History of First English Lutheran Church

Lutherans, who lived in Whitewater in the 1840’s, attended church in Skoponong (Palmyra) and Heart Prairie. Due to the difficulty of travel, early services were held in Bower’s Hall on Center Street and in a schoolhouse in Library Park, where the Birge fountain stands. The official life of the congregation began December 8, 1858 as the Norwegian Lutheran Church of Whitewater,  Walworth County. In 1868, a church was built at 418 E. Cravath Street. This served the congregation until 1908 when the current church site at 401 W Main was acquired from the Baptists who had built the church in 1886. Until 1907, Norwegian was the primary language used in the services.  Extensive internal modifications completed in 1928.  From 1858 until 1932, the church was served by pastors who also served the congregations of Skoponong, Heart Prairie and Sugar Creek. At that point, the size of the Whitewater congregation had grown to require its own pastor.  In 1937, the name of the church was changed to First English Lutheran.  In 1948, the congregation of Heart Prairie merged into First English. During the summer months, services are conducted at the church by Whitewater Lake, which was built in about 1854.  The continued growth of the congregation required an addition to the church that was completed in 1950.  A second major addition to the church was completed in 2004.

Pastors who served the congregation:

Hans Andreas Stub 1851-1855

Adolph Carl Preus 1855-1856

Nils Olsen Brandt 1856-1858

Olaus Fredrik Duus 1858-1859

Herman Amberg Preus 1859-1861

Henrich Peter Duborg 1861-1871

Carl Christian Aas 1871-1876

Eskild Peter Jensen 1876-1880

Christian Matthias Hvistendahl 1880-1881

Iver Olson Scheie 1882-1901

Ole Johnson Akre 1901-1907

Nels Cornelius A. Garness 1907-1920

Torbjorn Saetveit 1920-1925

Elmer Alexander Henderson 1925-1932

Carl Edward Tiller 1932-1937

Halbert Jerome Rasmussen Jr. 1938-1940

C. B. Lund 1940-1941

Irvin Arnold Suby 1941-1953

Warren. K. Sigwalt 1953-1962

G. James Oliver 1962-1968,

Associates: Jerald L. Wendt 1963-1966,

Dean Phillips 1967-1968

William G. Kobs 1969-1971,

Associate: Paul A. Kruger 1969-1971

Donald Zelle 1972-1983,

Associates: Mark A. Throntveit 1978,

Floyd Olsen 1978-1983

Jerald L Wendt 1984-2003,

Associates: H. Gaylon Barker 1985-1987,

Charles Fredrickson 1993-1997,

Ralph Sandgren 1988-1998 Visitation pastor

John J Tabaka 1998-2003

John J. Tabaka 2003-2006,

Associate: Matt Powell 2005-2006

Richard Collier 2006-2007 (interim)

Steve R Hanson 2007-2021

Rich Collier, Interim 2021 - 2022

Joseph O'Donnell 2022 - present