History
History of St. Paul United Church of Christ

While we openly celebrate the current membership and the beautiful array of diversity and differences in our life/culture experiences, St. Paul’s founders had more in common with each other than not. Founded by German immigrants who arrived in the Midwest in the 1840s in search of freedom, wanting to experience a new form of political life and an opportunity for open religious expression, they found what they were seeking in America.

 

St. Paul Evangelical Church found its beginning at its present East Gates Street location in late summer of 1908, on land purchased by the Evangelical Mission Board. Purchasing the existing wooden building from the old German Target Club, and with the help of a nearby sister church, St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church, St. Paul founding members refashioned the facility into their worship and educational space.  The congregation steadily grew, until a new much needed church building, with twice the seating capacity, was completed in 1950 and paid for within five years.

 

In the years immediately following the Second World War and into the late 1950’s, the St. Paul congregation increased to more than 500 members under the leadership of the Rev. Paul Kaefer, who ministered to St. Paul’s people for 34 years.  In the years following Rev. Kaefer’s retirement in the mid 1960’s, St. Paul has been served by a number of called, interim and supply pastors.  Our current pastor is Alan Hicks, a long-time resident of the Merion Village neighborhood.  

 

St. Paul, like many other inner city and metropolitan churches, has experienced great changes in the dynamics of its membership and in its neighbors over the past 30 years.  In the years when the mass exodus to the suburbs left many inner city neighborhoods struggling, the church witnessed dramatic social and economic shifts within the surrounding neighborhood.  Yet, St. Paul strived to continue its role as a neighborhood church and a beacon of hope to those who still lived here, and found its new role of mssion by serving to meet the needs of its immediate neighbors and addressing issues that most affected the people. 

 

While many churches of the Protestant faith slowly faded and disappeared from the south end landscape, St. Paul survived.  In the years since, the church has experienced a “resurrection” of sorts.  Through much prayer, focused planning and spiritual discernment, along with the efforts of recent pastors and inspired leadership, St. Paul is once more a thriving and growing body of believers.  We are a family church, with a new definition of what “family” truly means.  And we are still a neighborhood church, one that uses the word “neighbor” in a much more inclusive and broader way, without prejudice and without reservation.  Truly, all are welcome here!

 

But, that’s not all!  While it is true that our membership roll is once more moving upward, we are much more than the numbers on our membership roll.  We are a church that refuses to be confined to the walls of our sanctuary.  We are a church that strives to find innovative ways to integrate St. Paul UCC in local community events; to reach out to our neighbors near and far; to minister to those who have no present church home of their own and are in search of something new and more personal.  If we sound like YOUR kind of church, come visit us.  We will tell you, in true UCC fashion, “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” 

 

Come, and experience new life with us!  There’s always room for more.

 

 

History of The United Church of Christ
The UCC was founded in 1957 as the union of several different Christian traditions: from the beginning of our history, we were a church that affirmed the ideal that Christians did not always have to agree to live together in communion. Our motto—"that they may all be one"—is Jesus' prayer for the unity of the church. The UCC is one of the most diverse Christian denominations in the United States. Use the directory on the left of this page to read stories about the history and future of our community.

Intelligent dialogue and a strong independent streak sometimes cause the United Church of Christ (UCC) and its 1.2 million members to be called a “heady and exasperating mix.” The UCC tends to be a mostly progressive denomination that unabashedly engages heart and mind. And yet, the UCC somehow manages to balance congregational autonomy with a strong commitment to unity among its nearly 5,600 congregations—despite wide differences among many local congregations on a variety of issues.

While preserving relevant portions of heritage and history dating back to the 16th century, the UCC and its forebears have proven themselves capable of moving forward, tying faith to social justice and shaping cutting edge theology and service in an ever-changing world. Affirming that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, the UCC claims as its own the faith of the historic church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant reformers. Yet the UCC also affirms the responsibility of the church in each generation and community to make faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God. It looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world. One of the UCC's distinguishing characteristics is its penchant to believe that ... God is still speaking, ... even when it puts us out there alone. History has shown that, most often, we're only alone for a while. Besides, we receive so many gifts from our ecumenical partners, being "early" seems to be one of ours.

The UCC recognizes two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion.

For more information on The United Church of Christ visit www.ucc.org

Adapted from ucc.org