St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church began its formal existence as a church body on August 18, 1874. There have been many changes in Wisconsin, Tomah, and the world in the past 140 years. However, there is one thing we can be sure will never change, our gracious God. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) God has said His Word will not return void, but will accomplish “that which I please, and prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). Thanks to our gracious God for giving St. Paul congregation 140 years of opportunity for service.
Below is the list of original members of St. Paul congregation in 1874 as recorded in the Practical Church Record.
|Bongers, Hermann Mrs.
|Fieting, Sr. Wilhelm
||Willson, Magdalina Mrs.
||Pietz, William Mrs.
Items from Our History
The congregation was organized on July 26, 1874, under the name St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church of Tomah, Wisconsin. The first seventeen voters who joined the organization were L. Friske, W. Fieting, Sr., A. Scholz, E. Daher, F. Maas, K. Bohn, F. Helmke, J. Schulz, L. Schulz, D. Marten, A. Koehn, K. Kupper, F. Schmidt, F. Duwe, F. Lueck, A. Bongers and J. Lueck. K. Grutke, F. Krueger and R. Roscovius joined shortly after this meeting.
On August 18, 1874, the congregation, numbering 98 souls and 44 communicants, was incorporated in accordance with the laws of the State of Wisconsin.
Shortly after the congregation was incorporated, a plot of ground just north of the present church building was purchased for $180. On September 26, 1875, the congregation resolved to build a church. A frame structure 24 X 36 feet was erected at a cost of $600. The first service in this new church was held on December 26, 1875.
The first recorded baptism took place on June 24, 1877. Alfred Roscovius, son of Rudolph and Augusta, nee Matthews, was baptized that day. On January 22, 1882, the first recorded marriage took place when Peter Johnson and Hulda Falk were married. The first recorded confirmation was on April 16 of the same year.
The congregation resolved to join the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod on May 13, 1882. Adolph Koehn served as the first delegate to the Synod convention that year.
In the first years the congregation was served faithfully by the pastors of St. John Ev. Church of Ridgeville. However, the congregation soon realized the need for a resident pastor. On April 6, 1884, a call was extended to Pastor J. Jenny who came to Tomah in the fall of that year.
When a larger church became necessary, the cornerstone for a new brick veneer structure was laid on June 8, 1890. The following items were put into this cornerstone: a history, a copy of the constitution for church and school, a membership list, a list of congregation officials, names of national, state and city officials at that time, a Lutheran hymnal, Luther’s Small Catechism, copies of the Gemeindeblatt, Schulblatt and Lutheran Witness, copies of two newspapers, The Germania and The Tomah Journal, and a number of United States coins. All of these items, with some of the historical data translated into English, were replaced in the datestone which now rests in the northeast entrance wing of the present church building. This new church building, which cost $4,493.32, was 36 X 56 feet and seated 350. Dedication services were held on October 12, 1890.
In the fall of 1892 Pastor Jenny accepted a call to Duluth, MN. Pastor G. E. Bergmemann of South Bay City , MI, was installed as the second resident pastor on November 1, 1892. He served until 1899. Pastor J. G. Glaeser was St. Paul’s next pastor until he died in 1933. Pastor Herbert Schaller was called in 1933 and served until 1950, followed by Pastor J. C. Dahlke who was here from 1950 until 1958. Pastor O. W. Heier of Crete, IL, was installed in 1958 and served until his death in 1980. Pastor W. E. Schulz (1964-68), Pastor Ethan Kahrs (1968-72) and Pastor Kenneth Gast (1972-1990) are all past shepherds of St. Paul Lutheran Church.
In the year 1900 two bells were purchased for the church tower at a cost of $740. The one bell weighs 2,500 pounds, the other 1,000 pounds. These bells were reconditioned and electrified and still serve in the tower of the present church building.
In 1962 the first Sunday School classes were conducted by St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church of Tomah.
In 1964 Pastor W. E. Schulz was installed to serve as a second pastor at St. Paul.
The present church building was dedicated for service to God on December 19, 1970. It cost $580,000 to build and has a seating capacity of 750.