The Lutheran Heritage

Lutherans trace their roots to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and to Martin Luther, a German monk and professor at Wittenberg University.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg. Although he had not intended to start a revolt, his list of protests against the Roman Catholic Church and in particular against the practice of selling indulgences, was strongly supported by the German people and fueled protests throughout Europe. Luther was pronounced a heretic and an outlaw by Church officials. Luther’s enemies called those who chose to follow him “Lutherans” – and the name has stuck every since.

American settlers from Germany and the Scandinavian countries are responsible for bringing Luther’s teaching to the United States. Europeans migrated to particular regions in America and started churches, speaking and worshiping in their native languages. As the number of congregations grew, scattered groups would form a “synod” or church body, including: NLCA (Norwegian Lutheran Church of America), ULCA (United Lutheran Church of America), ALC (American Lutheran Church), UELC (United Evangelical Lutheran Church), ELC (Evangelical Lutheran Church), LCA (Lutheran Church in America), Augustana Evangelical Lutheran, Finnish Evangelical Lutheran, and the AELC (American Evangelical Lutheran Church).

When St. Mark was organized in 1952, we were one of 32 congregations in Iowa and five congregations in South Dakota that made up the Iowa District of the UELC (United Evangelical Lutheran Church). In 1961, the UELC merged with the ALC (American Lutheran Church) and the ELC (Evangelical Lutheran Church). In 1982, the ALC, LCA (Lutheran Church in America), and AELC (American Evangelical Lutheran Church) agreed to create a single church body. In 1988, these three synods merged to form the ELCA.

St. Mark, 1952

In 1952, Storm Lake was a community of 7,000 and had no Lutheran Church affiliated with the National Lutheran Council. The Iowa District of the United Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (UELC) was looking for a mission field. Pastor H. Irving Petersen, president of the Iowa District, met with a group of individuals in February 1952 to ascertain interest and after that meeting, “much calling was done to prospective members and the congregation began to take shape.” The first worship service was held about six weeks later, the congregation was officially organized seven months later, and land for a church building was purchased within a year.

On “O Day” (Organization Day, September 21, 1952), 88 charter members were received into membership. By the congregation’s second anniversary and dedication of the First Unit (September 12, 1954), the membership had reached 200. At its 10-year anniversary (1962), membership totaled 453. At the 25 year anniversary (1977), membership totaled 878. At the 50 year anniversary (2002), membership was approximately 875.

We’ve had a long history of wonderful pastors…

1952-1956 Carl F Schattauer, Jr.
1956-1957 Lyle Shaw (Interim)
1957-1966 Ried Neve
1966-1967 Carl Wenger (Interim)
1967-1982 Richard Lehmann
1981-1982 Paul Anderson (Intern)
1982-1983 Marcia Hall (Interim)
1983 Carroll Lang (Interim)
1983-1992 Dr. Victor Wenger
1988-1992 Mike Elias (Associate)
1992-1993 Eldon Person (Interim)
1993-2000 David Grindberg
1994-1998 Kenneth Storck (Associate)
1998-1999 Victor Thasiah (Intern)
1999-2001 Connie Spitzack (Associate)
1999-2007 Mark Youngquist (Associate)
2000-2001 Ray Holmquist (Interim)
2001-2012 Connie Spitzack
2012-2013 David Halaas
2014 Paul Bengston (Interim)
2014-2016 Ben McIntire
2016-present Paul Bengston (Interim)


A Building Committee was established in mid-August 1952, and in January 1953, just nine months after the first worship service, approximately six acres from the George Angier property were purchased. The Angier property was subdivided into nine residential lots. St. Mark Lutheran Church would be built on a lot measuring 220 by 320 feet; the remaining lots would be sold. In less than 10 months (October 1953), all eight lots were sold. When completed the First Unit would serve the congregation’s worship, educational, and fellowship needs until the sanctuary was built in 1967.

Building a parsonage became one of the congregation’s objectives in 1955. In 1993, it was renovated and served as the pastor’s residence until 2001. It was later removed to expand the parking lot. In 1991, the Koinonia Room (library) and Fellowship Hall were remodeled; and five Sunday School rooms and the pastoral offices were built.

In 1981, the library, which had been started in 1963 with 23 books, was expanded and a check-out system was developed. It was dedicated in 1984. In 2001, an Archives Center was added to house the historical documents of the congregation.

In 1984, the parking lot was surfaced, and the church lot was landscaped. In 1991, the Koinonia Room and Fellowship Hall were remodeled. Five Sunday School room and pastoral offices were also built. A complete history of the St. Mark congregation was written in 2002 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. Copies of Lift High the Cross can be found in the church library.

Sanctuary_West7_CrossCrownToday, the church building is noted for its stained glass windows. Christ is the focal point of the sanctuary’s north wall; symbols of our Christian faith fill the three other walls.  In 2004, the original windows were replaced with stained glass windows. Read more about our Stained Glass Windows. Discussions about renovating the sanctuary began in 2008; the project was completed in 2013. See photos from the project on the Sanctuary Project page.