St. Paul's Lutheran Church Celebrates Century


November 23, 2018

Courtesy Photo

St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Potter recently celebrated 100 years as a congregation.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Potter celebrated its 100th anniversary on Oct. 21 with a morning worship service by the Rev. James Mueller of Yankton, S.D., as Lector and the Rev. Dr. Ron Garwood, former Wyoming District President, Cody, Wyo., as speaker.

The afternoon service was held with the Rev. James Mueller as Lector, the Rev. John Hill, present Wyoming District President, Casper, Wyo., as Liturgist and the /rev. Ted Bourret, current pastor as speaker. Four former pastors were in attendance: the Rev. Bruce LaKamp of East Peoria, Ill .; the Rev. Dan Jones of Emmett, Idaho; the Rev. Robert Koch of Seward, Neb., and the Rev. Craig Muhlbach of Seymour, Ind.

St. Paul's was organized in 1918 soon after World War I came to a close. On Nov. 24, 1918, a meeting was held in the farm home of Benjamin Hilpert. Pastor O.W. Juengel of Sidney was presented a constitution which was discussed and adopted. With joy in their hearts, 10 men signed the constitution as charter members: Benjamin Hilpert, Theodore Seibel, Arthur Schubarth, Arthur Oberndorfer, Ray Wills and five Mueller brothers: John, Frank, Art, Hugo and Oscar. Of these, descendarts of Benjamin Hilpert and Arthur Schubarth and Arthur Oberndorfer are still members today.

The congregation grew when A. Matthes, A. Schuessler, O. Bergt, C.G. Gemeinhardt, H. Schubarth, A. Schbarth, and A. Schlichting were aded by transfer from Salem church of Gurley. Otto Braunschweig was the first resident pastor of St. Paul's and was installed in June 1919. Soon after, the congregation became a member of the Missouri Synod. St. Paul's first house of worship was dedicated Aug. 24, 1919 with Prof. Weller of Seward the speaker. The parsonage next to the church was built in the fall of 1924 and spring of 1925 and the parsonage in town was sold. The parochial school was opened in 1925 with student F. Reins in charge and was conducted in the church building. In 1925, a Young People's Society was organized which immediately joined the Walther League. Also, a Ladies Aid came into being.

Pastor Braunschweig preached his farewell sermon on New Year's Day 1926 and followed a call to Aurelia, Iowa. Pastor J.H. Hinck served St. Paul's from September 1926 to February 1929. During those years, the school was conducted by Miss Ella Vick and student Walter Bredehoeft. In August 1929, Pastor Gustav H. Boehnke was installed and ministered to the congregation and community for more than 11 years. During this time, the teachers were Meta Fiehler until 1930 and Carl Mueller who continued to have charge of the school until 1943.

From 1940 to 1944, St. Paul's formed a part of a twin parish and was served by Pastor V. J. Jung, who was shepherding the Salem Church in Gurley. During his ministry, St. Paul's observed its Silver Anniversary.

From 1944 to 1947, Pastor Martin H. Juengel ministered to St. Paul's as a separate parish. Mrs. Robert Fiehler was in charge of the school from 1945 to 1947. From December 1947 to January 1952, Pastor E. Walter Bellmann shepherded St. Paul's. In 1948, a good school was purchased and moved to the premises. During the 1948-49 school year, Elaine Hegemeier was in charge of the school. It closed in 1949.

Pastor G. H. Boehnke served during the vacancy from spring 1952 to August 1953. It was during that time the church building was enlarged and remodeled to its present outward appearance. Pastor O. W. Juengel, who helped organized the congregation, and President A. F. Wegener of the south Nebraska District, were the speakers at the rededication on March 22, 1953. Theodore J. Klein, from the seminary in St. Louis, was ordained pastor in August 1953 and served until September 1956.

In 1953, the school was reopened with student Wayne Duchow in charge. It closed in 1954.

After a four-month vacancy, Pastor R. H. Brauer was installed in January 1957. The 40th anniversary of St. Paul's was celebrated on Nov. 23, 1958 with Pastor G.H. Boehnke as speaker. Pastor Brauer accepted a call to Aberdeen, S.D., in December 1962, leaving St. Paul's after Jan. 1, 1963. Pastor Boye, Boehnke and Krohn then served St. Paul's during the vacancy. After calling unsuccessfully until July 1963, it was recommended to hold a joint meeting with Salem of Gurley in an attempt to form a dual parish. On Aug. 18, 1963, the proposed "Articles of Dual Parish" was approved.

Pastors who have shephereded this dual parish were LaKamp 1968-1972, Curt Moermond 1972-1978, Vince Larson, Jr. 1978-1982, Dan Jones 1982-1989, Robert Koch 1990-1992, Barry Warpness 1993-1994, Craig Muhlbach 1996-1999 and Ted Bourret 2000 to present. Harold Bergt, Larry Baack, Meta Fiehler, Betty (Fiehler) Wilson, Joan (Buhrdorf) Worthman, Erna (Brauer) Peters, Alice Brauer (missionary in India), James Hilpert, Angela (Miller) Ebel, and Greg Miller have served in the parochial school profession. Entering the ministry from our congregation were the Rev. Leonard George Schubarth, the Rev. Leonard Aurich and the Rev. James Mueller.

St. Paul's has been following the trend of other rural churches with declining membership. The church now has 87 baptized souls and 73 communicant members.


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