In the summer of 1885, St. John’s Lutheran Church of Lomira released fifteen of its member families to the west who founded St. Paul’s Lutheran Church No. 2 in Brownsville and built a church on Main Street. (St. Paul’s No. 1 was in the Town of Lomira and is now known as the Half-Way Church.) The following men are listed as founders of the congregation:
William Zinke, Sr.
Carl Schultz, Sr.
August F. Schultz
Carl Schmeling, Sr.
Charles F. Kuen
W. M. Bloohm
Jacob Wurtz, Sr.
Frank W. Kuen
In 1887 the congregation felt strong enough to call their own pastor. Until that time they had been served by the pastor of St. John’s. The congregation called a young candidate to preach every Sunday and to teach school for six months for which the congregation promised to pay him $250.00 and to provide housing and heating material. Rev. Gottmanshausen accepted the call and was installed June 25, 1887. The first parsonage was purchased later that same year. School was conducted in the basement of that parsonage.
At noontime on September 6, 1909, the first parsonage was destroyed by a fire caused by the explosion of a gasoline stove. The wife of the current pastor, Ernestine Werr, was seriously injured and passed away the following day at the hospital in Fond du Lac, having been moved there by train. She was 33 years old. Pastor Werr and their three sons, Carl, Siegfried and Alfred, moved in with members for a short time. The present parsonage was purchased on October 2, 1909.
After the fire, school classes were taught in a room prepared in the cheese factory on the west end of the village. On March 1, 1910, the decision was made to build a schoolhouse. The new building measured twenty feet by forty feet and was built by a member of the congregation, Mr. Otto Ewert, for a cost of $1,100.00. The early pastors used this building for school several months each year. It was also used for fellowship gatherings and summer school classes. It would house our Lutheran Elementary School from its founding in 1924 until 1958.
New Church and Other Changes
By 1910, church membership had grown to 105 families. Many changes in addition to the schoolhouse would take place in the next few years. In 1911, the congregation formally joined the Wisconsin Synod. The Ladies’ Aid Society was organized on June 6, 1912, and a decision to build a new church was made on February 3, 1915. The cornerstone was laid in June and building was completed in November. The total cost with equipment and heating plant was $16,611.67. This is the church in which we still worship today.
A full-time Lutheran Elementary School was established in 1924. Two years later, Mr. Arnold F. Wilbrecht was installed as teacher, organist, and choir director. Shortly after 1924, the congregation joined the Winnebago Lutheran Academy Association. An extra English service was added; now there would be two per month instead of just one. In 1947 the decision was made to conduct all regular worship services in English. Over the years two additions to the south of the church provided modern classrooms for grades for PreK-8. Early into the 21st century declining enrollments became a concern in small rural congregations. In 2018, after 94 years of teaching our children God's Word, St. Paul's partnered with nearby St. Luke's of Oakfield to combine our students on the St. Luke's campus. It has been a very positive experience for both congregations.
In 1958 two classrooms were built onto the back of the church. The building was done by Arnold Ewerdt (son of Otto) at a cost of $28,000. These rooms are currently our kindergarten and primary grade classrooms. Two more classrooms and office space were added to the school in 1970. The cost was $65,000. Our intermediate and upper grade classes are now taught in these rooms. Teachers were added to the faculty soon after each building addition. A second teacher was added in 1964, and the third and fourth teachers were added in 1970 and 1972 respectively. In 1978, the congregation erected a gymnasium/fellowship hall at a cost of $160,000. Besides providing the congregation with a room for larger gatherings, it also provided our sports-minded students with a facility for playing indoor sports. This addition included a kitchen, locker room, and junior high school sized basketball court. A teacherage, which has since been sold, was purchased in 1994. After some years in the planning, a addition was made to the northwest corner of the church to provide handicap entrance and restroom facilities. It was begun late in 2014 and was finished by early summer of 2015. A dual celebration of this new addition and the 100th anniversary of the church building took place on September 20, 2015.
Other Notable Events
An evening Ladies’ Aid was organized in 1965 and the following year became known as the Dorcas Society. In 2006 the Ladies' Aid, Dorcas and all women of the congregation were united under a new name--Christian Women's Ministry. Several special worship services were added to the church calendar in the 1970s and 1980s, including an Easter sunrise service, mid-week Advent services, and a Good Friday Tenebrae service. The New International Version (NIV) Bible translation was introduced in 1982. For a time this translation was used in alternately in worship services with the King James Version. Since 1993, all classes and worship services are conducted using the NIV. The congregation has recently begun a renewed emphasis on Bible Study. Refresher classes are currently being offered to all members and prospective members of St. Paul’s. Plans are also being made to provide more opportunities for spiritual growth for all. A church library was opened in 1995 to serve all members with Chrisitian media for spiritual growth and relaxation. Very few changes, except for interior redecorating and the addition of a basement kitchen and restrooms, have been made to the church since it was built in 1915. Several years ago a building fund was established to update our front entrance to meet the current handicap accessible standards and add more before and after service "gathering space". See the above paragraph.
History of St. Paul's School 1924-2018.
A full-time Lutheran Elementary School was established in 1924. It was typical of the one room white frame schools found throughout this area. Two years later, Mr. Arnold F. Wilbrecht was installed as teacher, organist, and choir director. He would serve in all these roles until his retirement in 1962.
In 1958 two classrooms were built onto the back of the church. The building was constructed by Arnold Ewerdt at a cost of $28,000. These rooms then served as our kindergarten and primary grade classrooms. Two more classrooms and office space were added to the school in 1970. The cost was $65,000. Our intermediate and upper grade classes were moved into these new classrooms.
Kindergarten classes were begun in the early 1970s and the Early Childhood program was later expanded to include preK-3 and 4. With the closing of the school Room 3 is currently being used as the Pastor's office and Bible classes and meetings in Room 4.
In 1978, the congregation erected a gymnasium/fellowship hall at a cost of $160,000. Besides providing the congregation with a room for larger gatherings, it also provided our sports-minded students with a facility for playing indoor sports. This addition included a kitchen, locker rooms, and junior high school sized basketball court. The fellowship hall is now used for large gatherings as funerals, a practice area for various sporting groups, and a winter walking program.
Room 1 is being remodeled to provide for a new Pastor's office, a counseling area, a large workroom and storage. Plans are in progress for Room 2 to be refurbished for use as an after-church gathering area for refreshments and other special events.
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