St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was originally conceived in 1838 with various services held at various locations in the city of Albany, New York.
Officially a Church
At the time of its organization, St. Paul’s was predominantly a German speaking congregation and the services were conducted in the German language (as most Lutherans in the city of Albany, at that time, were of German descent). As such, its first name was ‘German Evangelical Church of the City of Albany”.
First German Evangelical Lutheran Church
Twenty-seven parishoners left St. Paul’s to start a new church for South End German Lutherans who desired a parish in their neighborhood. The first services were held in member’s homes.
First German dedicated their first church
A wood frame church was built for $2,000 on the northeast corner of Franklin and Nucella Street.
A New Name
St. Paul’s became The Second German Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Eagle Hill Cemetery
St. Paul’s purchased five acres of land on Upper Western Avenue for the parish cemetery. The site is considered the highest point in the city
A New Building
In 1872, St. Paul’s acquired its present property at the junction of Western and Lexington Avenues at a cost of $8,000.00. The church building was dedicated on March 23rd, 1873.
St. Matthews Cemetery
St. Matthew purchased approx. five acres of land in Bethlehem Center, for use as a parish cemetery.
First German becomes St. Matthew’s
First German adopted the name of The First German Evangelical Lutheran St. Matthews Church.
To satisfy its younger members, St. Paul’s began having English speaking services every second Sunday evening.z
We Become St. Paul’s
Our present name of “St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church” was adopted by the congregation.
A Turning Point
After having 8 pastors over its first 72 years, the church achieved a turning point when it installed Rev. H. William Mueller as its Pastor
First Major Expansion
The removal of the 176-foot-tall church steeple which was replaced by the gothic tower which remains in standing to this date.
A Firm Foundation
The first every member canvas of the church was taken and the first ever Endowment Fund was established.
Our Parish House
Between 1925 & 1926, the current Luther Hall was built in the church basement and the State Street parish house was constructed, which provided needed construction rooms, kitchen, furnace room, and storage space.
A Sad Time
At the young age of 42 years, Rev. Mueller was called to his eternal rest. He was remembered by his parishioners as a faithful pastor and a fearless preacher.
After a 1-year vacancy, Rev. Paul Prokopy was installed as Pastor. A former missionary to Cuba, Pastor Prokopy was instrumental in carrying out an expansion plan and in stirring up missionary zeal at St. Paul’s. As a result, St. Paul’s and St, Matthew’s Missionary Society was organized in 1931 leading to the formation of three churches.
With St. Matthew’s we established our first Lutheran mission congregation.
Christ Lutheran Church
With St. Matthew’s we established our second mission congregation. Situated across from Stuyvesant Plaza for 88 years, Christ had it’s final service on May 16, 2019.
More English Please
An English only service was added at 9 AM on Sunday mornings, with the 11 AM service still being held in German.
A New Pastor and New Choirs
After 15 years of dedicated service, Pastor Prokopy left St. Paul’s for a call to Zion Lutheran Church in Manchester, Connecticut. In 1943, Rev. William Reiser, was installed as St. Paul’s 11th pastor. He was instrumental in organizing two choirs at St. Paul’s.
Dedication of the new chimes and carillon.
Rev. Arthur Steinke
The Rev. Arthur Steinke was installed as St. Paul’s 12th pastor.
The End and a New Beginning
The last German speaking service was held on Maundy Thursday 1951. As such, it forfeited its title of “Oldest German speaking church in the City of Albany”. We now had become a Church of “All Nations”. At that time, our congregation was represented by 26 different nationalities among its communicant members. Their common bond was not just the English language but a love of and loyalty to the Word of God. We remain multi-national to this day.
Our Third Mission
With St. Matthew’s we established Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the nearby suburb of Delmar.
Preparing for a New Future
In 1957, major renovations to the church building, sanctuary, and parish house were completed and the new building (which stands in this form to this very day) was dedicated to the Lord.
A Renewed Mission
In 1963, the Rev. Stanton A. Yingling was installed as the 13th Pastor of St. Paul’s. Pastor Yingling received the Call to the Ministry in his thirties, after working as an engineer for General Electric in Schenectady, NY. He brought a passion to his ministry and preached “Christ Crucified!” as a focus of his ministry. He oversaw the growth of evangelism at St. Paul’s via modern delivery methods, including telephone and radio.
You can hear some of Pastor Yingling’s sermons at: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/call-to-worship/id1578471164
Taking to Media
St. Paul’s established its Radio Ministry and Braille Ministry.
We added Minute Meditation in 1973, and Altamont Fair Ministry in 1973. These ministries, along with our Radio and Braille Ministries, flourished and helped St. Paul’s spread the gospel to thousands of people around the world.
St. Paul’s celebrated its Sesquicentennial Anniversary celebration.
The End of an Era
After 25 years of dedicated service, Pastor Yingling retired from the ministry
Diverse and Inclusive
The Rev. Dr. William G. Hempel III was installed as the 14th pastor of St. Paul’s. Pastor Hempel oversaw an era of cultural diversity and inclusion at St. Paul’s. Our congregation became truly multi-national as our congregation was comprised of members with European, South American, Asian, and African descent.
Under Pastor Hempel’s leadership the Albany Maritime Ministry was established at St. Paul’s and this eventually grew and relocated to the Port of Albany.
Pastor Hempel Retires
His leadership and patience enabled St. Paul’s to survive the stormy seas of secularism and the anti-church movement of the late 90’s and 2000’s. After 22 years of faithful and dedicated service to St. Paul’s, Rev. Hempel retired as our Pastor.
A Church in the City, For The City
the Rev. David A. Gruenwald was installed as the 15th pastor of St. Paul’s. Pastor Gruenwald was called directly out of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. His ministry focused on St. Paul’s being a “church in the city and for the city”. He reinvigorated our Youth Ministry and oversaw the outreach of our congregation towards various groups in the community.
A Center for the Community
We opened our building to host two regular Alcoholics Anonymous groups, one Narcotics Anonymous group, and allowed several entities to use its commercial kitchen. This outreach enabled our church to turn from being inward focused to being outward focused. In addition, Pastor Gruenwald helped us to grow into a tight community, a true family, through various events and was instrumental in establishing our current church logo.
Simply St. Paul’s
In 2015, in conjunction with our updated logo, the church modified our name to “St. Paul’s Lutheran Church”.
Onward Faithful Servant
In February 2018, Pastor Gruenwald left St. Paul’s to take a Call to Resurrection Lutheran Church in St. Louis, MO.
A Fresh Start
During our vacancy we were fortunate to have a strong vacancy pastor, and college professor, to guide us to a new vision in Rev. Steven Ware. Driving nearly two hours each way he now is serving closer to his home at Timothy Lutheran Church in Walden, NY.
Our New Future Begins
Knowing that the next few years would mean great change in the churches in Albany, we welcomed Rev. James Dorner II and his family to our congregation. Bringing experience as a lay minister in Long Island we are now looking at a bright future.
Our Joint Mission
Always focused on moving forward in Christ, St. Paul’s officially rejoined St. Matthew’s in ministry with a joint parish agreement.
A New Location
St. Matthew Lutheran Church and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church began worshipping in our new space at 1500 Western.