POMEROY – The 175 year history of St. Paul Lutheran Church is deeply entwined with Pomeroy’s, and illustrates the tenacity of early settlers in their quest for a spiritual meeting place.
As early as an 1806 an “itinerant ambassador of Christ visited Pomeroy” in the person of the Rev. Paul Henkel, who had been sent from the Ministerium of Pennsylvania “ to kid after the spiritual welfare of Lutheran people in general in Western Virginia and Southern Ohio.”
Henkel mentions Pomeroy in his journal, and his name was “very near and dear to the hearts of Lutherans in the territory.”
In 1842, Professor William Lehman, a pastor from Lancaster, Ohio, visited the Pomeroy congregation and prepared the way for a permanent church organization.
A pioneer member of St. Paul’s congregation wrote of him: The Lutherans St. Paul Congregation of Pomeroy, Ohio, (as it was known then) was first started by Professor Lehman of the Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, who visited the place in 1842. Old Father Wendel Kauts of Chester Township going to Lancaster, Ohio, invited the Professor to come and baptize some children and give the Lord’s Supper to some who longed for spiritual nourishment. He preached his first sermon in a log cabin in Chester Township, and though his efforts the congregation of Pomeroy was started.
The first Lutheran services were held in the Meigs County Courthouse, “Situated on the corner of Lynn and Second Streets”, according to “The Leader, April 27, 1905.” It was here a meeting was held to elect officers in an effort to move the congregation toward incorporation. Dr. William Sihler, who had accepted the role as minister to both the Pomeroy and Chester Lutheran congregations, was appointed chairman.
By the time the current Meigs County Courthouse was constructed, St. Paul Lutheran Church had a building of it’s own constructed in 1847 on land donated by Valentine B. Horton.
According to Church records the congregation literally passed through fire and water in 1884.
“The year 1884 was the year when the congregation passed through fire and water, but by the grace of God she stood the test, and like Abraham was strengthened in faith.”
The year had brought the third highest flood in the history of Pomeroy, and extensive damage to the Church and “to the churches, businesses and home of the town.”
Still recovering from the spring flood, fire destroyed most of the block between Lynn and Sycamore Streets that year. St. Paul’s stood on this block, along with the school and parsonage — both of which were “burned to their foundations.”
Professor William Schmit was pastor at that time, and it was reported, “with great zeal both pastor and people undertook to build a larger and more beautiful house of worship.”
The new structure was completed on the same site in less than a year and dedicated on July 19, 1885.
A tower bell was added in 1893, and later memorial art glass windows and a manual pipe organ. The Church celebrated their 50th Anniversary with services delivered in German by Professor E. Schmidt and in English by Dr. C.H.L. Schnette.
Professor Schmidt wrote to the congregation sometime after his departure, saying: “I love old Pomeroy and the people, though the fire and water caused us much trouble.”
The interior was remodeled in 1913, and a “hot air furnace” was installed. Re-dedication services were held during the week of March 9th, and later that month the church experienced another flood that “covered the parsonage and stood at a depth of 3 feet 5 inches in the church.”
It was written that in 1917 a “last attempt was made to hold German services.” The attempt was unsuccessful, and since that time services have been held in English.
A new pipe organ was donated to the church in 1919, and 1944 saw the 100th Anniversary of the Church founding.
The congregation continued to worship in that structure until the early 1960’s when the building was declared unsafe by a state inspector, three architectural firms, and two building contractors.
The last service was held in May 1965, and the congregation joined with their sister church St. John in the Pine Grove area until completion of their new facility in 1966.
The new church was constructed on the original site, and dedicated in August 1966.
The congregation has continued its ministry in the same building at 231 East Second and Sycamore Street, and is celebrating 175 years with services on Sunday, Oct. 6. The memorial celebration is open to all, as are the services that begin at 11 a.m.
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.