What is now St. Paul’s Evangelical Church began as the German Religious Society in 1838, serving new German immigrants arriving in the area in increasing numbers. The Society served people from all the Protestant groups the immigrants had left behind in their homeland. In 1839-40, the congregation was organized and chartered as the German Evangelical Church, and built its sanctuary at the corner of Fifth and Scammel Streets in 1849. That sanctuary has been in use by this congregation to the present time. In 1872, ‘Saint Paul’s’ replaced ‘German’ in the church’s name.
After a period of decline from the 1970’s through mid-1990’s, Saint Paul’s Evangelical Church embarked on a deliberate pilgrimage of redevelopment in 1998. The three ‘R’s of that pilgrimage are:
- The Reclamation of our evangelical faith, so that we are grounded firmly in God’s Good News in Jesus Christ;
- The Renewal of all the people God gives us to serve by meeting them where they live in the real world and claiming God’s strong grace for their lives, focusing our programs to meet their needs today;
- The Restoration of our property so that it stands as a clear indication of our commitment to be here and identify with our community.
We believe this is God’s will for us as we follow our Lord Jesus Christ early in the 21st Century. It is our way of living out the two ‘Greats’ he has given his Church:
The Great Commandment, to love God and neighbor:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind . . . Love your neighbor as yourself. –Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV)
The Great Commission, to go into the world and make disciples, baptizing and teaching in his name.
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. –Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
- 1838 German Religious Society formed by German immigrants
- 1839 Organized as a congregation
- 1840 Chartered as German Evangelical Church
- 1848 First Sunday school organized
- 1849 Erected single room church building at 401 Fifth Street; dedicated January 1, 1850
- 1872 Narthex (vestibule), balcony, and chancel added; name of the church was changed to St. Paul’s Evangelical Church
- 1879 Affiliated with the German Evangelical Synod of North America
- 1909 English adopted as official language
- 1914 Parsonage erected at 403 Fifth Street
- 1932 Art glass windows, pews, pipe organ added; new addition built for organ chamber, Pastor’s Study, and choir rooms
- 1934 Name changed to St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church, reflecting merger of Evangelical Synod of North America and German Reformed Church
- 1960 Parish Hall erected
- 1961 Name changed to St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, reflecting merger of Evangelical and Reformed Church with Congregational Christian Churches
- 1996 Began redevelopment of ministries, restoration and improvement of buildings, and reclamation of Evangelical heritage
- 2004 Name restored to Saint Paul’s Evangelical Church, reflecting disassociation from United Church of Christ and reaffirmation of Evangelical faith
- 2013 Became an affiliated church with the Evangelical Association of Reformed and Congregational Christian Churches (http://www.evangelicalassociation.org/).