Our History

In the first year of its existence the congregation conducted services in the public school on Franklin Street in Hancock and in the county courthouse in Houghton. However, later in 1867, the first Lutheran church building in the Copper Country was built on a lot donated by the Quincy Mining Company. On April 11, 1869 a great fire destroyed nearly the entire village of Hancock. The church was one of only a few buildings left undamaged by the fire.

Rev. Wuebben remained until 1873 and was followed by Rev. C.F. Ebert. These two men did exploratory mission work throughout the area from Eagle Harbor to Ontonagon to Marquette. The organization of St. Paul's in Laurium and Trinity (now Redeemer) in Marquette were offshoots of their labors.

During the pastorate of Rev. Philip Wambsganss (installed in 1878), the issue of building a new church nearly split the congregation. The members from Hurontown, who made up almost half of the congregation, wanted to build in Houghton or buy the old Houghton Fire Hall, which had been offered at a low price. However, the congregation stayed together and the new church was built on the corner lot next to the old church. (The lot was obtained on a 99-year lease from the Quincy Mining Company and at the end of the sale purchased for $1.00). The new church was dedicated in 1881.

The ministry of Rev. Edmund Huebner (installed 1887) was difficult due to economic changes in the community and the growth of activities harmful to the church, such as itinerant preachers and lodges. But he continued to lay a good foundation for the future. Three large bells (Glaube, Liebe, and Hoffnung) were installed in the belfry. The old church became the congregation's one-room parochial school building and continued to be used as such until 1917.

With Rev. Gottlieb Traub's ministry (1896-1922) the congregation began to move into the modern era. In 1906 the congregation began to have English language services (once a month). Steam heat, electricity, gas, and plumbing were installed. A choir, Sunday school, and ladies' and young people's societies were organized. He served preaching stations at Atlantic Mine, Trimountain, Topaz, and Bergland.

Rev. E.W. Feldscher's pastorate (1922-1962) was the longest in the congregation's story. He extended ministry to Painesdale (resulting in Trinity congregation, which merged with SS. Peter and Paul in 1957) and a preaching station in Redridge. He led major renovations and the Hasse organ project, but one of his most noteworthy contributions was initiation and development of ministry to students at what is now Michigan Technological University. He was one of the fathers of campus ministry in the LCMS. Back in the 1960s, alumni established a scholarship fund at MTU in his memory.

Rev. Robert Paul was installed as the congregation"s seventh pastor in 1962. His ministry carried on Rev. Feldscher's work in maintaining a stable congregation and pursuing campus ministry. A thriving Gamma Delta student group metamorphosed into (Lutheran) Beta Sigma Psi fraternity (Theta chapter) with its own house on College Ave. in Houghton. Beta Sigma Psi played a positive role in the campus scene for several years but was undone by the campus turmoils of the late 60's and early 70's . He was called to serve a town and campus congregation in Wisconsin in 1967. After ministry there and another pastorate, he was called back as our tenth pastor in 1975.

Rev. Carlton Spatzek came to SS. Peter and Paul after service as a Navy chaplain. Although well liked, he served here only about a year (1967-1968). The Copper Country climate affected him and his wife adversely, and he felt constrained to continue his ministry in another location.

Rev. Vernon Schwartz was called by our congregation from a town and campus ministry in Illinois and served 1969-1975. He made contributions in parish organization and new initiatives in campus ministry. Upon his recommendation, the North Wisconsin District purchased a house a half-block from the heart of MTU's campus, which became Concordia Lutheran Student Center. Ever since, it has been the connecting link between the church and the campus. The monthly student suppers he initiated are still a primary venue for student fellowship and ministry.>

During Rev. Paul's second pastorate (1975-1995), a large part of ministry was involved with serving an aging segment of the congregation and fostering student involvement in the life of the congregation. The ties that developed between members and students were cherished by both. The two major projects during this pastorate were the narthex addition and the elevator.

The ministry of Rev. Patrick Boomhower (1995-1998) took a spirited approach to outreach, with the result many new members were added to the congregation. He also used his considerable artistic and musical talents to oversee a beautiful redecoration of the nave, chancel and altar, and a much-needed renovation of the organ.

Through its long history, the congregation has had only one long vacancy (1978-79). Most have been 6 months or less.

Rev. David Weber (1998-2015) arrived in October of 1998. His approach to ministry was straightforward and evangelical. He, too, had musical talents and used them to add vocal and instrumental music to the congregational life. Another mark of his ministry was to be highly active in standing by and helping people in times of sickness or other needs.  The new facility in Houghton was built during his pastorate and the congregation moved in March of 2009. He retired from full time ministry in July, 2015.

For the first time in its history, the congregation added a second full-time pastor in July of 2010. Rev. Aaron Gehrke was called to serve alongside Rev. David Weber as the congregation's growth necessitated additional staffing.  He, too, has musical abilities and is able to use them to lead the congregation in worship.  He has a heart for the poor and the lost, and will equip the congregation in finding ways to reach all people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In July 2014, Rev. Weber and Gehrke transitioned roles to provide for a smooth retirement for Rev. Weber in 2015.  

 

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