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Pastor Jaes A. Frey

In the summer of 1939 the Mission Board of the Wisconsin Evangelical-Lutheran Synod canvassed families in Belleville and the surrounding area to learn if there was enough interest to establish a Lutheran Church. The report showed that there was. The Rev. R, Scheele, Missionary from Tecumseh, Michigan, was given the responsibility to get the Mission started.

A house and lot were promptly rented at 176 W, Columbia for the purpose, and on February 10, 1940 the first parsonage was ready for occupancy. Rev. Scheele conducted the first service on Sunday, October 8, 1939. The home served as both parsonage and church.

However it was decided within six months that the house at 176 W. Columbia had become too cramped for services. Fortunately the Roberts Funeral Chapel in Belleville was available. Services were transferred to the Chapel and conducted at that location from March to December of 1940. In the Spring of 1940, the Mission undertaken by Rev. Sheele became a Lutheran Church, and plans were laid by the Congregation to build a church.

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On April 7 and 14, 1940 meetings were held for the purpose of formally organizing the Congregation. The constitution was adopted and signed by 13 voting members. On May 2, 1940 the first officers were elected. On October 14, 1940 the Congregation resolved to purchase a site in Belleville on which it could build its church at 475 W. Columbia. Loans were obtained from members of Trinity Congregation of Saline, Michigan and our own members.

In December of 1940 the Congregation purchased the vacant church in the nearby community of Willis, Michigan. Many problems delayed moving the building to its present site, and it was not to be dedicated there until April 26, 1942.

From the beginning of the Mission, it had been understood that Rev. Scheele would not be able to remain our permanent Pastor. On December 3, 1940, the Rev. J. Martin responded to our call and was installed as the first resident Pastor of our church.

Because of changing circumstances, the Roberts Funeral Chapel became unavailable to the Congregation. Services were moved to facilities at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in town in December of 1940. This facility was used through the middle of February, 1942 when the Congregation was able to move into the basement of its own church. Services were conducted for the first time on February 18, 1942. We were obliged to use the basement as our regular place of worship for two months because the church building itself was not ready.

After much delay in moving the church building from Willis to Belleville, it was eventually placed on its new foundation at 474 Columbia in March of 1942. Considerable work still remained to be done in connection with moving the building from Willis. The job was being completed during the week while the Congregation was conducting services in the basement on Sunday. Finally - on April 26, 1942, St. Paul's Evangelical-Lutheran Church was dedicated.

Pastor Martin accepted a call to serve a congregation in Toledo, Ohio in August of 1945. Pastor G. Press of Wayne, Michigan served as vacancy Pastor, and the routine work of a Christian Congregation continued, until the installation of Pastor C. Kipfmiller in January 1946. Pastor Kipfmiller served as the congregation's second resident Pastor until June of 1950, when St. Paul's Congregation was again without a pastor. Pastor H. Buch served as vacancy Pastor from July to October of 1950 when Pastor O. Kreie accepted the call to serve as St. Paul's third resident Pastor. For many years the need for a parsonage had been apparent, and on December 2, 1951 the present parsonage was dedicated. The Lord continued to bless the preaching of His word, and at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation in January of 1955 St. Paul's Congregation voted to become self-supporting. This decision became a full realization in July of the same year.

During the Summer of 1955, the first spiritual son of St. Paul's, Albin J. Stanfel, was ordained into the Lutheran Ministry and accepted a call to serve at a newly formed mission church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

In August of 1960 the Lord called Pastor O. Kreie to his eternal rest, and St. Paul's Congregation was again without a Pastor. Pastor R. Baer served as vacancy Pastor from August 1960 to February 1961 when Pastor Walter Henning accepted the call to service as the fourth resident Pastor of St. Paul's Congregation. Pastor Henning was installed January 1961. In October 1961, the addition of the church building was completed and dedicated.

On 16 May, 1965, the congregation observed its 25th Anniversary in a special service with Rev. J. Martin and Rev. C. Kipfmiller as guest speakers and Rev. R. Scheele as Officiant. The burning of the mortgage on the parsonage was also observed at this time. In July 1965, an Allen Organ was purchased for our church and was dedicated at a special service on 19 September, 1965 with Rev. H. Engel as guest speaker.

The steps which have brought us to the present location of St. Paul's began in April of 1966 when a Planning Committee was established to find a site for a new House of Worship. In September of 1968 it was decided to engage a Stewardship Counselor to help us improve our Stewardship performance in view of our projected plans to acquire new property and eventually build. In July 1970 we acquired the John Malik Estate consisting of 11 acres and a piece of lake property on which our present House of Worship is now standing at the corner of Elwell Rd. and W. Huron River Drive. For a short time there was a building on the property which the Congregation had rented, but it was ultimately decided this was too costly.

On January 17, 1972 the Voters Assembly decided to engage the architectural firm of Merritt, Cole and McCallum to design a new House of Worship. On July 20, 1975 the congregation broke ground for our new House of Worship. On May 2, 1976 the cornerstone was laid in a special service. On December 12, 1976 we dedicated this new House of Worship to the glory of our God.

Church in Fall

1995 the addition of entrance Narthex

In 1986, a building committee was formed by the president of the congregation, Bill Stanfel, which included Dave McLeod, Eldon Ahles, and Larry Haase. Their task was to investigate the possibility of a Fellowship Hall addition. The committee met with an architectural firm located in Willis, Michigan. A site plan was developed and the feasibility of construction was studied. After prayerful consideration, it was determined that the new constructing would have to be delayed until a better time.

Through the years, our congregation prospered and grew. In 1987, Scott Martin came to our church and served as Vicar through 1988. Upon his departure, Frank Gronemeyer served as Vicar through August, 1989 and then returned to the Seminary.


Pastor Henning served this Church faithfully for 28 years. Upon his retirement on January 29, 1989 we once again were without a pastor. Rev. Edward Zell of Darlington Evangelical-Lutheran Church served as interim Pastor. In April of the same year, God led Pastor James A. Frey to accept the Call to serve our congregation, and on June 6, 1989 he was installed as our fifth and present pastor.

During Pastor Frey's ministry, God has blessed St. Paul's with another successful building program. Early in the year 1991, a building committee was formed which was comprised of Ken Miller, the President of the Congregating Dave MacLeod, Eldon Ahles, Larry Haase, Dan Neiman, Dick Colwell, and Richard Donahey. This committee met with the architectural firm of Hobbs and Black to lay plans for an addition of a fellowship/education wing.

On October 2, 1994 the ground breaking ceremony was celebrated with a special service. After a series of meetings, the Gator Construction Company was given the contract for a new addition.

recent additions

This time we added an entrance Narthex, a separate entrance
to new classrooms and Pastor Frey's office and a fellowship hall for activities.

The new Narthex, Education Wing, and Fellowship Hall additions were dedicated in May of 1995 with great thanks to our God, who provides every good and perfect gift.

Today's St. Paul's Evangelical-Lutheran Church continues to serve Christ in Van Buren Township with a weekly celebration of Holy Communion in its Services. She also offers the Sacraments on the Major Feast Days of the Church year. And God willing, she will continue to serve her Savior and his flock with the Gospel in the Word and Sacrament for many years to come.

In the summer of 2008 the second spiritual son of St. Paul's Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Daniel J. Frey was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry and accepted a call to serve Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Lees Summit, Missouri.


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