Our History

History of Dr. Martin Luther Church

In October 1896 twenty-one families from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church banded together to form a new church because that church forbade membership in the Royal Arcanum or Modern Woodman insurance fraternities. These insurance fraternities were groups of people who joined together, paid dues and then received payments in the event of the death of individual members.

A search for a pastor to serve the fledgling group led them to the Rev. O.F Ebert of Milwaukee. He conducted services on three Sundays of each month. They worshipped with the members of the congregation of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, which is now known as Abundant Life Church on Oakwood Avenue. They paid the local Norwegian congregation $1 per Sunday for the use of the church. Rev. Ebert received about $3 per service. This arrangement continued through the years 1897 and 1898 with the walls of that church echoing sermons and hymns alternately in the Norwegian and German languages as the worship services of the day reflected the ethnic backgrounds of the people.

Charter Members

  • William Bauschan
  • Carl Behling
  • Carl Behrend, Sr.
  • Herman Behrend
  • Charles Hintz
  • Ferdinand Huebner
  • Ernst Kissow
  • August Langbecker
  • Fendinand Meier
  • Heinrich Meyer
  • Karl Meyer

First Confirmation Class

  • Richard Moos
  • George Moos
  • Amelia Langbecker
  • Amanda Kehl
  • Karl Brandt
  • Alice Zieman
  • Anna Meyer (Anna Meyer Barlett maintained her membership from her confirmation in1899 to her death in 1972)

First Baptism

November 15, 1896 – Arthur Bauschan, son of Mr. & Mrs. William Bauschan

First Wedding

July 17, 1898 – Richard Grimm and Anna Behling

First Burial

1896 – Gerhard Behrend (Less than 2 years old; brother of Mrs. Arlene Bassett and Harold Behrend)

The Buildings

1st Church

Corner stone laid October 16, 1898 (100 x 100 foot lot purchased for $350 on Luther Ave)

Dedicated January 8, 1899

1918 Remodeled – Dedication October – (Enlarged, installed pipe organ, stained glass window, modern conveniences)

1930 Remodeled again – Basement remodeled; new heating plant; Used for Sunday School classrooms after the new church was built – (The corner stone and bell are part of the sign on the corner of Luther Ave. and Main St.)

2nd Church

Georgian style architecture

Ground breaking – July 29, 1966

Dedicated – October 27, 1957

1st Parsonage

1903 – House on Luther Avenue built, cost not to exceed $1200 – (House was used for Sunday School and served as church offices for many years and eventually was moved across the street and became a private residence.)

2nd Parsonage

1994 – The 2 houses to the north of the church on South Main were purchased to give the church room to grow. The one next to the church was used as a parsonage for the vicars, and the one next to that was torn down. This became the site of the Labyrinth which was in place for about 3 years.  This house next to the church was torn down to make room for the proposed addition to expand the narthex.

Education Building

1972 dedicated


First 25 Years

1896 – Services were held 3 times a month in German

1911 – Regular Sunday services in English were added

1913 – Affiliated with Iowa Synod, which became part of the American Lutheran Church

1921 – Silver Jubilee celebrated (500 members, 382 communicants, 120 voting members)

Morning service was in German, the afternoon service was in German and English, the evening service was in English.

Second 25 Years

1932 – Pastor T. K. Herbener of Verona, North Dakota was called and served until the fall of 1957. His 25 years of service were the longest period of time any one pastor served the congregation.

1936 – 40th Anniversary was celebrated with special services. (Statistics to date: 610 baptisms, 353 confirmations, 325 weddings, 469 burials, 13,018 communions administered)

January 1945 – Constitution amended to give women right to vote, but another amendment enacted at the same time insured “the church council shall consist of male members.”

1946 – Golden Jubilee celebrated – Since the church building could not accommodate the membership, morning and afternoon services and an evening banquet were held at the high school.  Three charter members were recognized (Charles Hinz, William Schroeder, Sr. and Gustav Yahn)

1946 – Golden Jubilee Building Fund established to plan for building a new church raised $11,700

Third 25 Years

1948 – Pastor Hebener started a Sunday School in Delafield, where regular worship services were being held by the end of the year. Dr. Martin Luther Sunday School provided staff and financial report until 1951 when the new Christ the King congregation secured their own pastor.

May 1949 – German language services discontinued.

1955 – Barbara Bauer, Parish Worker hired to assist the pastor.

1962 – An assistant pastor, was hired because the congregation had grown and it was too much work for 1 pastor.

1966 – Parsonage converted to Sunday school use; Pastor provided a housing allowance.

1968 – and again in 1995 – Returned the 1896 favor of Ours Savior’s Church by letting them use our church for weddings, funerals and youth activities while they remodeled their church.

1968 – Radio broadcasts of Sunday morning worship on WTKM began.

1969-1970 Used 4 classrooms at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church for Sunday School. Later in 1970 the church offices were moved to the old parsonage and the Sunday school classes moved to the church.

Fourth 25 Years – the 1st 100 years!

1972 – 75th year of existence; New Education Building completed

1981 – Endowment fund established with generous gift from a long time member

1983 – “Search” bible study began and continues to present

1988 – New pipe organ installed

1990 to present: Provided space in education building for 1) St. Paul’s Day Care Center and 2) Lutheran Social Services Day Care Center

1990 – Purchased house on Summit Ave, razed it and created a parking lot with easy access to the education bldg

1993 – 1996: Participated in Seminary internship program; Three vicars served

1993 – Elevator Lift installed

1994 – Marble floor installed in the chancel

1996 – 100th Anniversary

Beginning Our 2nd 100 Years

2006 – New roof and steeple repaired; Church directory

2007 – Digital Carillon purchased

2008 – ‘Forward Team’ evaluates and defines goals for future of DMLC

2009 – LSS daycare center closed; Education building redecorated; Facilities Team evaluates facilities and presented architectural renovation suggestions; 2nd Sunday morning Praise service started; church directory produced.

2010 – Facilities proposal approved by congregation

Pastors Who Served – (senior pastors’ years in Bold)

1896-1898 –  Rev. O.F. Ebert (of Milwaukee)

1898-1900 –  Rev. Bernhard Schwanfelter – First resident Pastor; Married at DMLC

1900-1903 –  Rev. Adolf Voight

1903-1907 – Rev. Maximillian Pinkert

1907-1911 –  Rev. K. Walter Schmitt (of Hanover, WI) – Instituted regular English services

1911-1912 – Rev. E.A Born (of Manchester, IN)

1913-1924 – Rev. August Engelbrecht (of Chicago)

1932-1957 –  Rev. T.K. Herbener (Verona, N. Dakota) Served longer than any pastor to date – 1942 – 1946 Leave of Absence to serve as chaplain in US Army

  • Rev. O.W. Gammelin, Interim Retired pastor and member of congregation
  • Rev. A.R. Wolber, Interim
  • Rev. Walter G. Tillmans, Interim

1957-1966 – Rev. James Hughes (of Mt. Horeb)

1962-1967 –  Rev. Herman Michelke, Assistant

1966-1985 –  Rev. Lawrence Price (of Cedarburg)

1967-1969 –  Rev. Don Wisner, Assistant

1970-1974 –  Rev. Charles Peterson, Assistant

1974-1977 –  Rev. Ronald stoner, Assistant

1977-1989 –  Rev. Paul O. Lee (of Ashland)

1985-1989 – Rev. John Smith, Associate

1989 Rev. Donald Shambow, Interim

1990-1999 –  Rev. Scott L. Harris, PhD (of New York)

1991-1993 – Rev. Steven Blyth, Associate

1994-1995 – Rev. Robert Vevle, Calling Pastor

1993-1994 – Vicar Dawn Mass Moser

1994-1995 – Vicar Donna Brown

1995-1996 – Vicar Christopher Frye

1998-2000 – Rev. Melanie Wallschlager, Associate

2000-2003 – Rev. Kenneth Soderland

2003-2004 – Rev. Carol Hegeland, Interim (Sept 03 – Jan 04)

2004 – 2005 – Rev. Paul Peterson, Interim (Jan 04 – Aug 05)

2004 – 2005 – Rev. Gerald Goodrich, Interim

2005 – 2010 – Rev. Erik Gronberg (of Austin, TX) (Aug 2005-July 2010 )

2009 – present – Rev. Larry Henning (Assistant; October 2009)

2011 – present – Rev. Larry Harpster (Aug 2011)