The History of Peace Lutheran Church
In the year 1883 Antigo, Wisconsin, was a town of only 800 people. In that year Rev. Christian Purzner of Wittenberg, Wisconsin, a theological student from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri came to this area on horseback in search of Lutheran families and preached to them God's Law and His Gospel of grace. One year later, in l884, the Rev. H. Daib, then a young candidate from the seminary, succeeded Rev. Purzner at Wittenberg.
Pastor Daib preached in Antigo, Polar, Norwood and as far north as Hurley, Wisconsin, and Ironwood, Michigan, and south as far as Tigerton.
On September 16, l884, Pastor Daib called a meeting at the Gustav Ulrich tailor shop at which time Peace Lutheran Congregation was founded with thirteen charter members present. The founders names were: Gustav Ulrich, H. Boldt, F. Berger, C. Voss, L. Theilmann, C. F. Dallmann, H. Berner, A. Kropf, W. Kupper, Sr., L. Krueger, C. Gaertner, H. Findeisen, and B. Stege. The first president of the congregation was Mr. G. Ulrich.
Church services were held in various public halls, such as the skating rink, and in private homes. Mr. C. F. Dallmann rented the second floor of his house to the church the first winter for the sum of two dollars. A contract was signed the following year in 1885 with the Congregational Church for the use of their church building every Sunday afternoon for a rental fee of one dollar per service.
Rev. H. Daib, who had been serving Lutheran families in twelve communities received an assistant in 1885. He was student Alfred Grimm, a young man of twenty years from Concordia Seminary Springfield, Illinois, who was stationed in Antigo and also served the people of Polar, Norwood, Elmhurst and Birnamwood. At this time Peace Lutheran Church numbered twenty-eight families. In 1886 the congregation purchased seven lots of its present church property from August Zellmer, who had acquired it from Michael Weix for $175. After thirteen months of faithful service in the Lord's work, Student Grimm returned to the seminary at Springfield and was succeeded by another theological student by the name of G. Drews.
In 1887 Rev. H. Daib was called as the first regular pastor of Peace Lutheran Congregation. In that year he built his own parsonage on the church property by congregational permission. The first church building was begun in June 1887 while student Drews was serving, and dedicated under the pastorate of H. Daib in July. It measured 26' X 40' and stood on the present property 150 feet from Lincoln Street. Every voting member was expected "to help personally with the construction, otherwise hire a man or pay $l.25."
In 1888 Rev. Daib accepted a call to Merrill, Wisconsin, a larger field of labor, leaving Antigo after only one year as a regular called minister. The Rev. G. Kuechle succeeded him, but because of poor health he remained about six months. In September of 1889 the Rev. R. Heike was installed as pastor and remained about two years. It was during Rev. Heike's pastorate, however, that our parochial school received impetus when it was conducted in the upper story of the parsonage which had been purchased from the Rev. H. Daib for $800.00. In November 1889 the building of the first school measured 18' X 26' was agreed upon and completed in February of 1890 at a cost of $231.00.
On November l, 1891 Rev. Alfred Grimm was installed as Pastor. He served for twenty-eight years as pastor of Peace Lutheran Church.
The congregation outgrew its church building in 1901; there was hardly standing room at the Sunday services. On December 15, 1901 it was resolved to build a new church building according to the plans designed by architect A. F. Gruenhagen of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. On October 19, 1902, the new church building costing $5,622.50, was dedicated to the glory of the Triune God. The original furnishings cost $625.00.
The 1887 church building was now remodeled to offer room for a well-lighted school building to accommodate about eighty children, a church hall to be used by the Ladies' Aid society and the young people, and a well-equipped kitchen. At this time the property west of the church was planted with trees creating a little park and offering a splendid background for the church buildings. It was under these trees that many a church picnic and school outing was held and concerts by the church band, under the leadership of Mr. William Grimm, were enjoyed. In 1894 the congregation, up to this point partly supported by synod, became self-supporting.
In 1915 a new pipe organ was purchased for $2,600.00 and on August 1st of that year it was dedicated to the service of God.
During the month of April, 1919, Rev. Grimm resigned his pastorate of Peace Church. The congregation reluctantly accepted it so that he might enter the publishing business. He was a writer himself under the pen name of "Alfred Ira."
Following the resignation of the Rev. A. Grimm, the Rev. O. Neumann of Athens, Wisconsin was called and installed as pastor in July of 1919. In addition to the regular German services on Sundays , an English service was introduced for the first time under Rev. Neumann. A large church bell was installed and the interior of the church was redecorated. The greatest blessing to our church property, however, during Rev. Neumann's time was the building of our two story brick school building during the depression year of 1929 for a cost of $28,439.22.
In a special congregation meeting February 4, 1938, Rev. O. Neumann offered the congregation his resignation after a pastorate of nineteen years.
The Rev. Arthur Fergin of Ironwood, Michigan, was installed as pastor on June 13, 1938, by the former pastor, H. Daib with the Rev. C. D. Griese of Polar assisting.
A decision to undertake an Extensive church property improvement program was made by the congregation in 1949 when the congregation observed its sixty-fifth anniversary. The actual work, however, was not begun until about a year later and completed in 1951 at an approximate cost of $40,000.00. A major improvement to the church proper was the installation of stained-glass windows. The three windows on the southwest side of the 1993 church building and the round "rose" window above the altar were salvaged from the 1902 building. New stained glass was added to our current church to surround and compliment these keepsakes from our past.
The Rev. Arthur Fergin accepted a call to Redeemer Lutheran Church, Dishman, Washington on November 2, 1955.
On June 17, 1956 the Rev. Robert A. Hobus of Milwaukee was installed. After an energetic two years of faithful service, Pastor Hobus accepted a call to Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, a newly founded mission congregation at Greendale, Wisconsin.
During the summer and fall months of 1958 Peace Church undertook another school expansion program, namely that of building two new classrooms and an office area to the existing school building at an approximate cost of $31,000.00. Rev. Luther V. Stephan of Arlington Heights, Illinois, accepted the call to Peace Lutheran Congregation and was installed on August 3, 1958. He served Peace until accepting another Call on September 15, 1964.
Rev. Joseph Schultz was installed March 7, 1965. In March of that same year the congregation authorized an expenditure of $25,000 for the erection of a new parsonage to replace the old structure. This parsonage was built at the same location as the old one - 1105 - 8th Ave. In April 1966, Pastor and Mrs. Schultz and their family became the first occupants.
During the years from January to June of 1972, Rev. Bernie Lutz served as associate pastor. He was a missionary on leave from New Guinea. He had fallen down a mountain and broke his back while serving in New Guinea.
As the ministry work load became greater and more people were becoming part of Peace Congregation the decision was made that an additional full time pastor should be part of our ministry. Rev. Donald Shoewe joined Peace Lutheran in 1972 and served as an associate pastor. He accepted a call to another parish in 1975.
On March 3, 1976 Rev. Robert Stohlman was installed to serve with Rev. Schultz.
He remained with Peace until late 1978.
December 10, 1978 Rev. Randall Neal, who was serving in Ruston, Louisiana, accepted the Call to serve as pastor along with Rev. Schultz. In December of 1982 Rev. Schultz accepted a call to Fall Creek, Wisconsin after serving Peace Congregation for 17 years.
In October of 1983 Rev. Joseph Marsh, who was serving in York, Nebraska was installed. He remained until October 2001 after serving along with Rev. Neal for 18 years at Peace.
During 1984 the congregation celebrated it's 100th anniversary with year long events and reunions. As part of the remembrance a major expansion project was undertaken. The project included new pitched roofs, added a Conference Room, Library, Music Room, Storage Room, ceilings and painting in the education and office portion of the buildings.
On October 1, 1991 construction began on Phase I of a three part building expansion project. On February 14, 1993 the dedication of a new 600 seat $1,200,000.00 worship center and Narthex was held. On December 2, 1998 the congregation voted to accept a master building plan for Phase II & III for expansion. On February 4, 2001 formal dedication services were held for a 33,000 square foot Phase II building expansion which included converting the old gym into a 500 seat fellowship hall, full size gym, commercial grade kitchen, computer lab, library, music room, youth room, and expanded Narthex.
Including the purchase of three homes along Deleglise Street Phase II cost $2,996,000.
Rev. Scott Kruse accepted the Call to serve as Associate Pastor with Rev. Randall Neal as Coordinating Pastor in 2003. Rev. Randall Neal accepted a Call to Minnesota in 2004.
Rev. David Karolus accepted the Call to serve as Coordinating Pastor in August of 2006.
We are grateful for our founders, who, because of their faith and concern for Christian mission and education began this congregation and school. To God be the Glory!