St. Paul's & Zion


Source: Centennial History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Maryland 1820-1920, Wentz

Church Website:

In 1899 the first German came to Talbot County, Maryland. Several German Families followed from Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. There were, at that time, about twenty five-families.

In 1900 the first German services were held. These were conducted by pastors of the Missouri Synod and then by pastors of the Evangelical Synod of North America. These services were held at Longwood, Maryland at Zion Lutheran Church (Later Grace Lutheran Church of Easton). In 1906 Rev. Reiss took charge of the field.

In 1908 a disagreement concerning the location of the church building caused a split in the congregation. Many members lived in the Cordova area and found that travel to Longwoods was a hardship. The Cordova people organized a new congregation and built a church of their own the St. Paul's Church. The congregation of German immigrants formally organized and chose the name of St Paul's. They built a Church 26'x36'x18' and a Sunday School room 14'x19'x10'. It cost $814. The church was which dedicated on May 23, 1909. Services were held in both German and English. In 1909 both congregations decided to join the General Synod and identified themselves with the Maryland Synod. They acted as a joint congregation until the early 1960s.

In 1911 St. Paul’s purchased their bells.

In 1934, the celebrated their 25th Anniversary with the services in both English and German.

Many upgrades were made throughout the years, including installing electric lights in 1946 and removing the woodstove to replace it with a hot air system in 1953. There have been additions, new doors, new roof and steeple, parking lots and new organs (4). Air conditioning was added in 1991.

In 1988, the former American Lutheran Church (ALC) and Lutheran Church of America (LCA) merged to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) of which St. Paul’s congregation became a member.On October 28, 1979, Pastor Penner from Zion in Baltimore visited and led a German Service. Click here to see the program from that service.The stained glass windows were all added after the turn of the century..this one. The first being installed in 2002- The Manger, inscribed "She laid him in a manger" Luke 2: 17, was dedicated; The second stained glass window, The Holy Scripture, inscribed "Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly" Colossians 3:16, was dedicated. In 2003, the third stained glass window, A Miracle, inscribed "He blessed the loaves and fish and gave them to the crowd" Matthew 15:36, was dedicated and in 2004 the fourth stained glass window, Worship, inscribed "O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker" Psalm 95:6, was dedicated. The fifth stained glass window, The Passion, inscribed "And they crucified him" Mark 15:24, was dedicated in 2004. In 2005, Good Works, inscribed "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works" Matthew 5:16, was dedicated. The seventh stained glass window, The Eucharist, inscribed "Do this in remembrance of me" Luke 22:19, was dedicated in 2007, as was the eighth, The Baptism, inscribed "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved" Mark 16:16.

The original cornerstone was unearthed during expansion under the front narthex of the church. The inscription on the cornerstone is "L. Behrens Plasterer Aug. 12 1908.

The church celebrated their centennial with a traditional German language service was led by Rev. Otfried O. Arndt from Baltimore.

While services are now held only in English, the German heritage is still celebrated. The words Vertrau auf Gott (Trust in God) are painted above the altar, and an Oktoberfest is held each fall.

To accommodate the growth of the congregation the church was renovated and expanded in 2008.

There is also a cemetery that belongs to the church. We visited the cemetery in July 2014 and photographed the stones and transcribed the stones. The cemetery is very quaint and well maintained. We were surprised to see the number of German names. For the cemetery photo album and transcriptions, click here.


· Rev. Reiss 1906-1912

· Rev. R. F. Pheifer 1912

· Rev. C. F. Freudenreich 1913

· Rev. Carl Horst 1922

· Rev. Herman Drews 1923

· Rev. Heinrich Ellenberger 1931 (Conducted his last German service on April 19, 1936)

· Rev. Carl Zeigelbrier 1936

· Rev. Wilbur Newby 1943

· Rev. T. Painter 1947

· Rev. C. Philip Seltzer 1951

· Rev. Preston Dusman 1954

· Rev. Bryce Shoemaker 1960

· Rev. Daniel Hoy 1971

· Rev. Barron Maberry 1977

· Rev James Slingluff –Interim-1978

· Rev. Matthew Schenning 1979

· Rev. George Schutte- Interim -1982

· Rev. Robert Shaull 1983

· Rev. Donald McClane 1989

· Rev. Bernard Coates -Interim -1999

· Rev. John Miller and Rev. Amy Godshall-Miller were called as Pastors- the first clergy couple to be pastors at St. Paul's, and Pastor Amy, the first female pastor at St. Paul’s.

· Rev. George Evans -Interim -2006 (received the Muhlenberg Award for exemplary service and congregational and campus ministry as exceptional dedication to preaching and teaching the Gospel faithfully).

· Rev. Emily Hollars-Leitzke 2007

· Rev. Thom Sinnott

Church Location:

St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church

12095 Blades Road

Cordova, Maryland 21625