Prince of Peace Lutheran Church was organized on March 9, 1962, by Christians desiring a church that faithfully taught the Word of God and practiced confessional Lutheranism.
Hecla is a small town in northeastern South Dakota, located near the border with North Dakota. Businesses are few. Apart from a local restaurant and a meat company, agriculture is the chief occupation on both sides of the border. The main highways are paved, of course, but all side roads are gravel or dirt. Nearby communities include Britton, South Dakota, twenty-seven miles away, and Oakes, North Dakota, twenty-five miles away. Aberdeen, some forty-seven miles south of Hecla, is the nearest large town in this part of South Dakota. The climate is relatively dry, and the geography is flat with numerous sloughs. The area—on both sides of the border—is known for its excellent pheasant and deer hunting.
Prior to its organization, the Hecla group had been served by Pastors David Gullerud and Helmuth Rutz, both from Jamestown, North Dakota. From the fall of 1960 to the spring of 1961, members met for worship in a local hall. Later, services were held in the home of a member, Mrs. Lena Eddy. In the summer of 1961, members purchased the Chris Schnable residence on Pine Street to be used as a chapel and parsonage.
In the late fall of 1961, Pastor Clifford Kuehne accepted the call to serve the congregation. Services were held in the chapel/parsonage. When Pastor Kuehne accepted a call to Mankato, Minnesota in 1963, Pastor Arthur Schultz was called to serve the congregation. He remained in Hecla until 1968. In 1969, seminary graduate Walter Schaller took up duties as the new pastor of Prince of Peace.
By this time the congregation had outgrown its chapel/parsonage, and on June 29, 1969, members voted to proceed with plans for a new building. Among several potential property sites in Hecla, the site where the church now stands appeared to best fit the needs. When the congregation approached Mrs. Preston (Edna) Scott in the fall of 1969 to purchase the lots, she generously donated them to the congregation.
The church basement foundation and block were laid by Darwin Diede from Zion Lutheran, a sister congregation in Ipswich, South Dakota. The church building itself was purchased in 1970 and moved to Hecla from its former location south of Milnor, North Dakota. The altar, pulpit, and other chancel furnishings were purchased from a church in Claire City, South Dakota. Many hours of repairs, refurbishing, and painting were put in by the congregation. A dedication service was held on September 12, 1971. Pastor Walter Schaller served until late fall of 1974. Other pastors serving the congregation included Norman Greve, 1975-1983; John Klatt, 1984-1990; Paul Krause, 1991-1996; John Johannes, 1997-2002; Matthew Hanel, 2003-2005; Nathan Pfeiffer, 2005-2011; and Rick Grams, 2011 to the present.
In July, 1980, members began construction on a twenty-four by twenty-eight-foot front entry. The interior was completed the following winter. More recently, the congregation has replaced windows, siding and the church roof.
Prince of Peace Lutheran is an active, multigenerational church of forty-two souls. We have two students attending two different colleges. Our other blessings include two preschool, seven elementary, and three high school students. In a recent milestone, Mable Hanson, viewed by many as the matriarch of the congregation, was called by our Lord to her eternal rest on September 9, 2015.
The members of Prince of Peace praise and give all thanks to God our Savior for the many blessings He has showered upon us. We pray for the His continued blessing in the years to come, both for us and for all our fellow congregations in the Church of the Lutheran Confession.
Rick Grams is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Hecla, South Dakota.