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HISTORY of ST. PAUL’S
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Red Hill, is one of the oldest congregations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The exact date of its founding took place between 1730 and 1739. In the first record book of the congregation, baptismal entries were made in 1736. From 1739 there are systematic records of pastoral acts and congregational activities.
The congregation, it seems, had its origin through John Henry Sprogell, who donated six acres of ground for cemetery purposes near East Greenville. On this ground near East Greenville, St. Paul’s and the Reformed Church (now New Goschenhoppen United Church of Christ) joined together as a union church. Records show that St. Paul’s sold their share of the ground to the Reformed congregation and moved east of Pennsburg and Red Hill, where the present church building now stands.
In 1750 the first church was built of wooden logs on the present site. From this site the congregation of St. Paul’s has continued to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for more than two centuries. In 1803 the original “six corner” church was built with local brown stone. It was a handsome and substantial building for its time, and was a great attraction for people who came to see it from long distances. The third church was erected in 1878, the old building having been outgrown by a growing congregation. This third church building was equipped with a basement which provided space for Christian education. The first Sunday Church School was organized in 1869. The third church was destroyed by fire on December 1, 1895, due to a faulty heating system and the present building was erected in 1897. The educational building and fellowship hall were added in 1957.
The founding of the Upper Perkiomen Child Care Center in 1986 offered the Upper Perk community the first weekday early childhood education and school age programing to children from six weeks to fourteen years of age. A re-visioning process beginning in 1993 guided by Pastor Vanderslice in partnership with parents, staff and congregational leadership provided for significant growth in the Center’s mission, weekday program and service to the community. A new curriculum along with staff development contributed to the growth of the Center’s enrollment from 60 children and 12 instructors to 150 children and staff of 25 classroom instructors by 2001.
Weekly celebration of Holy Communion was introduced in 1992 along with first communion instruction at the elementary age level. In 1997 the congregation added a praise and worship service in addition to its traditional liturgical services.
A three phase capital improvement plan from 1995 to 2011 provided for the following:
• Renovating the console for the pipe organ.
• Renovating of the church nursery and educational building classrooms.
• Constructing a covered entrance to the lower classroom area of the educational building.
• Resurfacing of the lower parking lot and installing exterior lighting.
• Air conditioning the Fellowship Hall.
• Installing a fire alarm system with 24 hour monitoring.
• Building a pavilion for use by congregational ministries and community programs
• Installing and landscaping a circular drive at the main church entrance.
• Air conditioning the sanctuary.
• Renovating of the lower and upper levels rest rooms.
• Replacing the windows and doors of the 1957 educational building.
• Replacing of the windows on the ground floor of the 1897 church building.
• Securing grants to computerize and network the offices and child care classrooms.
• Computerizing church and cemetery records.
• Repainting of the sanctuary and restoring of the original sanctuary tin ceiling.
• Installing a new sound system to the sanctuary, fellowship hall and pavilion.
• Repainting and carpeting of the educational classrooms, library and office areas.
• Replacing the oak doors to the 1897 church narthex.
• Installing stained glass windows to the church narthex and educational building doors.
• Securing a grant to install fencing for a child safe area around the original cemetery and recreational areas.
• Renovating the 1800 church residence used for intern housing.
• Preserving church records from 1739 to 2008 through digital photography.
• Enclosing the Frye Road entrance with a stone foyer.
• Replacing the roofs on the educational and church buildings.
• Replace original ceiling light fixtures in the Fellowship Hall and educational wing classrooms.
• Repairing and preserving the exterior crown molding of the 1897 church building.
• Improved lighting to the Frye Road Parking Lot.
• Renovating the church library.
• Installing an elevator in 2011 to offer increased accessibility to all three levels of the church facility.
The rich historical heritage of St. Paul’s can be attested to by those who became leaders within the Lutheran Church. Fourteen members of the congregation have entered the ordained ministry. The congregation as a teaching parish has also supervised over fifteen pastoral interns in preparation for ordination in the church since 1995. The congregation in 2001 served as the first parish in Southeastern PA Synod to participate in three year immersion program by providing pastoral supervision and offering an pastoral internship to a seminarian raised in Communist East Germany who was preparing for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The congregation in 2009 welcomed a seminarian from Kenya as a pastoral intern.
A commitment to social ministry has led congregational members to respond to local and global hunger concerns, disaster relief, participation in the annual home repairs ministry of the Appalachia Service Project, Victory House Soup Kitchen, and Prison ministry by relating to chaplaincy programs in six correctional facilities in the Commonwealth of PA.
Click here for the Elevator Dedication and brief history of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – Red Hill, PA.
Click here for a more complete history of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – Red Hill, PA.
Click here to learn about Lutheran Roots in America.
Pastors of St. Paul’s
|John J. Birkenstock||1739-1743||John C. Andreae||1743-1752|
|Frederick Schultz||1752-1756||Frederick Reis||1756-1764|
|George F. Neimeyer||1764-1771||Conrad S. Roeller||1771-1775|
|John Schwarback||1775-1789||Charles B. Dannapfel||1789-1790|
|Christian Espich||1790-1793||Frederick Geissenhainer||1793-1808|
|Jacob Miller||1808-1829||Frederick Waage||1829-1868|
|Oswin F. Waage||1868-1918||Alfred M. Stump||1918-1925|
|Howard H. Krauss||1925-1953||Theodore E. Getz||1953-1960|
|Walter E. Schaefer||1960-1963||Donald R. Jacobs||1964-1968|
|Burlington B. Latshaw Jr.||1968-1975||David S. Fritch, Assistant Pastor||1974-1975|
|R. William Phillips Jr.||1976-1990||H. William Bixby, Associate Pastor||1986-1990|
|Andrew J. Evenson, Associate Pastor||2007-2009||William A. Vanderslice II||1991-2015|
|Wayne Shelor, Intentional Interim||2015-2016||James Heckman, Interim Pastor||Jan-May 2017|
On Sunday, July 10 2011 the community at St. Paul’s – Red Hill had the first opportunity to use the newly installed elevator that provides increased access to the church facility.Elevator Project | Completed July 10, 2011
Following a year–long feasibility study in 2010, the congregation approved the evator project. Construction on the elevator project began in the hallway of the educational building in January 2011 utilizing a stairway access that connected all three levels of the church facility. The assembling of the elevator and related components began in March once the elevator shaft and electrical work was completed.
The elevator eliminates barriers that were not considered when the present church building was constructed in 1897. This two story church structure placed the sanctuary on the second floor to maximize heating efficiency when a coal furnace with center floor heating grates allowed the heat to rise throughout the building.
Today’s church facility from 1897 is the fourth building on the present site used by the congregation since it moved from East Greenville to its current location in the 1730′s. An educational wing was added to the church facility in 1957 to accommodate the expanding congregation’s mission to the community.
We are grateful to all those who have made a financial commitment toward this project. Their generosity provided the inspiration to act on this building improvement.
We also thank the members of the elevator task force consisting of Mr. Frank Grim, Mr. John Sheeran, Mr. Loren Schultz, Mr. Charles Woertz and Pastor William Vanderslice who provided oversight to the study and construction stages of the project.
Elevator Dedication | Recognition of Service
A special combined worship was held on Sunday, October 2, 2011 to dedicate the new elevator, recognize service ministries within the life of the congregation and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Rev. William A. Vandersice as pastor of St. Paul’s – Red Hill.
The Rev. David Genszler, a retired pastor of the Evangelial Lutheran Church in America, who was baptized at St. Paul’s was the guest preacher. Pastor Vanderslice presided at the dedication of the elevator, along with Vicar Ryan Ferwerda.
Service ministries recognized on October 2, 2011 included:
- Congregational Council
- Cemetery Committee
- Christian Education and Sunday Church School Staff
- Elevator Committee
- Finance Committee
- Kitchen Committee
- Internship Support
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- Scouting Programs
- Social Ministries – Appalachia Service Project, Health Advocates, Victory House, Prison Ministry
- Worship and Music – Musicians, Altar Guild and Altar Flowers, Christmas Decorations, Coordinators of Paraments, Communion Assistant, Communion set-up and wash up, Ushers
- Youth Advisors
St. Paul’s – Red Hill is a community of faith that continues to grow spiritually as the body of Christ. The congregation since 1991 has ventured into new styles of worship, explored small group ministries, opened its doors to host a variety of community service organizations, mentored eighteen pastoral interns in preparation for ordination, and completed two capital improvements projects, including the addition of an elevator to make the building more accessible.
In 2011 the congregation celebrated twenty-five years of home repairs ministry through the Appalachia Service Project, and twenty-five years of providing quality preschool and school age programming through the Upper Perkiomen Child Care Center.
In 2014 the congregation gave thanks for 275 years of faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and service in the Upper Perkiomen Valley.