MIDDLETOWN, OHIO
History & Genealogy

Church Histories

Last Updated  03/29/2009

The Story of St. Paul's
 

     St. Paul's history begins with a group of people who knew the kind of church they wanted in order to express their theological understandings. These people came to Middletown as part of the German migration in the 1840's. Some came from Germany, while others came from German communities in the eastern United States.

 
    On December 10, 1876, thirty-two Protestant Christians gathered together in the "Four Room Brick   School-house" located on the   corner of what is now known as Main and Manchester. This same site was used in 1892 for the North School Building. The purpose of the meeting, which was called to order by the Rev. Stemple of Hamilton, Ohio, was to organize a new congregation. The name decided upon for th is new congregation was St. Paul's German Evangelical  Protestant Church. The first  officers elected were: Godfrey Rathman,  President;   William Sebald,  Secretary; and Jacob Borger, Treasure. The members of the Council that were elected were: Phillip Laterner, Stephen Neubrander, William Schulze and Jacob Gradolf.
 

    Services were conducted in the school house for several months and then a site was purchased for a church building. It was the north half of lot #83 on South Broadway. Ground was broken for the new church in the Spring of 1877, with the cornerstone laying on May 16.  This is the present location, 114 South Broad Street. C. Edward Sebald and E. L. Frisch, who were then young boys, turned the first shovel of ground. Mr. William Smith Sr., did the brick work at a cost of $1,050.00, Mr. D. L. Frisch furnished the 99,000 bricks and the Bender Lumber Company did the carpentry work. Gus Boehm hauled 99 loads of bricks. Although the outer structure was built just as we see it today - only the ground floor Sunday School Hall was completed and dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1877. Services were conducted here until 1888 when the auditorium was completed and dedicated. During the pastorate of the Rev. Phillips Wittich, the entire debt of the church was liquidated, and in 1892 that event was celebrated by special services. The pipe organ was purchased June 30, 1893, from the Wirshing Church Organ Company at a cost of $2,490.00.

 

    A Sunday School was organized in the year 1877 with Mr. Herman Sander serving as the first Sunday School Superintendent.

 
    The first Confirmation Class was composed of five members. They were Emil Rathman, Mary Schulze, Sybille Becker, Louise Schulze and Wilhelmina Sebald. They were confirmed December 23, 1876, by Rev. Koestlin.
 
    The choir was organized in the early years of the church and William Sebald was the director. The choir often met for rehearsal at the Sebald home which was located where we now find the Reed-Klopp Furniture Store. The members of the first choir were: Minnie Rathman, Lizzie Rathman, Louisa Sebald, Rena Lamb, Mary Schulze, Amelia Borger, Lizzie Borger, Wilhelmina Sebald, Mary Long, Jacob Gradolph, Fred Strodtbeck, Adam Adrion, Christian Sebald, William Schulze, Peter Weber, Louis Sebald and William Sebald.
 
    The first year after the church was organized, fifty-six persons came to the Lord's Table.
 
    St. Paul's was starting to grow as a church in a residential area of Middletown. Growth was slow during the early years when German was used in worship and confirmation and when pastors served for only a few years before leaving. (It was the practice for men graduating from seminary to be appointed to their first church with the understanding that they would remain at least two years before answering another call.)
 
    From thirty-two members on December 10, 1876, the membership of the church family had reached 270 by 1920.
 

Summery of Progress

1877 - 1917
    Purchase of ground at 114 South Broadway. Building of the St. Paul's German Evangelical Protestant Church. Building of the parsonage at the rear of the church. Completion of the second floor, 1891. Purchase of pipe organ. Purchase of parsonage at 119 South Broadway. The old parsonage was used for a home for the custodian. January 10, 1910. English morning services were introduced. 1908 new constitution was adopted. Joined the Evangelical Synod of North America.
 
1917 - 1926
    June 1, 1918, German services were discontinued. The art glass windows were installed in the Sanctuary, October 3, 1920. Sanctuary was carpeted. The artist designed chandeliers were purchased for the auditorium and hallway. A cross was placed on top of church. Rest rooms were built in the front hallway. Replacement of the front doors to the church.
 
1927 - 1931
    Hardwood floors laid in assembly room of the Sunday School. Kitchen remodeled. Art glass windows depicting the Lord's Supper installed in the sanctuary. New seats were installed in the balcony. Auditorium was redecorated.
 
1932 - 1955
     Remodeling of the Chancel and new pews in the Nave, December 19, 1940. Building of the first floor of the Sunday School classrooms - 1940. Building of the second floor of the Second floor of the Sunday School classrooms - 1945. Central heating system installed. Property north of church was purchased from Weber Estate. Hammond organ installed. Purchase of parsonage at 10 Kenwood Drive. New light fixtures installed in the auditorium.
 
1955 - 1961
    Building of $50,000 two story addition to the education Building. Redecoration of church building, remodeling of kitchen, changing of classrooms into a Parlor and a Chapel. New Baldwin organs were installed in Sanctuary and Chapel. Installation of a public address system, amplified to the Chapel and Crib Room. 60% increase in financial support. Organization of additional fellowship groups and Church Neighbors. Parsonage painted, back porch added and kitchen remodeled. Purchase of second lot north of church from Greter estate.
 
1962 - 1966
    Establishment of a parking lot, in cooperation with the city. Exterior cleaning of the church building. Changed times of Services. Statement of Faith introduced. New choir robes purchased. Bi-weekly "Messenger" started. 1964 - Women's Circles are organized. Union Vacation Church School started along with First Baptist and First Methodist. Sanctuary redecorated. Director of Christian Education called. New fluorescent lights installed in the Assembly room and all rooms of older educational building. New furnace installed in the parsonage. Constitution rewritten, calling for a two year term limit on Council. Establishment of fourteen standing committees to involve the numbers of the congregation in the life and mission of the church. Name changed to St. Paul's United Church of Christ. First woman elected to the church council. New church school curriculum materials adopted for use in most departments. 1965 - Rearrangement of offices. Establishment of a library-conference room. Use of the Lord's Day Service adopted. 1966 - Library dedicated in May. Kitchen remodeled and new stainless steel equipment purchased.
 
1967 - 1976