In the early 1900's attempts were made by a small group of Lutherans to form a congregation in Chilton, Wisconsin. These Lutherans began meeting at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Chilton. Unfortunately, because the group was so small, it was difficult to find a pastor to conduct services. Eventually the congregation was forced to disband.
Then, in 1915, through the influence of the Rev. C. Wittsconke of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Hilbert, Wisconsin and the efforts of a few local families including Henry Carsten, Julius Freitag, Arthur Lopas, Gustave Papke, Sr., and Mrs. Caroline Wolf, the dream of beginning a Lutheran congregation in Chilton became a reality. Beginning membership consisted of 35 persons, and services were held in the old Christian Science Church and City Hall. The Rev. Paul Goltermann of New Holstein originally served as pastor and was followed by Pastor Daib of Adell.
During the pastorate of the Rev. Arthur Halboth (1919-1925) the congregation purchased several lots for the construction of a new church on Grand Street. Many hours of volunteer work by the members went into the new building. Some of the materials, including the bell, came from the old Methodist Episcopal (M.E.) Church in Gravesville, Wisconsin, which had been purchased and torn down. The cornerstone for the new church was laid on Sunday, August 5, 1923, and the Grand Street Church was dedicated on October 24, 1924. Pastors who served at the Grand Street Church include: Rev. W. Laesch (1926-1931), Rev. K. Ramthun (1931-1942), Rev. R. Gussick (1942-1947), and Rev. G. Zuberbier (1947-1958). Mr. Arnold Doering was the teacher of the Christian Day School from 1928 to 1942.
While Pastor Zuberbier was serving the congregation, the members of St. Martin recognized the need for a new structure and educational facilities. A fund drive was organized and a house-to-house canvas conducted. At the semiannual meeting of 1961, the voters passed a resolution to construct a new church and educational structure. The ground-breaking ceremony was held on July 2, 1961, and construction started shortly thereafter. The cornerstone was laid on October 29, 1961, and dedication of the building took place on January 21, 1962. A painting of Christ in Gethsamane was brought from the Grand Street church as a remembrance of the old structure. It still hangs in the church Narthex. The Rev. Clarence Krueger (1958-1963) served as the first pastor in our present building.
Following the death of Pastor Krueger, a call was extended to Pastor Robert Novotney. He was installed on April 12, 1964. The new facility became debt-free in 1974, and a mortgage burning was conducted October 20, 1974. Pastor Novotney had faithfully served the people of St. Martin for 28 years when he retired in 1992. The congregation extended a call to Rev. Wayne Huebner, who was graduating from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Pastor Huebner was ordained and installed in 1992. He served an impressive tenure of 20 years before accepting another call and returning to Missouri. The congregation of St. Martin then called their current pastor, Rev. Jonathan Christensen, who was serving as Discipleship Pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Pastor Christensen was installed in July of 2013.
St. Martin Lutheran Church is named after St. Martin of Tours. Martin, a patron saint of France, was one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages, and the facts of his life are well known. When Martin was a young pagan army officer in 316 A.D., he cut his cape (“capa” in Latin) in half with his sword and gave half to a beggar shaking from the cold. Tradition has it that Christ appeared to Martin in a dream wearing the half cape given to the poor beggar. The Lord revealed that He had been the beggar who had benefited from Martin’s sympathetic generosity. Greatly influenced by the event, Martin was baptized and entered into the service of the Church.
In the Middle Ages, the half cape (“capa”) became a relic for battle to the kings of France. The priest responsible for the cape was called “capellanus.” Thus all clergy serving the military became known as “capellani” or chaplains. St. Martin became the patron saint of the chaplain, symbolizing the ideal figure of the military Christian clergyman giving of himself for his fellowman in service to Christ. In recognition of this selfless service that the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod awards outstanding chaplains the St. Martin of Tours medal.
St. Martin of Tours was greatly revered in Germany at the time of the Reformation. His continued popularity among Lutherans of Germanic descent is attributed to Martin Luther being born on St. Martin’s Eve, and Luther being named after the saint.
In 1967 the organ that had been transferred from the Grand Street church was replaced with a new unit, and in 1989 this organ was replaced with the current unit. Mrs. Lloyd (Pat) Bailey has been our very capable full-time organist since 1952.
Rev. Paul Goltermann 1915 to ?
Rev. Daib ? to ?
Rev. Arthur Halboth 1919 to 1925
Rev. Walter Laesch 1926 to 1931
Rev. Karl Ramthun 1931 to 1942
Rev. Robert Gussick 1942 to 1947
Rev. G. Zuberbier 1947 to 1958
Rev. Clarence Krueger 1958 to 1963
Rev. Robert Novotney 1964 to 1992
Rev. Wayne Huebner 1992 to 2012
Rev. Jonathan Christensen 2013 to Present