In the late 1960s, a small group of WELS members were living in the Spearfish area. These members desired to begin worshiping together in Spearfish. Because they were not yet able to support a full-time pastor, they asked if the pastor from Trinity in Sturgis would lead them in worship. The Spearfish members would contribute to supporting the pastor.
The first exploratory service was conducted by Pastor Martin Hahm at the Rifle and Pistol Clubhouse in the city park on December 3, 1967. Pastor Hahm had been ordained earlier in the year. The clubhouse was not the ideal location for services. On Saturday nights, the location was used for parties, which meant that Sunday worship would have to rise above the smell of spilled beer and stale cigarette smoke. Even so, services were held at the clubhouse for six years.
Rifle and Pistol Clubhouse
Pastor & Mrs. Martin Hahm and family (with the Preszlers)
Growth during this time was very slow. Average attendance for the first year was 13.8 attendees. On many Sundays, only one or two families attended, and on one occasion, only one person was present besides Pastor Hahm…and the building was locked. The service that day was held at a picnic table in the park. How easy it would have been for members to choose to be a part of a larger congregation elsewhere, where they could worship in a church.
By January 19, 1969, the group felt that a church would eventually be built in Spearfish. On that day, the congregation chose the name “Hope Lutheran Church.”
Besides being the only name not already taken in the district and being a name that appealed to them, “Hope” also corresponded with the text and theme for that Sunday’s worship: Psalm 78:1-8. The congregation believed in the psalm’s promises, that there is HOPE for future generations, found within the instruction of God’s Word, through faithful parents, and through Jesus Christ, the message we share with all people.
In March 1969, members organized and drew up a constitution. They elected council members: Stan Kruse of Belle Fourche, Ervin Preszler of Bison, Leroy Mayer of Isabel, and ushers Dennis Gentele and William Gentele.
On June 13, 1971, Pastor Donald Dengler was installed. By this time, efforts were underway to purchase land. One location was acquired but was later sold and the site at the corner of Jackson Blvd. and Yale St. was then purchased. Membership during this time grew to around 42 members.
On September 9, 1973, a groundbreaking service was held. To fund the project, money was borrowed from the Wisconsin Synod’s Church Extension Fund. The Synod’s architectural office designed the building. While the design seemed unconventional, it had a functional interior. The first worship service in the new
church was held on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1974, even though construction on the building was not yet finished. Dedication Day came nearly a month later, on May 12, 1974. By then, inflated costs of the construction had doubled the original estimate of $30,000. Knowing they needed a building to continue, the congregation cheerfully assumed the costs. Within six months, 14 new members had been added and, for the first time, the congregation was able to hold a Sunday school and a confirmation class.
Groundbreaking Service, September 9, 1973
Pastor Donald Dengler with the Church Council: Stanley Kruse, Ervin Preszler, and Fred Broderson
Groundbreaking Service, September 9, 1973
Other congregation members present included Bill Stoller, Emma Goerndt, Johanna Broderson, Freda Wessel, Lola Kruse, Edna Loughlin, Mrs. Eisenberg, and Alma Preszler
Excavation and construction at W. Jackson, late fall 1973 to 1974
The first worship service in the new building at W. Jackson and Yale was held on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1974, even though construction on the building was not yet finished.
Dedication Day came nearly a month later, on May 12, 1974.
Dedication Day, May 12, 1974 (hover over images for descriptions and click arrows left or right)
(hover over images for descriptions and click arrows left or right)
On December 1, 1974, Pastor Gerhold Lemke was installed. For 15 years, he jointly served the Spearfish congregation at Hope and the Sturgis congregation at Trinity. He also initiated exploratory services in Gillette, WY. In January 1978, the ladies of Hope also formed a Ladies Aid and adopted a constitution. By the end of that year, Hope had a baptismal membership of 87 souls! Two years later, in June 1980, the council approved a new constitution.
10th Anniversary celebration, November 4, 1979 (hover over images for descriptions and click arrows left or right)
In January 1990, Pastor Pieter Reid arrived and was installed on February 7. He served both Hope in Spearfish and Trinity in Sturgis until January 1993, when he accepted a call to serve the Synod as a foreign missionary in Indonesia.
Pastor Pieter and Marlys Reid and children Jonathan, Jennifer, Matthew, and Michelle
Pastor Lloyd Lemke was installed as pastor of Hope on March 7, 1993, after a one-month vacancy. Like Pastors Gerhold Lemke and Pieter Reid, he served both Hope in Spearfish and Trinity in Sturgis while living in Sturgis.
Pastor Lloyd and Janeen Lemke and sons
Martin, Peter, and Aaron
By December 2006, the congregation of Hope had decided that it needed its own local pastor to better help with outreach in the Spearfish community. From December 2006 to July 2007, Pastor David Maertz of Abiding Word in Rapid City served as a vacancy pastor. During that time, the council initiated the call process.
Hope celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1994
Images of Hope from 1994 church directory
On July 15, 2007, seminary graduate Pastor Mark Schutz was installed as the first full-time pastor of Hope. In the fall of 2007, members of Hope attended a school of outreach in Rapid City along with members from other WELS congregations in the Black Hills area. After analyzing ministry needs and goals at Hope, members realized that expanding or finding a new location was a high priority. Hope formed a committee to search for land where a new facility could be built in the future.
Pastor Mark and Jill Schutz
The members of Hope enjoyed their time at the Jackson Blvd. location but realized that the congregation needed more space to grow.
Unexpectedly, an existing church building came up for sale. Formerly the home of Northern Hills Southern Baptist Church, the 1999 structure included a larger sanctuary, more classroom and fellowship space, two offices, a spacious parking lot, and empty lots on either side of the building. This building was located on the other end of town at 913 South 34th St., in the Green Acres neighborhood. Although the members of Hope valued the location on Jackson Blvd., the voters decided to purchase the building on 34th St. for $455,000. The next hurdle was the sale of the old church building. To the surprise of many, a buyer came forward quickly and purchased the building to donate to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (ELCA) for a campus ministry site. The remainder of the purchase price of the new building was funded by a loan from the WELS Church Extension Fund.
On January 27, 2008, Hope held its last service at the Jackson Blvd. church building. Members had lunch together and packed up Hope’s belongings. The next day, the congregation closed both on the sale of the old facility and on the purchase of the new facility on 34th St.
The location on S. 34th St. before Hope purchased it
January 27, 2008 - the last worship service at the Jackson Blvd. building, followed by lunch and moving
Hope’s first service at the new building was held on February 3, 2008, and the building was dedicated with a special worship service on May 18, 2008. During the first few months in the new building, members worked hard cleaning and painting the interior of the facility. The baptismal pool in the front of the sanctuary was removed, and the area was remodeled into a sacristy. Pastor Schutz built a new baptismal font to go with the altar from the old church building and the pulpit that came with the new building.
Moving into the S. 34th St. building, followed by the first worship service on February 3, 2008
Pastor used his skills in carpentry to craft Hope's new baptismal font
Hope Lutheran Church has continually served more than just the Spearfish community. Members and visitors attend Hope from as far away as Rapid City to the east and Sundance and Hulett, Wyoming, to the west. Other members live in Lead, Deadwood, Whitewood, Newell, and Belle Fourche. In the fall of 2018, Hope started holding Wednesday evening services at the Branding Iron in Belle Fourche for the growing community to the north.
Hope serves as a home away from home for WELS students attending Black Hills State University. The congregation regularly reaches out to the Spearfish community through summer Vacation Bible School, invitations to worship, Mornings with Mommy, Mornings with Jesus, and community events such as downtown Harvest Fest. Pastor Schutz also leads an annual summer Catechism Camp for the catechism students of the Dakota-Montana District, along with Pastor Nick Haasch of Trinity in Sturgis and other area pastors and teachers.
Recently, the decision was made to consider expanding the current facility to make room for additional fellowship, worship, and classroom space. Blueprints have been designed, planning stages have been developed, and the bidding process has begun. According to God’s will, Hope will continue to grow in its efforts to share our Savior Jesus with the people in Spearfish and the surrounding communities.
Hope celebrated its 50th Anniversary on June 2, 2019.
1990 - 1993
1993 - 2006
2007 - present
1967 - 1971
1971 - 1974
1974 - 1989