St. Paul's beginning came as an outgrowth of Christian concern in 1900 for the few Lutheran families in Hartley and the area. The Reverends Brandt, B. Richter, and F. Albrecht, pastors from Sanborn and May City, began conducting services in an Adventist Church.
The first resident pastor, The Rev. Adolph Schrein took charge of the mission church on August 29, 1907. The congregation was formally organized September 26, 1909. Our former sanctuary (now the Baptist Church) was erected on Central Avenue and dedicated December 4, 1910. After Pastor Schrein accepted a Call to Holstein, Nebraska, The Rev. E. A. Hoffman of Muskagee, Oklahoma, was called and assumed the pastorate on November 19, 1911.
Pastor Hoffman maintained a parochial school from 1912 to 1920. the congregation was officially received as a member of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 1921. After fourteen years of service at St. Paul's, Pastor Hoffman took a Call to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Pastor A. C. Weber served the congregation from 1925 until 1953, 28 years. The former pastors, Schrein and Hoffman, were guest speakers at St. Paul's 25th anniversary celebration on June 9, 1935.
The present sanctuary at 60 North Central Avenue was erected with the construction beginning on May 5, 1948. the cornerstone was laid on August 1st, containing a small Bible; copy of St. Paul's constitution; program booklet of the 25th congregational anniversary; copy of Luther's Small Catechism; the latest issues of the Hartley Sentinel and the Des Moines Register; a list containing the names of the present church council members, the pastor, the Sunday School teachers, organists, the building committee and building fund committee, the architect and builder, who were Thorwald Thorsen of Forest City, Iowa and Geiger-Gilbertson construction company of Sheldon, Iowa; the names of the President of the United States, the governor of the State of Iowa, the Mayer and Councilmen of the City of Hartley; a silver coin; a copy of the Order of Worship Service; and a copy of the "Lutheran Witness", with the dedication held on December 11, 1949. However, the first worship service was conducted in the church basement on June 19, 1949. The membership then stood at 310 communicant members. The Walther League, Lutheran Layman's League, Ladies' Aid and Sunday Bible classes had been organized.
The Rev. A. O. Bleeke of Storm Lake was installed as the congregation's fourth pastor in August of 1953, after Pastor Weber took a Call to Dexter, Iowa. By now the Sunday School facilities were outgrown, so the erection of a new educational unit south of the sanctuary began on June 2, 1959 with the first classes being held in December. At that time a new parsonage was also built on the southwest edge of the church property. 1959 was the church's fiftieth year since the congregaion's organization, so the 50th anniversary service along with the dedication of the educational wing and the new ranchstyle parsonage was conducted July 31, 1960.
In 1969, after sexteen years of ministry to St. Paul's congregation, Pastor Bleeke retired, but continued to serve as vacancy pastor until the leadership was taken over by the Rev. Thomas Klinkenberg, coming from Arizona in July of 1970. He remained here until July 26, 1972 when he took a Call to Flagstaff, Arizona.
St. Paul's sixth pastor, Francis W. Mennenga, from Dallas, Texas was installed on February 18, 1973. At that time the redecorating and air conditioning of the sanctuary was underway and completed in 1974. In 1976 the church outside front steps were enclosed. April 30, 1978 the new Allen Digital Organ was installed to help beautify St. Paul's services.
In 1979 the position of visitation pastor was initiated with the Rev. Raymond Albrecht serving in this capacity. his duties were to visit the shut-ins, giving them communion along with holding devotional services at the nursing homes. Pastor Albrecht retired in April of 2000 after 21 years of serving as Visitation Pastor for St. Paul's shut-ins.
In November of 1979, Pastor Mennenga accepted a Call to Lubbock, Texas leaving November 20, 1979. Once again the conregation was served by a vacancy pastor until May 25, 1980, when Pastor John E. Schuaer was installed coming from Adair, Iowa. At that time our membership roll was 721 baptized souls. An audio tape ministry was expanded and furnished to our shut-ins. We later joined a group of churches in Hartley on the Cable- TV Christian Channel 36 and broadcasted live our Sunday mornings services. The TV channel also provided a video showing of our Sunday worship service during the week. This service was and is still greatly appreciated by all those participating. Christian Education for the low functioning members was initiated and used for those desiring such a service. Pastor Schauer received and accepted a Call to Ida Grove, Iowa, leaving on January 4, 1996.
On August 18, 1996 the Rev. David E. Ericksen was installed as our eighth pastor, coming from Rockwell City, Iowa, to serve the 551 baptized souls of St. Paul's.
At the April 1998 Voters Assembly meeting the construction of a new addition to the church was approved. This addition would add a new larger lobby and also house the elevator, enabling our members and others to who couldn't handle the steps an easier access to the building. St. Paul's was now Handicap Accessible. the construction, remodeling and redecoration completed in the spring of 2000 with a service of praise and dedication held on June 11, 2000.
Presently there are many active auxiliaries in the congregation: Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML); Lutheran Youth Fellowship (LYF) for both grades 6-8 and high school age students; Ladies Aid; Friendly Circle; Mary Circle; Rachel Circle; Adult Choir; Bell choir; St. Paul's Singers; Sunday School for ages 3 through high school; Adult Sunday Bible Study and a Bible Study Group meeting on Thursday mornings serving the membership of 530 baptized souls at the time of this writing.
The members of St. Paul's confess themselves to be Christians by the Grace of God through Christ Jesus. Lutherans by theological conviction, and fellow travelers by choice with those who walk together by "Grace Alone, Faith Alone, and Scripture Alone".
Concluding the history of the congregation with the words: "May our heavenly Father, who has so visibly, although so undeservedly, blessed us in the past, continue to be with us as we enter a new era of our Church life and give us grace to continue to glorify His holy name, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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