Willow City’s St. Paul Lutheran to hold final worship service
On Sunday, Nov. 1, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Willow City will hold its final services.
A potluck dinner will follow the 11 a.m. worship service. The choir from St. Paul in Rugby will provide special music for the 2:30 p.m. public farewell closing.
St. Paul Lutheran Church is the “daughter” church of Immanuel Willow Creek, located seven miles west of Willow City. Gathering at the Fred Kitzman home, Pastor Ditzen from Immanuel conducted the first service at Willow City. Later, services were held in the Presbyterian Church and the Norwegian Church.
In 1927, Rev. Teyler, Immanuel Pastor at that time, purchased the old Methodist Church. In 1952, he wrote: “As early as 1925 the wish had been expressed to organize a congregation in Willow City, and seeing the desirability and necessity of such a move, I encouraged but did not hurry it. As the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches had amalgamated years ago and were using the Presbyterian Church for their meetings, the Methodist building was to be razed and rebuilt at some distant place but could be bought for $500 as it stood (building, lot, no furniture, scorched and blackened by a recent fire caused by an overheated stove). I got in contact with the superintendent, Mr. Babcock, at Minot, at once, who gave me one week to decide whether or not we would accept this bargain. As it was fall and threshing time and no congregation was organized as yet in Willow City, we could not expect to get the people together to act on the offer. Encouraged by a number of interested people, I decided to make the deal and made a down payment, using our children’s savings and collect the money later from prospective members of Willow City and members of Immanuel, Willow Creek.”
Thus, in 1927, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church was formed, and in January of 1928, the following signed the constitution: Theo Klebe, Emil Semler, Gustave Dumdai, Sr., Werner Teyler, August Zimmerman, August Boettcher, Fred Ventske, Charles Durdel, Reinhold Marks and J.H. Wittmayer.
In 1934, the church made and approved a resolution to join the Missouri Synod. Ten years later the Church became self-supporting.
The congregation constructed a basement in 1935, and also laid the cornerstone. These projects were carried out mainly through the efforts of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.
Instead of the usual belfry bell, the church purchased a Tower Music Sound System in 1949. For many years, sacred chime music played from the church belfry on Sunday mornings.
In 1954, St. Paul secured a $7000 loan through the Church Extension Fund to enlarge the church and provide a new chancel area.
St. Paul, Willow City, joined with St. Paul, Rugby, in October of 1959, and became a dual parish. This arrangement continued until the present.
St. Paul’s Sunday School dates back to the formation in 1927. Records show that well over 70 children were enrolled during the 1950’s-1960’s. The church’s 50th anniversary booklet gives an enrollment of over 40. In 2002, the enrollment listed 13. The children also attended Vacation Bible School in the summer.
In 2006, the church confirmed its last Sunday School children, and the church’s Sunday School came to an end.
For many years, St. Paul held a special children’s Christmas Eve service. Together, families from surrounding churches and even distant communities worshiped the birth of Christ. Extra seating space was provided for the large attendance.
For around 10 years, beginning in 1979, St. Paul opened its basement to the Lutheran Braille workers who established a work center there. This brought people from other churches throughout the community into fellowship as together they provided Christ-centered material to the sightless around the world.
Throughout the years, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League has been a powerful Gospel witnessing tool. Rev. Hannemann, the current pastor, is hoping to continue the monthly meetings by holding public Bible study in Willow City.
In 1992, the church decided to purchase hand chimes. Adults and young people from the congregation learned to play the special instruments. These chimes added special music to the Easter and Christmas worship services and during other special gatherings.
Pastors who have faithfully served the church include William Ditzen, A.H. Teyler, M.J. Haerther, E.F. Nickel, M.H. Wenzel, W.A. Brockopp, Raymond Malotky, Theo. Allwardt, Loren Vogler, Eric Stumpf, L.W. Kellerman, Thomas Schmitt, Dean Poellet and Phillip Hannemann.
From 1927-2009, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, the church of the Lutheran Hour, has been faithful in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the community and to the world.
Like many other rural and small town churches, it has completed its mission. The doors close, and its people gather elsewhere. A new beginning, but always the same message: Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Diebold is a member of Willow City’s St. Paul Lutheran Church congregation.
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