St. Jacob Evangelical Lutheran Church was started in 1841 as “The German Lutheran Evangelical Fellowship Society of St. Jacob Evangelical Lutheran Church.”Due to the long name it was more commonly referred to as “the German Lutheran church.” The first pastor of St. Jacob was Rev. Friedrich Schmid.He served the congregation for 13 years, at the same time serving congregations in Ann Arbor, Monroe, and Detroit .Church services were held in the German language.
The original church stood at the corner of Moeckel and Trist roads (about two miles from the present location).The original footings can still be seen in the cemetery that is still there.However, the church soon outgrew this building and a new church was built at the present location on Riethmiller Road in 1853.The first parsonage, or house provided for the pastor by the congregation, was built later in 1853 for the first resident pastor and his family.(The current parsonage was built in 1911-1912.)In 1865 a schoolhouse was built on the other side of the parsonage.Young people of confirmation age left public school for a period of time to receive instruction here.It was used for this purpose until around 1918.In 1876-1877 the balcony, bell tower, and (probably) steeple were added to the church building.A pipe organ was purchased in 1880.
Throughout these years, church attendance was very high, with over 100 people usually attending Sunday services.Initially St. Jacob was one of very few churches in the area.As more churches were established, attendance began to decrease but the church remained strong.
The years during World War I and immediately after were difficult for German speakers and St. Jacob Church.The school, which taught German, was closed.By 1923 Sunday services were held in English twice per month and German twice per month.In 1934 the main service every Sunday was decided to be held in English (an additional German service was held the first Sunday of each month).When the Great Depression started, many farmers in the area had a hard time making it.The federal government began to buy back some of the farm lands for a wildlife refuge. St. Jacob, which had been surrounded by farms, was now surrounded by state land (and still is today).While this makes for beautiful scenery around the church, it also greatly decreased the population around the church.
By the 1950s, the congregation again began to swell.By God’s grace, the larger number of people attending and the strong economy helped the church to improve and enlarge its facilities (including adding a basement in 1950).In 1970 St. Jacob was even able to foster a mission church in Jackson, MI —St. Luke’s.A fellowship hall was added to the church in 2001, allowing for greater fellowship opportunities, and the church became air-conditioned, which everyone appreciates in the summertime!
Throughout the years we have been continually reminded that God takes care of his people and his church.It is because of God’s love and grace for people that St. Jacob Ev. Lutheran Church has existed for over 175 years.Although many things have changed since 1841, St. Jacob continues to teach and preach the Word of God in its truth and purity.What a blessing it is to be reminded that although many things in this world change, God does not change. His promise of Jesus' death on the cross paying for all of our sins still stands, and it always will.Thanks be to God!