Deep Roots, Continuing to Grow
While St. Paul Lutheran in its current form as a multi-site congregation has a relatively young history, our congregation's roots in the communities surrounding Hillsboro and Wonewoc run deep. St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hillsboro & Wonewoc was formed in 2021 when the congregations of St. Paul Lutheran in Hillsboro and St. Paul's Lutheran in Wonewoc voted to form one congregation. As one congregation we continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our communities, building on the nearly 300 years of combined ministry experience of the faithful believers who came before us.
Brief History of our Wonewoc Campus
St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church was officially organized on January 8,1871. The congregation was founded by families who had emigrated from Germany and settled in the area around Wonewoc. In the early years of the congregation they were served by a pastor who travelled from Reedsburg—some fifteen miles away and no easy journey in the days before highways and automobiles—to lead worship every six weeks. In 1880 the congregation called their first resident, full-time pastor. Christian Sauer was ordained and installed that year as St. Paul's of Wonewoc's first pastor. That year the congregation also approved the construction a church building, which was completed and dedicated in 1881. The current church building was constructed in 1911.
The congregation also decided in 1880 to start a school. The small school was led by the congregation's pastors and taught in the church building for many years. The first school house was constructed in 1904, and in 1906 Herman Kroll was called as the school's first full-time teacher. Over the years, St. Paul's school has grown to a full K-8 elementary school with preschool classes as well. The current school building was constructed in 1955.
Brief History of our Hillsboro Campus
St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church was officially organized on March 30, 1894 under the leadership of Pastor W. Parisius of Zion Lutheran Church of Elroy. Gatherings for scripture reading and Sunday School had been conducted by German Lutheran families in the homes and farmsteads of the Hillsboro area since 1885. Following the organization of St. Paul Congregation, land was purchased in Hillsboro to construct a church building, which was dedicated in October of 1895. In 1972 the first building was torn down and a new one constructed on the same site. The current church building was dedicated in October of 1972.
Through 1910, St. Paul in Hillsboro was served by the pastors of Zion in Elroy. From 1910 to 1946, the pastors of St. Paul’s in Wonewoc served the Hillsboro congregation. In 1946 Pastor Elmer Mahnke was called as the first resident pastor in Hillsboro; he also served English Lutheran Church of Viroqua. A parsonage was built in 1947. In 1954 Pastor Mahnke accepted a call to another congregation, and Pastor M.J. Nommensen was called to replace him at St. Paul. Pastor Nommensen was installed as pastor in Hillsboro that same year; the congregation in Viroqua received their own resident pastor at this time. From 1954 to 1976, St. Paul was served by its pastors as a single parish congregation. In 1976, St. Paul again formed a dual parish with Zion in Elroy until summer of 2021.