Tom Unke currently serves as pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

“So many things have changed in the last century and a half,” Unke remarked. “The first members of our church were immigrants and spoke only German. But the one thing we have in common with our founders is that God continues to bless us with the truth of his Word. This church was founded on belief in all of God’s word, and we continue to share the truth that Jesus is the one and only Savior for sinners.”

St. Paul’s first met in a 20’ by 26’ building that was dedicated in 1863. Today, the people of this growing congregation meet in the comfort of a 32,000 square foot modern facility, complete with hi-tech classrooms and a gym.

St. Paul’s has operated an elementary school since 1974 and has hosted ministry programs for people of all ages.

“People may know us best as the church that presents the Living Nativity each Christmas,” Unke said. “We love to have everyone join us each December to remember the true purpose and meaning of Christmas. That is one of the ways that we bring the story of Jesus to the community. We also have our weekly worship services on television in Howards Grove and all of Sheboygan.”

Howards Grove village president James Scheiber declared Sunday, June 17 to be “St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Day” in honor of the anniversary celebration.

In addition to the worship service and reception, there were guest speakers and carriage rides around the village. The theme of the anniversary was “Celebrating God’s Faithfulness.”

“We have so much to celebrate,” said Unke. “Many older churches struggle to remain in existence as membership drops. That’s not the case at St. Paul’s. We’ve had so many wonderful people join our family, and we’ve had so many babies born. We’re a very young, family-centered church. It seems to me like we’ll be around for a long time.

“What a joy it is to see so many people regularly gather to hear about God’s forgiveness and love in Christ Jesus. We want everyone to know God’s plan to save sinners through Jesus. That’s why we’re here—and have been for the last 150 years.”

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