St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1530 S. Main St., broke ground on the new 21,000 square foot sanctuary Sunday, March 31.

“We celebrate the beginning of a building project that will be constructed with human hands and earthly materials,” said Scott Schneider, chairman of St. Paul Church. “But the focus of the sanctuary will be heavenly minded and will serve as a tool for us in proclaiming the good news of Gospel that we have through our Savior Jesus.”

The church and school moved to its current location in 2005 from Madison Street. The current lot has over 23 acres to grow into and expanding to a larger sanctuary has always been a part of the plan for the members of St. Paul.

“This is the place where we as St. Paul Church and School will praise God and continue to serve him through our work together. Our congregation’s purpose is to proclaim Jesus the way, the truth and the life. Our vision is to connect people to the good news of Jesus Christ which the Holy Spirit will use to change hearts and our mission is to intentionally connect people to Christ, to each other and to our community.”

The church celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018. The congregation dates back to 1892, when it first started to gather for worship in Lake Mills. In 1893 the congregation purchased a building and became Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul’s Congregation. That church was demolished, and a new building was constructed in 1903 only to be burned to the ground after a lightning strike in 1912. A year later the red brick church on Madison Street was dedicated. The building served the congregation for the next 92 years, until moving to the current site on South Main Street.

The church’s current worship space seats about 300. The new space will seat over 600 people, with the possibility of adding additional seats if needed.

Mike Shiels, building committee chairman referenced Genesis 28:10-17 in his thoughts on the work of the congregation for this project.

“’Jacob said, ‘How awesome is this place!’ Which makes me immediately think, how awesome are the members at St. Paul. I’m always amazed when I serve on committees here at St. Paul with how the Lord has blessed our members with many awesome gifts and talents,” he said. “This building project started with our awesome members giving input into a future sanctuary. Then we had a capital campaign with many awesome gifts to move the project forward. We continue to have many of our awesome members step forward to give of their time and talent to plan all the details of the project.”

Shiels said as the congregation looks ahead to the next 125 years of worship the new church will serve as a place for the people of Lake Mills and the surrounding community to hear the word of God and receive the sacrament for generations.

Members of the building committee include: Shiels, Steve Gartner, Erica Marty, Dan Schmidt, Jason Schmidt and Gregg Tucek. Ty Neupert and Tom Evensen represented the Bank of Lake Mills where the church financed the project. Tom Schermerhorn and David Vanden Avond represented St. Paul’s architectural firm Excel Engineering. Elizabeth Milbrath represented the City of Lake Mills at the ceremony.

Stained glass windows form the Madison Street church and the bell will be incorporated into the new sanctuary.

The new portion of the building is expected to open in 2020 after about 10 months of construction.

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