(Not So) Brief History

Hope Lutheran Church was organized as the Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Cottage Grove, Dane County, Wisconsin January 4, 1854. The organization was effected by the Reverend L. W. Habel with the first congregational meeting held in the home of F. Gausmann on December 2, 1854 when the first officers were elected and the congregation was incorporated. On land a little southwest of the present church, donated by F. Gausmann, the first modest church building was erected. In 1855 the congregation became a member of the Evangelical Synod of Buffalo. From 1857 to 1858 the congregation was served by the Reverend J. Deindoerfer, then pastor of the newly organized St. John's Lutheran Congregation in Madison. That year the congregation withdrew from the Buffalo Synod to join the Iowa Synod. The Reverend A. Kluge was pastor in 1858 followed by the Reverend J. Hoerflein in 1862. The congregation retained its membership in the Iowa Synod until the merger of Iowa, Buffalo and Ohio Synods in 1930 which then became the American Lutheran Church in America (ALC), and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC). This Synod then merged on January 1, 1988 and we became a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

The congregation struggled through the years from 1857 to 1866 with frequent changes in the pastorate and with other difficulties, until the Reverend J. Hauser took charge of the congregation. Under Pastor Hauser, the congregation developed and in 1870 built the first church building. Lightning struck the steeple the following year and it had to be rebuilt. Pastor Hauser resigned because of poor health in 1875 and was followed by the Reverend A. Rehn who stayed only one year, leaving the pastorate vacant until 1877 when the Reverend F. Kuehling became pastor until 1888. Additional land was purchased in 1878 from William Freund. It is uncertain when the first parsonage was built but the congregation voted to build a parsonage in 1880. It was erected on the site of the present parsonage and in 1926 was replaced by our current parsonage which was remodeled in 1966. Reverend F. Lutz was called in 1888 to succeed Pastor Kuehling and in 1894 The Reverend J. Wolf became Pastor. A pipe organ was installed in 1895. Membership of the congregation had reached about 400 baptized. The observance of the first fifty years was marked by services on September 13, 1903 and for those services church pews and a bell were purchased. In 1904 the Reverend Christian Sund became the pastor. During his pastorate the Ladies Aid society was organized in 1904, a school house erected in 1906 where the present parish hall now stands, stained glass windows were purchased in 1908 and an addition to the parsonage was built in 1909. Poor health again caused the resignation of the pastor in 1914. The Reverend Carl Mardorf was then called in 1914. Meeting the requirements of the day, English services were introduced in 1915 and conducted once a month. By 1919 English and German services were held on alternate Sundays. The Luther League was organized in 1917 and in 1920 the Reverend Peter Pichler replaced Pastor Mardorf who had accepted another call. Pastor Pichler died in 1923 and he rests in the church cemetery along with Pastors Kuehling, Wolff and Neemann. From March through August of 1923, interim pastors served until the call was accepted by the Reverend Henry C. Neemann. His name now stands astride the history of the congregation as he served faithfully and well for 35 years until 1958. Many members of the present congregation had their lives entwined with that of Reverend Neemann and his family who will long remember them and all that they meant to this church and its people. Pastor Neemann and his wife returned as members of Hope when he retired from the chaplaincy at Oakwood Lutheran Homes until his death in 1967. During the years that Pastor Neemann served Hope, the Cemetery Association was formed in 1924 with the church being remodeled the same year. In 1926 a new parsonage was built and in 1928 the men organized the Brotherhood. Our 75th anniversary was celebrated in 1929 and for that the parsonage was redecorated and electric lights installed in the church. In 1931 the Luther League was reorganized and in 1932 the present Parish Hall was built at a cost of $6, 500 with the Ladies Aid donating $3.800 and the Luther League $300 for its construction. In 1940 a new heating plant was installed in the church, redecorating done and carpeting laid at a cost of $2,300. Voting rights came to women with a new constitution adopted in 1941. In 1945 Daily Vacation Bible School was inaugurated and a pipe organ replaced. From 1949 thru1960, the Luther League sponsored a junior and senior basketball team and both had excellent records. Prior to that time the League was noted for its excellent three-act plays. In 1953 repairs and refurbishing of the church occurred. In 1954 Hope marked its first 700 years with a Centennial Celebration. Our present Hope Service League was organized in 1955.

The Reverend Carlton Ruch accepted the call to serve as pastor in 1958. The Education Unit was built in 1961 and Jean Lande was hired as the first church secretary in 1961. Pastor Ruch was followed by the Reverend Richard Dargatz who served from 1961 to 1966. Hope has two members of its congregation ordained into Holy Ministry: Ronald Korfmacher in 1962 and Roger Rattmann in 1972. The Reverend James P. Ullom was called to succeed Pastor Dargatz in 1966. In 1967 additional land east of the church was purchased and the parsonage remodeled. In 1969 Elaine Rudie and Dorothy Rodefeld co-chaired a group to make the Chrismons that still decorate our Christmas tree. Also that year, a study group was organized to review the church plant with the results of that research leading to the formation of a formal Building Committee charted to either remodel the existing facilities or decide to build a totally new structure. Their decision was made for them in March of 1973 when a fire destroyed the church and most of the educational unit.

Bell from steeple displayed at ground level

"The Steeple Bell rescued from the Fire of 1973"

The congregation broke ground in June of 1973 to build a replacement for the church and educational unit with Ed Kluever serving as chairman of the Building Committee. During construction, services were held at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Cottage Grove, Yaraha Hills Golf Course and in the Parish Hall. To commemorate the original church building, a "Historical Collage-- Hope's Life" has been placed in the new chancel. Designed by the new building's architect, it contains a refired altar cross, old square nails, blackened silver chalices, melted and distorted fragments of communion trays, ominous looking candle holders and other related artifacts associated with the worship life in the old Hope Church. The steeple bell, intact but unusable, now decorates our resurrection garden. Hope became a member of the newly formed Stoughton Conference in 1975 and our organ was dedicated that same year. Bethel Bible Series Teacher Training Sessions began for 16 members in 1976 and in 1978, 92 members enrolled in Bethel Bible Studies. Jean Wagner became the first woman president of the congregation and represented us at the National Convention in Washington, D.C. in 1976. A new parsonage garage was built in 1977 and the first Confirmation Banquet was held and Holy Communion was started every Sunday. Hope joined three other congregations in the formation of the Martin Luther Christian Day School in 1979. The Reverend Vernon E. Awes succeeded Pastor Ullom in 1975 with the Reverend W. Thomas Holmes joining the staff as Associate Pastor in 1979 until he accepted a call in 1982. Pastor John M. Hanisch succeeded Holmes from 1983 to 1985 with the Reverend Joelle Colville serving as Associate from 1986 to 1989. Unique Midweek Services were started in 1977 during summer months and in 1980 the green Lutheran Book of Worship was purchased through memorials. Mabel Gausmann, completing 18 years of service as Hope's custodian, was honored by a"This Is Your Life" retirement program. The present Constitution and Bylaws were written and adopted in 1982 following the merger as Hope became a part of the ELCA. Our congregational structure was changed in our Church Council with the addition of Boards: Worship, Education, Spiritual Life, Youth, Property, Outreach and Stewardship being added along with a Recording Secretary and an Executive Board. Official Policy and Procedures were written and approved in 1984 to guide the Council and congregation.

Pastor Awes celebrated his 25th Anniversary of Ordination in June of 1984 and Hope was instrumental in forming an Ecumenical Vacation Bible School at Hope. In 1985 Search Bible Study began and in 1985, 285 caring adults and youth of Hope and surrounding churches "picked and gleaned" 1.500 bushels of corn for two area farms. During 1986 Hope's Joshua Altar was erected as a reminder that we as people of the Promise are daily being built into a more caring community. The Pastor's Class, "Life With God" series, was taught and a space needs study began with Building Committee formed. Our budget of $170, 184 was adopted and Jean Hanson was honored for her 25 years as Parish Secretary. A clown worship service was held in 1987. A Shepherding Ministry program was begun to remind Hope's members about the "Discipline in the Congregation" of love and concern for Hope's people. Our handbell choir was also formed in 1987. Pew Bibles were dedicated in 1988 and a Chemical Health Support Team was formed. Pastor Awes accepted a call in 1988 and it was decided in the 1989 Congregational Annual Meeting to have one pastor serve Hope. Pastor Colville then received a call. Hope was served by interim Pastors until the Reverend Watts Rozell was installed in August of 1989. Lisa Anderson was elected to the office of National Secretary for the Lutheran Youth Organization (formerly LutherLeague) at its convention in San Antonio, Texas and Hope started serving meals to Truax Apartment residents in 1989. Also formed was a Membership Steering Committee as part of the Shepherding Ministry. Cottage Meetings were held in the fall for members to share their "Dreams for Hope,"

Sunday School Parents Meetings began, the HLCW Cookbook went on sale, "Its Cool In The Furnace" was presented by our youth and the first "Soup, Song and Sacrament" service was held for our senior members to fill out the year. After six years of planning, a dream became reality when Hope's new Educational Unit was dedicated in January of 1990. At a cost of $180,000 the unit met our much needed space needs. During the year we have started new features like "Aids Awareness Sunday," Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Seder Meal, Name Tag Sunday and "Experience the Worldwide Power of the Cross" with speakers from around the globe speaking at our Wednesday noon and Lenten Services.

In 1993, Rev. Watts Rozell resigned and in May of 1994, The Rev. Glenn Zimbelman started ministry at Hope. The constitution was rewritten and the leadership reorganized to reflect the constitution of the ELCA. Jean Lande’s job description was changed as she became Hope’s first Evangelism Director. As a result, members of the congregation began a systematic calling program in Cottage Grove. Confirmation program was also changed to reflect a small group approach with adult guides acting as mentors. In 1996 a new Family Service began aimed at children and baby boomers. In 1997 Hope received a large memorial from Burdeen Struckmeyer to be used as stated in the will, "for building or church improvements".

In 1998 Meg Nielsen was hired as our director of Children and Family. Jean Lande retired in May of 1999. Michael Hillestad was hired as Director of Music in January 1999. In March, 2000 Kristin Neitzel was hired as Office Manager and Jean Hanson retired after serving 38 years as secretary. Hope Christian Preschool began its ministry in the fall of 1999 with Judy Diefenthaller hired as the first director. In 1999 the parsonage was converted into a youth place called "The Gathering House". Children of Sunday School Age began practicing together as a choir and as of January 2000 sing once a month at the Hosanna service. In January 2000 the congregation voted to renovate with new carpet, painting, pew pads, sound system and multimedia technology.

In May of 2001, Rev. Glenn Zimbelman left to take a new call.

From July of 2001 until February 2002 we faithfully witnessed and worshiped with Pastor Mark Buchan. and his family as he served as our intern pastor. Our Call Committee acted diligently and in our best interest and in January of 2002 we extended a Call to Pastor Chris Lee-Thompson. Pastor Chris joined us in February 2002 as our Pastor. He came to us from Appleton's Trinity Lutheran Church.