The History of St. Paul Lutheran Church
Oak Lawn, Illinois
In August, 1948, under the inspiration of Mrs. Martha Fenzau, sixteen people gathered to discuss the forming of a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregation in Oak Lawn. With the offer of two and one-half acres of land at 94th and Kilpatrick by Mrs. Fenzau, the group contacted the Rev. Melvin D. Blume of Bethel Lutheran Church in Evergreen Park to help gather additional people to organize the congregation.
On December 19, 1948, the first worship service was held in the American Legion Hall led by Rev. Blume. Rev. H. Zimmermann and Rev. Dr. Edgar Witte also led worship services.
On June 7, 1950, St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church was formally organized and incorporated with the following charter members: Mr. & Mrs. Erwin Fenzau, Mrs. Martha Fenzau, Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Kosel, Mr. Rudolph Krause, Mr. & Mrs. Glenn Mills, Mr. & Mrs. Marvin Schurke, Mr. & Mrs. Roy Schurke, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Spinka, and Mr. & Mrs. Henry Volz.
In the fall of 1950, the Rev. Herbert E. Kohn, pastor of Nazareth Lutheran Church of Chicago, was asked to give pastoral care to St. Paul and under his guidance a call was issued for a resident pastor.
On September 9, 1951, the Rev. Delwin B. Schneider, graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, was installed as the first pastor of St. Paul. As the congregation grew, a branch Sunday School was opened in Hometown in November of 1951 and later another branch was opened in the Scottsdale area of Chicago.
In the spring of 1952, the decision to build a church was made and the "Building For Christ" program was organized. By the following October, it was necessary to find larger facilities for worship and Covington School Hall became the place of worship.
On April 26, 1953, ground breaking was held under dark, rain-filled skies at the property donated by Mrs. Fenzau, and on October 18 the cornerstone was laid for St. Paul's first building.
On August 23, 1953, Miss Helen J. Kluck was installed as deaconess, parish worker and kindergarten teacher with kindergarten opening on September 12, 1953 in the basement of the home of Mr. & Mrs. Roland Priebe.
On July 25, 1954, the parsonage was dedicated, and the congregation, which now numbered 750 souls and 350 communicants, dedicated to the worship of the Triune God it's church edifice.
On March 4, 1956, Pastor Schneider was commissioned in St. Paul as missionary to Japan and the Rev. Roland H.A. Sebolt was called and installed as pastor on August 5, 1956.
In April and May of 1958, St. Paul recognized the need to establish a Christian Day School and embarked on the "Build To Grow In Christ" program. On April 25, 1959, 125 children pulled the plow to break ground for the new educational building, and on July 5, 1959, the cornerstone was laid.
On August 16, 1959, Mr. Charles G. Nehring, a graduate of Concordia College, River Forest, was installed as Principal and Director of Music, and on September 8, 1959, the school opened with thirty-five children enrolled in first and second grades and thirty-four children in kindergarten.
On May 26, 1963, ground breaking ceremonies were held for the third building program at St. Paul. This ambitious program included four classrooms, Fellowship Hall, and the new wings of the church. The cornerstone was laid on October 27, 1963.
On June 16, 1963, farewell ceremonies were held for Pastor Seboldt, who was moved by the Holy Spirit to accept a call to Concordia Publishing House as Book Editor. On August 4, 1963, the Rev. Frederick H. Pralle was installed as St. Paul's third pastor. By this time the congregation numbered 1896 souls and 1223 communicants with 252 children enrolled in the school and 640 enrolled in the Sunday School.
On May 17, 1964, Whitsunday, The Feast of Pentecost, St. Paul rededicated its expanded facilities to the glory of God.
On August 13, 1967, the Rev. Adam Cooper, Jr. was installed as Assistant Pastor and served St. Paul until 1971.
Pastor Pralle took a peaceful release as pastor of St. Paul in 1979, and the Rev. James L. Dishop was installed as pastor on July 1, 1979. On July 19, 1981, the Rev. Mark P. Bussert was installed as associate pastor. Pastor Bussert served until 1988 when he received a call to be head pastor of Immanuel in Elmhurst.
On August 14, 1988, the Rev. James F. Ritter was installed as assistant pastor and served until he accepted a call to Springfield, Illinois in the fall of 1998.
On December 1, 1991, dedication ceremonies for the installation of the Berghaus Pipe Organ were held.
After Pastor Dishop was granted a peaceful release from his call to St. Paul in 1993, the Rev. Daniel W. Gensch accepted our call and was installed as head pastor on March 13, 1994.
On February 24, 1997, the Voters Assembly passed a resolution to enter into another building program to refurbish the chancel and add additional classrooms and a day care center. Fundraising for the "Renewing His House, Expanding His Mission" program began in August of 1997. On March 28, 1999, ground breaking ceremonies were held with cornerstone laying on June 22, 1999. At about the same time, under a separate program, new stained glass windows were purchased for the sanctuary.
On July 11, 1999, the Rev. John S. Moeller was installed as assistant pastor and soon after, on October 24, 1999, the new and refurbished facilities of St. Paul were dedicated. The new Shepherd's Garden courtyard was the finishing touch to the building program and was dedicated on August 27, 2000.
Pastor Daniel Gensch retired as pastor of St. Paul on February 27, 2011, after 37 years in the ministry, 17 of those at St. Paul.
The congregation then placed a call to Concordia Seminary at Ft. Wayne. Pastor Matthew L.G. Zickler accepted the call and was installed as assistant pastor on August 7, 2011. After 3 years at St. Paul, Pastor Zickler accepted a call to Grace Lutheran, Western Springs.