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  • ST. MARYS, OHIO
  • 419-394-3811

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History

This is a reprint of

History of St. Paul’s Reformed Church

St Marys, Ohio 1849-1920

 

Dedication by F. H. Rupnow Pastor

To the noble men who served in the Consistory of St. Paul's Reformed Church at any time during the six years of the present pastorate, to the Building Committee who so faithfully and with self-denial served the congregation in the largest undertaking in the history of the church, to the faithful members of the congregation who so nobly responded to the leadership of the Consistory and the Building Committee, this little attempt to write a history of the congregation is affectionately dedicated.

F. H. Rupnow, Pastor.

 

 

Early Days

The beginning of the history of Saint Paul's Church dates back to the year 1849. On the 10th of June of that year a band of German Christians, being without an appropriate church home in the town of Saint Marys, organized an independent Protestant Christian Congregation. A framed certificate of the charter which was received about New Year 1850, hung in the vestibule of the old church building for many a year. It contained the names of the following as charter members of the congregation: Jacob Morvilius, Frederick Dieker, P. V. Herzing, H. Morvilius, Frank L. Morvilius, Samuel R. Mott and their associates and descendants. Little did these forefathers dream that of their followers in the faith there would spring up such a large army, and that the little congregation which they evidently started with fear and trembling, would grow to the size and the capacity of the present Saint Paul's church. We learn from their lives that the service that we unselfishly render to our fellowmen is the best monument that we can build for ourselves upon this earth, and upon this seventieth anniversary of the congregation they being dead, yet speak.

It is to be regretted that the minutes of the first congregation have been lost, in writing the history of the early days of the congregation we can rely only upon traditions and reminiscences furnished by the children of the forefathers. The
founders of the congregation were men and women who had come over to America from Germany filled with the desire for religious liberty, and thus the principal purpose in the founding of Saint Paul's was to provide that liberty. Therefore the congregation was organized independent of any denominational character, even at the beginning emphasizing that independence at the expense of doctrinal basis. It seemed that right in the beginning it was difficult for the congregation to determine just what the doctrinal feature of the life of the church should be, and this remained a matter of controversy throughput the whole early history of the congregation. The first
constitution provided for the preaching of the Word of God, according to the interpretation of the Augsburger Confession, which we know is the doctrinal basis of the Lutheran Church. The first three pastors serving the congregation fro-n 1849 to 1852 were men of the Lutheran Denomination, and. when they began emphasizing the peculiarities of their denomination, which it was only tight for them to do, the little congregation realized that there were two distinct doctrinal tendencies within its membership. During 1852 the Rev. Seibel of New Bremen served this congregation in connection with the independent Saint Paul's Church of that town. In 1853 Rev. J. W. Allardt was called to the pastorate of the church, and as far as we have been able to learn we believe that Rev. Allardt must have been an effective preacher, who brought the congregation to realize that a firm doctrinal foundation was necessary to reach and to maintain a strong religious consciousness. Although he was not a member of the Reformed Church, yet he was Calvinistic in his religious views, which tendency he clearly represented in all of his preaching and teaching. His pastorate was crowned with success and helped to establish peace and harmony in the small struggling congregation. When Rev. Allardt left, the congregation again faced the great task of securing a pastor, which in those days was difficult. Not belonging to any denomination they had to secure a pastor wherever possible regardless of denominational identity or doctrinal tendency. So it happened that the successor to Rev. Allardt was the Rev. J. Bundenthal, a member of the Lutheran denomination. He very strongly emphasized the peculiarities of his denomination, but the majority of the congregation was by no means ready to accept his doctrines. Rev. Bundenthal even went so far as to refuse one man in the congregation the Lord's Supper because that man had on a previous occasion disagreed with him on the doctrine of the Communion. Dissatisfaction and strife grew to the extent that in the year 1864 Rev. Bundenthal and a minority which clung to him seceded from the congregation and organized the Lutheran Congregation in this city. However, a number who left the mother church soon came back An agreement was arrived at by which the mother church retained the church property, but the Lutheran branch was permitted to worship in the same building at an hour that would not conflict with the mother congregation. The Cemetery on South Main Street was given over to the Lutherans, and is still owned by them; during this separation the early records of the church were lost.

After the division of the weak and struggling congregation, one thing was the lamentable result-there came into existence two very weak congregations. There remained a degree of friendship or mutual regard between the two congregations, for both remained under the same roof from the year 1864 until 1873. As the mother church
retained ownership of the building, it certainly showed a magnanimous spirit on her part in granting the dissenting branch such consideration. Of course little misunderstandings constantly arose, but it is useless to dwell upon them. Let it suffice to say that we should
be thankful that by the grace of God there arose out of each of the parting branches of the same church the present congregations, large and strong, effectively serving the religious needs of the community. Thus the early days were days of beginnings, days of trouble, at the end of which the permanency of the congregation had not yet been secured.

DEFINITE POLICIES

After the division took place in the year 1864, it was very strongly felt that a more definite organization must be effected, and more definite policies must be assumed. The matter was brought to the attention of the Rev. Mr. Heise of St. Paul's Church of New Bremen, Ohio, who was asked to come to St. Marys and assist the congregation in effecting a definite church organization. It might be stated right here that his congregation will ever be indebted to the St. Paul's Church of New Bremen for the valuable assistance rendered by their pastors during the early, unsettled stages of the history of this church.

Rev. Heise appeared in St. Marys on February 28th, 1865, hand announced that on March 13th there would be a meeting of the congregation for the purpose of electing a Consistory. At this meeting Mr. William Limbacher was elected president, and Messrs. Albert Althausen and H. Biebel were elected secretaries. Mr. Albert Althausen in the clear German handwriting and in a very systematic and businesslike manner wrote the first minutes of the reorganized German Evangelical Protestant Church. There were thirty seven votes cast, and the result of the election for membership in the Consistory was as follows: Elders, William Limbacher and Henry Morvilius, Deacons, William Siewert and W. Hoerath, Trustees, A. Lintz and Chas, Risse, With these officers, whose names still linger in sacred memory, the small and weak congregation again decided to start its voyage into the vast sea of history.

            The first task which confronted the congregation was the election of a pastor. On the 15th of May, 1864, the consistory submitted the names of two candidates to the congregation for election, namely the Revs. Ferdinand Weisgerber, and Frederick Nestman. There were thirty one votes cast, of which thirteen were for Rev. Weisgerber, and eighteen for Rev, Nestman, as a result of which the consistory sent
a call to Rev. Nestman. He arrived in Saint Marys on the 29th day of May of the same year, and was formally installed by the Rev. Mr. Heise of New Bremen, who unselfishly showed many kindnesses to this congregation Rev. Nestman's pastorate lasted only about one and a half years, closing in October 1865. In this short time he accomplished several important things. He abolished the Augsburg Confession,and introduced Prof. Dr. Schaff's Catechism of Christian Doctrine. Dr. Philip Schaff was. professor of Theology in Mercersburg Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church, located in Mercersburg, Pa. from 1844 to 1865. It was Rev. Nestman, then, who first planted the seed of definite Reformed Doctrine into the life of the young congregation, and the planting of this seed has not been without fruits and results. There was another achievement during the pastorate of Dr. Nestman, the organization of the "Frauenverein," the great woman's organization of the church, of which this history will speak later. On the 8th of October, 1865, the consistory submitted the names of three candidates to the congregation, of which Rev. John Grimm was elected for a period of one year, In those days the congregation voted upon the pastor each year. Rev. Grimm was re-elected for another year in July of 1866, but left the field in August 1867. On August 11th, 1867, the congregation voted on an offer which had been sent them from Rev, Wiehe to the effect that he would supply the congregation on trial for six months at a salary of $150.00 for that period of time. This offer was accepted, and Rev. Wiehe began a pastorate which continued for almost five years. The pastorate was marked by faithfulness on the part of the pastor in developing the spiritual as well as the temporal interests of the church. It was during this pastorate that the congregation showed a special growth. In 1873 the Rev. N. Burkhart began a pastorate of one year. Although brief, this pastorate was not without splendid fruits. During this short time the church building underwent thorough repairs in the shape of a new roof, and interior redecorating.


 On account of the growth of the congregation a gallery was added to the interior of the church. It was during this pastorate that the congregation asserted
its self-consciousness of growth by asking the Lutheran congregation to discontinue its services in the church building of the mother church. Thus the mother and daughter parted each one to grow in its own house of worship. To Rev. Burkhart belongs the credit of bringing the congregation upon a financial footing. During his pastorate the congregation began doing things, and has ever since continued doing things.            .

On November 25th, 1874, the pastorate Of Rev. Henry Krauss began and lasted one year. This annual election of a pastor resulted in such frequent changes that the expansion and growth of the congregation was constantly stultified. Under Rev. Krauss the matter of establishing a parsonage for the use of the pastor was taken up. A suitable house was purchased by the congregation and remodeled and improved by the Frauenverein.

In March 1876, after a vacancy of several months, upon the recommendation of Rev. Burkhardt, a former pastor, the Rev. Dr. Rehsteiner was called to the pastorate of the congregation. Rev. Rehsteiner, like his predecessors, was installed by the Rev. Heise, of New Bremen. The pastorate lasted until July 1877. It seems as though under this pastorate the congregation did not g row, for they were not able to make up his salary, and he left with a claim against the congregation for back salary. After he left the congregation was vacant for about nine months, during which time repeated efforts were put forth to secure a pastor but without results. It seemed as though at this stage of the history of the congregation the dark cloud of discouragement hovered over the little flock, and one difficulty brought on another.

On April 14th, 1878, the Rev. C. Schultz, of Marietta, Ohio, came to begin a pastorate which lasted until early in 1880. Again during this pastorate the money question was the issue of the day. Serious difficulty was again experienced in making up the salary. Upon suggestion of the pastor an assessment was placed upon each member, amounting to four dollars per year, but even this arrangement seemed to be a failure. After Rev. Schultz left there were many who questioned the advisability of continuing the congregation, and before another pastor was called the Consistory was authorized to canvas the congregation to ascertain the possibility of supporting a man.

Just as the congregation was about to disband, a certain Rev. Yelden came forward and offered his services, to the little flock without a definite guarantee of salary. He was installed b y Rev. Buerkle of New Bremen. After he had served the congregation for nine months, both he and the congregation realized their mistakes, and he refused to serve any longer except the congregation promise to pay him $500.00 per annum. This the congregation felt unable to do, consequently Rev. Yelden's service ended in March of 1881.

 

Now came a dark period in the history of the congregation. Effort upon effort was made to secure a pastor, but in vain. A certain Rev. Boetz, who before this had often helped the congregation secure a pastor, 'was again appealed to, but without results. All the previous pastors had been either of no denomination, or 'Of the Evangelical Synod of North America. Even though discouragement prevailed in general in the congregation, yet there was a nucleus that was hopeful of better days. During this time the Rev. Peter Greding, D. D., pastor of the First Reformed Church of Lima visited the little congregation several times. During these visits he did much to encourage and comfort the people, and upon his recommendation a call was extended to Rev. Heberle, a Reformed pastor in Kenton, Ohio, who accepted the call, which at that time and under prevailing conditions was a rather heroic thing to do.

 

THE BEGINNING OF THE INFLUENCE OF THE REFORMED CHURCH

Rev. Heberle commenced his labors in the summer of 1881. It was in that year then that the congregation came into touch with the life and spirit of the Reformed Church of the United States, from which it has since been served, and with which it is now very intimately affiliated. Rev. Heberle was a man of much enthusiasm, and the congregation was not slow in catching this spirit of enthusiasm. Things seemed to progress immediately. During the first year of the pastorate all indebtedness was wiped away. The first church bell that the congregation ever possessed was purchased. At the end the first year he was re-elected with an increase in salary of $50.00 per year. After such splendid achievements, it is to be regretted that Rev, Heberle was seized by habits which not only stultified his success, but handicapped him for the work of the Christian ministry. His resignation took effect September 1st, 1884 after serving the congregation acceptably for three years.

 Rev. Joseph Schaatz was elected to the pastorate on the 31st of August, 1884, and began his labors immediately upon the removal of Rev. Heberle. Rev. Schaatz was a minister in good and regular standing in the Reformed Church in the United States. It is especially noteworthy that he was born and reared in an orthodox Jewish home, and is to be admired for the great sacrifice that he brought in becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. His pastorate was crowned with success from the beginning to end. It was this converted Jew who first taught the congregation not to live for itself but for others as well. It was he who celebrated the first Mission Festival and lifted the
first offering in the history of the congregation for benevolent purposes. The congregation had already existed for twenty-nine years, and never in the financial reports is there mention made of anything being sent away for the Kingdom of God at large until this messenger of Christ came. It is no wonder to the writer that in all the previous years the blessings of God did not visibly rest upon the congregation, for "a life that does not live for the world is dead in the world." If Rev. Schaatz did nothing else worthy of note in the history of our beloved congregation, we ought to praise God and remember him for this one thing.


            Which certainly is written down in heaven as a great achievement. The first benevolent Offering amounted to $27.65. It is no wonder that the congregation began to grow under such leadership, and in the records of the consistory several times the fact is mentioned that the church building had become too small, and the advisability of a new church building was discussed.

After almost two years of faithful service Rev. Schaatz proposed to the consistory and the congregation the need of the congregation joining the Reformed Church, and issued the ultimatum that in the event such a proposal would be defeated, he would have to consider a resignation, The resolution of the congregation dated May 2nd, 1886 gives clear expression to the disapproval of joining any church denomination, and also to table indefinitely the building of a new church. The result was that Rev. Schaatz closed his pastorate at the end of August 1886.

Rev. C. Badertscher began his pastorate on the 1st of October, 1886. He served the congregation until December 24th, 1899, namely thirteen years and three months, the longest pastorate in the history of the congregation. Rev. Badertscher, who is spending the evening of his life in St. Marys, told the writer in his congenial way of the beginnings of his work in this congregation. He had been serving a small Reformed congregation in the city of Findlay, but had been residing on his farm near Bluffton, Ohio, when Rev.Dr. Geding of the First Reformed Church of Lima challenged him in the name of this congregation to consider coming to St. Marys. He then visited in St. Marys


and filled the pulpit of this church, but found that another minister had done likewise, and the congregation had already encouraged the other man to consider coming. The consistory decided, however, to place the name of Rev. Badertscher before the congregation also, resulting in his election. He states the election was a surprise to him, and at first he thought of declining, because it meant leaving the farm in which he was at that time very much interested. Then also some of the members of the church discouraged him, stating that sooner or later the congregation was doomed to disband. After carefully considering the whole matter, he decided to accept the call, and began his work here. He states having tried everything to encourage the disheartened congregation. Together with his sturdy sons he furnished the fuel for the church as well as for the house by digging out stumps at the reservoir, bringing them into the city and splitting them for fuel. The financial problem he solved by canvassing the congregation himself for the current expenses of the church. He relates two interesting experiences. Once the family treasury had become so depleted that he found it necessary to borrow $25.00. He worried several days where he should go to borrow. Then one day he happened across Mr. Albert Althausen, who at that time was in the Home Bank of our city. He said to Mr. Althausen that he needed twenty-five dollars, but had nothing to offer as security. Mr. Althausen in his kindly way said he needed no security, and promptly gave him the desired amount. On another occasion he was canvassing for current expenses, and came to one man. The man was very friendly with him, whereupon Rev. Badertscher said he felt somewhat embarrassed in collecting his own salary, but that was probably the most effective way of securing it. "Oh" said the man, "I am glad you came in person, then I know for sure that you get it."Rev. Badertscher also states that the janitor position was for the greater part of the pastorate always kept in the family circle. Thus he provided for the ministry in the congregation, for the funds, janitorship, fuel, and everything. Such a vigorous and self-sacrificing ministry was bound to make a quick and deep impression upon the congregation, and qualified the pastor to lead a people through a large task, namely the building of a new church, At a meeting of the congregation held on March 27th, 1887, the congregation passed the following resolution: "To build a brick church costing not more than $4,000.00." Just a few words but they meant a great deal in the life of the congregation, for whenever this people resolved to do anything, it was done. The Building Committee was composed of the following: A. C. Koop, H. Nietert, John Gottschalk, Sr., Louis Steva, Sr., and Chas. F. Limbacher. It is interesting to note that all members of this committee are still living and all residing in St. Marys, Architect Carl Schann, of Toledo, was engaged and his plans and specifications were approved and accepted. The building was begun in the year 1887 and finished the following year, and in the spring of 1919 after the completion of the magnificent new church in which the congregation now worships, was wrecked. It. stood ever as a testimony of the growth of the congregation. When it was built, most members thought it would last forever. The Sunday School was held in the balcony, and the auditorium was considered large enough for all days to come. The total cost of the building was over four thousand dollars, which although at that time a large sum of money was paid with such rapidity that on November 9th, 1890, it was decided to build a brick parsonage next to the church, which house, although extensively remodeled and improved, affords a comfortable home for the pastor of the church unto this day.

 

The Old Church in Process of Being Wrecked
Erected 1887; Wrecked 1919

Among the documents found in the cornerstone of the old church building upon wreckage the following are noteworthy: One paper gives the condition of the Sunday school in the year 1887. There were 90 scholars and 8 teachers. The officers were Rev. Badertscher, supt., Mr. S. C. Stalder, asst. supt., Mrs. C Langhorst, secretary, and Miss Laura Stephen, Treasurer. Another document gives the names of the Frauenverein in the year 1887; there were thirty-three members. The officers were Rev. Badertscher, pres., Mrs. Albert Althausen, vice pres., Mrs. ·C. Langhorst, secretary, Mrs. A. C. Koop, treasurer, And other document contains the constitution of the congregation signed by the heads of the families that belonged to the church numbering 73, of which the majority have passed away. This constitution was written by hand, and upon comparing it with the present constitution of the congregation, it is evident that the organization of the church has become more definite and effective.

A very important document found in the cornerstone is a true transcript of the deed of the lot on the southeast corner of High and Perry streets. The lot frontage is 165 feet on High street and 82 1/2 feet on Perry Street, and was purchased on the 12th of March in the year 1851 from John and Nancy Hawthorn for the sum of one hundred dollars. The deal was made by Messrs. Adam Lintz and Christ Franz, Trustees of the German Evangelical Protestant Church of St. Marys, Ohio. The contents of the cornerstone were found in an unsealed galvanized iron box in first class condition.

 

During the thirteen years pastorate of Rev. Badertscher the congregation showed a remarkable growth, but remained a purely German congregation, 'which denied the congregation a still larger growth. The pastorate of Rev. Badertscher closed December 31st, 1899.

 

Rev. P. S. Kohler, of the Reformed Church of Crestline, Ohio, was elected to the pastorate of Saint Paul's on the eleventh day of February, 1900, and began his work in the congregation on May 1st, 1900. The people were very anxious to make the advent of their new pastor as encouraging as possible, and therefore before his coming the
interior of the church was redecorated, the old high pulpit was replaced by a new modern one, and the constitution of the congregation was thus revised and amended to agree to the letter to the prescribed constitution for any congregation of the Reformed denomination. Rev. Kohler's pastorate was one of thirteen years and proved a blessing to the congregation. During this time the membership was considerably increased, and the salary was increased from $700.00 to $1000.00, per annum.

 

Rev. Kohler's pastorate was one of the beginnings, or we might say that in it the foundation stones for future activity were well laid. During this pastorate the need of a new church was felt. It seemed as though the church then occupied was not suited for the needs of a church life that was year by year growing more complicated. Especially was the Sunday school very much handicapped because the fathers had built a church, but had not provided adequate Sunday School equipment. An addition to the church was planned but never carried out. A building fund for a new church building was started, but before it had progressed very far it was unfortunately
dropped. An addition and much needed improvements in the parsonage were discussed but never carried out. It seemed as though building was not to take place during this chapter of the congregation's history, but many other things were done which were just as essential in the development of the congregation as building. During Rev. Kohler's pastorate a splendid numerical addition to the membership
of the congregation was made. The spiritual life of the congregation was strengthened and the benevolent spirit was fostered, In fact during this pastorate more money was raised for benevolent purposes during one year than was raised during one year for current expenses, twenty years before.

The great achievement during Rev. Kohler's pastorate was the solution of the language question. This was a great achievement, for before that problem was finally settled, our congregation had lost heavily to other English speaking churches of the city some of whose most faithful and active members trace the beginning of their church life hack to Saint Paul's. Since the language problem has been settled these losses have ceased. The Sunday school became English during this pastorate, a report of which appears in another chapter of this history. Rev. Kohler and his estimable .family won and held the respect of not only the members of our church but the entire community. .His pastorate closed the first of June, 1913.

 

The present pastorate began November 1st, 1913. Early in the summer of 1913 the clerk of the Consistory wrote to Rev. F. H. Rupnow, at that time pastor of the Zion Reformed Church in Detroit, Michigan, asking him to supply the pulpit some time during the month of August. The 17th day of August was fixed and it was according to the thermometer one of the hottest day’s mankind has ever been called upon to endure. The writer expected a city mid-summer attendance but was agreeably surprised at the large enthusiastic Sunday school, and the very well attended services both morning and evening. He regretted, however, the inadequate equipment of the congregation, but felt convinced that such an enthusiastic band of people possessed the capability of remedying the inadequacy of equipment. The cordial hospitality of the people on that hot August day in the year 1913 will never be forgotten, and after six years of association the sincerity of this hospitality has become permanently established. A formal unanimous call was extended the writer about Sept. 1st, which after careful consideration and against the wishes of the Detroit Congregation he accepted. During the summer 1913 the congregation extensively improved the parsonage and equipped it with a hot water heating system,
the total aggregating about $1200.00.

The work of this pastorate is so fresh in the minds of our present constituency, that it is hardly necessary to go into detail; yet for the sake of history, a little should be said. Scarcely had the pastor become settled and acquainted with the membership in person, when the 1914 annual congregational meeting was held the first Sunday of that year. At this meeting of the congregation the issue of building a new church could not be avoided, Everybody seemed full of it, and a resolution was quickly adopted authorizing the Consistory to supplement itself to the number of twenty, and that this committee be called a Ways and Means Committee to take up the question of building a new church and to report back to the congregation at the earliest poss.ble date. This committee met on a Sunday afternoon late in January of thatyear. The committee came together to answer only three questions: First, "Do we need a new church building?" Second, "What will be
the least amount for which we can erect a building that will adequately house our congregation and meet the needs of the future?" Third, "Is the congregation financially able to erect such a church building?" The first question was quickly answered in the affirmative for already we were turning people away at the Sunday evening services, and our Sunday school was overcrowding the church. The fact of the matter was that the church building was large enough to accommodate only
about one half of our members at one time. The second question was discussed in detail, and finally at the suggestion of several who were posted in building prices, the sum of thirty thousand dollars was fixed as the least possible amount to answer our needs. The third question was the most vital one, and was discussed with such discretion and even reluctance that it seemed at first no definite decision would be arrived at. Mrs. Louisa Althausen finally arose and expressed her, conviction that the amount could be carried by the congregation, and to back up this conviction she offered a pledge of one thousand dollars as a beginning.

 

The committee then decided to report to the congregation first, that we need a new church very badly, secondly that this church ought to cost not less than thirty thousand dollars, and thirdly, that the committee felt the congregation was able to carry a project through to successful completion. The congregation after a brief discussion adopted the report, and authorized the Consistory to make an initial canvas of the congregation. The pastor felt that the success of the project depended upon that canvas, and therefore tried to exercise all the little business ability that was at his disposal. He urged the Consistory to put forth every effort to make this first canvas total at least two thirds of the cost of the project, and that each subscriber be asked to carry his own interest on his subscription, so that the congregation might be relieved as long as possible from carrying a heavy interest burden. This arrangement had two very good results, first it kept people from oversubscribing, from putting down on paper something they could not poly, and secondly it urged them to pay their subscription at the earliest possible date. So the canvas was very thoroughly carried out, and netted over two thirds of the required amount. The pastor was now authorized to appoint a Building Committee to carry out the wish of the congregation. This was no easy task for a man who barely knew all of the people, and who had been on the field scarcely six months. After much consideration and worry he appointed the following seven men: Charles Limbacher, John J. Hauss, Christ Buehler, William Jordan, C. P. Tomhafe, Edwin Kellermeyer and Charles W. Kuhlman, From the very beginning each one of these men showed a very deep interest in the work, and it was not hard to note the holy resolve in all their deliberations to seek the best interest of the people they were serving. The committee organized with the following officers: Charles Limbacher, President, C. P. Tomahafe, Treasurer, F. H. Rupnow, Secretary. The president ably presided at all meetings; the treasurer very ably managed all the funds at the disposal of the committee, and very judiciously made the necessary loans to meet bills as they became due. It was the duty of the secretary to attend to all the correspondence, which in itself was no small task, but was cheerfully done. It might be of interest to give some of the important transactions of the Building Committee:

The first task was engaging an architect. The committee negotiated with men from Dayton, Columbus, Toledo, Cleveland and Lima. Mr. Andrew DeCurtins of Lima was engaged after careful consideration: and the committee soon learned that no mistake had been made. The relations between architect and committee and between architect and contractor were always of the most agreeable nature. After much
preliminary discussion several floor plans were submitted by the architect, and it was soon learned that the kind of a building that we needed did not fit on the lot on which the old building stood. The matter was therefore brought before the congregation. There seemed to be strong sentiment at first that the new church must be erected on the
place where the old church stood. It was finally suggested that we do not consider the lot, but consider first the kind of a church we want, and then find a place to build it. If it should fit upon the old lot that would be the place for it; if not, a new location would have to be sought.
 The congregation unanimously decided on the floor plan of the present building, for it provided a spacious auditorium for church services, and at the same time it offered an adequate Sunday School equipment. This decision naturally involved buy.ng a new lot. There was no lack of offers made to the congregation; there were plenty of lots available. Diagonally across the street from the old church was a lot 135 by 165 feet with pavement around two sides, and a public alley around the other two sides, an ideal corner for an imposing church building. An option was procured on this lot, and it was purchased at $2,750.00. In the meantime the architect proceeded to complete the plans of the building

It was just at this stage that the committee and the congregation was called upon to bow in submission to the will of God, by which a very valuable member of the committee was called to his reward, Mr. Christ Buehler. Mr. Buehler was so interested that often under great difficulty he attended the meetings. Mr. Buehler was a born mechanic, and there is one feature of the building for which he always contended, which will stand as a monument to his name, namely, a thorough reinforcement with iron of the whole building, specially the balconies. He planned the trussing of the balconies so as to avoid unsightly pillars in the auditorium. Our hearts were saddened by his departure, yet we felt that our loss was his gain.

On the 20th day of June 1914 the committee met at the 1100n hour to open in the presence of the architect the bids on the specifications as they had been issued to various contractors. The result was that Mr. William Brodbeck, a member of the church, was the successful bidder, and the contract was let to him at a consideration of $24,497.00 for the building without glass, fixtures, and furnishings, decorating, or heating. The following day a ground breaking service was conducted by the pastor on the new lot, at which the congregation was largely represented.

On the 29th day of June, 1914 Mr. Brodbeck began work on the building and entered into definite business relations with the building committee. May we 'state right here that not one moment of our relationship with Mr. Brodbeck is to be regretted. The committee soon found him determined to carry out the plans and letter, and this conscientious determination of the contractor was met by the enthusiastic support of the committee. Without a hitch or without the slightest misunderstanding the building was completed, and even though the church building was erected during the World War, truthfully this could be written over the building project of Saint Paul's Church: "This building has been PEACEFULLY erected." Thus while in Europe church after church was being demolished by the horror of war, r.ere in Saint Marys a faithful and devoted people were building a church.

The cornerstone of the new building was laid on the 6th of September, 1914. It was a beautiful day and an enormous congregation gathered for the festivities. The speakers were Prof. P. H. Vollmer, D. D., of Dayton, and Rev. C. Baum, D. D. of Lima.

 

Just before the first winter weather late in 1914 the contractor successfully brought the building under roof, and then on account of the cold weather work was suspended until late the following March when plastering was begun. The congregation followed the erection of the building not only with interest but with enthusiasm. Everybody was satisfied, nobody criticized. The Building Committee met each week during the entire fourteen months that it took to complete the building, which deserves grateful recognition on the part of the membership.

Finally the great day of dedication could be determined. August 22nd, 1915 was set aside as the day when the new building should be dedicated to the service and worship of God. Before the dedication a Finance Committee was appointed to consider the financial side of the dedication. A great deal of pessimism prevailed at this meeting of the committee. Crops had been very unsatisfactory on account of excessive rains, business was poor on account of the beginning of the World War. So in discussing the aim for receipts on the day of dedication $2,000.00 was mentioned as all we had a right to expect.

 

When the dedication was over, almost nine thousand dollars had been received in cash and pledges.

 The services on the day of dedication were inspiring. Rev. A, J. Franz of Cleveland pastor of the church in which Rev. and Mrs. Rupnow had been raised preached a powerful dedicatory sermon. He was followed by Dr, C. E. Miller, president of Heidelberg University. Dinners and suppers were served in the spacious rooms of the church. At the afternoon service Rev. P. S. Kohler, a former pastor, and Dr. Miller both spoke. At the evening service Dr. Miller and Rev. L. H. Kunst of New Knoxville spoke. Monday evening of the following week was Community night. Brief addresses were made by Rev. J. A. Dixon, representing the local Ministers Association, Rev. W. F. Henninger of New Bremen, Rev. R. W. Bloemker of New Bremen, and Rev. T. W. Hoermann of Lima. Tuesday at 5:00 p. m. there was a large Men's Banquet, after which the men took charge of the public service. Rev. P. S. Kohler and Dr. H. J. Christman of Dayton, spoke. Wednesday evening was Young People's Night with address by Rev.
J. .Henry Hornug of Toledo. Thursday was Ladies Day. A Golden Jubilee service was held in the afternoon, and a public service in the evening at which Rev. Harmon Limbacher spoke. Friday evening was Preparatory Service for Communion, and the following Sunday Confirmation, Reception of new members and Communion. The total cost of the building was $36,469.81.

 

NEED OF PIPE ORGAN

 

It was not long before the need of a pipe organ was acutely felt. The pastor made application to the Carnegie Corporation immediately after the dedication of the building, but they replied that the unpaid part of the building was yet too large. After the debt had been somewhat reduced he should reapply. In July 1916 the congregation
decided that even though the debt had been considerably reduced, we install a suitable pipe organ and pay for it ourselves. The Sewing Circle had $1800.00 in the treasury for this purpose, and a canvas of the congregation was made for the balance. That same fall
the Consistory after careful examination of organs let the contract to The Votteler-Holtkamp-Sparling Organ Company of Cleveland for the sum of three thousand dollars. Te organ was dedicated in the spring of 1917 and has ever since filled a large place in the worship of the congregation the organ was more than paid for by the time it was dedicated.


 

LIFTING THE CHURCH DEBT

 

After the dedication of the new church there remained a net indebtedness of about seven thousand dollars, which it seemed the intention of the Consistory should be gradually paid off. In fact the pastor kept on suggesting this, thinking that thereby the congregation would 1 have a prolonged task to accomplish. This did not seem to be the prevailing sentiment among some of the aggressive men of the congregation. Thus in the summer of 1918 sentiment seemed to crystallize that the church debt should be lifted at once, and that the concerted effort of the whole congregation should be challenged to accomplish this task. The subject was first brought to the attention of the pastor by individuals. He thought about it seriously, but feared that it could not be done. For these fears he should at this time apologize to the good people of our church, and promises never again to doubt the ability of the membership of Saint Paul's. The matter was first brought before the Men's Association of the church, and this organization recommended to the Consistory the devising of attractive business like plan for the liquidation of the entire church debt, and in the event of such a thing being done, the Men's Association would stand good for five hundred dollars. The Consistory was very grateful for this suggestion and offer, and appointed Messrs. Theo. Siewert, Gust J. Meckstroth and C. P. Tomhafe as a committee entrusted with the forming of the plan of operation. The Committee sketched the front wall of the beautiful new church, and divided it into blocks totaling eight thousand dollars, in denominations of $12.50, $25.00, $50.00, $100.00, $200.00, $300.00, $500.00 and $700. A large chart with the same design upon it was made and displayed for the first time in the October Men's Meeting of 1918. There was a large and enthusiastic attendance, and when the meeting had adjourned almost half of the debt was lifted, the Association itself pledging a total of $1,000.00, the balance by individuals. The same chart was displayed at the next meeting of the Frauenverein, resulting in a pledge from that organization for $700.00. A canvas of the congregation was then made, and at a public service in the month of November the pledges were marked on the corresponding blocks of the chart. The result was that the whole debt was lifted to be paid in cash on or before January 1st, 1920. The total amount subscribed was sufficient to carry the interest until all
subscriptions had been paid in. The people of Saint Paul's are always true to their word, and thus on the 1st of January, 1920, the treasurer of the building Fund joyfully reported that enough pledges had been paid in to pay off the balance of the church debt, and declared the building free of debt with several hundred dollars still standing out. The congregation reverently acknowledged this achievement and blessing of God by singing the Doxology.

Thus the principal work of the present pastorate is accomplished. Little did the present pastor dream six years ago that it should be his gracious privilege to celebrate this event with the congregation. He realized that it would be his duty to lead this people through the building project, but expected that he would have to make room for some other force to lift the debt. We have thus far spoken of the extensive part of the present pastorate, the outward part of the work of the church. There should also be something said about the intensive, the inward spiritual part of the work.

The work of a Christian congregation is chiefly intensive, and according to the degree of heart power will ·be outward expression. The pastor trusts therefore that the outward expression of the life of Saint Paul's has been a testimony of the inward life. The following are therefore some of the things that the present pastor has tried to emphasize.

A REGULAR ATTENDANCE UPON DIVINE SERVICES

The quality of a Christian life is shown by the regularity with which such a life worships God publicly, i. e. with the other children of the same heavenly Father. In this regard the parents should he a holy example unto their children. To inspire a willing and regular attendance at the worship hour has been the very aim of this pastorate, and pill be its last aim, for upon it depends not only the work of this local church, but the eternal destiny of each one of its members.

THROUGH REGULAR AND SYSTEMATIC RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION

 The Pastor is glad for the large number of young people in the Sunday school, and for the splendid attendance on the part of these young people at divine services, which he attributes not to the organization of the Sunday school, nor the outward attractiveness of the services, but to the educational foundation laid in the instruction classes. The day is past when the church can neglect the instruction of her children, and then once a year hold a revival meeting and expect them to become truly converted. Statistics prove that more than ninety percent of those who are spasmodically converted do not remain faithful to Christ. Therefore, believing that the Sunday school alone is not able to solve so stupendous a problem, we believe in the week day instruction class. It is the holy duty of the pastor, of the church, and the home to do all they possibly can to instill as much religious knowledge into the mind and heart of the child as possible. It is the fortress around a life which, the Devil himself is afraid. If the pastor seems to have over emphasized this, he has not done it for the sake of his own vainglory, for it has cost him a great deal of patience and work, but he has done it for the sake of your home, of God and of the community.


 

3. AN INCREASING INTEREST IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
AT LARGE, MISSIONS

This is the most difficult, and yet the most glorious task of the church. How glad Peter and John must have inwardly felt for the power which they possessed to help the lame man at the temple gate Beautiful. Doing so always brings joy to the heart that gives and to the heart that receives. We are glad for the achievements of the congregation in this direction, but are convinced that more must be done.

These three activities of the church constitute the whole future program of the congregation. They must be paramount, everything else subordinate. If we can excel in these three things, there never will be any money problem, there will be life, and life more abundantly.  

Postscript. After a careful perusal of the history of Saint Paul's you will be convinced that this church has a peculiar past, one filled with trouble, handicaps and disadvantages, but out of this peculiar, disadvantageous past there has arisen a church with a definite purpose, with fixed policies.

ORGANIZATIONS

 

THE SUNDAY SCHOOL

This strong organization with its enrollment of 650 members including Cradle Roll and Home Department is the result of years of careful and earnest work, and has passed through a history just as peculiar as the history of the congregation. It is hard to find out just during which year this school was organized but it is certain that its beginning was at a much later date than the beginning of other Sunday schools of this city. Until the year 1908 it was conducted in the German language. Mr. Fred Fornholt was the last German superintendent. Even with the use of the German language the school achieved a marked degree of efficiency, but always remained small, and naturally could enroll only the children of our German families. The result was that some of the congregation in which the German language had not been fostered were compelled to attend some of the English Sunday schools of this city. Quite a number have thus been lost to this congregation. When Mr. Arthur J. Hoerath became the superintendent of the school, the need of using the English language was keenly felt, and the English language was finally adopted. Of course with this transition, changes in the organization of the school were naturally imperative. Mr. Hoerath strove to bring the school into the front line rank of both the denominational and state organization. In this he was successful. This commanded a great deal of hard work and patience; especially in the face of the inadequate equipment which the old church building had to offer.

The school began to grow with such leaps and bounds, that it was soon felt the old building was too small. When Mr. T. E. Reed was elected to the superintendency he found a school well organized, and in the four years of his leadership he succeeded in increasing the enrollment of the school over the five hundred mark, not so much by adding members outside of the congregation, but by bringing most of the members of the congregation into the school. Special growth was noted in the Adult Department. A large organized Adult Class for men and women grew to an enrollment of about one hundred and fifty, and soon proved the fact that if the parents will come to Sunday school the children must come. In 1918 Mr. Albert Bubp, the present superintendent began his work. He found a splendid large Sunday school to begin with, and during the two years of service has succeeded not only in extensive extension but also in intensive development, which is especially noted in the giving of the school. The school now raises over one thousand dollars a year, almost half of which is given for Missions.  Of the Sunday School it can also be said that through a history filled with handicaps and disadvantages, it has grown to be the second largest Sunday School in Auglaize County, the largest being the New Knoxville Reformed Sunday School.

 

            SAINT PAUL'S MEN'S ASSOCIATION

This organization witha present membership of about 175 was organized only seven years ago under the pastorate of Rev. P. S. Kohler. The original purpose of the organization was to furnish relief for the poor and needy and to encourage men in mutual benefit work. The intent and purpose of the organization to this day is the practice of unselfishness, which alone should challenge the energy of every man in the church. Since its organization, this society has branched out in work which has not stultified the spirit of unselfishness in which it had its beginning, but rather has more broadly defined it. The Association therefore contributed liberally toward the erection of the new church building, and being anxious to establish a visible monument for itself paid for the beautiful rose window in the chancel of the church. It was this organization that gave the idea of Liquidating the church debt its first impetus by subscribing one thousand dollars to be raised systematically among the members. The association has a great place in the life of the church, it is the coming together of the family heads of the congregation, and a splendid place to discuss openly the problems a church. It should become more and more an open forum for this purpose.

 

THE "FRAUENVEREIN"

 Is the leading woman's organization in the church It needs no publicity for it is well known not only in our congregation but in the entire community. Its membership is nearing the two hundred mark; its meetings are always well attended and interesting, and its work has been endless. This organization has furnished four thousand and seven hundred dollars toward the erection of the new church, and has done it very willingly and cheerfully.

The significant fact is that this sum has been raised chiefly by voluntary giving, not by scheming. The society possesses a wonderful spirit of cooperation, which predicts great things for the future. Just what this organization will undertake has not yet been determined, but we may rest assured that it will be something worthwhile, and when something shall have been undertaken, it will be successfully carried out.

 

THE SEWING CIRCLE

 Has no definite membership, but meets once a month and invites all ladies who desire to spend a profitable and social afternoon together. The original purpose of this organization was to establish a fund toward the purchase of a pipe organ. When the congregation decided to install a pipe organ into the new church building, this fund had reached the commendable amount of eighteen hundred dollars. Since the installation of the organ this society pays for the maintenance of the same. There is not a new organ to work for, but throughout the Reformed Church there are institutions that crave the consecrated support of these ladies. In our very community there are homes that could well use the product of this organization. It is our hope that the women of this church will rally to the call of our hospitals for bed linens, to the call of the Indian Mission for garments, to the call of our Old People's Homes for serviceable things:

 

THE YOUNG PEOPLE S SOCIETY

This is a new organization of young people, of which our church can boast of a large number. We hold our young people because we train them for the church. Only here and there one or the other becomes faithless, but even our Lord was unable to hold all his disciples; one became the son of perdition. The purpose of this organization is to stimulate the highest type of religious, moral and social life among the young people of the church, and could there be any higher purpose than that? Of course there always will be young men and young women to whom the young people's work of the church seems too "tame," but you will invariably find those seek their religious, moral and social needs along lower lines than the and the work of the church. The manner in which the young people of the church have interested themselves in the work of this organization has been very commendable. This organization has one constant need, a number of men and women who have the interest of young people so at heart as to be worthy leaders in this great work. We do not mean that they should do the work for the young people, but that they are the guiding force of the energy of young people.

 

THE KING'S DAUGHTERS

This is a young women's organization, which, although small in number, has done a great deal in the work of the church. Just now the organization has taken on new life, and from all appearances a definite program of work will be carried out. The pulpit furniture and one of the large windows in the church are monuments to their zeal.

 

POLICY OF SAINT PAUL'S

 "What does this church stand for?" That is a question that the community has a right to ask, and which every member of the church
should be able to answer intelligently. Although not originally united with the Reformed Church, Saint Paul's is carrying out the policies of the Reformed Church in the U. S.

The church stands, therefore, for the open Bible, and the teachings thereof as interpreted by the Reformed Church.

In government the church believes in democracy, and believes therefore in no episcopate or hierarchy. It believes that its members are children of God, and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son. Therefore, one is not above or below the other, but all in Christ Jesus are one. It believes therefore, that no one can know
God except through the interpretation of Jesus Christ.

In activity the church recognizes, the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through which alone man can be saved, as the paramount activity of the church, and holds that the pulpit is the greatest power in the church. Next to this preaching function of the church is the teaching function. The policy is that each child should be thoroughly trained in the doctrines and duties of our holy religion under the personal care of the Pastor. It holds, therefore, to definite, systematic religious instruction in the bible. This does not bar conversion, it makes for true and lasting conversion. Among the churches of the community it is evident that those churches that train their children have the most loyal constituency. The church does not engage in any so-called "Revival Meetings" as they are an expression of the ineffectiveness of the regular work in the pulpit.

The church also believes in the right kind of outward expression of the faith that it holds dear. It constantly advocates a living Christianity in the personal life, in the family life and in the civic life. For that reason the church engages very actively in missionary situations of the church.

            In short the duty of the Christian life is threefold: (1) to know, (2) to believe, (3) to do. God preserved throughout the ages a Bible intelligently written for an intelligent mind, and it is the business of this church to educate, to inspire faith, to engage in the Christian life.

 

MEMBERSHIP

 

In the face of pursuing a conservative policy, the membership list of Saint Paul's has shown a steady increase. The total membership to date is 700, of which 633 are resident, and 67 nonresident. During the past year the congregation gave for all purposes almost fifteen thousand dollars.

The conditions for membership are none other than prescribed in the Word of God, namely an upright confession of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Saviour of the World, and Baptism in the name of tl:e Triune GQd. A pledge of loyalty to 'Christ and his church is expected of all who, come into membership of the church. This includes that parents are expected to do all they possibly can to train their children in the doctrrnes and duties of the Christian faith by bringing them regularly to the services of the church, and at the appointed age send them to the religious instruction classes. In these things the church expects the parents to be living examples.

 

FACTS TAKEN FROM THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH

The lot on which-the old church stood and the parsonage is still standing originally cost $100.00,

The first Mission Feast netted less than $30.00, the last one netted over $600.00.

The first regular salary paid a minister was $300.00; the present salary is $1800.00 with free parsonage.

The first church building cost no more than $1500.00; the present plant cost about $40,000.00.

Six years ago one country family came to church by auto; now most of them do.

Seventy years ago about $500.00 was all that was needed for current expenses for one year; now $4,500.00 is necessary.

 When the old church was dedicated in 1887 the Sunday School had plenty of room in the balcony of the church, now the Sunday School needs the whole church building.

What will we report seventy years hence?

 

CHURCH DIRECTORY

Minister, Rev. F. H. Rupnow.

 
Vice President, Theo E. Reed.

Secretary, Gust F. Schmidt.

 

Financial Secretary, Gust J. Meckstroth.

Treasurer, Theodore E. Siewert

 

Building Fund Treasurer, C. Peter Tomhafe.

Treasurer of Missions, Miss Huldah Vornholt,

 
Organist, Miss Edith Mueller

 

Organist Pro term, Mrs. Martha Kellermeyer Copeland.

Sexton, William Jordan,

 

CONSISTORY

 

Elders:

William Deerhake
Samuel Schwenk

Trustees:

Henry C. Steva
Gust F. Schmidt
Theo. E. Siewert

 

Deacons:

J ohn Badertscher
Gust. J. Meckstroth
Daniel Schneider
Henry Kellermeyer
William Heinrich
Erdman Mueller, Jr.
Otto C. Lietz


SUNDAY SCHOOL

Superintendent, Albert D. Bubp

Secretary, Miss Martha Vogel

Treasurer, Mr. C. Kuhlman

Librarians, Messrs. Chas Hoffman and William Schnarre

Beginners Dept. Supt., Miss Clara Finke

Primary Dept. Supt., Miss Nellie Vogel

Junior Dept. Supt., Miss, Bessie Hartenstein

Cradle Roll Supt. Mrs. C. W. Kuhlman


Teachers of Adult Dept        

 Rev. F. H. Rupnow

 Miss Louise Bieber

 Miss Anna Jordan

 Mr. T. E. Reed

 Miss Mae Schneider

 Miss Amanda Limbacher

 Teachers in Junior Dept

 Mr. Clarence Steva

 Mrs. Clarence Steva

 Mrs. Elmer Collins

 Miss Marguerite Heusch

 Miss Ruth Anna Arnold

 Miss Ruth Anna Arnold

 Mrs. T. E. Reed

 Miss Frances Steva  

 Mrs. T. E. Reed

 Miss Frances Steva

Teachers of Intermediate Dept

Miss Clara Kellermeyer

Miss Mary Schnarre

Mr. Noah Steva

Miss Mary Fishpaw

Miss Lulu Blank

Miss Laura Huber

Teachers in Primary Dept
Miss Nellie Vogel

 Miss Huldah Vornholt

Miss Catherine Conver

Pianist in Primary Dept

Miss Goldie Moberley


Teachers in Beginners Dept

Miss Clara Finke

Mrs. Paul Kohler

Miss Emma Rohrbach

 

SUNDAY SCHOOL ORCHESTRA

Mr. Silas Badertscher, Saxaphone

Mr. Russel Sawmiller, Cornet

Miss Agnes Clausing, Violin

Mrs. Donald Dellinger, Violin

Mrs. Winifred Conger Bubp, Piano

Mr. Rudolph Zepp, Clarinet

SAINT PAUL'S MEN'S ASSOCIATION

 Mr. Albert Herzing, President

Mr. Charles Kuhlman, Lst Vice President

Mr. Louis Steva, 2nd Vice President

Mr. W. E. Yoder, Treasurer

Mr. Arthur J. Hoerath, Secretary

 SAINT PAUL'S FRAUENVEREIN

The Pastor is President

Mrs. Chas. Pauck, Vice President

Mrs. Chas, Kuhlman, Treasurer

Mrs. G. F. Schmidt, Secretary

KING'S DAUGHTERS

President, Miss Cora Schulhof

Vice President, Miss Emma Rohrbach

Secretary, Miss Amanda Limbacher

Treasurer, Miss Lulu Blank

 

SEWING CIRCLE

President, Mrs. J. Brulport

Secretary, Mrs. Andrew Makley

Treasurer, Mrs. Louis Helmst