Looking Back 125 Years

2017 was a special year for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  We celebrated our 125th anniversary. 
Here are some historical highlights of days past.

Prior to 1892 the Lutherans in Forrest met in homes with Rev. D.H. Franzen of
Charlotte leading the services.  In 1892, with 14 members, they organized and began meeting in the old Forrest Township Hall.  The name at that time was “St.
John’s Lutheran Congregation.”  The name was changed (date unknown) to St. Paul’s Lutheran, possibly due to the Catholic Church having a similar name.  Services were conducted in German until WWI.  In 1893, the white church on east Oak was built for $1350 by W. Clow Builders.  The lot was purchased for $140.  The dedication was November 26, 1893. In 1896 a Kimball organ and church bell were purchased for $63.  Money was scarce but the church was paid off by August 24, 1902.

In 1925 the Ladies Aid was organized and the Sunday School revived.  The church basement was dug and a furnace installed.  In 1938 stained glass windows were installed at a cost of $350 for the 8 side windows and $450 for the altar windows.

1942 – 1967:
1947 – Luther League established.
1949 – Baldwin organ purchased.
1950 – Parsonage was built for newlyweds – Rev. Schroeder and Aline (Harms)
            by Melvin Zimmermin for a cost of $13,000 (split between Forrest &

1952 – A gas furnace replaced the coal furnace in the church.
1953 – The altar area was remodeled.
1954 – New pews were installed.
1956 – Added onto the front (street-side) of church for extra Sunday                                   School space and better entry.
 1957 – Purchased lot from Roger Lindenbaum for $1,500.
 1962 – Installed the pulpit and baptismal font (from the old Lawndale Church).
 1964 – Voted to build a new church (vote was 60 YES to 6 NO).
              Melvin Zimmermin was the contractor with a cost of $88,000 –                                using mostly volunteer labor.   The building committee consisted
              of Roger Lindenbaum, Robert Haab, Harry Austman, Kay Crane,                            and Velda Lenz.

1965 – March 28: Moved into the new church during services.
             April 25:  Dedicated church.
1965 – Bethel Bible Series came to St. Paul’s
1967 – Purchased the Lawndale half of parsonage.

1968 – The ALCW women’s circle groups made Chrismon religious symbols for
            the sanctuary Christmas tree.

1968 – The 75th Anniversary of the dedication of the first church building
            was held.

1970 – The mortgage was burned.
1972 – New Rodgers organ was purchased for $6,750.
1976 – 7 of our youth attended their first LYO National Convention in
            New Orleans.
1976 – Air conditioning was installed in the church.
1985 – Parsonage was resided, new windows were installed, and a 2-car                          garage was added.
1988 – St. Paul’s became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in     America.
1992 – St. Paul’s is 100 years old.

1998 – Stepping Stones Program

In the last 25 years we have had an emphasis on fellowship within our church 
and on outreach outside our church.

*Fellowship (within our church)
           -Coffee and donuts following worship
           -Wedding Showers
           -Care packages for college kids
           -Prayer Shawl Ministry
           -Holiday gift bags for shut-ins, nursing home residents, people who are ill
           -Helping Hands projects (ramps, etc …)
           -Meals for members in need

*Outreach (outside of our church)
           2001 – Prison Storybook Program
           2003 – Foods Resource Bank
           2011 – Operation Shoebox
           2015 – God’s Work Our Hands
                         Habitat for Humanity
                         Forrest Food Pantry
                         Support for numerous Mission (work) trips

Pastors over the years were:
   ·1892-1895               Rev. D. H. Franzen
   ·1895-1902               Rev. B. Spaulding
   ·1903-1914               Rev. Hermann Koepp (serviced Charlotte, Chatsworth,
                                      and Forrest)

   ·1914-1918               Rev. J.F. Lorch (served Chenoa, Fairbury, & Forrest)
   ·1919-1920               Rev Frederick Suhren – served Forest, Fairbury, Chenoa
   ·1920-1922               Rev CL Ramme  – served Forest, Fairbury, Chenoa
   ·1924-1940               Rev FM Bunge – served Forest, Fairbury, Chenoa,

   ·1941-1964               Rev Marvin E Schroeder – served Forrest, Lawndale
   ·1964-1967               Rev. William Gregerson (Forrest, Lawndale)
   ·1967-1973               Rev. Robert Hannemann (Forrest only)
   ·1973-1976               Rev. Roger L. McAbee
   ·1976-1981               Rev. Russell D. Shook
   ·1982-1988               Rev. Jeremy G. Russell
   ·1988-1991               Rev. Emil Bartos II
   ·1992-1998               Rev. Darby Lawrence
   ·1999-2000               Rev. Scott Olbert (Interim)
   ·2000-2004               Rev. Paul Darveau
   ·2005-2006               Rev. Dan Tuhy (Interim)
   ·2006-2006               Rev. Ron Rasmus (Interim)
   ·2006-2018               Rev. Corinne Blissard

**Thank You to Peg Austman for researching and putting together all of our historical information.