Our History

St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church History

The early history and growth of Lutheranism and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is intertwined with that of our city. Beginning of civil government in Council Bluffs dates from the arrival of the Mormons (Church of The Latter Day Saints) on June 14, 1846. Prior to that the site of Council Bluffs, known as Kanseville, was on the trail that led through Indian country to the Rocky Mountains. Governmental control of the area was under the military. Until 1851 no religious group sought a permanent foothold in Council Bluffs other than the Latter Day Saints.

The evolvement of the Lutheran Church in Council Bluffs followed the patterns of emigration and settlement. With an increase of railroad construction, the area population increased between 1855 and 1870. The first recorded effort of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) in exploratory mission work in the Council Bluffs area was during 1865. Several pastors would work in the area as circuit riders and as missionaries. During this time, services were conducted periodically in homes of Lutheran family.

St. Paul’s first church building was used upon the establishment of the congregation in 1881. It was not a formal “church” building but just a building used to house worship. The pictures above show the first actual church built for St. Paul’s congregation. This site would have been very close to the present day Council Bluffs Senior Center.”

Pastor William Mallon organized St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Council Bluffs, Iowa, on November 27, 1881. Although there is no recorded proof, it would appear that Pastor Mallon was also a circuit rider in the area. During his tenure, construction of a small frame church at 626  Seventh Avenue was planned.

Pastor J. Adam Detzer was installed as pastor of St. Paul’s on July 30, 1882. The new church building was dedicated on April 30, 1883. This building served as church, school and parsonage. Pastor Detzer preached his farewell sermon September 30, 1883.

Installation of Reverend A.C. Doerffler was held February 3, 1884. Records indicate there were 48 baptized members of St. Paul’s at this time. Under Pastor Doerffler’s guidance, a new constitution was adopted on June 2, 1884. A school was opened and teacher E. Rolf was installed August 3, 1884. Mr. Rolf taught until September 1886. Pastor Doerffler received a call and preached his farewell sermon January 20, 1889. Pastor A. C. Theo. Steege was installed as pastor later that year.

The official census of 1890 revealed a growth in population of Council Bluffs to 21, 474. The city has spread out; five miles east to west, and three miles north to south with development mostly to the west. An electric trolly system was in use in 1890. St. Paul’s Lutheran has also grown. In 1892, records show a baptized membership of 262 and a confirmed membership of 134. On December 11, 2892 a second building was dedicated. The new church as a frame building located at 627 Seventh Avenue, directly in front of the original building, which became the parsonage. Money was scarce and the congregation was in debt.

Pastor Steege had problems with his congregation. Some of the members staged a public dance and netted $300. They brought the money to their pastor for the church, but he refused to accept it calling it “sin money.” The school, with an enrollment of 11 pupils, was held in the basement of the new church. Pastor Steege left St. Paul’s on September 8, 1895

Reverend Martin J. Von der Au was installed as pastor of St. Paul’s on October 6, 1896. The congregation has 285 baptized and 117 confirmed souls. Reverend J. H. Lindemeyer, who later served the congregation, was a good friend of Pastor Von der Au. Lindemeyer described Von der Au as “A profound theologian, an erudite scholar, a fine conversationalist, and a boon companion.” He also reported Von de Au was “A good wrestler who could put down the huskiest young preacher at conferences in a few seconds.” Pastor Von der Au stayed at St. Paul’s less than four years, preaching his farewell sermon February 4, 1900.

Council Bluffs and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church continued to grow in 1900. The population of the city was 25, 802. St. Paul’s had 300 baptized and 125 confirmed members.

On May 6, 1900, Reverend J.C.L. Frese was installed as pastor of St. Paul’s. His brother, Pastor E.J. Frese, conducted the installation service. Pastor Frese, like others before him, also taught at the parish school. He secured a teacher, Martin Schreiner, at synod’s expense. The Frese and Schreiner families lived in the church parsonage. The school grew and prospered but Pastor Frese died later in 1900 and Mr. Schreiner accepted a call to another school. The teacher who replaced Schreiner was young and inexperienced, and interest in the school swindled.

Reverend H.C. William Frese succeeded his father as pastor. He was installed on Quinguasgisma Sunday in 1901. Pastor William Frese has problems with the church collector, who refused to collect his salary for him. He was granted a peaceful release to Denison, Iowa. At the time of Pastor William Frese’s release, St. Pau’s had 325 baptized members and 195 confirmed.

Pastor E.J. Frese installed Pastor C.H. Jaebker at St. Paul’s in October 1903. Pastor Jaebker labored under difficulty and was granted a peaceful release November 29, 1904.

Pastor J.H. Lindemeyer succeeded Pastor Jaebker and was concerned about the internal friction within the congregation. In a dissertation prepared for the 65th anniversary of St. Paul’s in 1946, he said, “In the ten years before my time this congregation has four pastors, which was not good.”     He also reflected, “16 years of exploring and missionary endeavor before a church could be organized, 1865-1881; intermittent indeed, but work, a stony field, on is apt to think.”

Pastor J.H. Lindemeyer was installed as pastor of St. Paul’s in February 1905. The membership of the congregation had decreased to 215 baptized and 135 confirmed members by 1906. Prior to Pastor Lindemeyer’s coming, the preaching and teaching was in German. He felt that if the church were to expand and properly instruct, English must also be used. After a time, services were held twice a month, with English in the evening. The Sunday School, the confirmands and the summer school were also taught in English. The congregation became debt free during his tenure. The parsonage was remodeled, and a new roof installed on the church. Pastor Lindemeyer remained at St. Paul’s until May 15, 1915, and the congregation was self-supporting when he left Heretofore it has been subsidized by the Synod.

Pastor F.A. Brauer installed Pastor A.H. Lange at St. Paul’s on the 21st Sunday after Trinity in 1915. During 1916 a new organ was purchased. The congregation adopted a weekly contribution system. The Ladies Aid paid for electric lighting in the church in 1917. The congregation consisted of 210 baptized and 130 confirmed members that year. The interior of the church was redecorated in 1918. In 1919 the congregation purchased a house at 7th Street and Seventh Avenue, at a cost of $6,500, for use as the parsonage. The records indicate that membership was 269 baptized and 140 confirmed members.

The indebtedness of the congregation was reduced to $4,500 in 1920. St. Paul’s has grown to 307 baptized and 144 confirmed members in 1920. Council Bluffs also had grown, with a population of 26, 162. Pastor A. H. Lange received a peaceful release on May 15, 1921.

Reverend Martin H. Miller was installed as pastor of St. Paul’s on October 15, 1921. During his stay many things evolved. On November 23, 1924 a new constitution in English was adopted. A fund was established for future use in building a new church and school.

In 1926, St. Paul’s congregation adopted the use of duplex offering envelopes. One side as for the General Fund and the other for Building Funds. In November 1927, the congregation was debt free.

The future home of St. Paul’s new church building would be in a grove of Oak trees near the “Keeline Mansion.”

During 1928 the infamous Keeline property bounded by Frank Street, Perrin Avenue and Nichols Street was purchased at a cost of $16,000 as the site for our present church complex. In 1929, the Great Depression began. It was a poor time to think of building, unless your faith in God was very strong.

Sunday School was held in the basement of the building at 627 Seventh Avenue. The students had to careful not to bump their heads on the pipes from the gravity furnace.

During 1929, St. Pau’s purchased cobblestones from the City of Council Bluffs for one penny each. These cobblestones originally had been used for paving the city streets and were removed during street improvements. They had been hewn from rock known as quartzite, which was quarried in and around Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The cobblestones were the main building material used in the exterior walls and in some interior walls of the present edifice. Many years later, in 1968, some cobblestones, which had been stockpiled from the original construction, were used for the outer walls of our educational wing.

The year 1930 was exciting for the congregation. Congratulations were extended to two members – Louis Morgal, ministerial graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and Harry Meyer, a ministerial student, who graduated from St. John’s College, Winfield, Kansas.

On February 27, 1930, Mr. George A. Spooner was engaged as architect for the new church building assisted by Mr. Henry J. Schneider. The Reverend F.R. Webber of the LCMS Architectural Committee, provided assistance to the architects. Under the leadership Pastor Mueller, an English Clerestory Gothic architecture was selected for the church design. Clerestory style architecture is a style where part of the church rises clear of the roof and whose calls contain windows for lighting of the interior. The congregation secured two loans in the amount the $10,000 each; one from the General Church Extension Board of the LCMS, and the other from the Iowa District Church Extension Board (Fund). Church bonds totaling $45,000 at four percent interest were issued. Contracts were made for the construction of the building, the stained glass windows, the furnishings and the Reuter pipe organ. The contracts totaled $75,186. The general contractor for the new church, C.C. Larson and Sons, took the old church building at 627 Seventh Avenue as a down payment for his work. At today’s prices, this amount is small, but at that time, in the face of a depression, with many people out of work, the amount was significant. The cornerstone for our present church was laid on October 19, 1930. The guest speakers at this ceremony were Reverend A.H. Lange and Reverend William Frese, former pastors. Dedication services for St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Frank Street and Perrin Avenue, Council Bluffs, Iowa were held on Sunday, June 14, 1931.

The cornerstone laid in this picture from 1929 can be seen to the right of the doors as you walk into St. Paul’s current sanctuary.

St. Paul’s 50th anniversary year. Former Pastor J.H. Lindemeyer conducted an early morning farewell service at the old church. A dedicatory service was held at 11:00 a.m. in the new church. The Reverend Richard Jesse, of St. Louis, Missouri, delivered the sermon. The ladies of the congregation served dinner in the church basement. At 2:45 p.m., a second service was held with Dr. Walter A. Maier, St. Louis, Missouri, of the Lutheran Hour, delivering the sermon. After the Offerotory, Dr. Maier again addressed the congregation from the stone pulpit outside the church. A lunch was served after this service.

A Vesper Musicale was held at 4:30 p.m. Carl Albert Jesse, Mus.D., organist of St. Paul’s played selections of organ music. An acappella choir comprised of eight Iowa Lutheran pastors, directed by Dr. Jesse, sang. Professor Karl Hasse, Dean of Music, Concordia Teachers College, served as guest organist at the evening service with the guest preacher the Reverend F.R. Webber of Cleveland, Ohio. Services were held the following five evenings. The pipe organ, many of the stained glass windows, the altar ware and the church furnishings were paid for as memorials by various church groups and individuals. For example, the Sunday School gave the stained glass window in the chancel directly above the altar. For years, the Sunday School offering enveloped has one side for the Sunday School and the other to pay for this window. The students raised funds by saving aluminum foil from gum and cigarette wrappers, and redeeming the aluminum for money.

 The Cutler Family named Memorial Park Cemetery in 1931. At that time, St. Paul’s church officials inquired whether a portion of the cemetery could be dedicated for members of its congregation. A section of Memorial Gardens was named St. Paul’s Gardens. It is believed that Herman V. Voss was the member buried in St. Paul’s Lutheran Gardens.

St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran congregation was in God’s Temple. The building program was begun and carried on to completion on the strength of implicit faith in God Almighty; therefore all the belonged to Him ~ Soli Deo Gloria. This faith would be needed in the years to come. The Great Depression intensified. People lost their jobs and even their homes. Businesses failed. In 1932, there were 13,300,000 people out of work. This was not an easy time for the country, or for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Nonetheless, out Heavenly Father continued to protect and bless His church. Theological student, and member of St. Paul’s Mr. Harry Meyer, assisted Pastor Mueller during 1932. In 1933, the Board of Elders was increased from three to five members.

Church records note one of the enlarged Board of Elder’s responsibilities was “to secure wood for fuel for the church.” Coal was not expensive, but St. Paul’s was in financial straits.

Candidate Henry Meyer, son of the congregation, graduated from Concordia Seminary and ordained at St. Paul’s during 1934. By 1939, records show an increased baptized membership of 658 and 422 confirmed members.

In 1939, the by-laws of the constitution were revised to include the Office of Comptroller. By 1940, the population of Council Bluffs was 41,439. Membership in St. Paul’s included 670 baptized and 456 confirmed members. In June 1940, a new bond issue refinanced the debt of the congregation. On October 20, a special service was held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the cornerstone laying. World War II was near and the United States began its first peacetime conscription. The German heritage and background of the congregation prevailed. Until 1942, services were held monthly in the German language.

The intent of the congregation, when they built the new church, was to construct a parsonage on the church grounds. During the 10 years after dedication of the new church, Pastor Mueller and his family resided in the parsonage at 703 South Seventh Street. The cost of construction of a new parsonage was prohibitive considering the financial condition of St. Paul’s. In November 1942, the congregation purchased the property at 337 Lincoln Avenue at a cost of $4,500 for use as a parsonage. Pastor Mueller and family moved to this location in January of 1943 and the old parsonage at 703 South Seventh Street was sold for $3,000.

From the fall and winter of 1942, to the spring of 1943, Frank Voss served as church custodian. He was a high school senior at the time, and his duties included firing the old coal-fired furnace and general cleaning of the building. Each Saturday morning, he would arrive at the church to start the fire in the furnace with whatever kindling was available. During the day, his time was spent the day, his time was spence sweeping and dusting interspersed with shoveling coal into the furnace. This continued until 9:00 p.m. He was back at his furnace duties at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. The pay was small, but the church was fairly clean and warm. For any weekday service, Pastor Mueller fired the furnace.

Pastor Mueller was granted a peaceful release March 14, 1943, to accept the call from Memorial Lutheran Church, located near the campus of Iowa State University, in Ames, Iowa. He faithfully served St. Paul’s congregation for more than 21 years.

World War II was now at its height, and young people of the congregation served in various branches of the military, and membership decreased.

On July 19, 1943, Reverend G.W. Lobeck was installed as pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The total indebtedness of the congregation was $45,000. Under Pastor Lobeck’s spiritual guidance the church began to accept responsibilities outside its own parish. Pastor Lobeck was also an excellent manager of finances. In June of 1944, the Mission Board of Iowa District West requested that St. Paul’s begin mission efforts in the west side of Council Bluffs. Meyer Funeral Home West, at 32nd and Broadway granted use of its chapel without cost, and a mission was established.

The membership of St. Paul’s was made up of 567 baptized and 417 confirmed souls in 1944. Mrs. John (Frieda) Schroeder was organist during this time.

Pastor Lobeck continued mission efforts in the west side area. On February 11, 1945, Candidate O.A. Soeldner was ordained and commissioned as missionary at 32nd and Broadway. The ordination and commission was held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

Shortly after Easter 1945, the second congregation of the Missouri Synod in Council Bluffs was organized as Timothy Lutheran Church. Twenty-one communicant members of St. Paul’s were released to Timothy Lutheran and they served as the nucleus for this new congregation.

Our church indebtedness was reduced by $20,000 during 1944. The remaining $25,000 debt was refinanced at 1 per cent interest. Partitions were installed in the basement to provide individual classrooms for Sunday School. On October 26,1945, the original coal and wood-burning furnace as converted to natural gas.

The congregation increased to 603 baptized and 448 confirmed members by 1946. Mr. William Niebuhr became organist early in 1946. Throughout the three years beginning in 1943, St. Paul’s indebtedness was reduced from $45,00 to $0. On November 10, 1946 St. Paul’s celebrated its 65th anniversary. All debts were paid and a balance remained in the reserve fund. The burning of the bonds followed the afternoon anniversary service. Mrs. Charles (Kate) Peters, the congregation’s oldest continual member, was given the honor of setting fire to the bonds. World War II was over, and many of the people who had returned from military service were privileged to attend the celebration.

For many years, the pastors of St. Paul’s did much of their own secretarial work. Various members did some work voluntarily. One of these volunteers was a member, Miss Alma Meyer. On January 1, 1947, alma Meyer was employed as the congregation’s first full-time secretary and parish worker. This move inspired continued growth of the congregation and acceptance of responsibilities outside the parish.

Early in 1947, Iowa District West Mission Board began exploratory mission work in the south side of Council Bluffs. Candidate Norris Crook was assigned as missionary-at-large and was ordained and commissioned at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on October 12, 1947.

On September 1, 1947, a radio program called “The Daily Chapel” was broadcast from St. Paul’s on Radio Station KSWI-KFMX. The program was broadcasted daily Monday – Friday at 9:00 a.m. Eleven Lutheran congregations in southwest Iowa supported the venture financially and pastors of these congregations served as the speakers.

Pastor G.W. Lobeck was elected District President at the Iowa District West Convention in August of 1948. With the additional duties of being District President, Pastor W. C. Ollenburg, of Omaha, assisted Pastor Lobeck in his local congregational responsibilities. In 1948, Faith Lutheran Church, 2100 South 11th Street, was formally organized and 24 communicant members were released to the Faith congregation. Renovation of St. Paul’s church basement, including the kitchen was accomplished during 1948.

In 1949, voters of our congregation resolved to observe two Mission Sundays each year. By `950, Council Bluffs’ population was 45,429. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church claimed 629 baptized and 460 confirmed members. The congregation had reason to rejoice and thank Almighty God. Despite assisting in the establishment of two new congregations in Council Bluffs in 1945 and 1948 by the release of members, the congregation still showed growth. Candidate Clifford Schack, member of St. Paul’s graduated from Concordia Seminary, Springfield Illinois, and was ordained. Our daughter congregation, Faith Lutheran opened a parochial school with 60 students enrolled.

During 1951, renovation was completed. The interior of the church was repainted. Pews and church furniture were refinished. A public address system was installed and stained glass window repairs were made.

Iowa District West began to supply vicars to assist the District President. The first vicar, Mr. George Baumgartner, assisted Pastor Lobeck from June 1951 to June 1952. Mrs. Oscar Neujhar was appointed organist. The radio program, “The Daily Chapel” was discontinued in September 1952 because of high costs. Diagonal parking was constructed along Perrin Avenue, from Frank Street to Nicholas Street.

In 1953, remodeling and enlargement of the office area was completed. A stairway and a second-story office were constructed adjacent to the room containing the organ pipes. Heating and air conditioning units for the office areas were installed. Mr. Robert Mayer served as vicar from June 1952 to June 1953. Mr. Allan Peck, who served until June of 1954, succeeded him.

St. Paul’s congregation had 654 baptized and 455 confirmed members in 1954. The Ladies Aid Society observed their 70th anniversary. Air conditioning was installed in May of 1954 for $7,146.16. Mr. Theodore Letzring began his vicarage in June 1954, serving until June 1955. The 35th anniversary of Pastor Lobeck in the ministry was observed on September 18, 1955. Mr. Paul Blunck served as vicar in 1955 and 1956.

A new parsonage was constructed at 170 Nicholas Street in 1956, and the parking and fence along Nicholas Street was installed. The old parsonage at 337 Lincoln Avenue was sold on contract. The 25th anniversary of the church dedication was observed June 17, 1956, with Rev. Martin H. Mueller as guest preacher. Mr. Stanton Hecksel became vicar in June 1956, serving until June 1957.

The property at 219 Frank Street, including a house, was purchased from the Petrus family for Sunday School use in 1957 at a cost of $28,000. Vicar Raymond Wiegert began his vicarage in Jun 1957. St. Paul’s had shown a growth, with 741 baptized and 506 confirmed members in 1957.

The congregation adopted the Kurth-Zehnder Stewardship Plan in 1958. On October 5, 1958 voters resolved to call an assistant pastor. Vicar William F. Moeller served St. Paul’s from June 1958 to June 1959. Regular monthly remittance to Synod began in 1959, with one-twelfth of the early commitment being remitted each month. Candidate M.C. Desens was ordained and installed as assistant pastor of St. Paul’s in July of that year.

By 1960, St. Paul’s had grown to 802 baptized and 504 confirmed members. Articles of Re-incorporation of the congregation were filed with the State of Iowa and Pottawattamie County in July of 1960. The City of Council Bluffs showed a marked population increase having 55,461 citizens. The congregation established a Student Aid Fund to provide assistance to students preparing for church work.

In 1961, individual communion cups replaced the chalice or common cup. Hymnal racks were installed on the pews. In October, the congregation purchased the C.B. Ward property at 146 Nicholas Street as a home for the assistant pastor. Defective capstones, were replaced in 1961 at a cost of $1,246.63.

Springfield Seminary bestowed an honorary degree of Doctor of divinity on Pastor Lobeck in June of 1962. On June 10, the congregation held a special service of thanks and praise to God with the congregation presenting Pastor Lobeck with the doctor’s robes and hood.

In 1963, Pastor Lobeck was elected the first full time President of Iowa District West and was granted a peaceful release on September 3, 1963. Pastor Lobeck had been a faithful servant and spiritual leader of St. Paul’s congregation for more than 20 years.

Assistant Pastor M.C. Desens was asked to serve as interim pastor and was subsequently called to the pastorate of St. Paul’s. Pastor Desens accepted the call and was installed on Sunday evening, October 13, 1963.

Beginning in September of 1963, the Catechism students were divided into 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes, with individual instructors for each group. The 8th grade confirmation class has since that time been instructed by the pastor.

In July 1964, the congregation adopted a new constitution and by-laws. The property at 154 Nicholas Street was purchased for $14,000 and was used for additional Sunday School space.

During 1965, the congregation resolved to construct additional educational facilities so that space for approximately 300 students would be available. Construction of off-street parking was included in the resolution. Reuter Organ Company was contracted to make repairs on the organ. Pastor M.C. Desens was granted a peaceful release a call from Zion Lutheran Church, Lyons, Illinois. He preached his farewell sermon on November 28, 1965.

Pastor Norman Walter was appointed by the Circuit Counselor to serve as Interim Pastor. An old friend of the congregation, Dr. Lawrence Acker, Pastor-Emeritus of First Lutheran Church, Omaha Nebraska, assisted him. Pastor Acker had served as Lutheran Hour speaker after the death of the founder, Dr. Walter A. Maier.

On January 24, 1966, the congregation sent a call to Pastor A.C. Burroughs of San Mateo, California. Pastor Burroughs accepted the call and was installed at 3:00 p.m. on July 3, 1966.

During 1966, a Planned Parish Program was adopted. The use of acolytes in the services was introduced, and boys of the confirmation class served as acolytes. During this time, a building constructed of cobblestone, located at Lake Manawa, was being demolished. The congregation purchased the cobblestones for $200. In 1966, the congregation consisted of 815 baptized and 536 confirmed members.

The Student Aid Fund was renamed St. Paul’s Scholarship Fund. Grants of $250.00 per year per applicant were authorized. In 1966, the Ladies Aid and the Birthday Club combined to form the Ladies Guild and continued their affiliation with the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.

In 1967, anonymous donors provided paraments in four colors, at a cost of $1,000. The congregation adopted a $150,000 building program for construction of an educational wing. A building fund was established with an initial gift of $12,800. The houses located at 146 and 154 Nicholas Street were sold for $30,000 and the proceeds were added to the building fund. A new public address system was installed in the church.

In 1968, the membership of St. Paul’s was made up of 850 baptized and 570 confirmed souls. On June 30, 1968 Candidate Robert G. Eledge, a son of the congregation, was ordained at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Pastor Eledge is the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Eledge, members of St. Paul’s. On August 15, 1968, bids were opened for construction of the educational wing. Mr. James Amend, of the firm of Hollis and Miller, designed the new facility. The bid of Jack L. Peters Construction Co., in the amount of $148,335, was accepted. On September 8, a groundbreaking service was held. Reverend Walter L. Barth of Omaha delivered the sermons at two services. A contract was let in October for weatherproofing the existing structure.

Construction activities occupied much of 1969. On January 30, 1969, Miss Alma Meyer, Parish worker and secretary for more than 23 years, tendered her resignation, effective April 30th. Alma has been active in the Sunday School and Christian education in St. Paul’s for 48 years. The congregation gave her special recognition on April 20th and held an open house farewell that afternoon. More than 350 friends attended.

On June 1, 1969, Miss Linda Warttig of Racine, Wisconsin became the parish worker at St. Paul’s. On December 7 the educational unit was dedicated to the Glory of God. The dedication speaker was the Rev. Edward Heinicke of Manning, Iowa. The new unit was constructed in the same architectural style as the original building. The exterior walls were constructed of cobblestone – some from the stockpile of the original construction, and some were those purchased in 1966 from the demolished building at Lake Manawa. The total cost of the educational wing, including furnishings was $170,000. During 1969, the first Pictorial Director for St. Paul’s was published.

The Reuter Pipe Organ, installed in 1931, served God and the congregation for more than 38 years with minimal repair and maintenance. In 1965, cleaning and repair work was performed. During the summer of 1970, the organ was completely reconditioned. To the date of this publication, the congregation is led in hymns of praise by the grandest of instruments – our pipe organ – one of the many of God’s blessings we enjoy.

By 1970, Council Bluffs had grown to a population of 60,348. St. Paul’s membership exceeded 850 baptized and 570 confirmed souls. The white annex (Petrus Home) was demolished and an off-street parking lot was constructed, thus completing the resolution made by the congregation in the year of 1965. Mr. Fred Schroeder served as organist and Mrs. Leslie Stohlmann as choir director in 1970. In 1971, the congregation had the largest confirmation class in the history of the parish. Twenty-three young members were confirmed. Youth work in the congregation flourished under the guidance of Pastor Burroughs and Parish Worker Linda Warttig. Linda was granted a peaceful release late in the fall of 1971. She was married at St. Paul’s and moved from the area.

Pastor Burroughs accepted a call to Topeka, Kansas. He was granted a peaceful release and preached his farewell sermon on Easter Sunday – April 2, 1972. Our Heavenly Father continued to provide for the congregation. Pastor Richard Ebke, pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, and another good friend of St. Paul’s became our interim pastor. He conducted two services at St. Paul’s each Sunday, while ministering to his own flock.

On August 7, 1972, the congregation gave thanks as Reverend Clemens Hartfield was installed as pastor. Pastor Hartfield came to St. Paul’s from Grand Forks, North Dakota, where he served since 1967.

Protective covers for the stained glass windows were installed during 1972. The Chrismons were made and dedicated this year. On December 30, the congregation dedicated a 75-bell Schulmerich Carillon. Memorials and donations funded the cost of $7,020. St. Paul’s sent $33,000 to the Synod in 1972.

In 1973, St. Paul’s emphasis was directed toward the personal involvement of all members in the work of the church. On October 1, 1973, the congregation consisted of 363 families. There were 878 baptized members and 680 communicants.

During 1974, Christian Growth was emphasized in our worship. Increased giving and involvement in the work of Synod was stresses. Mr. Don Whyte was employed as choir director. Mr. Fred Schroeder continued to serve as organist for St. Paul’s. The Ladies Guild made a pall for use in funerals. Materials for the pall were purchased with funds given anonymously.

In the 1970’s, St. Paul’s congregation, under the leadership of Pastor Hartfield, became more involved in the work of social ministry.

The year of 1975 reflects this additional involvement. Six members were elected delegates to Bethany Lutheran Home in Council Bluffs. Three delegates from the congregation were elected to the Lutheran Home in Omaha, Nebraska. St. Paul’s members had been active in this outreach in Omaha for many years. A graduate recognition Sunday was instituted. On February 1st, Miss Rebecca Juergensen became our Parish Worker. The use of the published individual contribution list was discontinued. In 1975, the congregation had 9960 baptized and 720 confirmed members.

The Bicentennial of the United States was celebrated in 1976, and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church rejoiced with the entire country. On Sunday, July 4, 1976, two special services of thanksgiving and praise to God were held. The theme “Lord of the Nations” was used for these services. A special roll of patriotic hymns was purchased and played on the Carillon during the year. The Board of Education was assigned the responsibility for the Scholarship Fund. Iowa School for the Deaf students were authorized to use the church each Sunday afternoon for worship services. Miss Vicki Arndt, member of St. Paul’s served as substitute organist for Fred Schroeder, who suffered a broken shoulder.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Oakland, Iowa, sponsored seven Vietnamese as apart of their social ministry. Our local congregation supported this ministry when the young men enrolled Iowa Western Community College and Creighton University in English as a Second Language classes. Pastor and Joanne Hartfield, John and Louise Rettig, and other members of the congregation gave mentoring, financial, and transportation support to these refugees. Khuyet and Mai Nguyen were married at St. Paul’s with the Rettigs attending them. The Vietnamese left this area in the early 1980s.

The year 1977 showed the increased concern and involvement of the congregation in evangelism and outreach work. A committee was appointed to investigate the possibility of a group home for the developmentally challenged to be located in Council Bluffs. The congregation resolved to support a mission in Hawaii to reach its Filipino population, and support was pledged for two following years. The Black Church Ministry was also supported. A special Sunday for Lutheran World Relief was observed. In 1977, $37,914.62 was sent to Synod for the work of the church-at-large. Protective grates were placed over the window wells and six windows.

A piano and portable electronic organ were purchased with monies form the Bahnsen memorial. The grant to individual applicants from the Scholarship Fund was increased to $350. Mr. Don Whyte resigned as choir director. Miss Vicki Arndt was appointed assistant organist and choir director. A Centennials Committee of 10 couples, was appointed to plan for the 100th Anniversary to be observed in 1981. Miss Rebecca Juergensen, Parish Worker, tendered her resignation, effective January 1, 1978. Jane Beno was employed part time to assist in parish work and secretarial work and Virginia Ebke (wife of Pastor Richard Ebke, Faith Lutheran Church) served as part-time bookkeeper.

St. Paul’s continued to grow in grace in 1978. Mission outreach involvement from the congregation was stressed. After due deliberation, it was resolved to cooperate with Iowa District West in the hospital chaplaincy in Council Bluffs. An assistant pastor was to be called, with his duties divided between the hospital and St. Paul’s congregation. Calls went to several pastors and all declined. God works in mysterious ways.

The Centennial Committee determined the Centennial year would begin in November 1980 and end in November 1981. The voters’ assembly directed a pictorial congregational directory be combined with the church history book. A Centennial Committee Working Fund was established for operational purposes through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Foreman, member of St. Paul’s. New hymnals for the Sunday School were purchased. Girls from the confirmation class began to serve as acolytes. From the establishment of the congregation and through the year 1978, only male members, aged 18 or over were allowed to be voters. This matter was given serious consideration during the year and on January 1979, women members were authorized to become voters.

The year 1979 began with 912 baptized and 695 confirmed members. Voters requested that Iowa district West assign a Seminary graduate to St. Paul’s to serve in the dual position of hospital chaplain and assistant pastor. Candidate Russell A. Sorensen was subsequently called and did accept. He was ordained and installed at St. Paul’s in a special service on June 24th. The hospital chaplaincy began along with additional emphasis on other programs of social ministry. Weekly Bibles classes were started at North Towers with good attendance.

Spiritual growth programs within the congregation enlarged during the year. Four active Bible classes showed a steady increase in attendance. Youth work was expanded.

In 1978, the scholarship fund was renamed, the G.W. Lobeck Memorial Scholarship Fund. Scholarships were increased to $450 yearling in 1979. Two students received grants. The “60’s) Luncheon Club was also formed and sponsored by the congregation during the year.

Facilities for the handicapped were installed. The local branch of the AAL provided a wheelchair. The congregation voted to remit $200 monthly to Bethany Lutheran Home during 1980. Mr. Curt Gaffney became choir director, replacing Miss Vicki Arndt, who returned to college.

To expedite the maintenance and improvement program, Mr. Jim Amend of Hollis and Miller Architects, was retained as a consultant. Improvements were made during the year that included repairs to the front steps and roof. The Elders recommended a Centennial Fund Drive be held during 1980 to raise funds to complete the improvement program.

A slogan and logo contest was held. The slogan, “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone the Glory) was selected by the Centennial Committee. The adopted logo was designed and submitted by Mrs. William (Clara) Johannes.

Centennial activities included:

November 23, 1980 ~ J.A.O. Preus, President of the LCMS; Guest speaker

April 12, 1981 ~ Confirmation Reunion

May 17, 1981 ~ Rev. Harry Meyer, son of congregation, guest speaker

June 28, 1981 ~ Rev. Robert Eledge, son of congregation, guest speaker

July 12, 1981 ~ Mission Festival, Guest preachers were former St. Paul’s pastors: Rev. Albert                               Burroughs and Rev. Merwin C. Desens

November 22, 1981 ~ Dr. Walter A. Maier; closing guest preacher

1981:   963 souls, 711 communicants, 344 families * New furnace and air conditioner unit installed * Doors closed between alcoves in the church fellowship hall and bulletin boards installed in each alcove * Former Sunday School and Evangelism Chair Duane Otto, in the line of duty as Chief Deputy Sherrill, died when a porch fell on him while disarming a man who had attempted suicide. *Sunday evening fellowship established meeting two Sunday evenings per month for Bible study and Christian fellowship. * Board of Elders initiated “Ted Hansa Day” on June 28th to honor Mr. Hanusa for his years of service to St. Paul’s. * Installation service for Pastor Robert Wahl on May 26th as Assistant Pastor. * St. Paul’s Centennial Celebration.

1982:   1002 souls, 727 communicants * First stanza of hymn “The Church’s One Foundation” restates theme of church during 1982, “By Water and the Word.” * Jim Westervelt succeeds Jane Beno as Sunday School Superintendent. * Church nave and basement painted; Basement re-carpeted. * 60’s Club luncheons were held once a month. * Zone LWML Rally held at St. Paul’s with Pastor and Barb Sorensen as speakers.

1983:   371 families, 1025 individuals, 20 transfers in, 23 transfers out, 26 children baptized, 3 adult baptisms, 13 adults confirmed, 20 youth confirmed, 14 deaths. * Assistant Pastor Wahl given peaceful release. * 1983 theme was “Him We Proclaim.” * Herbert Rossbund built tract rack and bulletin board in narthex and cabinets in sewing room. * Pipe organ renovated.

1984:   363 families, 1047 souls, 758 communicant members. * 4 adult Bible classes. * 45 enrolled in confirmation classes. * 160 in Vacation Bible School. * Little League and Mixed-League Baseball/Softball Teams were formed. * The Board of Elders wrote out a policy on continuing education for the pastors at St. Paul’s. * Complete overhaul of the organ at $14,750 – $15,000. * Assistant Pastor/Hospital Chaplain program discontinued. * $3,000 for pew cushions was received. * New hymnals were purchased.

1985:   348 families, 1026 souls, 739 communicant members. * Pastor Edward Heinicke was installed as assistant pastor for visitations, teaching and preaching. * Ceiling fans installed in the church, resurfaced the parking-lot, and repaired the slate roof. * Food pantry donations were made three times during the year.

1986:   Enrollment – 205 in Sunday School with 22 teachers, 36 in confirmation classes with 3 teachers, and 124 in Vacation Bible School, plus 25 non- members with 13 teachers; 994 baptized members and 714 confirmed members. * Board of Elders give full support to LWML in organizing Work Unit Program. Church work units performed miscellaneous service projects for the church. * Constitution and By-laws revised as recommended by Iowa District West. New stoves purchased and installed in kitchen.

1987:   Piano refinished. * Two sets of large print Lutheran Worship hymnals were purchased. * Monthly donations for Timothy Food Pantry. * Mission and ministry brochures were developed with information on worship, membership, Christian education, and stewardship. * New amplifier systems were installed in the nave and Fellowship Hall.

1988:   957 baptized members and 679 communicant members. * Food Pantry collected extended to first and third Sundays of each month. * Land survey provided for church grounds and parsonage. * Lawn sprinkler installed. * Assistant Pastor Heinicke organized Lamplighters to visit shut-ins, hospitals, and nursing homes. * Pictorial directory completed by Olan Mills. * Lay reader program implemented for Old Testament Readings. * Big Brother program initiated between elders and 8th grade confirmands.

1989:   950 baptized members, 679 communicants. * Refurbished lounge and office with furniture recovered and purchased window coverings. * Repaired outside pulpit. * Herbert Rossbund built altar banner holder. * Lamplighter program continued to visit shut-ins. * Living Nativity presented as gift to Council Bluffs.

1990:   Baptized members 955, communicant members 677. * Population of Council Bluffs – 54,315. * Pastor Edward Heinicke called to his eternal rest. * Board of Evangelism participates in Heifer Project International and donates money to assist farmers on third world countries to obtain livestock and the education to manage that livestock. * Bill Kruse participates through MOST (Mission Opportunities Short Term) in a Latvian Mission. His objective was to teach conversational English, do missionary work, and teach Christianity. * Purchased new computer, printer, and LCIS 2000. * Julie Kongslien called as DCE (Director of Christian Education) shared with Timothy Lutheran Church.

1991:   407 households, 950 baptized members, 11 marriages, 4 deaths, 13 baptisms, 4 adults baptized/confirmed. * Board of Elders members challenged to visit one inactive family per month. * Church by-laws revised. * New Catechism evaluated and adopted. * Usher guidelines re-written with training to begin in 1992. * New visitor handout packet includes “Cross in Your Pocket.” * Board of Education started nursery class for 2-year olds. * Work units or ACTS Chapters coordinated by Louise Day.

1992:   Long-Range Planning Committee was formed as a Board of Education sub-committee. Later it was renamed Forward Planning Committee. * The DCI resigned to devote herself full-time to ministry at Timothy Lutheran Church. * The Living Nativity is successful and ongoing. * The Youth created a snow removal team to clean walks and drives and raking leaves for the elderly. * Denise O’Brien received $500 from the Lobeck Scholarship. * Louise Day, coordinator for ACTS Chapters with the congregation divided into 12 chapters. * Louise Day was Zone LWML Mission Service Chairman and Jerry Gaffney was elected Vice Chairman of Mission Services for Iowa District West and continues as chairman.

1993:   921 baptized members, 652, communicants, 386 household. * Plan for Heritage Room to preserve history of St. Paul’s