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St. Paul's German Evangelical

St. Paul’s German Evangelical Church-Baltimore

 

Sources:

History of Baltimore City & County; John Thomas Scharf, 1881, J.B. Lippencott & Company, publishers, Philadelphia PA.

 

Church Website:  http://stpaulcatonsville.org/church/History.php

 

 

The church, located at the corner of Fremont Avenue (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) and Saratoga Streets was consecrated on December 15, 1867.  The membership at the time was very large.  The congregations of St. Paul’s, Emmanuel and St. Martin’s originally formed the Second German Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was organized November 1, 1835 and located at the corner of Holliday and Saratoga Streets.  The first pastor of the Second German Evangelical was J.P. C. Haesbaert; the second, from 1851 to 1867, was Rev. G. W. Keyl.  The old church building was demolished in 1868.  The building itself had originally been purchased from another protestant congregation and the congregation had been connected with the Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Gay Street.  Many of the congregation left and began this congregation when Pastor Scheib became Zion’s pastor. 

 

In 1867, the congregation sold their old church property, divided the proceeds and formed three distinct congregations, all belonging to the Missouri Synod.

 

From the church website:

Lutheranism in Baltimore had its beginnings in 1760 when a group of members of the German Reformed Church withdrew to establish the first German Lutheran Church. This was located on Saratoga Street. The church soon outgrew its building and moved to Gay and Lexington Streets in 1808. Known as Zion Lutheran, this church still stands. Friction developed over the lax attitude of the Council concerning questions of doctrine. The Reverend J. C. P. Haesbert along with 150 members left Zion and established a church in a building on Holliday and Saratoga Streets in 1835. This congregation became the Second German Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church grew in numbers. In 1837 a school building was added. Pastor Haesbert resigned in 1844 and was succeeded by the Reverend F. C. D. Wyneken, who soon found that the practices of the church were not strictly Lutheran. A goodly number of parishioners were of the Reformed faith and would not be convinced otherwise, so he simply advised them to separate and form a church of their own. Thus the First German Reformed Church, located on Calvert Street, originated. The Lutheran group changed the congregation's name to St. Paul. Pastor Wyneken enlarged the school and laid plans for establishing branch schools in East, Northwest, and South Baltimore. After five years of service he accepted a call from the Trinity Church in St. Louis. Because of his ability as an organizer, he was later chosen to become the second President of the Missouri Synod, which he had helped organize in 1847. As his successor at St. Paul he recommended the Reverend E. G. W. Keyl, who had been active in missionary work in the Missouri Valley and helped design the "Saxon Community" in Perry County, Missouri, birthplace of the Synod. 

 

Pastor Keyl built on the Lutheran Foundation laid by his predecessor. He was deeply interested in the welfare and progress of the parish school and carried out the plans for establishing branches. The church grew and became the largest congregation in the Missouri Synod. During his pastorate at St. Paul he also served a term as President of the Eastern District of the Missouri Synod.

 

In 1857 the congregation purchased four and one half acres of land in what is now Druid Hill Park for use as a cemetery. The cemetery still exists.  The cemetery is cared for and maintained by Martini’s Lutheran Church.

 

The congregation in 1862 called from the New York Mr. Benjamin Feiertag to serve as a teacher in the Northwestern District School located at Fremont and Waesche Streets.

 

By the end of 1864 the area surrounding the church was being crowded by business and many members of the church had moved to outlying districts of the city. The building was greatly in need of repair but in light of these circumstances, it seemed inadvisable to spend much money in renovation.

 

Then, too, Immanuel Lutheran Church had been organized in East Baltimore in October. St. Paul congregation had released 75 of its voting members to this newly established congregation and with them went the Eastern District School at Orleans and Bethel Streets.

 

Therefore a decision was made in 1865 to sell the old building and build two churches, on in each of the remaining school districts. In November of that year the members living in the Northwestern School District purchased a site at Saratoga and Fremont Streets for $5,500, on which to build their church. This group was organized as a congregation on January 7, 1866. Thus a new church was born.

 

 

The Story of St. Paul, Downtown

The building reflected a nostalgia of the German congregation. Gothic windows and arches were predominant; arches with foliation's were on each side of the chancel. At the back of the alter forming a reredos were five figures set in niches, the central carved wooden figure representing Christ, the other four representing the four Evangelists-Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These wooden figures were imported from Germany and were representative of the art for that period. Three large bells were imported from Westphalia, Germany, for the steeple.

 

The new born congregation retained the name of the Mother Church, St. Paul. Plans for a new building were made immediately. The cornerstone was laid in the fall of 1866 and a beautiful red brick Gothic structure was completed the following year at cost of $28,400 plus $2,250 for an organ. Meantime the Reverend W. G. H. Hanser had been elected to serve as the first pastor of the new St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church.

 

On December 15, 1867, after a farewell service at 9:00 AM. in the old building at Holliday and Saratoga Streets, at which Pastor Keyl preached the sermon, the entire congregation, numbering 1,000 men, women, and children, marched to its new edifice for its dedicatory service. In the afternoon, a second service was held, in which the new pastor was installed by the Reverend E. G. W. Keyl, retiring pastor of the old church, and in the evening an English service was held.

 

In August of the following year the new St. Paul congregation was affiliated with the Missouri Synod. During Pastor Hanser's eighteen years of service the congregation flourished and the school outgrew its quarters on Waesche Street (no longer exists). A tract of land south of the church property was purchased in 1869 for $3,000 and a three-story school building was erected thereon at a cost of $6,681.

 

A tract of land in Violetville, then a suburb of Baltimore, was donated to the congregation in 1882 by three members for use as a cemetery and many members transferred their dead from the old St. Paul's cemetery in Druid Hill Park to the new site.

 

In 1885 St. Paul was saddened by the death of its beloved pastor, the Reverend Hanser, who was laid to rest in the newly established cemetery. He left a flourishing congregation to his successor, the Reverend George Johannes, who served St. Paul from 1886 to 1895.

 

By this time it became evident that real need existed for services conducted in the English language. Pastor Johannes, being very mission-minded, aided in bringing about the organization of English Emmanuel congregation in 1888. St. Paul released to it members who were no longer conversant with German or who had a preference for English. This seemed to be a happy solution of a vexing problem-the care of non-German-speaking group within the church.

 

During the pastorate of Pastor Johannes other members were released in 1889 in order that they might assist in establishing a branch congregation in a growing German community in Southwest Baltimore, namely St. Thomas.

 

In the same year the church was renovated and a fine Roosevelt organ was installed. Also a custom was inaugurated whereby the church funds were augmented by a so-called "Tageskollekte." This meant that each member would bring on an appointed Sunday a special offering of one day's wage.

 

In 1895 Pastor Johannes bade farewell to St. Paul congregation to accept a charge at Erie, Pennsylvania, and was succeeded by the Reverend Christian Kuehn who served the congregation faithfully for almost 23 years. Two years after Pastor Kuehn's installation a new parsonage was built on a site next to the church. Early in his pastorate the Sunday afternoon Bible and Catechetical classes, conducted by the pastor and known as "Christenlehre," were replaced by Sunday School.

 

Two celebrations marked the years 1902-the 25th anniversary of Pastor Kuehn's service in the ministry and the 40th anniversary of Mr. Benjamin Feiertag's affiliation with the congregation as organist and as teacher and principal of the school.

 

In 1906 St. Paul congregation was host to the Eastern District of Synod. It was at this conference that the district was divided because of its size into the Eastern and Atlantic Districts, with St. Paul remaining in the Eastern District.

 

At the 40th anniversary of the church's dedication in 1907 the church debt was liquidated and two years later the church building was completely renovated.

 

By 1910 the outflow of English speaking members became so alarming that it was resolved to introduce regular English services on Sunday evenings and set up English classes in the Sunday School. In 1913 it was deemed necessary to expand the English work calling an additional pastor, the Reverend Walter Obermeyer, who was installed on August 31st, to serve as pastor of the English contingent of the congregation.

 

The next year marked the closing of the Parish School because of population changes in the community. The Ladies' Society, which was, in fact, organized even before the congregation when only the School District existed and which was an integral part of the parish, sponsored the conversion of the two rooms on the first floor of the school building into one large room, and thereafter English Services were conducted on Sunday morning in he Parish Hall.

 

After serving the congregation for a few years Pastor Obermeyer accepted a call to Nazareth Church in Baltimore and in 1917 the Reverend Martin Holls became pastor in charge of the English work.

 

This same year marked the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the church. Plans for a four-day celebration were made, but the event was marred by the illness and death in the later part of November of the beloved Mrs. Kuehn, wife of our esteemed pastor. The ardent labors and incessant worries connected with the transition from German to English, the closing of the Parish School, the death of his cherished wife, preparation for a fitting celebration of the church's 50th anniversary, all helped to undermine the physical strength of Pastor Kuehn. When, therefore, in 1918 a call was extended to him from St. Paul congregation in Glen Burnie near Baltimore, he accepted it and Pastor Holls was given charge of both the German and English work of the congregation.

 

In 1920 Pastor Holls accepted a call to become chaplain-superintendent of Bethlehem Orphan Home in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shortly afterwards he returned to congregational work and subsequently became the President of the Southern district of Synod.

 

The Reverend O. F. P. Weinbach, superintendent of the Augsburg Home, became interim pastor and was installed on April 24, 1921, as regular pastor, in which capacity he worked enthusiastically for 30 years for the welfare of St. Paul congregation.

 

The congregation had the privilege of rejoicing with him two occasions-the celebration of his 25th anniversary in the ministry in 1927 and the commemoration of 15 years of service at St. Paul's in 1936. It also mourned with him the sudden death, on May 12, 1939, of his beloved and faithful wife, Julia Marie Weinbach, who was so dear to the hearts of all the members of St. Paul.

 

When the Southeastern District of the Synod was formed in 1939, St. Paul congregation became one of its charter members.

 

In the spring of 1941 the congregation established a Service Center for the men of the Armed Forces-the first of its kind in this region. The parsonage at 811 West Saratoga Street, which had been vacated by Pastor Weinbach after his wife's death, was equipped with recreation rooms and sleeping quarters. The facilities were extended to the men gratis.

 

For the Diamond Jubilee of St. Paul congregation in 1942 the interior of the church was renovated and restored. The event was celebrated in three anniversary services and an evening of fellowship. St. Paul's was privileged to still have in its midst six members (all women) who had been present at the dedication seventy-five years before.

 

Pastor Weinbach continued to serve St. Paul congregation faithfully until his retirement in 1951. During his pastorate more and more members moved to outlying districts because of changing conditions in the neighborhood and had transferred their membership to other churches. Work with our young people had come virtually to a standstill because it was dangerous to hold meetings in the Parish Hall. Conditions became so bad that serious consideration was given to closing the doors of St. Paul Church. However, a band of faithful members pledged themselves to remain together as a congregation, and at a meeting held on June 30, 1951, it was decided to call a new pastor to replace the retiring Pastor Weinbach and to make every effort to relocate the church in a new, growing community in the near future.

 

A call was extended to the Reverend Oscar Milke, who accepted it and was installed on September 30, 1951. He led the congregation through the next few very difficult years while a new location was sought, strengthening their determination and conditioning the members for the tremendous task which faced them during the period of its rebirth.

 

The Rebirth of St. Paul

 In June 1953, a tract of land bounded by Old Frederick Road, Lee Drive, and Waveland Road in Catonsville was purchased, and in November a branch Sunday School was started in the homes of two members who lived in the community.

 

July 1954, saw the completion of the parsonage at Lee Drive and Old Frederick Road. The basement was arranged to serve as a chapel and regular church services were started in the fall of 1954. In September the Sunday School, which had dwindled to 35 members, was transferred from Fremont Avenue and Saratoga Street to the new parsonage and the nearby home of one of the members.

 

On October 30, 1955 ground was broken for the construction of the first unit of the church project. This consisted of a fellowship hall, kitchen, and meeting rooms. The sale of the old church at Saratoga and Fremont was consummated on November 7th and the farewell service was held there on the afternoon of November 20, 1955.

 

The congregation worshipped in the chapel until September 23, 1956, when the first unit, hereafter known as the Fellowship Hall, was dedicated. The facilities afforded by the Fellowship Hall permitted increased activities and new members were added steadily to the congregation. A substantial increase was experienced also in Sunday School.

 

After serving the congregation for little more than five years, Pastor Milke accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran Church in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. In January, 1957, a call was extended to the Reverend E. H. Fastenau of Ashville, North Carolina, who accepted and was installed on May 5th. St. Paul was signally blessed in that on both occasions-in 1951 and 1957-when the congregation was in need of a shepherd, God impelled the first man called to accept.

 

Pastor Fastenau soon urged the establishment of a Christian Day School as part of the church's educational program, and by the fall of 1957 the congregation decided to open a kindergarten with Mrs. Leah Schlenker as its teacher.

 

The church continued to grow and it soon became evident that it was outgrowing its facilities. In December, 1957, the Voters' Assembly ordered the appointment of a Building Committee to plan for the second unit of the church project-the sanctuary and additional classrooms.

 

Ground breaking for the new building was held on December 16, 1958, and on February 15, 1959, the corner stone was laid together with the date stone of 1866 which had been removed from the old church building. On November 8th of the same year that group of faithful members, who in 1951 had resolved to keep St. Paul congregation alive, realized the fulfillment of its hopes and dreams in the dedication of its new edifice.

 

In the spring of 1960 the congregation resolved to add the first and second grade to its educational program. Mr. Allen Schmidt was called to teach those grades, and later became principal. Our Christian Day School was opened in September to first and second grade pupils as well as to those of kindergarten age with a total enrollment of 57 children.

 

Two important events marked the year 1961. On July 2nd a newly installed organ was dedicated to the glory of God and for the beautifying of our worship service, and the third grade was added to our school.

 

The years-1962, 1963 and 1964-saw the addition to our school of grades four five and six, and the teaching staff was increased to four.

 

St. Paul Lutheran Day School graduated its first class in June 1965, and two of its graduates entered Baltimore Lutheran High School which was opened in September. The enrollment of our school has now surpassed the 100 mark.

 

Our Sunday School, too, has shown steady growth from a mere handful in 1954 when it was relocated in Catonsville to 220 pupils and a staff of 27 teachers with three Teenage Junior and two Adult Bible Classes.

 

Two women's organizations, The Ladies Aid Society and the Alter Guild, were merged into one Guild-The Women's Guild of St. Paul Lutheran Church- which comprises two circles, an Afternoon Circle and an Evening Circle. These Circles work closely together on various projects. The Guild has set up two special groups to which members of both Circles may belong-an Alter Care group and a Prayer Circle group. It also sponsors two Bible Study groups which meet during the week-one in the morning and one in the evening-at the homes of members in the order to promote spiritual growth.

 

A new organization, The Married Couples Club, had been organized to promote fellowship among members of the congregation.

 

Fellowship among the youth was provided in the Junior and Senior Walther Leagues which did good work under the guidance of lay counselors. Scout Troops were also formed for both boys and girls.

 

Pastors:

Rev. J. C. P. Haesbert                         1835-1844

Rev. F. C. D. Wyneken                        1844-1851

Rev. E. G. W. Keyl                              1851-1867

Rev. W. G. H. Hanser                          1866-1885

Rev. George Johannes                          1886-1895

Rev. Christian Kuehn                            1895-1917

Rev. Walter Obermeyer                        1913-1917 (English Congregation)

Rev. Martin Holls                                 1917-1920

Rev. O. F. P. Weinbach                       1921-1951

Rev. Oscar Milke                                 1951-1957

Rev. E. H. Fastenau                              1957-

 

Rev. Stephen Schafer                           Current

 

Location of the church:

2001 Old Frederick Road

Catonsville, Maryland  21228

Phone:  410-747-1897

Fax:  410-747-1924

 

Cemetery

1022 Joh Avenue

Violetville 21229

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