History of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, which is located in Napoleon Township, Henry County, Ohio,  celebrated 150 years in 2016.

If we turn back the calendar to the year 1866, we find a group of Lutheran housefathers gathered together with Rev. Kaspar Strauss, a pastor of the Iowa Synod, to organize the congregation now known as St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

This new congregation had no building of its own, but worshipped for nearly a year in a little log church which was located at Bostelman’s Corners (U. S. Route 6 and County Road 17). Then the members decided to build their own church and were able to complete it in December 1867.

For five years the congregation enjoyed a peaceful development, but in 1871 a storm of strife broke out. Rev. Strauss conducted services in various homes for those of the congregation who clung to him. The party which remained in control of the church property called Rev. P. Dulitz, a pastor of the Missouri Synod, who served them for ten years before retiring as pastor of the congregation. At this point the congregation called Rev. Louis Dammann, a pastor of the Ohio Synod. The group which had left the congregation under the leadership of Rev. Strauss now returned. At the same time another little congregation, Zion Lutheran, which had a small church and cemetery two miles west, joined St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

This Zion Lutheran Church came to be founded as follows: In 1848 Henry Helberg and Dietrich Badenhop came from Germany, bringing with them the bodies of little Maria Helberg and Christoph Dachenhaus. These settlers needed a burial ground so they immediately decided to arrange for a cemetery and to build a church next to it. Among others the well known circuit preacher, Rev. August Knape, served this fledgling congregation. It was a group from this congregation which founded St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, and when Rev. Dammann was called, the congregation dissolved itself and merged with St. Paul’s in Napoleon Township. This merger of the three groups took place in 1882.

During this time, changes have taken place in our church services as far as language is concerned. At first the work was done entirely in German. In the Golden Anniversary booklet it is reported that English services were held once a month. So it remained until the end of 1937. In October 1938 services were held in both languages each Sunday, and this schedule was followed until October 1959. Then German services were held once a month. These were discontinued in October 1964, and at the present time, all services are conducted in English.

In regard to the church building we note that the first building was erected in 1867. The current church building was built in 1980.