Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

St. Paul's Lutheran Church

St. Paul's Lutheran Church of St. Johnsville is no longer an ethnic congregation, but is composed of peoples of various national origins who hold to the Lutheran interpretation of the Bible as God's inspired word. St. Paul's is directly related to the Palatine Church which was founded by the Rev. Nicholas Sommer in 1749. The Palatine Church, which still stands on Route 5, was founded by Lutherans from the middle Rhine Valley of Germany. They had fled from religious persecution in Europe to start a new life in this, the new world. The Palatines, as they were called, settled in this area of the Mohawk Valley, and many started new farms and businesses in the St. Johnsville area.

The first English language services in the Lutheran Church were held in the Lutheran Church at Minden, now known as Fordsbush. During the first pastorate at Fordsbush the Rev. N. Van Alstine organized a Lutheran congregation in St. Johnsville on April 26, 1840, with 42 members. This new church met in a school house in West St. Johnsville. The use of a school house for religious purposes was then, and remained for long afterward, a common practice.

The present church building was built in 1849 as a Union church. Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Universalists shared the building. The building was erected by the St. Johnsville Union Society which was formed on January 13, 1849, and was dedicated on February 7, 1850. According to an indenture signed January 7, 1850 between Azel Hough and the trustees of the society, the lot upon which the building stands was deeded over to the Union Society for the sole purpose of a Church or a meeting house for public use, and if the building thereon was not used for that purpose, the lot would revert back to Azel Hough or his heirs. Any person who subscribed one dollar to erect the church building was considered to be a member of the society, and anyone who paid a dollar more to meet the expenses of the church was considered to be a member for one year. Stone for the foundation of the building came from a quarry on the Adam I. Klock farm. The site of the church cost $100.00.

The church was without a Lutheran minister from 1870 to 1895. At the Synodical meeting in 1896 the Rev. Dr. Byron F. Fake was commissioned to visit St. Johnsville and revive the congregation. The society was reorganized in 1896 and services were again held.

The church building on Main Street was occupied by the various denominations until 1901. Then on October 5, 1901, St. Paul's Lutheran Church was incorporated. Dr. Fake served three congregations: St. Johnsville, Minden, and Indian Castle. He suggested that St. Johnsville obtain its own pastor, and the Rev. W. F. Wittaker was installed as pastor in 1899. The congregations of St. Johnsville and Crum Creek were united as one charge in 1900. The Earnest Workers were formed at this time.

The Rev. Harsh of West Sand Lake became pastor of the combined charge in 1903 and during his pastorate new pews were installed in the St. Johnsville Church and the interior was modernized.

The Rev. Frank Jones served as pastor from 1904 to 1907. During his pastorate the parsonage at the corner of East Liberty and Mechanic Streets was purchased and additional repairs were made to the interior of the St. Johnsville church building. In 1904 the kitchen and fellowship room were added to St. Paul's building.

The Rev. C. G. Empie served as pastor from 1907 to 1913, and then Dr. Fake was recalled in 1913. The building was rededicated on November 29, 1914, when new memorial windows were presented to the church. A capacity audience attended the Lutheran Dedication Service and ceremonial consecration. The large circle window was presented by the auxiliary societies in honor of Dr. Fake. In 1914 also the inside stairway was added to the fellowship room.

The present parsonage at 5 Monroe Street and the present organ were acquired during the pastorate of Rev. Butterer. Robert Roland build the organ.

During the pastorate of the Rev. Herman Briele, the Luther League (now the Youth Fellowship), the junior choir, and the Lutheran Church Women were all organized, and the fellowship room above the parsonage garage and the church kitchen were built.

When Henry Johnson was the pastor, the sign board on the church lawn was installed, new hymnals and a mimeograph machine were purchased, and the parsonage was remodeled.

During the pastorate of Richard D. Clark, the front steps of the church have been rebuilt and new railings installed. New pews were purchased and the interior of the church was redecorated. The stained glass windows were repaired and restored.

In addition to the memorial funds, and endowment fund was started. The parsonage steps, walk and railings were redone, and the parsonage repainted.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church has always been mission-minded and has supported vigorously the domestic and foreign missions of the church.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church Pastors

Rev. Nicholas Van Alstine 1840-1844
Rev. Mr. Tustalot 1848
Rev. H. Stone 1849
Rev. Chancey Francesco 1850-1853
Rev. G. W. Hemperly 1853-1860
Rev. N. Van Alstine 1860-1861
Rev. Benjamin Dievendorf 1861-1867
Rev. Henry Dox 1867-1869
VACANCY 1870-1895
Rev. Byron Fake 1895-1899
Rev. W. F. Wittaker 1899-1900
Rev. G. E. Harsh 1900-1903
Rev. Frank Jones 1904-1907
Rev. C. G. Empie 1907-1913
Rev. Van Duesen 1913-1914
Rev. Byron Fake 1914-1927
Rev. D. Kling 1927-1943
Rev. Franklin J. Schweiger 1943-1945
Rev. Floyd F. Buchholz 1946-1947
Rev. Clifford E. Butterer 1948-1953
Rev. Herman Briele 1953-1964
Rev. Henry Johnson 1964-1970
Rev. Richard D. Clark 1971-
Revs. David and Debbie Ellis
Rev. Dennis Fonkert
Rev. David Johnson

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