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HISTORY OF ST. PAUL
On May 30th, 1864 the first Lutheran Congregation of McGregor was founded in a special meeting held in the Lutheran Church located at the end of the footbridge on the back street just above the present site of the McGregor Wholesale Grocery Company. Fifteen communicant members were listed in the registry and in 1870 a constitution consisting of ten parts was officially drawn up and signed by ten voting members. Among the names which appear on that list is that of August Ringling Senior, the father of the now famous Ringling Brothers Circus. Two sons, August Ringling Jr., and Alfred Ringling were also members of this first congregation.
In 1871 a pastor from Prairie du Chien became the pastor of the congregation and services were conducted every other Sunday in the afternoon. The congregation was quite large due to a big sawmill located here until 1881. However, after that the members were quite scattered about and services were held every other week in the evening. In 1906 another Prairie du Chien pastor took over the spiritual care of the congregation and in 1911 it was officially decided to hold most of the services in the homes in north McGregor (now Marquette) since the majority of the members lived there. These services were usually held on Wednesday evenings every other week and although the church was used for the last time in 1912, services were continued in the homes until 1916.
In 1919 and 1920 a third Prairie du Chien pastor took charge of the small group of Lutherans and then because of the departure of so many of the members from this community the congregation was forced to disband, the old church was condemned, sold, and torn down. In 1928 the Rev. Finck of Postville Lutheran Church in Postville, Iowa, started services here and collected large crowds for about a year. Interest faded and services discontinued when Rev. Finck was called to Baltimore, Maryland.
In 1930 the Rev. Gustafson of the Swedish Church of the Augustana Synod canvassed the town for Lutheran prospects but only a few services were held. On September 13th, 1931 the situation in McGregor was brought to the attention of Rev. Harms, President of the Iowa District of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States by William Zweig of McGregor and Rev. Martin Eussert of Dubuque, Iowa. Rev. Keipper was sent by the mission board of this body to work the field and three services were held at which time the pastor was called back to his former congregation.
The assistant to President Harms then came to McGregor to carry on the work here and he made three trips over the weekends to McGregor to conduct services. Conditions were very favorable for organizing a Lutheran congregation and it was then decided to place a resident pastor to care for the spiritual welfare of the Lutherans in this community. Thus on October 23, 1931 the Rev. H. F. Glock from Clinton, Iowa arrived in McGregor with his wife and the first service was conducted on October 25, 1931 in the Odd Fellows Hall which was then located above the present Albeck-Davies Grocery and Locker Plant. About one month later on November 22nd the Sunday School was formed with eight children enrolled. With an average church attendance of 30 for the first six months, prospects for an established congregation seemed very favorable and on May 1, 1932 the Lutheran Mission officially extended a call to Rev. Glock to become their regular pastor. On July 3rd, 1932 the constitution of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church was officially drawn up and signed by 28 members. In August 1932 a residence and two lots were purchased at the upper end of Main Street. The residence was remodeled in order to conduct church services and provide a parsonage for the pastor and family.
On September 29th, 1932, the Ladies Aid Society of the congregation was organized and in September 1933 the Young People’s Society was organized. As the congregation grew in members and the months passed on, the facilities became too small to accommodate the size of the congregation. It was then decided by the members to erect a house of worship on the lot adjacent to the parsonage. The building of the new church was started in September and much of the labor was donated by the members themselves. On November 17th, 1935 McGregor’s newest church, St. Paul’s Lutheran, was dedicated to the glory of God. The church auditorium was 35 feet by 23 feet with a place for the choir and a full basement below. In June 1937 the Rev. F. Glock received a call and accepted the call to serve the congregation at Grand Mound and Buena Vista, Iowa.
The congregation then called the Rev. H. H. Kirchmann of Sumner, Iowa to be their new pastor. He accepted the call and was installed and ordained on July 4th, 1937. Under the blessing of God the membership continued to grow. When Rev. Kirchmann accepted the call to Trinity congregation, Dillon, Iowa, on October 6th, 1940, the total number of members of the once struggling mission already numbered 108. Then followed a vacancy of over two months during which time the Rev. M. Peters of Guttenberg, Iowa served as vacancy pastor. On December 22nd, 1940 the Rev. Luther Schember of Clinton, Iowa, accepted the call to be the next pastor. He was installed and ordained and served until 1944. At that time Rev. Starke became St. Paul’s fourth pastor. He took a call in 1951 and Rev. Mommens became the pastor. It was during the pastorate of Rev. Mommens that he, along with four parishioners were in a terrible car wreck while driving in a snow storm. From the look of the accident it would seem that all the occupants of the car could have easily entered into eternal glory, but God had other plans. The most seriously injured of the five was Arno Corlett who severely injured his leg. They all subsequently recovered with the exception of Arno who had trouble with his leg until his death in 2005.
Rev. Mommens took a call in 1955 and Rev. Frohn became St. Paul’s sixth pastor. Rev. Frohn took a call in 1957 and Rev. Milbrath became St. Paul’s seventh pastor. He took a call in 1962 and Rev. Stoll became St. Paul’s eighth pastor. It was during Pastor Stoll’s pastorate that the addition was built. In 1965 the present sanctuary was added to the existing building along with Sunday School classrooms, and the pastor’s study. Rev. Stoll took a call in 1966 and Rev. Kehret became St. Paul’s ninth pastor.
1971 brought the arrival of Pastor Jank as well as joining with Trinity, Guttenberg in a dual parish. The last six pastors of St. Paul have been Rev. McKnight, Rev. Willig, Rev. Hellend, Rev. Eilers, Rev. Von Steinman, and Rev. Zimmer. On August 3, 2014, we were blessed to have the Ordination and Installation of Pastor Andrew J. Preus. We give great thanks to God who has kept the flock of St. Paul in his loving arms by continually feeding us His infallible Word and His life giving sacraments.