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The History of Luther Memorial Church,
Fond Du Lac WI

Table of Contents

 

Luther Memorial Church History 

Beginnings of Luther Memorial

The beginnings of Luther Memorial congregation go back to events that took place even before 1960.  Its organization in February of that year had not been planned or undertaken in the customary process that a group of Christians follow when they get together to form a congregation.  It came into being rather suddenly and spontaneously.  Yet it came into being by the work of God's Holy Spirit.  For by the Spirit faithful Christians were led to contend for the truth of God's Word at a time when it was being compromised and challenged.

Doctrinal Controversy

When a serious doctrinal controversy developed in the Wisconsin Synod in regard to the proper application of Romans 16:17 to the Missouri Synod, many in the Wisconsin Synod took a stand directed by the Word of God.  But during the years that followed the Wisconsin Synod failed to carry out what this passage of Scripture demanded - "Mark and avoid".  This delaying brought about much confusion and many pastors and congregations voiced their protest.

Congregational Break Based Upon Romans 16:17

In the Fond du Lac area, the pastors of St. Peter's Ev. Lutheran Church conducted many meetings to instruct the congregation on what the Word of God directed them to do.  Finally at a meeting on February 7, 1960, the matter came before the members to determine whether they were going to continue with the Wisconsin Synod and its actions or abide by Romans 16:17, as their pastors had instructed them. A vote of the congregation indicated that the majority decided to remain with the Synod. This made it clear that the two pastors, Gerhard Pieper and Waldemar Schuetze, could no longer serve the congregation.

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Congregation Formed

On that February afternoon, Luther Memorial congregation was conceived. A spontaneous meeting of those who considered the two pastors their called servants of the word met in the dining room of the St. Peter's School. That gathering included the two pastors, a teacher, a number of voting members of St. Peter's congregation. A small operating council was appointed, plans were made to have worship services, and organization of a separate congregation was considered. The group resolved not to pursue any legal claims over against St. Peter's church property. On the next Sunday February 14th, 469 worshipers attended the first services held in the auditorium of the Roosevelt Junior High School. Four days later on February 18th, a voters' meeting, attended by 89 men was held in the civic Room of the Retlaw Hotel. At this meeting, an interim council was elected, and the group went on record as favoring the establishment of a Christian Day School. They asked the two pastors and the two teachers to continue to serve the new congregation. "There was a general awareness of the common joy of true Christians fellowship uniting us all, together with the purposeful determination to go ahead under God's guidance and with His help, and do what was necessary for the orderly and successful establishment of a congregation dedicated to the full truth of God's Word."

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Naming of Congregation, Luther Memorial Church

On February 28th the name of the congregation was chosen - Luther Memorial Church. Formal organization was completed on March 20, 1960, when 85 voting members adopted a constitution and elected a permanent church council, together with other necessary committee. Formal calls of vocation were extended to Pastors Waldemar Schuetze, and Gerhard Pieper, and to the two teachers, Gerhardt Mueller, and Miss Dorothy Schmmolesky. On April 3rd, Pastor Egbert Schaller of Nicollet, Minnesota, conducted the service in which the workers of the church were installed.

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Property Obtained April 12, 1960

Two pieces of property were offered to the congregation as a gift, the Fred Martin property on the west edge of town and the Frank Wollerman property on the south edge of Fond du Lac. On April 12th the voters accepted the offer of 5 acres from the Frank Wollerman family. An additional strip of land along 21st Street was purchased to provide sufficient access to the property, bringing the size of the church size to seven acres. On May 1st, a building Fund offering was initiated. $33,000.00 in cash was received and more was promised by the members. Later that month, the residence at 395 East Divison Street was purchased for a parsonage for Pastor Waldemar Schuetze and his family. Pastor and Mrs. Pieper were housed in a home made available by the Frank Wollermans at 302 East Pioneer Road.

Architectual Plans and Construction

Mr. Sylvester Stepnoski, a local architect, presented complete plans to the congregation on May 17th. They included an auditorium seating about 450, five classrooms, and a kitchen and assembly hall in the basement. Total cost of the project was estimated at $167,732.00 without furnishings. The plans were adopted and ground breaking was held on September 4, 1960.
While the building was under construction the office and showroom of the Boulay Feed Mill at 138 Western Avenue was rented for $200.00 a month. Here school would be conducted for the first year. The necessary equipment and materials for two classrooms were gathered. All was ready on September 7th for the first day of school for 64 children.

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Corner Stone Laid December 11, 1960

The corner-stone of the new building was laid on December 11th. A mild winter hastened the project so that on May 28th, dedication services could be held for the church and the school. On October 30, 1971, the bell tower was erected and dedicated to the memory of Pastor Gerhard Pieper.

Luther Memorial School

The second year of Luther Memorial School began in the new building with an enrollment of 80 children. Another teacher was called. During the next few years, the enrollment increased gradually until it reached a high of 101. In 1967, a fourth teacher had to be added. The school enrollment now stands at 19 with a staff of three teachers.

Teacherage Dedicated March 19, 1967

On March 19, 1967, the present teacherage on the church. The year 2000 brought another blessing, the building of a duplex to house our lower and middle grade teachers.

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Parsonage's of Luther Memorial

In the Fall of 1978, the congregation sold the parsonage on Division Street and purchased a home at 197 East Pioneer Road. Dedication took place on October 15th. During the winter of 1995-96 a new parsonage was built on the church property. Dedication of the parsonage was held in the summer of 1996.

Called Workers of Luther Memorial

Luther Memorial has been blessed by leadership of five pastors. Pastor Gerhard Pieper, Pastor Waldemar Schuetze, Pastor John Johannes, Pastor David Naumann and presently Pastor Neal Radichel. Four principals have led the school, Mr. Gerhardt Mueller, Mr. Ross Roehl, Mr. Mark Kranz, and presently Mr. David Bernthal.

Closing Statement

Luther Memorial has been privileged to complete these past years under the Lord's bountiful blessings. As we review the events of the past years we are moved to sincere and humble thanks for the many evidences of His goodness. He has provided, first of all, the Gospel in the Word and Sacraments for young and old, in life and death. He has also provided pastors, teachers, lay workers, property, buildings and material support. May His blessings continue to rest upon Luther Memorial congregation.

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