St. James Lutheran Church


1890’s – 1910’s

During the 1890’s, the first settlers came to this community from homes in Illinois and Wisconsin. Among these people were many Lutherans who sincerely desired to “gladly hear and learn His word.” Pastor Maesse, at that time resident pastor at Fairmont, agreed to conduct divine services whenever possible in the various homes. Due to weather, the services were sometimes held every four or five weeks. After about two years, services were discontinued when Rev. Maesse was called from Fairmont.

When Pastor Dahlke was called to succeed Pastor Maesse in the Fairmont congregation, Fredrick Hartmann and Michael Klein inquired among the settlers for their opinion on again having Divine Services. The Lutherans in east Rutland and nearby townships were very anxious to have the Word of God preached to them and gladly attended services in the District 31 school house, also known as the White Lilly School. Pastor Dahlke assumed this extra responsibility and under his able leadership, the St. James Evangelical Congregation was organized May 31, 1890. No exact record has been found of the charter members. However, soon after its organization the congregation recognized its need of a church home and the following members who were also charter members took charge of the building program:

Michael Kline, Frederick Hartmann, Sr., C. Anders, Fred Drewes, Dick Kruger, Wm. Rodewald, Detlev Hansen, Ferdinand Kaeding, Wm. Degert, Fred Kastning, Henry Lueth, Henry Bockelmann, John Jonker, Herman Mittlestaedt, Fred Rach, F.H. Drewes, August Grapler

Several descendants of these men are present members.

After much consideration, three acres of the northeast corner of section 3, Rutland Township, were donated by Frederick Hartmann, Sr. and the main part of the church was built and dedicated to the Glory of God in the fall of 1892. The congregational cemetery was dedicated on July 29, 1894.

Pastor Dahlke served the congregation only nine months when he resigned. Pastor Daberkow of Galena, conducted services every two weeks for about a year and a half. Again distance and transportation required new plans. Pastor Krueger of St. John’s Antrim, rural Truman, served the congregation faithfully, preaching and also teaching in the school until the first resident Pastor was called.

The desire for weekly services and regular instruction in the “one thing needful” was recognized. Pastor G. Kohloff, then a candidate at Concordia Lutheran seminary at Springfield, IL, was installed as their pastor in August of 1895. Under his direction the congregation grew in membership and spirituality. The parsonage was built in 1895. A school was built in the summer of 1903 next to the church. The church was enlarged in 1907, at which time the furniture and a bell was installed.

In 1910, Pastor Kohloff was called to Delafield, in Jackson County, Minnesota. Pastor H. Heinemann of Truman served as vacancy until a call could be sent to Pastor C.C. Metz of Webster, Minnesota. Pastor Metz was installed on Contate Sunday, April 26, 1910.

During the summer the parsonage was enlarged. He served the congregation for twenty five years, resigning in November of 1935 due to ill health. He continued to serve as vacancy pastor until Pastor E. Koberg was installed on February 2, 1936.

In 1912, the congregation purchased seven acres of adjoining land for $525.00, which would be repurchased by the owner if not used for church purposes.

In 1916, the congregation purchased a pipe organ which was moved to the Northrop church location as used until 1962.

1920’s – 1940’s

On April 24, 1924, the Ladies Aid was organized with 12 members present. On the last Sunday of that month, English services were held.

The congregation was privileged to honor Pastor C.C. Metz on August 5, 1934, in celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination in the ministry. More than 900 people including past and present parishioners, visiting pastors and friends attended the celebration. He resigned in November 1935 due to ill health. He continued to serve as vacancy pastor until Pastor E. Koberg was installed on February 2, 1936. The Men’s Club was organized on December 9. Walther League was organized on April 22, 1937 with 41 members. All meetings were conducted in the English language.

In the fall of 1937 a new parsonage was built in Northrop, approximately four miles southwest of the current church site.

1940 was a real anniversary year for the congregation. In a special meeting on April 21, plans were made to purchase two acres of land in Northrop. In May, is was resolved to build a frame church with dimensions 32 x 80 feet, and to move the school to Northrop and to excavate a basement under it with dedication held in September. Pastor E. Koberg delivered the sermon.

On June 23, the membership celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the congregation. Pastor F. Kolander preached in the forenoon, Pastors Schramm and A.M. Beck in the afternoon and Pastor M. Wiersig in the evening.

The cornerstone was laid in July with Pastor P.J. Affeldt delivering the sermon. The dedication took place on October 6. Pastors e. Koberg and O.H. Zemke spoke in the forenoon, Pastor R.C. Beisel, Pastor R. Marquart in the afternoon and Pastor Otto Bauer in the evening. A new teacherage was built that same fall. Seven acres were sold to Reinhold Wegner on December 31, 1940. This move has been a great blessing to the congregation.

The Ladies Aid joined the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League in 1942 and in 1943 Teacher Metz completed 25 years of teaching. The new English Hymnal was also introduced into the church.

Membership increased and as early as 1944, with the increase in school enrollment. There was a need for something to be done. Because of the war and shortage of materials, nothing could be done at the time. In April, 1948 the congregation adopted plans and construction on a new school began in June. On November 2, 1948 the new school was dedicated. The Reverend Professor W.A. Poehler and the Reverend Theodore Krenzke served as dedication speakers.

In a special meeting on November 28, 1949, the congregation gave Pastor E. Koberg his release, which he requested, to accept a call to Immanuel Lutheran in Clarinda, Iowa.


 1950’s – 1960’s

Pastor E. Rehwaldt of Zion Lutheran served as vacancy pastor. A call was extended to Reverend O.H. Cloeter of Bristol, Connecticut, and was accepted and installed in August of 1950. During his administration, art glass windows were installed in the chancel in 1954 and new chancel furniture including altar and pulpit in 1955 were purchased, adding to the beautification of our church. Pastor Cloeter served the congregation until January of 1957, when he accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran in Faribault, Minnesota. Pastor Rueben Martin and Pastor Ernest Kanning were vacancy pastors and served the congregation until Reverend H. Gerike of Cole Camp, Missouri accepted a call and was installed. During his pastoral office, the school known as District No. 73 was purchased and added to our school system. The building was dedicated on May 22, 1960.

Pastor Gerike received a call from St. John’s Lutheran in Lincoln, Texas, and was granted a release. Pastor C.A. Joesting served as vacancy pastor until a call was extended to synod for a graduate student and Pastor E. Ruhlig was assigned to us and installed on July 9, 1961.

In 1962 a new Jubal electronic organ was purchased and dedicated with Mr. Adolph Leimer as guest organist on October 7th. A Christian flag was purchased to match the U.S. flag that had been donated. Wooden railings were placed on the steps leading to the altar. The teacherage between the church and school was sold and the basement filled. The teacher was housed in a rented house at 205 N. James Street.

In 1964, an anniversary committee was formed to begin plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary. Serving on the committee were: Louis Koehler, chairman, George Manzke, Roland Hartmann, Gerhard Besel, and Zelda Lohmann. Three services were held, the first on May 23, 1965 with Reverend O.H. Cloeter, guest pastor with emphasis on Christian education. The second service was on July 11, with Reverend Roger Lange, guest pastor including a confirmation reunion and a closing vesper service in the afternoon. The third service was on Sept 12, with Reverend E. Koberg, guest speaker with emphasis on the organization of the congregation. 

On March 5, 1967, Pastor Ruhlig accepted a call to Mount Calvary Lutheran in Indianola, Iowa and grated a release. Pastor E. Geistfeldt was our vacancy pastor until December 6, 1967, when the church council extended a call to Pastor W.A. Schultz. He was installed in February of 1968.

In 1966 the house at 310 S. Judson was purchased for teacher housing and was first occupied by Peter Bauer.On April 10, 1969 a special voters meeting was held and it was voted to build a new narthex on the front of the church. Theodore Lohmann made the copper cross and the Sunday School children paid for the lighting behind the cross. Special dedication service was held on November 23rd.


1970’s – 1980’s

The 80th anniversary of our congregation was celebrated with two special services. The first service was held on May 31, 1970 with a noon pot-luck meal following the social hour. The second service was held on October 18th, with Reverend Michael Koberg as guest speaker for the morning service and Reverend O.H. Cloeter as guest speaker in the afternoon. A noon luncheon was held for attendance.

In 1971, at the April voters meeting, the members decided to revise the congregation’s constitution. In 1972, a decision was made to dispose of the old District 73 School north of the church by taking it down and leveling the ground. It was also voted to put vinyl clad steel siding and trim on the church.

After seven years, Pastor Schultz retired and was granted release in September of 1975. Pastor Randall F. Mueller of Zion Lutheran Fraser served as vacancy pastor. On November 13, 1975, the voters agreed that a dual parish with Zion Lutheran Fraser and Pastor Mueller was called to become pastor of both churches. He was granted a release a few months later.

Pastor Goetz of Trimont assisted with the weekly functions of the dual parish and a Pastor from St. Paul’s Fairmont, led Sunday service. This was most frequently filled by Pastor Krause. A call was extended to Pastor David B. Franzmeier. His installation was held in August 1976.

A new gymnasium was built for a bid of $71, 564 from Truman Farmers Elevator, in 1977. A gym, kitchen, and a kindergarten classroom were built connecting the church and school. The building committee and ladies aid worked together to complete the new addition. The old kitchen was remodeled into a church office where both St. James and Zion records were kept. A special service was held October 30, 1977 for the completion of the project and dedicated in honor of Theodore Metz, past principal and long-time teacher in the school. A fellowship hour followed the service.

Following the release of Pastor Franzmeier in 1981, a call was extended to Pastor Richard Buhrke. He was installed in a special worship service on October 25, 1981. He and his family lived in the parsonage by Zion Lutheran Church, rural Fairmont. The Northrop parsonage was sold to Pastor and Mrs. David Franzmeier sometime between 1982 and 1986.

A steel entry was installed leading into the school and gym area for winter protection in 1982. A new desk was built for the church office. The St. James Lutheran Church joined the Lutheran High School Association. The high school was called “Martin Luther High School” and classes were held in a renovated building (former grocery store) on Judson Street in Northrop, until a new building was built later just north of town.  

In 1986 a new driveway and garage floor was added to the teacherage property. The school underwent a remodeling of the windows and areas around the windows and in 1987 an air conditioner was installed in the gym.

A change was made in communion distribution in 1988. On the second Sunday of each month Holy Communion would be celebrated with the use of the chalice. On the fourth Sunday of each month, individual cups and serving trays were used. However, the chalice was made available upon request. Later it would be voted to use individual cups with the common cup offered at all communion services which were changed to the first and third Sunday of the month. Repair work on the stained glass was completed.

At a special voters’ meeting in February 1989, the voters resolved to replace the heating system in the gym and to place a plaque “In memory of Walter and Louise Hunte” in the gym with funds used from Walter’s bequest for building purposes. The furnace in the teacherage was also replaced. New linoleum flooring in the church basement and new carpeting in the narthex and steps was laid with funds from the Ladies Aid and Ladies Eve Circle. 

The first celebration of the 100th anniversary was held on October 8, 1989, with Pastor David Franzmeier, guest pastor. An old fashioned theme was to be used for attire, with a pot-luck meal, and a program. The second service was planned for June 24, 1990, with Pastor Roger Lange, guest pastor for the morning service. This was a confirmation reunion. A short program and a catered noon meal followed. Pastor Adolph Leimer was the guest pastor for the afternoon service at 1:15pm. The third celebration was on October 7, 1990 with Dr. O.H. Cloeter, guest pastor. A rededication service to the glory of God for His many blessings on our congregation over the years, and a recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Sunday School and the 50th anniversary of the church being in Northrop was conducted. 

1990’s – 2015

Pastor Burhke’s resignation was accepted in February of 1990. Pastor Robert Hinz was vacancy pastor until a call was extended and accepted by Pastor David Winter. Installation was held on March 10, 1991 at 2pm with Pastor Janetzke officiating. Pastor Hinz and Pastor Haberman participated in the service. The church office was modernized with the addition of an Apple computer. 

Weather permitting, Memorial Day service at the cemetery was started in 1992. A used pipe organ was purchased for $12,000 and dedicated on October 4, 1992. An air conditioner was donated and installed in the church in April of 1993.

One of the classrooms in the school was remodeled and remade into a Principal’s office and computer lab. Two classrooms were added on the east side of the school in 1995.

At the April 1996 Quarterly Voters’ Meeting, a vote of 14 to 6 passed allowing women to become voting members. On the weekend of July 6 and 7, a 100 year reunion for the alumni of St. James Lutheran School with a banquet was held on Saturday evening and with a special service on Sunday morning.

Pastor Winter resigned in November of 1998 and his last sermon was on December 6. Once again Pastor Hintz served as vacancy pastor.

The communion railing and kneeling benches were removed and the Sanctuary was remodeled. New carpet was installed in the nave along with new paint in 1999. A call was extended to Pastor Robert Trueblood and he was installed on August 1, 1999. 

The first service of the 110th anniversary was held on June 27, 1999 with Pastor Donald Peyman as guest speaker. A window in the office and a PA system in the basement were installed with funds from Dennis Kosbab’s estate in 2000. The second anniversary service was on November 26, 2000, and a third in June of 2001, completing the 110th anniversary.

The Minnesota South District made a change in circuit boundaries and we were reassigned from the Fairmont circuit to the Blue Earth circuit in 2005.

The year 2006 brought change to the Sunday morning service with the purchase of 230 new hymnals title “Lutheran Service Book.” The new books were used for the first time on Thanksgiving Day. The men’s restroom in the basement was removed and the area was remodeled for the shaft of a three level handicap lift from the narthex to the church nave and basement, which made a great improvement for access to the church. The cost of the lift was $29,550 with an overall cost of $44,000.

The property at 310 South Judson Street that was purchased in 1966 for the use of the school principal was sold in 2007 for $84,950.

In April 2010, approval was made for the purchase of a digital electronic organ from Allen Organ Company in Edgerton, MN for the price of $25,000.

Restrooms in the narthex were changed to provide handicapped capability. Access to cupboards with a sink was incorporated for Sunday morning fellowship coffee.

In need of repair, the voter’s assembly made the decision to replace the roof of the church with steel shingles by Schmidt’s of Mankato in 2013 with a price of $80,000. A church sign and flag, with lighting were placed in front of the gym. 

In preparation for the 125th anniversary of the church, a photo directory was made, the narthex was painted and new carpeting laid with matching funds from the Eve Circle. A 125th Anniversary logo was designed by Hayley (Koeritz) Luther. The anniversary service was held at 10am with Pastor David Winter as guest speaker. A catered turkey dinner was served followed by a short program and hymn fest. Committee members were: Keith and Mary Jo Hartmann, Bart Johnson, Craig Carrigan, Rollo Kosbab, Heidi Koeritz, Tom Schultz and Carole Lohmann.