Faithful German Lutheran families found their way from southern Wisconsin to what was called, at that time, the Town of Hartland.  There were the Henry Burmeister, Fred Zernicke, Gottlieb Manthei, August Kallies, and Karl Stern families.  Over 150 years ago, in 1861, St. Paul Lutheran Church was founded with Rev. I. N. Beyer of Caledonia conducting the first worship service.  It was not until 1863 that St. Paul was actually organized.  In June of 1863, Rev. Peter Heinrich Dicke, a pastor from Frankentrost, Michigan, accepted a call to Belle Plaine, arriving there in June of 1863.  Soon after, he made his way into the forest to find the people who settled in Shawano and Hartland (Bonduel).  He found five families in Hartland who came to the first worship services.


October 20, 2013 - 150th Anniversary Sunday



The building project is complete!  Our new church and school addition were dedicated on November 11, 2007.


To see photos and videos of this monumental project, click on the links below.


St. Paul Lutheran Church has been a blessing in the community of Bonduel since its beginning.  In 1863 Rev. Peter H. Dicke, pastor of St. Martin in Belle Plaine, came to this area and found five religious settler families.  After meeting with them several times, he helped them to officially organize as St. Paul Lutheran Congregation in October of 1863 and continued to serve them as pastor.  A small log building was built for use as the church in 1869.  From that small beginning, the congregation has grown to its present membership of 1715 baptized souls.

Pastor Dicke

Pastor Dicke repeated this experience in other local areas until he was serving 14 to 16 locations.    His workload became so great that in October of 1872 Rev. Henry Stute was sent to his assistance, and he took over the St. Paul congregation.  By the grace of God, the congregation grew rapidly under Pastor Stute’s leadership. In 1878 it was decided to build a larger church, a wood frame building 40 x 70 feet with a tall steeple  The congregation borrowed $2000 for building costs.

Pastor Stute

From the beginning, St. Paul also conducted a school.  At first a member taught the children in his home.  Later, school was conducted in the old log church, and the pastors were expected to teach.  This changed in 1882 when St. Paul employed its first teacher at the direction of Pastor Carl F. Ebert, who had come to St. Paul in 1881.  He was a firm advocate for the school but had found that he could not be both pastor and teacher, since he also had other preaching stations.  In 1888-89 St. Paul built a new school.

Pastor Ebert

Pastor Ebert left in 1888, and Rev. Henry Rathjen accepted the call to St. Paul and stayed for 23 years until he retired.  In 1889 St. Paul congregation voted to become a member of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.  In 1892 an outdoor festival meeting place was made by clearing an area in the St. Paul forest.  The church building was renovated and improved in 1904.

Pastor Rathjen

Rev. Martin Mueller assumed the pastorate in 1911 and led the congregation in the significant change of enlarging the church building.  This was done by constructing a basement in front of the church and moving the church on to it.  A new front was added with two towers, and broad front steps led to the entrances of a narrow narthex.  A chancel area was added to the rear of the building.  The outside was lined with cream-colored brick, and new stained-glass windows were installed. Cost was $8000.

Pastor M. Mueller

When Pastor Mueller died suddenly of a heart attack in 1920, Rev. Walter J. Plischke was called and served until he retired in 1956.  In his 35-plus years of service to St. Paul, many changes were made.  The first English church service was conducted in 1921. The school was replaced with a much larger maroon brick building in 1925 which was later enlarged in 1954.  The custom of regular Sunday service free will offerings in addition to church dues was introduced in 1929.  Almost from the beginning, church dues as a requirement for membership had been $1.00 annually from each voting member (males over 21 who requested that status).  By 1916, this fee had grown to $7.00 and later to $12 in 1938.

Pastor Plischke

New hymnals were purchased in 1940.  In 1944 St. Paul voted to allow men and women to commune together.  The practice in many Lutheran churches had been to separate males and females; this had led to the custom of males sitting on the right side and females and younger children on the left side in the sanctuary.  Now most families sat together as a result.  It is important to note that under Pastor Plischke’s strong leadership, St. Paul grew to become a very “mission-minded” congregation.

Rev. Randolph Mueller came to St. Paul in September, 1956.  From his deep concern for the spiritual welfare of preschool-aged children came the establishment of a Saturday school for four- and five-year-olds since St. Paul had never had a Sunday school.  In 1961 it was decided to design a new entrance to the church.  The open outside steps were removed, and a new entrance 30 x 40 feet was added.  Pastor Mueller left in the fall of 1963.  St. Paul observed its 100th anniversary in October of that year.

Pastor R. Mueller

In November of 1963 Rev. Virgil Joss accepted the call to St. Paul, and it was decided to build a new parsonage to replace the one that had been built in the late 1800’s.  By this time there was only one German service per month, and by 1971 that was discontinued.  Voting member age was dropped to 18 but was still restricted to males.  In 1968 St. Paul again built an addition to the school.  Pastor Joss suffered a stroke in 1979, and he left to serve a smaller congregation in January of 1981.

Pastor Joss

Rev. Roland Golz became our pastor in November of 1981.  His priorities included improving communion attendance, renewing the youth program, and offering Bible Study sessions.  In 1982 women were given the right to vote and hold most offices in the congregation.  Preschool for four and five-year-olds was begun in 1985, and the first Vacation Bible School was conducted in 1987. 

Pastor Golz

Because of the size of the congregation, it was decided in 1987 to call an associate pastor.  Rev. Brent Klein was assigned this position, and he became the administrative pastor when Pastor Golz left in 1993. 

Pastor Klein

St. Paul then requested the services of a vicar.  Rev. Leonard Wildauer was sent in 1994, and, after having served St. Paul for a year, he was called to be our associate pastor.  With the services of two pastors, St. Paul was able to increase the number of Bible study groups and enjoy better communication between pastor and member.

Pastor Wildauer

Pastor Klein left to become a Navy chaplain in 1997, and Rev. Timothy Shoup accepted the call in 1998 to replace him. At this time discussion centered on the need for expansion of school and church facilities.  After examining various ways of meeting the needs, St. Paul decided to build a new church building with a fellowship hall connected to a four-classroom addition to the school.  After a five-year campaign to raise funds for the four million dollar project, St. Paul began the building process in June of 2006.  Many furnishings which had made the old building a beautiful sanctuary were removed and used in the new one:  the pipe organ, the stained-glass windows, and the ornately carved altar, pulpit, lectern, and baptismal font.  The organ was updated and augmented with many improvements.  New hymnals (copyright 2006) were purchased in time for the September 30, 2007 service when St. Paul people made the transition to the new sanctuary.  The formal dedication was November 11, 2007.

Pastor Shoup

After Pastor Wildauer accepted a Call in the fall of 2008, St. Paul called Rev. Mark R. Palmer. Pastor Palmer desires to help shepherd God’s people, and to lead us in evangelism, missions and family ministry. He was installed as Associate Pastor on November 15, 2009.

Pastor Palmer

Throughout the years since its beginning, St. Paul has been blessed with a succession of faithful pastors.  St. Paul has a growing population, a unique property, and above all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ as its core.  Therefore we may confidently pray:


“Dear Lord, continue to bless our people and use our congregation

to be a Christ-centered blessing to many others.  Amen.”

Bonduel Lutherans Find Centuries-Old Bible

By: Tiffany Wilbert, Shawano Leader

A teacher at St. Paul Lutheran School in Bonduel discovered a 17th century relic inside a walk-in safe.


A German Bible of Luther’s translation, printed in 1670 in Nuremberg, Germany, by Christoph Endter was discovered in an old section of the recently remodeled church and school.


The Bible is huge by today’s standards — 17.5 inches long, 11.5 inches wide and 6.5 inches thick. It has a pigskin binding over boards with brass bossed corners and clasps and contains a copy of the Augsburg Confession, the principal doctrinal statement of the theology of Martin Luther and the Lutheran reformers as presented to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Augsburg, Germany, on June 25, 1530.


The Augsburg Confession relates that the grace of God and faith alone save Christians, not deeds and tithes as was the practice at the time for Catholics.


“It is a beautiful link connecting us back 3 1/2 centuries ago to a different continent where God provided his same eternal life-giving word,” Pastor Timothy Shoup said.


Experts say the Bible is in fine condition.


The congregation intends to keep it long enough to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2013 and possibly permanently.


Debra Court, the sixth-grade teacher who discovered the Bible, said she found it a couple of years ago while searching for a baptismal reference book to show her class.


“It was just tucked away in the corner on a shelf,” she said. “I never would have imagined it was that old.”


Still, no one realized its significance. After changing hands among some staff for lesson purposes, the Bible was brought to the attention of Shoup.


“Thinking the Bible was probably from the 1800s, I let it sit in my office for months before taking a closer look,” Shoup said.


The Roman numerals MDCLXX (1670) found on the cover page sparked his interest in finding out more about it.


Shoup contacted Concordia Seminary Library in St. Louis and sent personnel there several photographs of the Bible. They were able to determine its authenticity.


“It’s rare to find one that old,” Special Collections Cataloger Lyle Buettner said. “No two copies of hand-pressed books are absolutely identical.”


Copies of the 350-year-old Bible can be found in various libraries in Germany and the United States, including Concordia.


Buettner believes the value to be between $1,000 and $1,500.


Considering the rarity of the piece, keeping it safe from damage was a top priority.


Buettner’s instructions were quite simple, to keep it stored away from light and away from humidity.


“A dark, cool place is good,” Buettner said.


Handling it with clean, bare hands is the best way to preserve it for viewing.


The school’s safe was really an ideal place for preservation over the years, Shoup said.


After debating between keeping the Bible or donating it to Concordia’s collection for research purposes, Shoup decided it would be kept with the congregation for the time being.


“Our ancestors came over to settle in the Bonduel area approximately 150 years ago, with likely one family porting this Bible in their trunk,” Shoup said.


He hopes to create an acid-free display case for it.


“It would be nice to allow God’s people to enjoy this precious book for generations to come,” Shoup said. “This particular Bible is important because it marks time, how God has chosen to speak his same grace into our hearts in all times, in 2011 or in 1670.”


The congregation was able to view the Bible during services this past fall.


“To have something keep that long and be preserved so well, that’s really something special,” John Boettcher, 60, said.


As a member of the congregation all his life, Boettcher said ancestry is very important to him.


“I would want to keep the Bible here in Bonduel,” he said.


Another long-time congregation member, Jim Brandt, 81, was impressed when he saw the Bible.


“Modern printing methods don’t produce anything like that,” he said.