Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Jan. 8, 2001

St. Paul's Lutheran to dedicate education wing addition

A special worship service and open house will mark the completion of construction at St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church in Lester Prairie Sunday, Jan. 14.

The public is invited to attend the 1 p.m. service, which will dedicate the church's new education wing, various remodeling, and a new east entry way to the church. Following the service, everyone may walk through the new addition and gather in the church basement for fellowship, cake, and coffee.

In the event of a snowstorm, the service will be reschedule to Sunday, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m.

Participating in the service with Pastor Grant T. Bode will the church's senior and youth choirs; Rev. Gerald Schwanke, circuit counselor for the Hutchinson circuit, and area ministers and congregation members.

Construction on the $550,000 project began last spring and was completed in fall. The main part of the project included adding eight new classrooms to the education wing. The east entry to the church now has a larger lobby with additional coat racks; restrooms were re-located; and the access to the basement was remodeled, including a handicapped-accessible ramp.

The project added approximately 5,500 square feet, and is designed to accommodate a large fellowship hall that could be added to east side in a future project.

"Grow and Build Up in Love" (Ephesians 4:16) was the theme. Consideration of an addition began in 1995 with a final vote to move forward in late 1998. The congregation also conducted a building fund and pledge campaign, which raised more than half of the necessary funds. Offerings at the dedication service will go toward retirement of the remaining debt.

Jed Larson and Associates of Buffalo served as architect for the project, and Dammann Construction was the general contractor.

Building committee members were Gregg Machemehl, Fred Holasek, Marc and Jenni Sebora, Jerry Pawelk, Carol Wolter, Wally and Shirley Dibb, Roland Bruckschen, Arvin and Janelle Birkholz, Dale and Linda Mensing, Donna Machemehl, Myra Templin, Arlys Hartwig, Margie Herrmann, John and Mary Ann Teubert, Florence Mlynar, Jim Hoof, Murl Kletscher, Nick Uecker, Kari Schurmann, Jon Schwichtenberg, and Pastor Grant Bode.


St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church's history dates back to 1886 when a wood-frame church was built south of Lester Prairie with 19 charter members. The following year a log parsonage was built. In 1889, the church and parsonage were moved into town on railroad flat cars, and the current cemetery location along McLeod County Road 1 was secured.

The congregation was reorganized in 1905 with a new constitution, and this was the official beginning of St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church. It joined the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in 1907.

Here are the construction dates and costs of other important milestones in St. Paul's history:

- 1909: The church bell, weighing 2,050 pounds, was purchased for $450.

- 1921: The parsonage was built for $10,000.

- 1936: The current sanctuary was built for $22,000. The architectural style is of Tudor Gothic lines.

- 1947: The teacherage was built for $7,000.

- 1951: A Hammond organ was purchased for $3,878.

- 1952: The bell tower chimes were installed.

- 1956: An educational wing was added for Sunday School purposes.

- 1969: The church's interior was completely remodeled.

- 1971: A 15-rank, 2 manual Wicks Pipe Organ was purchased for $25,000.

- 1979: A new upper and lower narthex were added for improved accessibility.

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