The History of St. Paul Lutheran Church
St. Paul’s roots are in the German community and German language. It began in 1854 as a “break off” of First Evangelical Lutheran Church so that they might continue to worship and study in German (First had changed its primary language to English).
The first building was not at our current location but at South Bedford and East Pomfret Streets. St. Paul was located there until 1895 (and during that time was served by 16 different pastors!).
The congregation remained small and on Easter Sunday of 1896 there were only 22 people in worship. It was then that the leadership knew that something different needed to happen if they were going to be a viable congregation. After time of discernment and prayer, the congregation called seminary student Harry Stock to be their pastor. He accepted only if the following changes would be made:
– Only English would be used for worship and study
– The name of the congregation would be changed (it was originally Duetsch Evangel. Luth. Kirche).
– The congregation would relocate (to our current location)
– Use grape juice for Holy Communion
Those changes were made and the congregation began to see significant growth. A “chapel” and Sunday School building was constructed at our current site. It was a church in the round (officially called an “Akron style unit”). It included a gathering area for opening worship and small classrooms around the first and second floors.
This building is actually still part of our structure. It is located where the current library, hallway, Room XXX (Pastor Bowman’s old office), and choir room are located.
It soon became apparent that the new building was not large enough. In 1904, the congregation purchased the property at the corner of West and Louther Streets and soon began building a new house of worship. That structure was completed in 1907, including furnishings and the new pipe organ.
Jumping ahead to 1943, the old Gobin Armory, built in 1881, was purchased by the church for use as a fellowship hall in 1946. When Pastor Stock in 1946 after serving his entire ministry at St. Paul, the fellowship hall was dedicated to his honor and named Stock Hall.
From the mid 1940s to the mid 1960s, the congregation continued to grow. St. Paul became known for its large and active Sunday School program, its youth programs, and a strong music program. By the mid 1960s, St. Paul was one of the largest congregations in the Carlisle area.
The final expansion to our facilities came in 1970. That was the addition of the Educational Unit (what is now the church office, lead pastor’s office, nursery and Sunday school rooms, and the New Parlor). This new two story structure was dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Dr. Elmer Truchses.
The 1980s and 1990s was a time of steady ministry. It was during this time that St. Paul became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 1988. It was also a time when the congregation was served by Pastor Ruff (who served as lead pastor for 25 years) and a variety of gifted Associate Pastors.
In 2004 the congregation celebrated its 150th anniversary. The celebration included special services with the return of several previous pastors as guest preachers.
From 2005 until 2012 Pastor Tim Sadler served as the lead pastor. Under his leadership, the congregation began to focus on growing its outreach and social ministry, something that is still a critical part of the ministry of St. Paul.
Pastor Rob Moore then served as lead pastor after being called by the congregation in 2014 till 2018. Under his leadership, there was a new (and renewed) level of excitement in our ministry.
Rev. Moore left in October 2018 and we quickly gained Rev. Titus Clarke, who was called as lead pastor in on August 25, 2019 after serving as Interim for 9 months.
St. Paul has had a wonderful past as God has blessed us with the gifts we have needed to do God’s ministry in this place. Now we look to what God is doing today at St. Paul.