N3099 Smith Road † Poynette WI 53955 † 608-635-7200 † dekorra@dekorralutheran.org
Church Office Hours Mon, Tue & Thr - 8:00am - 4:00pm Fri - 8:00am - 2:00pm --- Closed Wed
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Saturday Evening Worship at 5:00pm
Sunday Worship will be at 8:30am
Coffee after Sunday worship

Sauk Columbia Area
Habitat for Humanity

What’s in a name? The word “Dekorra” is an Indian word meaning “The gathering place.” In our area of Columbia County, the township of Dekorra surrounds the village of Poynette on the East, West and North borders, approximately 5 miles west of the village of Poynette. Dekorra Lutheran Church is built on a slight knoll with a wooded hill as a backdrop and near to the waters of Lake Wisconsin.

We are located only about ½ mile from the “Grade” (Hwy v) which is the road that runs across the head waters of Lake Wisconsin. In this beautiful setting, you will find that the air is clear, the scenery is beautiful, and the “Son” is always shining!

Although we came from humble beginnings over 139 years ago, we proudly display our sign which says “Dekorra Lutheran Church”, (which is a Gathering Place) of nearly 900 members. Following are some highlights of “our” history.

Many of the beginning settlers who settled in this area in the 1800’s were from Norway. Because of their strong religious faith and determination they survived many hardships and struggles during their pioneer years. The first recorded religious services were held in homes by a pastor in 1855. Records show that in 1869 a congregation was organized with a membership of 83. A small cabin style building was built in the community that served as a school, church, and “gathering place” for local meetings.

In 1892 all churches were required to register with the State of WI. At that time the church was registered as Dekorra Evangelical Lutheran Church, however, the cemetery is named the Norwegian Lutheran Cemetery. In the early 1900’s the congregation began to grow which crated a need for more space. Land was donated, and together the congregation built a church which was located where our parking lot is today. Because of donated land, work, time, and materials, the total cost of the church was $600 and was furnished by the hard working Ladies Aid, who also purchased the bell. The bell still hangs in the steeple of our present church today.

Around 1917 a dam was built in Prairie du Sac and “Lake Wisconsin” was born. It flooded many farms between our church, Okee and Prairie du Sac and almost destroyed the congregation, as many families were forced to move. Even though there were fewer members, the faith and desire of those members remained strong with the determination to keep the church alive, to provide a place of worship and religious instruction for their families and future generations. During this time the services alternated between Norwegian and English. By 1930 the services were all in English. Although the building of the dam nearly destroyed the congregation, it also benefited it as the community as able to have electricity. This gave it a re-birth. Homes and businesses began to build along the shores of the lake and today many of the members of our congregation live nearby and enjoy the beautiful waters of Lake Wisconsin.

During the 20 years between 1948 and 1968 many changes took place in the little white church, as electricity was installed, a kitchen/furnace room was added with a furnace that burned oil instead of wood (which ended the wood cutting bee’s). A well was drilled, replacing the water supply brought to the church in milk cans. In 1960 three Lutheran groups merged and we became part of the American Lutheran Church. The Ladies Aid became the ALCW and with these changes a new “red Hymnal” became part of our worship service. In 1962 worship services were held every Sunday. In 1963 the first Vacation Bible School was held, and a “Mothers Circle” was formed. During 1966 and 1967 our parish ended its alignment with First Lutheran of Lodi and a joint parish was organized with Immanuel Lutheran of Merrimac. A full time pastor was called to serve the joint parish and a parsonage was built in Merrimac. The church council began to have monthly meetings, and a Luther League was formed.

In 1969, one hundred years after the first congregation was formed, Dekorra Lutheran Church celebrated it’s Centennial. Membership at this time was 250.

1970 –In cooperation with the board of American Missions, Dekorra committed itself to building a new church.

  • 1970 Ground breaking for our new church
  • 1971 Corner stone ceremony and dedication of new church costing $90,000. Worship service began in the “little white church” processing the alter items to their new home. This symbolized the past added to the present. It reminded us of God’s presence and blessings through all generations.
  • The new church consisted of the sanctuary, 4 Sunday school rooms, a kitchen with a fellowship “gathering room”, Pastor’s office and 2 bath rooms (the first indoor plumbing at Dekorra Lutheran Church.
  • 1971-1977 – the choir was organized; three active women’s circles were holding Bible study meetings and the voting age was lowered to age 16. Family communions were practiced, and first communion started at 5th grade.
  • 1978 – parish alignment with Immanuel Lutheran ended. The parsonage was sold to Immanual, and Dekorra called our own full time pastor.
  • 1979 – lay assistants began assisting in worship service
  • 1981 – celebration of our 10th year in the new church.
  • 1982 – Pastor Loewenhagen was installed as our full time pastor. Joel Kutzke graduated form Wartburg Lutheran Seminary. Joel was the first member from our congregation to become a pastor.
  • 1983 – mortgage burning ceremony – new church was paid for.
  • 1985 – new constitution was adopted. Plans were made to explore the possibility of a new addition. Membership at this time was 450 members.
  • 1987 – Three Lutheran Synods merged, forming the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
  • 1988 -- Ground breaking on new addition.
  • 1989 – Addition was completed an dedicated – cost $200,000. The old fellowship hall became the Memorial Library and was dedicated. The new addition consisted of a sacristy, storage room, church office, Pastor’s office, kitchen, 2 new bathrooms, and a large fellowship room. The downstairs consisted of 8 Sunday school rooms, large gathering room, supply room, furnace room, office, 2 walk out exits and a bathroom. Membership began to increase and we started having two worship services every Sunday. The choir received their first new robes.
  • 1996 – Linda Loewenhagen was killed in an accident having a huge effect on the congregation. Dekorra Lutheran Church entered a five year commitment with Wartburg Lutheran Seminary to become a “training church for interns.” Five special students each spent a year with us.
  • 1996-97 – Fred Rilling – Now serving as Pastor of St Johns in Prairie du Sac, WI
  • 1997-98 – Brian Norsman – Now serving as Pastor of Fox Point Lutheran in Milwaukee, WI
  • 1998-99 – Mark Walker – Now serving as Pastor of St. Johns in Greene, IA
  • 1999–00 – Jack Way – Now serving as Pastor of St Luke’s in Rome/Sullivan, WI
  • 2000-01 – Jason Hill now serving as Pastor of St Johns in Oregon, WI
  • 2000 -- Mission of Hope was organized to help support school children in Tanzaniea. To date members of Dekorra are sponsors for 29 children
  • 2001 -- Yvonne Marshall (a member of our church) was ordained at Dekorra upon graduating from Wartburg Lutheran Seminary. Derrick Johnson was hired as our Youth and Family coordinator in August. He left to further his education in Feb of 2002. Dr Rev. Bruce Loenhagen accepted another call, ending 19 years of ministry at Dekorra. Following his departure we were served by three interim pastors, Michael Rehack, Larry Pinnow, and Brad Polman.
  • 2002 – Dr. Rev. Dan Odden was installed as our pastor. Children’s Sermons began every Sunday.
  • 2003 -- Prayer chains were organized at Dekorra. David Lawson was hired in November to serve as our youth and family coordinator. He stayed until March of 2006 when he left to further his education.
  • 2004 – Dekorra Men for Christ was organized. Amani (a contemporary music group) was organized. Committees were formed to work on our 135th anniversary.
  • 2005 – Dekorra Lutheran Church celebrated its 135th Anniversary (1869-2004)
  • 2006 – Mission Endowment Fund was established. Confirmation faith coaches (mentors) were introduced to the confirments. A new Bible study circle was formed bring the total to 4 circles.
  • 2007 – New Evangelical Lutheran Worship Hymnals were purchased. Josh Martyn became our intern. Membership is 889.
  • 2008 -- New photo directories are available. Evening prayer services offered in August. Intern Josh Martyn’s last Sunday was June 29th and the new intern, Tammy Craker started her year in August. “Italian Night held on November 8th for Mission of Hope and the Youth Mission Trip.
  • 2009 -- Members of Dekorra’s congregation go on a mission trip to Mississippi -March 30 to April 3; to assist the gulf with recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Dekorra’s final mortgage payment made on April 23rd. “Captive Free” concert on August 1st. The new intern, James Lotz starts in September.
  • 2010 -- “One Life to Live” retreats September 17 to 19, at the Mackenzie center in Poynette. Scott A. Ralston is the new intern in August. “Cottage Meetings” are held to discuss Dekorra’s future. Dekorra helps Pastor Dan Odden celebrate his 35 years of ministry.
  • 2011 -- Pastor Dan Odden leaves Dekorra after 9 years and retires. “Simply Giving”, or automatic bank deposits of offerings is made available to members of the congregation. On September 18th, Pastor Ted Johanson becomes Dekorra’s interim minister. A Wednesday evening service is offered beginning in November.
  • 2012 -- Communion is offered at all Sunday services. The Council decides on an architectural firm to develop a “master plan” for improvements to the church. A single service in June, July and August is started. A new church directory is available in September. 4 Christmas Eve services are offered. On July 8th a special congregational meeting is held to extend a call to Pastor Ryan Rouse from Nevada to serve as Dekorra’s next pastor. Pastor Rouse accepts the call and installation occurs on September 9th.
  • 2013 -- The Mutual Ministry Team is created to encourage dialog regarding expectations, goals and visions of the congregation and staff. A new office manager, Terry Hinkel, starts in February. A special meeting of the Congregation has held to change the Church’s fiscal year from July 1 – June 30 to the calendar year or January 1 to December 30. The free clothes closet opens thanks to the Social Ministry Committee.
  • 2014 -- A survey in June was held on preferences for Sunday/Wednesday services. The survey was conducted by the Church Council and the Worship/Music Committee. 42% of those completing the surveys voted for the current 2 Sunday Services – 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m... A “Contemporary” service is started at the 10:30 time on Sunday. Members of Dekorra’s congregation volunteer for the “Summer Lunch for Kids” program.

N3099 Smith Road † Poynette WI 53955 † 1-608-635-7200 † Fax 1-608-635-4960 † dekorra@dekorralutheran.org

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