BONDUEL - For 150 years, in the small community of Bonduel, St. Paul Lutheran Church has weathered the test of time.
With nearly 200 filling the pews Sunday morning, parishioners sang, celebrating the occasion and the church's German roots.
The century-and-a-half milestone isn't anything to balk at. But it's got nothing on a particular book - and not just any book.
"[The year] 1670,” remarked Rev. Timothy Shoup. "I just assumed it was a copy of a Bible that was printed in 1670."
However, that wasn't the case.
Several years ago, a teacher at the church's school found the large German-language Bible in an old safe. Researchers later verified it as a re-published version of Martin Luther's translation of the Holy Bible, printed in Germany.
One of about 40 known copies in the world, it was in relatively good condition - considering it's more than 300 years old.
"We bring it out only occasionally," explained Shoup of when the centuries-old Bible is used.
Now restored, the only thing replaced on the book was the original leather straps.
Though it is a rare book, Shoup says it's not priceless. It's worth about a couple thousand dollars.
He says the 1,500-page Bible is a testament to tying together tales of long ago with more recent histories.
"So to think that this Bible is closer in time to the reformation, by a whole bunch, than it is to us today, it helps people sense that, you know, we're not that far removed from how God's message of salvation is continued to be passed on, one century to the next,” he explained. “One generation to the next."
A message that isn't lost on people like Gary Wolf.
"It's very amazing to see that and the age of that Bible, that it's in that good of a condition," said Wolf, who’s been a member at St. Paul for 43 years.
What’s still not known is how the book even got inside the safe. Some congregants say they don't mind not knowing how it got here. But say the book's mysterious history is a divine one.
Shoup says it's speculated that one of the church's founding families brought the Bible over to America from Germany.
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