St. Paul’s Lutheran Church has its roots as far back as 1875 when a small group of German Lutherans held services at the Swedish Lutheran Church in Watertown. The first pastor to serve the group was Rev. W. Fredrich from Waconia, who held services for the group once a month. When the Swedish Lutheran Church installed their first pipe organ, it forced them to move to the Free Mission Church because they had no one who could play the pipe organ. In 1888 St. Peters, in rural Watertown, called their first pastor, he conducted services for the early members of St. Paul’s twice a month on Sunday afternoons. Baptisms, Weddings, Communion, and Funerals were conducted in Watertown. However, the children had to walk 3 miles to St. Peters school for the two years of confirmation instruction. About 1920 the members of St. Paul’s moved back to the Swedish Lutheran Church. Later while Pastor Karl Rudolph conducted the service, he suggested they adopt the name of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. In the later 1940’s the group under the pastorate of Rev. John S. Spomer, began holding services in the Community Church (now a private residence). St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was incorporated on March 5, 1949. At that time we shared Pastor John Spomer with St. Peters Lutheran Church of rural Watertown.
With membership of 215 people, ground was broken on June 7, 1949 for a school building with church facilities on the lower level and two classrooms on the upper level. In September, 1949, the newly formed congregation opened its first Christian Day School. The building was not ready to be occupied, so classes were held in the Village Hall. Mr. Earl Ortlip of Waconia was the first teacher with 45 children enrolled. Dedication of the building was on January 22, 1950. Before a year had passed, St. Paul’s had acquired a teacherage for our first principal, Benjamin Buck. In 1950 a Kindergarten class was started. This class met for six weeks in the spring. The first Sunday School classes were started in November 1952. Members of the congregation were also active on the planning committee for a new Christian high school in Mayer, called Mayer Lutheran High School, at this same time.
Pastor Spomer served until 1956 when he accepted a call to Chicago, Illinois. Pastor Louis Wetzel was called from Atwater, MN to serve both St. Paul’s and St. Peter’s Churches.
During the 1960’s many church planning meetings were held and in 1968 a church steering committee was formed to plan the building of a church. In 1965 Pastor Wetzel accepted a call to Florida. By this time St. Paul’s had grown to the point where one pastor could no longer adequately serve both St. Peters and St. Paul’s congregations. Therefore Pastor Henry Mueller was called from Nebraska and became the first pastor who solely served St Paul’s. A parsonage in Watertown was purchased at that time at 505 Franklin Avenue, which was later sold in 1998.
In 1969 St. Peters congregation joined St. Paul’s congregation to organize and consolidate the schools. The result of this was the St. Paul’s and St. Peter Interparish School. A full time half day Kindergarten was added in 1972.
On August 17, 1969, a ground breaking ceremony was held for the present church building. Some of the building project highlights were watching the beams being raised into place and finishing the roof on Christmas Eve. The new church building was dedicated on July 26, 1970 with a membership of 495 people.
In December 1971, Pastor Mueller accepted a call to Whitehall, Michigan. Pastor Donald Taylor was installed in February 6, 1972. In the 1970’s several changes took place. In 1974 confirmation was changed from Palm Sunday to the first Sunday in May. In June 1976, we started having two services each Sunday. In 1980 handicapped facilities were added to the school building. This included a wheelchair lift, bathroom facilities, and a new store room. Recently St. Paul’s refinished the wood work throughout the sanctuary, narthex, and offices, installed new carpet in the sanctuary, padded the pews, and added choir risers to the left of the altar. This was done to beautify our church in glory and honor of our Savior Jesus.
Pastor Taylor served St Paul’s until he received a call in October 1985. He accepted an executive position with the Minnesota South District Office of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to which St. Paul’s belongs.
Pastor Paul Bickel was installed as pastor in August 1986 and served St. Paul’s until July 1993.
After the vacancy that lasted a year and a half Pastor Bruce Laabs was installed as Pastor in January of 1995. During Pastor Laabs’ tenure a visitation Pastor, Rev. Jeff Harter, was added to the staff to better serve the spiritual and human care needs of its members, especially the sick, shut-ins, and families coping with grief. Pastor Laabs left as Pastor of St. Paul’s in June of 1997.
On August 23, 1998 Rev. Paul Krentz from Beemer, Nebraska, was installed as the new pastor and is still serving the congregation. Pastor Gerald Schwanke was installed as Preaching Assistant Pastor in 2011
In 1999 the congregation voted to purchase land on the Southeast side of Watertown for the building of a new school. It was established as Christ Community Lutheran School with ground breaking in July, 2000. The new school facilities were dedicated in 2001 to better educate those children who attend and further our efforts to fulfill the mission our God has given us to reach out to all people with the good news of forgiveness and salvation given us in Christ.
Today’s St. Paul’s has a membership of approximately 700 people. We continue to operate Christ Community Lutheran School with St. Peters Lutheran Church of rural Watertown. To further expand the school, 1989 a Preschool was started to serve the Watertown area. St. Paul’s is also a member of the Lutheran High School Association and supporter of Luther High School in Mayer, MN.
It is our sincere hope and prayer that we continue to “help all people know intimately the love of Christ” by proclaiming God’s Word. May the Holy Spirit bless our efforts that many will come to faith in Jesus Christ, who laid his life down to deliver us from our sins. May we grow closer to him as our Savior, and that our Lord’s kingdom will continue to grow until he gathers us as one in his heavenly kingdom.