History At St. Paul Lutheran Church

With over 160 years of history in ministry in the Saginaw Valley, St. Paul takes seriously the task to steward and preserve the history of the events and people of the congregation and their presence in Western Bay County. The Historical Committee lovingly collects and archives documents, photos, and other artifacts as well as church birth, Baptism, marriage, death, and cemetery records. A short telling of the story of origins of St. Paul follows. Please also note:

  • The late Elmer Wagner has written a complete history of St. Paul Lutheran Church which is available through the church/school office. It is titled "Forward in Joy" and costs $10.00.
  • Recently, the German minutes of the Voter's Meetings of the early decades of the congregation have been transcribed into English and are stored on disc in the St. Paul Archives.
  • Historical research may be done by contacting the church office which will, in turn, contact a committee member to assist in the effort.

A brief History of St. Paul Lutheran Church

Two German pastors had a dream and felt the call to mission during the mid 1800s. They had heard that scattered German settlements in the United States of America were in sad spiritual condition and felt that something must be done to bring those settlers closer to their Lord. Rev. Wilhelm Loehe of Neuendettelsau, Germany heard of this need and began organizing a mission society in 1841 to recruit and prepare missionaries for service in the USA. The young Rev. Ferdinand Sievers responded to the appeal and began spreading that dream to a number of intrepid Germans who prepared themselves for traveling to an unknown land. The decision was made by a number of them in 1847 to make the journey. Due to confusion and changes in plans by several settlers these people did not make it to the wilderness located on Saginaw Bay, Michigan.

A second group of migrants set out for the Saginaw territory on April 10, 1848. Twenty four people, including a small child began the venture, but only 15 are recorded as actually being original founders of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Frankenlust. The little congregation was organized at Gerhard Dierker's barn on June 22, 1848. Rev. Sievers was called as the first pastor. After traveling from Dierker's farm west of Saginaw the group made their way to the banks of a tributary stream to the Saginaw River and hastily built a few shacks in which to store their belongings and begin life in a wild place. They held their first worship service on Sunday, July 9, 1848 on the banks of Squaquaning Creek.

Thus began the first Lutheran church settlement in Bay County, Michigan. (Preceding St. Paul, a Methodist Oegaucawning Indian mission church was organized in 1847 to serve Chippewa Indians in northern Bay County.) The settlers experienced great hardships and losses due to bad weather and typhoid fever followed by cholera and other fevers. These conditions took the lives of two original settlers, sickened Pastor Sievers for seven weeks and delayed his installation as pastor until Reformation Day, October 31, 1848.

Yet Pastor Sievers stated that they were convinced that "with the blessing of God, Frankenlust (which means Joy of the Franconians) will have a promising future and if the church-life will prosper, it will be a place where people can lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty."

The original church building was a log cabin built in 1849. A frame church building replaced it in 1857. The original door from that building still exists. The current church building was constructed in 1905.

The first Christian day school met in Pastor Sievers' home with five children attending. A proper school building was erected in 1865. The third and present school building was constructed in 1941, with several additions since that time.

For over a century and a half St. Paul members have impacted their community in countless ways remembering that the mission of this congregation, "has been to proclaim the Good News of Salvation that came by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, to celebrate the Good News in our worship, to teach the word of God to young and old alike, to reach out into our community and to the world, and to be of service to those in our community."

St. Paul congregation celebrated 150 years of living out that mission during the year of 1998. The scriptural text from Philippians 4:4-6 expresses that joy. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

The current draft of our Congregational Mission Statement says it well:

Saved by Jesus, Sent to Serve

S hare the love of Christ

E ducate all in our neighborhood about Christ

R eceive grace and forgiveness through Christ

V alue prayer and Bible-centered preaching in Christ

E ncourage service in community for Christ

Pastor Sievers' hope, dream and vision for the St. Paul congregation is still being realized day by day through the church family of Christ as they continue their walk with Jesus Christ.