St Paul's Lutheran Church

Uehling, Nebraska

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  • History of the congregation

    The history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Burt and Dodge County, now known as St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Uehling, NE, goes back to 1879.

    Simon Karl, a pioneer settler of Burt County, however not a Lutheran, was interested in a speedy settlement of the area. He offered 40 acres of land for the purpose of building a church, stating that three houses, a church a parsonage, and a school must be built there

    Lutherans of both the Missouri Synod and the General Synod gathered to organize a congregation and build a church on that site.

    The following were the first officers and charter members of the church:

    John Hilbers, President
    John Heitshusen, Secretary
    D.J. Kuhlman, Treasurer
    John N. Schneider, Herman Koehler
    Diedrick Ellinghausen, William Peters
    Henry Koehler, John Kindschuh

    The three houses" called for by Simon Karl were built in 1886. It was charitably called in German a three-house-church", but the building was a monstrosity. It was one long line building and one end was designated "church", the other end was the "parsonage", and the middle section was the "school". This, however, was torn down the following year and the members built a church. Members advanced the congregation money to build. Until the congregation was able to refund the money, members received the rent from the 40 acres of land.

    A church cemetery was laid out and kept in order by the congregation. Members couldpurchase a lot for three dollars per member. A Constitution was also prepared and accepted by all members

    The original site of the church was on what has now become the Elden Wesely farm in Burt County, one mile west and three miles north of Uehling.

    Rev. Fricke xxxx- 1893

    Neighboring Lutheran Pastors supplied the congregation. Gradually the church was completely furnished. All the services were in the German language. In the early days the men sat on one side of the church and women and children were on the other side.

    In 1893, there arose a disagreement between the Missouri Synod Lutherans and the General Synod Lutherans concerning affiliation with one Synod or the other, A temporary agreement had each group meet at the church on alternate Sundays, but the dispute over which group had ownership of the building flared again and in 1898 a complete separation of the two groups occurred with a lawsuit settling the matter in favor of the Lutherans of the General Synod. At this time there were only 13 members in the General Synod group.

    Pastor H.W. Fricke was the pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church of rural Hooper, but he also served as the pastor of our congregation up to 1893.

    Rev. Wupper 1894-1913

    After 1893, the congregation called the Rev. Fred Wupper as its pastor. Pastor Wupper was also the pastor of St. Paul's in rural Hooper. Our parish had always engaged the services of the pastor of St. Paul's Hooper in those days.

    Rev. Nikolaiski 1903

    There was only one Pastor, Rev. Sam Nikolaiski, who served St. Paul's as its own full time Pastor in 1903. Otherwise, Pastor Wupper served until 1913.

    Pastor Wupper was pastor when the town of Uehling was formed in 1906, when the Burlington Railroad came through. A lot was given to the church and the church building was moved to the new location, which is its present site. The 40 acres of land was sold back to Tom Karl, the son of the donor, except for the 1 acre of cemetery which was left "to the dead".

    In 1907 a steeple and a cross were added to the church, and in 1909 a bell was added to the bell tower. In 1913 the Sunday School was organized and offered to the children.

    Rev. Ollendorf 1913-1920

    Pr. Wupper was succeeded by the Rev. August Ollendorf. He had the distinction of presiding over the largest Confirmation Class in the history of the Church--14 members in 1917.

    Rev. Kunzendorf 1920-1922

    Rev. Kunzendorf became the pastor of St. Paul's for the next 2 years, serving until 1922. This was the time of language transition for our congregation.

    Rev. Schrader 1922-1924

    Rev. John Schrader became the pastor in October of 1922. In that same month, the Council of the Church voted to have 1 German Service, and 1 English Service each month. (In these days worship was held every other Sunday, as a regular practice).

    Rev Rohde 1925-1938

    When Rev. Schrader resigned, the Rev. H.O Rohde was called as the pastor He began his ministry on April 20, 1925 at an annual salary of $250.00. The Council stipulated that all sermons were to be in English.

    A new Organ and Heatrola Stove was installed in 1928 as a gift from the Church Women, who were then known as the Martha Sisterhood. In 1929 the church voted to have Holy Communion twice a year, on Easter Sunday, and on the 1st Sunday in Advent. In 1933, due to the poor economy, members voted to hold services only once a month until the next annual meeting of the church. Rev. Rohde resigned in March of 1938.

    Rev. Welchert 1938-1955

    The Rev. Hugo Welchert began his duties as the pastor in May of that same year. In 1940 the church was completely redecorated on the interior, with a new pulpit and altar being built. In 1941 the exterior of the church was painted. In 1942, 36 copies of the Common Service Book were purchased for use by the church.

    On November 29, 1942, the fiftieth anniversary of St. Paul's Church was commemorated by a special Service of Thanksgiving. (Those who read this history in future years will note that people had as hard a time finding the right year to celebrate the 50th as we had celebrating the one hundredth!)

    Pastor Welchert gave the invocation and the benediction. Rev. Henry Rowaldt of St. John's, Ridgeley, read the epistle and gospel lesson. Rev Wallace Wolff of Zion Lutheran in Hooper preached the Sermon. Ernest Uehling reviewed the history of the church. Over 100 people attended the service.

    In 1949, the members voted to add a church basement at the cost of $5000.00, and while the basement was being dug, one of the jacks holding up the church was struck by the caterpillar tractor, causing the church to sit lopsided for a while. No serious damage was done.

    In 1953 the Church Council submitted a proposed budget to the church for the first time. Also in that year, new Common Service Books were introduced, and the congregation now used the full Lutheran Service at Worship.

    Pastor Welchert resigned on Dec. 25th, 1955, and in February of that year the St. Paul Council approached the Council of Saint John's Lutheran Church on the County Line, about the possibility of calling a pastor together.

    Rev. Lamm 1956-1973

    St. Paul's, together with the St John's Church, called Rev. Lester Lamm as the first pastor of this co-operative ministry. He began his ministry in June of 1956. At this time, St. Paul's began to hold worship every Sunday, where before, it had been every other Sunday. Pastor Lamm worked very hard to build up the membership of the church. It was a time of growth in numbers for the congregation.

    During this time, Holy Communion was celebrated quarterly. In 1959 the Service Book and Hymnal (the Red Book) was introduced to the congregation. Also in 1959 the Luther Leagues at St. John's and St. Paul's merged.

    In 1962 when the Lutheran Church in America was formed, St. Paul's became a member congregation.

    In 1964, an addition to the basement was dug. It was dedicated in 1965. The addition was sorely needed. The Sunday School during this period had anywhere between 45-55 students and topped off in 1969 with 70 students.

    In 1971, at a special congregational meeting on October 10th, the congregation accepted a bid by Fauss Construction of Hooper of $62,205 to build a new church building. Architect fees, carpeting and incidentals bring this total to $72,645. Wikcan and Mullins of Omaha are the architects.

    The last services held in the old church were on October 24, 1971. Demolition began the next day. As the building progressed, two lots adjacent to the church were purchased for use as a parking lot. The congregation met in the Warne Funeral Chapel during the construction of the new church.

    The first service in the new Church Building was Christmas Eve, 1972. On January 28, 1973 the church was dedicated. Over 400 guests attended the celebration, at which Dr. Reuben Swanson, then President of the Nebraska Synod, was the preacher.

    Pastor Lamm resigned his call in September of 1973.

    Rev. Kruse 1974-1976

    In February of the following year, Pastor James Kruse began his ministry

    Pastor Kruse started the parish newsletter. Under his leadership Holy Communion was now celebrated monthly. He was also a gifted musician, and the congregation enjoyed his guitar and singing, as he introduced new hymns in contemporary language, many of which he himself composed.

    The Church Council now was meeting monthly, and voting membership was defined as all confirmed members in good standing. The Church put up the road sign that identifies us as St. Paul's Lutheran Church in June of 1975.

    An opportunity came for Pastor Kruse to become the Campus Pastor at Midland Lutheran College in Fremont. and Pastor Kruse resigned his call at St. Paul's in September, 1976.

    Rev. Hunzeker 1977-1984

    Pastor Ed Hunzeker was installed on January 9, 1977. He introduced the new "Lutheran Book of Worship" to the congregation, when it was published in 1978. The Sonshiners, which was the name given to the combined Youth Group of St. Paul's and St. John's had a large membership in these days, and many memorable trips were held. There was camping in the Colorado Rockies and trips to the Passion Play in Spearfish, South Dakota.

    The Church held a mortgage burning ceremony on November 2, 1980. The Bishop of the Nebraska Synod, Dr Dennis Anderson was the guest preacher. In 1981, a new piano was purchased to accompany the choir.

    Pastor Hunzeker left in March, 1984.

    Rev. Buckley and Rev. Madsen 1984-1993

    Women had been ordained in the Lutheran church since 1970, but St Paul's received its' first woman pastor in July 1984, when Rev. Wendy Buckley, together with her husband, Rev. Tim Madsen, came to serve as pastoral team.

    They emphasized Adult Education, holding a regular Adult Sunday School class, and Thursday Evening Bible Study at the parsonage. During this time the age for First Communion was lowered to fifth grade, and the Holy Communion was celebrated twice a month. In these years an Evangelism Committee and Social Ministry Committee were organized.

    In 1986, a celebration of the 30 year partnership in the Gospel with St. John's, was held at the Uehling Auditorium. Former Pastor and Mrs Lester Lamm were the honored guests.

    In 1989, as part of the Centennial Celebration, the church approved the construction of a Bell Tower, to house the bell of the old church which had been in storage from 1971 until the present. Designed by church members Tom Meyer and Vernie Jensen, it features 3 crosses of differing heights, with the bell nestled in the center of all three. Pastors Buckley and Madsen were the first clergy couple to serve together in the Nebraska Synod, but since their arrival in 1984, many other couples have come to serve in the Nebraska Synod.


    Under the leadership of Dean Daubert and Homer Uehling, plans were made to celebrate the Centennial all year long. Each of the former pastors who were still alive were invited back for a special day of celebration.

    Pastor and Mrs. Welchert came in May for a Confirmation Jubilee. All who had been confirmed at St. Paul's were invited back for a service, meal, and time to share memories. The church was full, and as the present membership saw the many faces of confirmands in past years, and listened to Pastor & Mrs. Welchert share their recollections, the feeling of joy and excitement for the entire centennial increased.

    There were special commemorative plates and bells that were ordered for the centennial. The plate had a picture of the old church and the new. The bell was engraved with the name of our church. These were available at each special service and throughout the year for those who wished a memento.

    Pastor Hunzeker and family came back in July for our Church Picnic celebration. With the temperature in 3 digits, the whole affair was moved back to the air-conditioned church. After the day was over, many members expressed their gratitude at the wisdom of that decision.

    Former pastor, Lester Lamm, and Mrs. Lamm returned in August for Former Member Sunday. Once again the church was crowded as many made the trip back to Uehling to share in the Centennial.

    In September, Bishop Dennis A. Anderson of the Nebraska Synod was our guest preacher and worship leader as we dedicated our new bell tower. Pastor Tim Madsen leads the worship at the bell tower dedication. Pr. Wendy Buckley and Bishop Anderson in the background with the choir. Members of St. John's joined us for worship on that day. Marvin Plessing sounded the newly dedicated Bell that morning, and it rang clear and strong through the town.

    November, Pastor Kruse and family came for a visit. The Worship on that day centered on themes of Harvest and mission. Once again after eating, we enjoyed a time to reminisce with Pastor Kruse and Jan.

    Christmas brings its own kind of homecoming to a congregation like ours, and as family and friends were coming home for the holidays, our Sunday School presented a program on the way Christmas was celebrated a hundred years ago.

    Finally, on the last Sunday in December, with Christmas just past, with visitors gone home, and with thoughts of the future on our minds, the members of St. Paul's threw a birthday party for the church, complete with balloons and cake. The centennial was past, and the future we leave in God's hands.

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