St. Martin Lutheran Church – History
Many of the early pioneers who settled along the banks of the Pigeon River were Lutheran immigrants from Germany who were seeking religious freedom. Though they were without a church in which to worship, and without a pastor for leadership, they were not without the Word of God because many brought Bibles with them. Their hopes and dreams for the future were centered around Christ.
The joy of these early settlers must have been great when in 1863 a young Lutheran pastor knocked at the door of their log cabin and introduced himself as the Rev. P.H. Dicke. Pastor Dicke was stationed at Shawano and was assigned by the Missouri Synod to do missionary work in the townships of Larrabee and Bear Creek. He served as a missionary to this area for approximately nine years. In October of 1872 the Rev. J.R. Lauritzen of New London took over the missionary duties of the Clintonville area.
Both of these early pioneer pastors traveled by foot, horseback, or boat to preach the
Holy Word of God, administer the sacraments, and perform the needed ministerial duties. Services were undoubtedly held in the log cabins of those who opened their doors and hearts to the Gospel.
Prayer, God's guidance and grace, prompted these early Clintonville Christians to organize the German Evangelical Lutheran St. Martin Congregation on October 19, 1874. Fourteen families formed the charter membership under the direction of Pastor Lauritzen.
The first church was constructed in 1875. The property was donated to the church by Stacy and Clinton. The only provision made was that the building had to be 24 feet high and have two floors. The first story served as the church and, after several years, the spiritual determination and foresight of the early members found them using the second floor as a schoolroom.
On May 2, 1886 the congregation joined the Missouri Synod. By the following year a larger house of worship became necessary.
The congregation had outgrown its original quarters and plans for a new church got underway. The edifice was 40x76 feet and 24 feet high, with a steeple towering 120 feet. Two bells weighing 1000 and 600 pounds respectively were also purchased. The cost of the completed church was about $7,000. In 1941 extensive renovation of the church was completed at a cost of $18,000.
Through God's guidance and after prayerful planning and consideration this church was razed in April of 1967 and ground was broken for the new church. During the year of construction the gymnasium was used for worship. On May 12, 1968, the first services were held in the breathtakingly beautiful, modern structure which houses our services today.
Rock and mortar do not make a church. God's people do. It is with thanksgiving that we acknowledge the men and women who guided St. Martin to its 125th year.