St. Paul's Lutheran Funkstown


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The congregation was organized as "Christ's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jerusalem, Washington County, Maryland, in 1771. The first pastor was Charles Frederick Wildbahn. A log church, erected on Town Lot #156 in 1772, was shared with the German Reformed congregation. On July 17, 1803, Articles of Incorporation were adopted making the Union Church in Funkstown the first religious corporation in Washington County.

A county-wide lottery, authorized by the State Legislature, was held in 1810 for the purpose of raising funds to repair the old log church.

In 1812, the Rev. Solomon Schaeffer became the first Lutheran pastor to preach in English in the Funkstown church.

Lutherans purchased the eastern half of town lot #4 in April, 1850. On Christmas Day of that year the new church building was consecrated. The union with the reformed congregation was not officially dissolved until February 21, 1857. Fire, of undetermined origin, completely destroyed the original log church on August 3, 1859.

For 91 years the Lutherans in Funkstown were served by pastors from St. John's Hagerstown. That relationship ended in 1859 when the congregation received the western half of town lot #4 and a house from the estate of Anna Schultz. A parish, consisting of Funkstown, Beaver Creek and Bakersville was formed and Amos Copenhaver was called to be the first resident Lutheran pastor in Funkstown.

On February 7, 1886, the corporate title of the congregation was changed to "St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Funkstown, Maryland".

In an effort to solve long-standing financial problems the "envelope system" of church giving was instituted in 1888.

When the church was built in 1850 the east wall was placed just inches inside the property line. To provide horse and buggies access off of Baltimore Street to the standing area behind the church, a 10x233 foot piece of ground along the east side of the property was purchased from Salome and M.L. Stockslager in 1889.

Men chewing tobacco and spitting on the floor of the church had always been a cause of consternation to the vestry, the sexton and the ladies. In 1892 a rule prohibiting the spitting of tobacco juice in the church was adopted. The local Justice of the Peace was authorized to collect fines of "not less than three dollars and not more than five dollars" levied on offenders.

The first church budget was adopted in February 1893. It was estimated that the "sum of $530 is necessary to meet all expenses of the congregation for each year, including pastor's salary, sexton's salary, fuel and other necessary objects".

Fire insurance was purchased in December 1894. The first fire in the church - "around the heater in the center of the floor" - occurred in April 1896. Damages, paid by the insurance, totaled $12.50.

Major changes were made to the external appearance of the church building in 1897. The Narthex, originally an open porch, was enclosed. The west stairs leading to the balcony were removed and stairs leading down to the "Audience Room" beneath the church put in their place.

Electric lights were installed in the parsonage in May 1902. Forty three electric globes were lighted in the church on June 24th.

A brick wall, running the width of the church property, was removed in 1907. At the same time the original clear panes of window glass were replaced with "Gothic" glass.

Millionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie made the purchase of the first church organ possible. At the request of Pastor Remsburg, Mr. Carnegie agreed to pay one-half of the price if the congregation would agree to pay the other half and also donate $10 each year for 10 years to a needy church or Sunday School. The organ, costing $500, was installed in 1911. To improve acoustics and reduce heating costs, a metal ceiling was installed that same year.

On September 7, 1930, the present brick parsonage, built at a cost of $5,656.21 plus $100 rental of a house for the pastor during construction, was consecrated. Twenty eight members had attended the congregational meeting and voted to build the new dwelling.

Between 1941 and 1944 memorial glass panels were installed in each of the six side windows of the church. In 1946, during the 175th anniversary year, a new organ was purchased in memory of Pastor and Mrs. Remsburg.

For the first 176 years of its life, St. Paul's congregation shared its pastor with one or more other congregations. When the Bakersville congregation withdrew from the parish in 1947 the Funkstown Church finally stood alone and had a pastor of its’ own.

A two-level Sunday School building was constructed in 1954. In 1960 the church was remodeled. New pews and recessed lighting was installed, and the organ chamber moved from the balcony to provide additional seating. The exterior walls were sandblasted, removing numerous coats of paint, to expose the natural brick. The original cupula with the service bell was removed from the roof and the present cross-topped spire set in its place. In November 1969 an electronic tower bell and carillon was purchased in memory of Pastor George Bowden.

In 1979 the congregation voted to build a new house of worship which would contain a sanctuary capable of seating 300 as well as space for the church offices. The parsonage, which was located on Baltimore Street, was moved to Chestnut Street to make room for the new, larger building. The old church, which stood for many years, was razed. Construction of the new church was completed in 1981 and in May of that year the new sanctuary was dedicated.

Church Location:

St. Paul's Lutheran Church

24 East Baltimore Street, PO Box 148

Funkstown, MD 21734

(301) 791-1738