Groundbreaking for new Parish Center in 1961. From left: Ted Vinger, Assistant Pastor; Dr. Duane Englund, Congregation President; Mrs. Knut Anderson; John Hysen; Glenn Husby, Pastor; H.C. Hjortholm, Assistant Pastor.
O U R H I S T O R Y & H E R I T A G E
From 1906 to Present, the congregation of St. Paul Lutheran Church has met in seven different buildings. These church homes, having their beginning in a family home and finally becoming the beautiful structure of today, chronicle the growth of the congregation throughout the years.
1897-1906 – Pastors visited Missoula & Western MT from Helena
1906 – There were enough Norwegian immigrants to establish a congregation: The First Norwegian Evangelical
Lutheran Church of Missoula; services were held in home of August Adresen. The Andresens were the original pillars of St. Paul’s because their dedicated support and cooperation materially aided the organization and early life of the congregation. The services and meetings of the congregation were conducted in the Norwegian language in the early years.
1908 – The pastor served this church & that of the newly formed Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church of Bonner
1916 – The congregation incorporated, re-naming itself St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
1919 – Became affiliated with the Norwegian Lutheran Church of American Synod and purchased land to build its first chapel on the corner of Brooks and Grand (Roosevelt). (Above right: First Chapel, 1919-1926)
1926 – Construction of a new church building at the current site began and was not complete until 1929 (Left: Construction begins, 1926)
1930s – 1940s – Organizational activities increased dramatically and membership boomed
1947 – The Memorial Fund was established which later funded the chancel window, communion rail, chronobell, and many pews.
1950 – The church saw such large growth in attendance during and after World War II that it purchased the property next to the church to build a new addition which doubled the seating capacity of the sanctuary, increased the basement fellowship area to accommodate 300, and created 11 for more programming and office space.
1960s – The American Lutheran Church (ALC) was formed after a merging of several Lutheran churches. St. Paul was active in the support and guidance in the establishment of two mission churches, Atonement in Missoula and Valley of Christ in Frenchtown
1961 – Continued growth necessitated the construction of a new Parish Center which consisted of 30 classrooms, a chapel, two fireside rooms, offices, a kitchenette, and a new entrance to the sanctuary.
1963 – A short circuit in a light fixture wiring caused a costly fire with heavy damage to the main structure, though insurance covered reconstruction while worship continued at a high school auditorium.
Mid-1960s – The church purchased property to create the current-day parking lot and moved what had been the existing parsonage.
1988 – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was formed after the merging of the American Lutheran Church with the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America.
2009-10 – “Building for Christ, Caring for Community” Capital Fund Appeal funded renovations to the aged facilities to provide a healthy and safe worship and work, education and care environment for generations to come and allowed us to become better stewards of the gifts entrusted to us for ministries.
This timeline is in large thanks to the hard work of our church staff's preparation and celebration of St. Paul's 75th anniversary.