Three Churches merge to make St Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – Steinbach
Excerts of the history leading up to mergers are taken from the historical writings in the “100 years of God’s Goodness, 1903 -2003”.
The merger of three Lutheran congregations resulted in St. Paul Lutheran Church in Steinbach. The merged congregation consisting of the members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church – Friedensfeld; St. John’s Lutheran Church – Friedensfeld; and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church – Steinbach.
The founders of the original Lutheran Churches were German-speaking immigrants from the Russian district of Volhynia in Eastern Europe and some from Germany, and Poland. Having heard about this wonderful and glorious country, Canada, decided to embark on a new adventure of migrating to the New World, as early as 1892. Some ventured towards Steinbach where a small Mennonite settlement had started.
These steadfast ancestors realized from the beginning that the family altar was not nearly sufficient to bolster their faith. They took turns conducting reading services in their houses on Sundays, their ox teams providing the means of travel. As soon as the numbers warranted, these families proceeded to erect a house of worship which served a two-fold purpose: weekdays as a schoolhouse and Sundays as a place of worship. The first German teacher was Mr.Greber who taught the three R’s and conducted reading services on Sundays.
The continued growth of the Lutheran population during the years gave the necessary prompting that a church was a necessity in the community. The congregation got organized with four men on the church council. In 1902, construction of the St. Paul’s Church in Friedensfeld commenced. The head carpenter and his assistant were paid and all other labor was voluntary. In 1903, the church was completed and dedicated the same year.
Due to financial circumstances St. Paul’s Lutheran church did not have a full-time pastor. In 1926 there was some dissension in the congregation on this matter and resulted in about 25 families organizing a new church named St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. That same year St. John’s was built and continued to grow. Although from 1935-1945 alot of St. John’s members moved to the Brokenhead area (Beausejour). This resulted in the congregation being unable to afford the services of a regular pastor and it was suggested the remaining members join the St. Paul’s congregation in Steinbach. St. Paul’s congregation survived the loss and continued to operate without a full-time pastor. This congregation continued to grow with the help of several differnt pastors. In 1941 a new parsonage was built and housed the Pastor Heidmann and his family.
The late Pastor Heidmann, at the end of his ministry at St. Paul’s – Friedensfeld, suggested that it would be practical to provide the Lutherans in Steinbach with church services in town. His successor agreed and proceeded to conduct services at a school auditorium in Steinbach in 1948.
The influx of retired Lutherans to Steinbach was largely responsible for the founding of the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Steinbach. Pastor Schwindt, the pastor of the time, of ten years, found ministering to two congregations to rigourous and accepted a call elsewhere. His departure was the end of a pastor living in the country parsonage.
The acute shortage of pastors, more conveniences in town for the pastor, the general trend of establishing the church in town, were ll influential in slowly eliminating the country churches.
In August, 1957, Pastor Hulsemann accepted a call to Steinbach-Friedenseld parish. A parsonage built in Steinbach to accommodate the pastor and family, which marked the end of an era of over 55 years of country pastors.
In May of 1966 the St. Paul’s Friedensfeld congregation decided to join the Steinabach congregation which now consisted of the merger between St. John’s and St. Paul’s Steinbach.
The church in St Paul’s Steinbach was now merge the St. John’s church decided to build a new building. A site was found on Henry Street in Steinbach. The construction for the new building started in late fall of 1965, and was even more justified when St Paul’s – Friedensfeld decided to join the Steinbach congregation, in 1966. The dedication of the new church building was on June 19, 1966