On April 19, 1966, an organizational meeting was held at St. Paul in Menomonie to make a request to the Wisconsin Synod that a mission church be started in Eau Claire. The Synod honored the request and granted mission status to the group of believers.
In the late summer of 1966, Pastor Schwartz realized that the mission needed its own pastor, so he wrote to retired Pastor Kurt Timmel of Wausau, asking him if he would conduct the services which he had started. Pastor Timmel gladly and enthusiastically accepted the opportunity. He conducted his first service on Sept. 11, 1966 and drove back and forth from Wausau (100 miles one way) every Sunday to lead services.
On February 5, 1967, another organizational meeting was held in Menomonie at which time the name St. Mark was chosen. The first officers were also chosen with LaVerne Vetter as president, Alwin Kock as vice-president and Ken Trehey as secretary-treasurer.
In April of 1967, Western Wisconsin District President Carl Mischke and District Mission Board chairman Henry Paustian visited Eau Claire to see the growth potential of the mission and also to see if it would be feasible to make St. Mark part of a dual parish with St. Peter of Elmwood. They determined that was a good fit and forwarded a call for the dual parish to the Assignment Committee, made up of the District Presidents.
As a result, candidate Frederick A. Kogler was assigned to the dual parish in May of 1967 and set up residence in Elmwood, making the weekly drive to Eau Claire for a service at the YMCA. The YMCA allowed the congregation to store its table and paraments for the altar, two candles and a wooden cross in a small storage room.
Also in May, the Synod gave approval for selecting a site for a permanent church structure. On May 15, 1967 an offer to purchase was drawn up for a four-acre plot owned by Roy Langdon. The property, at the corner of State and Hamilton where the church still worships, included a house, garage and barn. In June, the Synod approved the purchase for $28,000.
Pastor Kogler was ordained on July 24, 1967 and on November 30, 1967 the congregation officially incorporated. While the congregation still did not have a permanent church structure, the house on the property was utilized for meetings. It would be almost two more years of services at the YMCA before ground was broken for a new church building. The ground-breaking took place on Sept. 7, 1969 and dedication was held on March 8, 1970. Synod President Oscar Naumann, the grandfather of current pastor Joel Naumann, was the guest speaker. The building design included a worship area, office, commons and cry room. With a waved roof and windows along the top, it took on a resemblance to Noah's ark. It was built into the ground with the sanctuary floor four feet below grade. The intent was that a permanent church would be built as the congregation grew and the sanctuary could be turned into a gymnasium for a school. That has not happened and the original sanctuary still serves as the sanctuary although it has since been enlarged, remodeled and enhanced.
Once the church was built, Pastor Kogler accepted a fulltime call to serve St. Mark and St. John, Hay Creek and the parsonage was relocated to its present position at 215 E. Hamilton.
In May, 1971, the congregation approved purchasing a bell, cast in 1892, from Luther Hospital for $400. In summer, 2018, a bell tower was erected and the bell was finally positioned off the ground.
In January, 1972, the congregation approved establishing a Lutheran Elementary School (LES) which would open in the fall of 1973 with one room and 10 students in grades 1 thru 5. It would be staffed by DMLC graduate Charlotte Fitschen.
Before that happened, in January of 1973, Pastor Kogler departed after accepting a new call. Pastor John Zickuhr of St. Katherine, Beyer Settlement, served as a vacancy pastor while the congregation issued four calls to the field, all of which were returned. The congregation then went to the Assignment Committee and seminary graduate Herbert Prahl was assigned to the congregation in May, 1973.
The intersecting of events in 1972 and 1973 meant that a new pastor was ordained on July 8, 1973 and the first teacher was installed on Aug. 5, 1973. Lives brought together by the hand of the Lord through the Synod's calling process resulted in the marriage of Charlotte Fitschen and Herbert Prahl on Dec. 28, 1974 in Lake City, Minnesota. That duo has been part of congregational life for the past 45 years.