St. Paul pastor, congregation celebrating anniversary

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Fayette Faces

By Panzi Blackwell

The community and members of the congregation of St. Paul Lutheran Church are celebrating the church’s 150th anniversary with three special Sunday afternoon services, which will include a meal at noon and a program before the 2 p.m. church service.

In addition, the church has put together a collection of recipes, some of them dating back to the early days (1864-2014) of the church.
The collection is contained in a beautifully covered book entitled “To God the Glory.” The dark green cover cover bears a colorful autumn photograph of the old church with the following printed in gold – “St. Paul Lutheran Church, LCMS-1864-2014 – Celebrating 150 Year.” It is an object of art and beauty to anyone’s kitchen and home.
In addition, David Knecht, a historian and former resident of the area, has compiled another attractive and informational book, “History of St. Paul and its Earliest Settlers.”
The book has 529 pages of the history of the first settlers and their families; the beginning days of the church, when the meetings were held in a home; copies of handwritten church records; many old photographs and newer photos; and much more.
Both books are now available for purchase.
While the Rev. David Hoehler has been the church pastor for only four years, he is very much a part of the celebration, and has nothing but good feelings and thoughts for his congregation and the church, which started from humble beginnings and grew through the faith, works and dedication of the early settlers and their descendants of today.
Meet Pastor David Hoehler and His Family
Pastor Hoehler is originally from Jefferson City, Mo.
“I lived there my whole life and went back to school seven or eight years ago, to the seminary and this is the first call I received,” he said.
“We enjoy living here. My wife, Emma, grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania.  Her parents now live in Missouri in a Mennonite community. We have a daughter, Zoe, we are adopting. We have had her since she was 3 weeks old. She will be 3 in July and she has special needs.”
His Church Family
“The congregation here is approximately 150,” he said. He said there are quite a few who are leaders in the congregation, but hesitated to name them for fear of leaving someone out.  
“We thoroughly enjoy being here, and the people have been very good to us here,” he said.
“In fact, the people here and a couple from Augsburg actually built the ramp here for our daughter,” he said. “They put in the concrete slabs and all, especially for her. They are very thoughtful people,” he added.
The Church Buildings
The stately old brick building in its rural setting is a work of architectural art in its design, with its windows and the cross high above the double-door entrance. A large, old iron bell that rang to summon children to their classes in the last school in the area is displayed in front of the church on a brick foundation.
A large parish hall stands nearby in testimony of the faithfulness and willingness of the congregation to work together. It also holds a gym where some of the men (including Pastor Hoehler) play in a basketball league.
Some Personal History
Rev. Hoehler is an only child. “My mom died when I was very young and my dad never remarried, so it was just him and me. “I went to the University of Missouri, and I worked with mentally disabled adults for almost 20 years (before seminary). My wife and I married just before I went back to school,” he said.
Inspiration to Go Back to School
He said that a lot of different things inspired him to go back to school.
“When I was younger, very young, in grade school and such, a lot of people in my church at home, would say, ‘You would make a good pastor, do this, so I guess, 30 years later, I finally listened to them,” he said.
But he doesn’t regret the years of working with the disabled before he returned to school.
Summing Up
Pastor Hoehler spoke highly of the people in the area and of the congregation. And, he added, with a grin, “I haven’t had a bad meal since I’ve been here,” which speaks well for the cooking of the women in the community.
Special Sunday Afternoon Services …
… are April 6, Aug. 17 and Sept. 14.
The April 6 program will include a noon meal, followed by the program with the Rev. Calvin Seban and speaker David Knecht.