The founding of St. Paul's congregation is credited to Mrs. Sarah Weisgerber, who, in the mid 1880's, saw a need for an English-speaking Lutheran church in the Newark area. After an uncertain start, a constitution was adopted on October 14, 1884.
During those early years, membership grew from 22 charter members to 177 in 1900. The emphasis of ministry was on the Sunday School program. The Luther League was also a significant factor in the growth of this time period. Youth-led worship services would fill the church. The first convention of youth held in the Ohio Synod was hosted by St. Paul's Luther League.
In August, 1889 the congregation purchased its first church building, the former Trinity Episcopal Church, which had been damaged by fire. The building was repaired, then rededicated on February 23,1890.
In the early 1900's music and liturgy became the hallmark of this congregation. During this time the first junior choir was formed. Later, the choir program would be expanded into several age levels. Music became a significant part of the annual congregational meetings.
Also during this time a strong relationship was developed with the local community. A Boys Brotherhood was organized and became a popular social club for boys in the community. In time, a music club, a literary club, community youth groups, a community theater, operettas and the local nurses' commencement were held in the church building. To this day a variety of community groups make use of the church building: Weathervane Theater, Licking County Center for the Visually Impaired, the Battered Women's support groups, the Goodwill Bazaar, Humane Society fund raising dinners, Land of Legend Travel Club, etc.
St. Paul's is also known for its ecumenical involvements such as participating in and hosting community worship services and supporting community ministries, such as the Newark Area Campus Ministry. In addition, events are often held in conjunction with our neighboring congregations, the First United Methodist Church and the St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church.
On Easter night, April 16, 1922, a fire gutted the church building. At that time the congregation chose to sell the burnt building and purchase the Fleek house on North Fifth Street. In July 1923 it was dedicated as a parish house and "temporary" place of worship. Due to financial strain, complicated by the Depression, it would take them 27 years to again have a "permanent" place of worship.
Following in the tradition of Sarah Weisgerber, women have taken a strong leadership role within St. Paul's congregation. The first women to serve on the church council was Louise Adkins who was elected a trustee in 1931.
During the Post-War Revival of the mid-40's through mid-60's congregations saw an unprecedented growth. In 1945 St. Paul's was one of the fastest growing churches in the Ohio synod. By 1951 the congregation totaled 900 baptized, 635 confirmed members. Many new groups were formed and former organizations within the congregation were expanded. Membership peaked in 1966 with 1308 baptized, 840 confirmed members. In recent years St. Paul's has seen a growth in the number of adult baptisms, with a record setting 23 in 1991. Currently our membership is 761 (beginning of 2001) baptized, 650 confirmed, with a definite growth trend.
Due to the increased growth, a larger building was desperately needed. In November, 1951 the current worship building was dedicated. Later, the Fleek house was razed and an Education building was built, with its dedication held on June 19, 1965.
Other highlights from the congregation's history include their work with refugees of war. Following World War II St. Paul's sponsored five families who had been displaced by that war. A Vietnamese refugee was sponsored in 1975-1976 and a Cambodian family was sponsored in 1980. Currently we are helping to support a young man from Bosnia.
St. Paul's has also been involved in a variety of other justice issues. According to oral history, Rev. George Bohon Schmitt refused to do a funeral when the pall bearers showed up in the hoods and sheets that mark the Ku Klux Klan. During the late 1960's the congregation was involved in a number of projects to improve racial equality. Just this past summer, as we continue to stand up for justice, both pastors were involved in a community event planned as an alternative activity to a KKK rally.
This is but a brief summary. A complete history, St. Paul's Centennial 1884-1984 is available in the church library.
Pastors Serving St. Paul's
Rev. Edward E. Barclay (1884-1886)
Rev. Calvin Wright Sifford (1886-1901)
Rev. James C. Schindel (1901-1906)
Rev. John Wesley Weeter (1907-1908)
Rev. George Bohon Schmitt (1909-1932)
Rev. Walter Martin Brandt (1933-1944)
Rev. Charles Myron Danford (1944-1976)
Rev. William Joseph Rauch (1977 to June 2014)
Rev. Betsy M. Williams (Nov. 29, 2015-Present)
Rev. Frederick C. Rambow (1932-1933)
Rev. Stephen H. Puffenberger (1944)
Rev. Edwin Brigham (1961-1964)
Rev. Glenn Dean Stadler (1964-1966)
Rev. John Green Gould (1966-1967)
Rev. Ronald Ray Lee (1967-1969)
Rev. Philip C. Cummings (1970-1976)
Rev. Deborah M. Click (1991-1997)
Rev. Thomas Macadam (1957)
Rev. Diana K. Gugel (1985-1986; ordained 1987)
Rev. Deborah M. Click (1986-1987; ordained 1988)
Rev. Kurt Kusserow (1987-1988; ordained 1989)
Rev. Mark Winkler (1988-1989); ordained 1990)
Rev. Roger Laub (1989-1990; ordained 1991)
Rev. Jaclyn A. Gasior (1997-1998; ordained 1999)
Rev. Matthew A. Smith (2000-2001, ordained 2002)
Rev. Jonathan Kibler-McCabe (Aug. 2002-Dec. 2003, ordained Dec. 14, 2003)
Members Serving in Ministry
Chaplain Frank O. Taafel (ordained November 13, 1924)
Rev. Carl Coad, Jr. (ordained May 2, 1942)
Chaplain Hugh "Jerry" F. Lecky. Jr. (ordained May 23, 1956)
Rev. David Hinkelman (ordained June 28, 1971)
Rev. James L. Friesner, Jr. (ordained May 7, 2000)
Rev. Carey Hovland Mtui (ordained July 1, 2007)
Sr. Marie Helen Woerlein (b. April 18, 1897;d. February 26, 1921)
Rev. Al & Nancy Swingle (Liberia; 1964-1974)
Allen & Alice Butte (Malaysia; 1968-1979)
Lois Danford (Thailand; 1977-1978)
Rev. C. Myron & Edith Danford
Juliana Rauch (Senior French Speaking Secretary for the Division of Global Mission, Chicago; 1994 to 1996)
Mary Brandt (Director of Christian Education, 1958-1962)
Frank Van Steenhoven (Administrative Assistant, 1969-1970)
Lawreta Rager (Associate in Ministry, Organist 1966-2001)