It’s been just over one year since fire destroyed the church building that the members of St. Paul Lutheran in Martensdale called home for 108 years. Since that time members have been sharing worship space with Assumption Catholic Church in Churchville, approximately 2 miles northwest of Martensdale. The former priest’s residence which is adjacent to the church serves as office space, pastor’s study and Sunday School and confirmation class rooms. Several joint events during which both Catholics and Lutherans participate include Second Sunday Breakfasts, combined Good Friday and Christmas Day services and Christmas caroling at local nursing homes.  The co-location arrangement has allowed the members of St. Paul to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider its future ministry in rural Warren and Madison counties.

Following guidance from the Southeastern Iowa Synod and the Mission Investment Fund, St. Paul has completed a Church and Community Study, formed finance and exploratory building task forces and interviewed and selected a local architect and a general contractor. A preliminary building plan has been drafted and final project plans and costs will be shared at the annual congregational meeting in January. If the congregation votes to move forward, ground breaking for a new church building on the prior building site could occur in the Spring. Preliminary drawings include a tower for St. Paul’s bell. The bell and their Christ Candle were the only items to survive the fire. The bell had announced the beginning of each Sunday’s worship service. St. Paul members dream of the day when the bell will announce their return to Martensdale.

The members of St. Paul are grateful for the generous support and donations received from sister congregations throughout the Southeastern Iowa Synod and beyond and ask for your continued prayers. As plans continue to unfold, there may be opportunities for others to respond to specific needs and participate in St. Paul’s worship center resurrection.


Article written by Kim Downs, council president at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Martensdale, IA 

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