This marks the centennial year for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church with “100 Years of Partnership in the Gospel” as its theme throughout the year.
St. Paul’s Lutheran church was officially organized 100 years ago. This came 10 years after Lutheran services had been conducted in various homes in Wenatchee. The first resident pastor, Rev. H.W. Schreiber, was called in 1911. All the services were conducted in German until 1915 when English services began.
In 1915, the congregation was incorporated under the laws of the state of Washington. A short time later, lots were purchased on the corner of Palouse and Buchanan and a parsonage was built. The basement served as a chapel until a church was built in 1923.
Pastor Paul Gross led the congregation in the new church till 1933, when he was called to Illinois. In November of that year, Rev. Ernest Probst arrived and served faithfully until his passing in June 1946. In 1947, Pastor Richard Tschirley accepted the call to serve as pastor of St. Paul’s for the next 10 years.
In 1959, the Rev. E. Paul Riedel of Ashland, Ore., accepted the call to St. Paul’s. It was during Pastor Riedel’s term that the need for a new church was apparent. Plans were drawn and a fund drive initiated. Work on the education wing was started in 1964. The completed new church building, our current church, was dedicated on April 9, 1967. Pastor Riedel received a call to Nampa, Idaho, in 1974.
During the next 28 years, St. Paul’s was served by several pastors, including Pastor Joseph Leas (1974–76) and Pastor Clemens Harms (1977–84). During Pastor Harm’s years of service, the church started a preschool and kindergarten.
In 1984, Rev. William Shimkus was called. Pastor Shimkus saw the need for future building of a school and new church and we purchased an 8-acre tract of land along Washington Street. Pastor Shimkus accepted a call to Idaho Falls, Idaho, in 1993.
Rev. Timothy Scharr of Indianola, Iowa, accepted our call and was installed on Oct. 2, 1994. This was during the planning of building a new school on the Washington Street property. It soon became apparent that the school could not be built at that time. Elementary classes through sixth grade continue to be offered at St. Paul’s McKittrick campus. In 2002, Rev. Mark E. Hein of Sunnyside was called and installed in September.
The adventures of St. Paul’s have continued since then with the blue apartment building being torn down. The property was purchased, which made room for a new Day Care Center that began operation in February this year. The Hoffman House that formerly housed the day care was torn down and that space developed into the play area.
On Saturday, Oct. 12, St. Paul’s will host its 100th Anniversary celebration with the theme of “100 Years of Partnership in the Gospel” (Philippians 1:3-6). Special Guest, Dr. Paul L. Maier (the third vice-president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod), will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Maier is the Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University and a much-published author of both scholarly and popular works. More than 5 million of Maier’s books are now in print in 20 languages, as well as over 250 scholarly articles and reviews in professional journals.
All members, family and friends of St. Paul’s are invited and encouraged to attend the 1 p.m. celebration service on Oct. 12, with meal to follow.
Gene Robards is president of the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church congregation in Wenatchee.