St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church
Rochelle was a preaching station on the Lutheran trail in Illinois together with Rockford and Lynnville (Lindenwood). It was the Rev. Louis W. Dom of Rockford who delivered the first sermons and ministered to the Rochelle congregation. The group met in the home of Mr. William Woodrick, a building which still stands at 115 S. 10th St.
When the Rockford congregation became self-supporting; the congregation at Lynnville (now Lindenwood) called the Rev. A. C. Staats. It was under Pastor Staats that the Rochelle congregation was organized on February 24, 1897.
On January 14, 1900, it was agreed that the congregation was strong enough to have its own pastor and St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church became a self-supporting organization. The Rev. A. C. Staats was called to serve as pastor. A parsonage was purchased for a total of $1,200.
On March 8th of the same year, the congregation voted to buy a church building, which until that time had been occupied by the Norwegian Lutherans. Cost of the church building was $1,200.
The Rev. Staats, after having served the Rochelle congregation for five years, accepted a call to Marengo, Illinois.
On April 30, 1905, the Rev. H. C. Schoenbeck was installed. After serving five years, Pastor Schoenbeck accepted a call to the Lindenwood congregation.
The Rev. W. J. Voeltz was the next pastor to assume the pulpit of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church. Four and one-half years later Pastor Voeltz accepted a call form the congregation in Sterling, Illinois.
The Rev. G. H. Starck succeeded Pastor Voeltz to the pastorate on November 5, 1915. Under his leadership the congregation, in 1918, built a new church at the same location which is still standing on the comer of 5th Ave. and 9th St. The Luther League young people’s group bought an Estay organ for $700. The Ladies Aid presented the baptism font, carpet, altar and pulpit cloths and light fixtures.
In approximately three years Pastor Starck accepted a call to a church in Clay Center, Kansas.
The Rev. H. E. Brauer was installed on August 3, 1919. During this time a building was added to the church for a Christian Day School. The first teachers in the school were E. F. Wiese and Martin E. Rabe. Later Mr. Seidal served the school also.
Pastor Brauer was called to the Marengo congregation and became the pastor there August 10, 1924. He was succeeded in Rochelle by the Rev. E. A. Bartusch. Pastor Bartusch was a faithful servant of God and directed the activities of the congregation until June 5, 1928 when his Maker called him home and Pastor Bartusch died of a cerebral hemorrhage in his study.
The Rev. O. H. Linnemeier was named by the local congregation to succeed Pastor Bartusch. Pastor Linnemeier assumed the pastorate of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church on August 5, 1928.
Marvin Meyer was installed on the first Sunday of September of the same year as a teacher in the school. Mr. Meyer served until July of 1933 and was succeeded by Candidate H. Diersen who served for one year.
A constant decline in the number of children attending the Christian Day School took place and in July of 1934 when only 12 children were enrolled in the school, the congregation voted to close the school.
In the year of 1937, St. Paul congregation became debt free.
On October 1, 1944, an electric action, two manual pipe organ was dedicated to the service of the Triune God. The organ was installed at a cost of approximately $2,200 by N. Doerr and Sons of Chicago, the builder of our present new organ.
Prior to December 7, 1941, services were conducted in both German and English languages for 40 years at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The congregation celebrated its Golden Anniversary September 19, 1947.
On September 10, 1957 the building committee held an open meeting of the congregation to obtain the expression of the congregation on the question of whether to remodel the present structure or to build a new church. The expressed desires were largely in favor of a new church. Soon, a five acre tract of land was purchased as the building idea gained momentum.
The Rev. O. H. Linnemeier served as pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church for 30 years. He retired in 1958 and had served the congregation longer than any other previous pastors.
From January until August 31, 1958, the Rev. Arlo Krueger of Lindenwood served the congregation as vacancy pastor. During his service, St. Paul’s Preaching–Teaching– Reaching Mission was begun and was instrumental in bringing many people to the church. By January 13, 1958 a congregation resolution to build a new church was passed. The Bradley Architectural Finn was engaged and plans were accepted by January 12, 1959. Before the end of that month the campaign for funds was begun and within two months over $190,000 had been pledged by members of the congregation for the new church.
Pastor Charles R. Symmank was installed to serve St. Paul Lutheran Church August 31, 1958 and served the congregation until 1964. The Preaching-Teaching=Reaching Mission continued and it became evident that a larger church building was necessary due to the increase in membership. The present church located at 1415 10th Ave. was dedicated July 24, 1960 and a new parsonage adjacent to the church was built the same year.
Also, during the Rev. Symmank’s ministry the Day School re-opened in 1961 with a kindergarten class. An addition was built on to the church for more classes and this building was dedicated in 1964. The school now offers classes for children in pre-kindergarten through grade eight and has a staff of 12 full-time and part-time teachers with an enrollment of 49 children in pre-school and 110 students in kindergarten through eight. They also have two secretaries, one cook, one librarian and one bus driver.
The Rev. Theodore A. Weiss was installed as pastor in 1964. Under his leadership a new form of church government was organized. The men and women of the congregation elected a group of men to serve as a board of directors who, with Pastor Weiss were responsible for all activities of the church. Pastor Weiss was also instrumental in the organization of the Women’s Guild.
In January of 1967, a radio mission began with St. Paul offering broadcasts of the 10:30 a.m. service every Sunday over the local radio station, WRHL. These broadcasts are sponsored each Sunday by members of the congregation for those unable to attend church and the unchurched offering them an opportunity to join in the weekly worship services.
St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1972. At that time there had been 1,389 baptisms, 1,130 confinnands, 418 weddings and 323 burials. The Rev. Edwin Beversdorf served as interim pastor January to August, 1975.
On August 10, 1975, the Rev. Arthur A. Oswald was installed to serve the congregation. During his service at St. Paul “The Lutheran Hymnal” was replaced by the “Lutheran Worship” hymnal.
St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church celebrated its 90th Anniversary in 1987 and in 1988 the mortgage on the present Church and school buildings were paid off.
Serving as interim pastor from 1988-1990 was the Rev. Loren Krout.
The Rev. Gerald D. Matzke was installed in 1990 and continues as pastor.
The Parish Nursing ministries for the LCMS was started in our Congregation in 1989 when Rev. Howard E. Mueller, director of LCMS Health and Healing, called Dr. Marcia Schnorr and asked her to serve as coordinator for the LCMS parish nursing ministries.
In 1990 Concordia University Wisconsin and LCMS Ministerial Health/Health and Healing began working to provide education for Parish Nurses.
A grant was received from Lutheran Brotherhood in 1992 that enabled the preparation program to be replaced with the parish nurse/distance learning program. St. Paul congregation was selected for one of three congregations to be included in the video series. Pastor Matzke was appointed to be the Parish Pastor on the extended cabinet.
The LCMS Board of Higher Education passed a resolution in 1994 authorizing Concordia University Wisconsin to initiate a program of studies, through the Parish Nurse/Distance Learning program and Lay Ministry, that would enable qualified parish nurses to become rostered as full time church workers as Certified Church Worker, Lay-Parish Nurse.
Marcia Schnorr was the first student enrolled in the Distance Learning Program. Pastor Matzke was appointed to serve as one of her instructors.
St. Paul voted in January 1996, to offer Marcia a Solemn Appointment as Certified Church Worker, Lay-Parish Nurse. On May 19, 1996, Marcia was consecrated and installed at St. Paul.
The congregation voted to revise the church constitution in 1995 and the same year the first of the stained glass windows, purchased with money from the Memorial Fund, were installed in the church sanctuary.
A Building Expansion Committee was formed in 1995 with the idea to add on to the church and school. In October of 1996 the congregation voted to employee Capital Fund Services of the LCMS to help raise funds for the purpose of retiring a debt and establishing a building fund.