On Sunday mornings, some senior members of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church come together in the movie theater at Oak Terrace Senior Living in Jordan. They would love to worship at their church, but the effects of age will not allow them anymore. Instead, St. Paul brings worship to them. By streaming the service to the theater, these members sing hymns and psalms and listen to the sermon, right along with their brothers and sisters in Christ at the church.
“Many things in the world have changed over the past 150 years since our congregation was founded, but what hasn’t changed is the ministry we have: to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Pastor Jeremy Glowicki.
St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in Jordan in 1867 when German Lutherans gathered together to form a congregation.
“It was still the frontier, so finding and keeping pastors to serve them was a challenge,” Glowicki said. “But they persevered and eventually had their own pastor.”
To continue to carry out their ministry in a changing world meant the congregation had to continue to adapt.
Sometimes that meant a new church building. They are now worshiping in their third building.
Sometimes it meant worshiping in a different language. As generations of immigrants began to lose touch with their mother tongue and more people not of German descent moved to Jordan, it was critical to the congregation’s work to adjust, and so they moved away from German in worship in the early 1940s.
Very familiar to many around Jordan is the Sunday morning radio broadcast on KCHK radio. Begun in 1970, the voices of Pastor Voss, Pastor Bushaw and now Pastor Glowicki bring the message of Jesus Christ to the area around Scott County.
“Many people say to me, ‘I hear you on the radio. I go to my church and then go home and listen to you,” Glowicki remarked.
While the congregation continues to do what it has done for 150 years, preach the gospel, distribute Holy Communion and baptize, modern technology has changed how they are able to carry out their ministry. Today residents of Oak Terrace Senior Living eat their breakfast in the cafeteria on Sundays. Then they can choose to take the elevator ride up to the movie theater and worship with St. Paul’s congregation.
The worship broadcasts extend beyond the borders of Jordan and even the United States.
“We have members in Switzerland who watch every Sunday and people in other states who have never gone to a church but are learning about Jesus Christ for the first time by these broadcasts,” said Pastor Glowicki.
150 years ago, the first members of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church began a ministry here in Jordan to serve them and their families. They couldn’t have imagined what it would be like today.
“If they could be here, I hope they would be proud that God’s Word is still important to us, no matter what medium we use to share it,” Pastor Glowicki said.
This sentiment is highlighted in the theme chosen for St. Paul Lutheran Church’s 150th anniversary, “Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word.” It is the name of one of Martin Luther’s hymns and marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
The congregation will celebrate with a special worship service on Sunday, June 4 at 3 p.m. Wisconsin Synod President Rev. Mark Schroeder will preach and WELS member Eric Mueller from Woodbury will be the guest organist.
There will be historic items on display and a keepsake ornament commemorating the church’s 150th anniversary will be for sale. Everyone in the Jordan community is welcome to attend.