On July 11, 1943, St. Paul Lutheran Church was dedicated. The congregation numbered 59 baptized members, 25 confirmed members with 16 in Sunday School.
Years ago, Lutherans had come to Hanover and settled in the area, and missed not having their own house of worship. Neighboring Lutheran pastors began to investigate the feasiblity of starting a mission congregation, and there was enough interest to proceed.
The property at the corner of Main and Pierce streets was for sale. Two previous businesses on the site had burned and the land had laid vacant until purchased for our church.
In the meantime, worship services were conducted in the hall above Graham's Grocery store, beginning on April 26, 1942 by Wartburg Seminary student, Mr. E.J. Cornils. The IL Dist. Mission Board called him to serve the budding congregation, and during 1942, the congregation was organized, a class of 4 adults was confirmed, the Ladies' Guild began to meet, and ten names were on the Sunday School roll.
In the fall of 1942, $1000 was pledged by members and friends for a new church building. Neighboring congregations contributed about $1000 and the Sunday Schools of the IL Dist. gave $629. The remainder of the total cost of $3,799 was borrowed.
Construction of the new church began in February 1943. These were the years of World War II. Building priorities, shortage of labor, rain and mud caused many problems and delays.
The pulpit, altar and lectern cost $370 and came from Dubuque. Used pews were purchased from the Methodist Church in Savanna for $100.
Wartburg student Vernon Strempke served the congregation when Mr. Cornils left in June of 1943 and remained actively working in the congregation until August 1944. Student Martin Heist came for 3 months and then the congregation called their first full-time resident pastor, the Rev. Alexander Youck, a newly ordained Wartburg Seminary graduate. He was installed on February 18, 1945.
In March of 1947, Trinity Lutheran Church of Derinda voted to affiliate with the Hanover congregation making the yolked parish self supporting.
In 1952, new pews were bought for $1,096. Rev. Henry Grishkowsky was called in May of 1955 when Rev. Youck left to accept a call in Anchor, Illinois.
An addition to the church building was constructed in 1970, extending the length of both the basement and the first floor. Bathroom and kitchen facilities were expanded and a sacristy and a room upstairs were added. Members of the congregation, both men and women, did most of the work themselves under the leadership of the general chairman, and experienced carpenter, Mr. Sherman Johnson. Cost of hired labor and material was approximately $15,000.
When St. Paul called Rev. Youck, and he began his ministry here, he made his first home in Craig Manor. He was married that same year to a young woman from Dubuque.
In March of 1946, the congregation purchased the Franke property adjacent to the church at the cost of $3,600. This was the first pastoral home, and after considerable renovation and improvement, the parsonage was dedicated in July 1946. When a furnace was installed, the basement had to be dug out using men with pick and shovels and horses with a scraper to pull the dirt out from under the building.
The congregation has always worked diligently to maintain their properties and this has required a number of painting projects, new roofs, plumbing, furnace repair and replacement, as well as installation of air conditioning in the church in 1991.
In early 1973, the congregation thoroughly evaluated the condition of the parsonage and decided the cost of repairs and addition of a first floor bedroom would not be practical. After a vote to build a new parsonage, the old home was torn down and construction of a new parsonage was begun in the late summer of 1973. It was dedicated in February of 1974.
During this period of about 8 months, Pastor and Mrs. Grishkowsky lived in the church to save expenses and be near the building project. Pledges of about $14,000 were received at the start and $24,000 was borrowed from the Hanover Bank at 6% interest. The Hanover Lumber Yard was in charge of construction and innumberable work hours were donated by members of both Hanover and Derinda congregations. Many donated monies and materials for which they were never credited but it was all of these generous acts that made the new parsonage a reality. In March of 1984 the mortgage was completely paid.
Nothing is ever easy in carrying on God's work in a small congregation. There are always a few who seem to be called upon over and over to give of themselves in faithful service. It is only as the Holy Spirit works within each of us that we can continue to keep our congregation active and a blessing in each of our lives and to the community of which we are a part.
If together, we have accomplished anything of worth through these years, then to God be the glory.
From the Dedication Program, 1943
At morning worship, the Rev. R.G. Magel of Stockton, IL, was the sermon speaker. Student Vernon Strempke was the liturgist. Special music was by a choir of St. Paul members and a solo by Mrs. Ben Merboth.
The Congregation and guests held a picnic in White Park at noon.
By 2:30 pm, the afternoon service was underway with Rev. T.J. Pagela of Galena serving as liturgist, the sermon being preached by Rev. Wm. Meinen from Massbach, IL, and special music presented by the choir of St. Matthew's in Galena and Schapville's Quartette.
The evening service began at 8 pm with the Rev. Wm. Streng of Rock Falls, IL being liturgist and Dr. Doermann, President of the Illinois District of American Lutheran Church, from Rock Falls, IL bringing the sermon message. Special music was provided by the choir of Rock Falls.
It was surely a full and inspiring day and so many participated in it to give our new congregation their encouragement and support.
From the 50th Anniversary Celebration, 1993
Charter members, those who organized the congregation and were the original members were as follows: Mr. & Mrs. John Albrecht, Mr. & Mrs. Clyde Belk, Mrs. Clifford Kirschbaum, Mrs. Elizabeth Long, Mr. & Mrs. Embert Hedeman, Mrs. William Shafer, Mrs. Frances Corken, Mr. & Mrs. Harold Harksen, Mrs. Vernon Straitt, Mrs. Frederick Akers, Mrs. Hugh Campbell, Mr. Rudolph Heried, Mrs. Lucile Gonia, Mr. & Mrs. E.J. Cornils, Miss Loretta Lawrence, and Mrs. Mina Boock.