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Page 1
The United Church of Christ
The History of St. Paul Church
Original Church on Third Street (1871-1916)
Rev. Nathaniel Lehmann (1896-1913)
Rev. G. K. Krause (1914-1920)
New Church on Third Street (1917-1958)
Rev. Paul Bourquin (1920-1929)

Page 2
The Fiftieth Anniversary
Hanging the bell in St. Paul steeple
Rev. Ernst Irion (1929-1953)
Seventieth Anniversary
Seventy-fifth Anniversary
Sanctuary at 250 Third Street
Classroom in church basement
Eighty-fifth Anniversary
Rev. Walter Reif (1953-1962)
This Page
East River Road: A New Home
Sanctuary of East River Road church without pews
Architect's Statement
Sanctuary of Current Church
Rev. Bruce Kriete (1962-1968)
Rev. John Bertsch (1969-1971)
One Hundreth Anniversary
Rev. Martin Waidmann (1972-1988)
Rev. Kevan Franklin (1989-1999)
125th Anniversary
Rev. Dr. Allen H. Grothe (2002-2011)
Rev. Bret Myers (2013-Present)
Page 4
Stained-glass windows

East River Road: A New Home
Groundbreaking and dedication services were held on the new site on Sunday, May 18, 1958, and the cornerstone for the new building was laid Sunday, August 10, 1958. Articles placed in the cornerstone box included the 1916 cornerstone box, the Women's Guild booklet, Histories of the Congregational and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, a picture of the Third Street St. Paul Church, membership of church, officers and Building Committee, the Chronicle-Telegram for August 2 and 9, the Messenger for July 29, 1958 yearbook of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, parish paper for July-August, picture of the ground breaking worship services, articles of Elyria's 125th Anniversary, church school lesson material, a choir report, and membership rolls for the four choirs and Circles 1-7.

Sanctuary of East River Road church without pews
The present church was designed by architect Donald C. F. Miller of Barberton, and Joseph Lach Construction Co. of Avon served as the general contractor. William E. Berkey served as General Chairman of the Building Committee. Various subcommittees were headed by Ted Washka, A.T. Erickson, Geroge Morningstar, Tom Haywood, Russell Dunford, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Moelk, Mr, and Mrs. Max Roe, Mr. and Mrs. Karl Lehmann, Mr. and Mrs. George Decker, Mrs. William Berkey, and the Rev. Lawrence Holmer, assistant minister.

The first service was held in the new building on Sunday, December 14, 1958, even though construction was not entirely completed. Church school met at 9:30 a.m. followed by church worship at 10:45. The church school also presented its Christmas program that day at 7 p.m.

A statement from the architect reads:

An architect, when designing a church building today, is searching for an expression of the religious faith of the people it is to serve. This faith is not only contemporary, but its roots go back far into the past. Those forms and symbols that through tradition have become a part of our mode of worship and the expression of our faith are retained. The Cross is the most familiar emblem of the Christian faith and it has been so placed, both in the sanctuary, and outside the building, as to carry a message to the worshipers and the community.

Sanctuary of Current Church
Sanctuary of Current Church

The spire of the church was designed in delicate framework so as not to overpower the main building, but to be reaching heavenward and to carry aloft the stainless steel cross which reflects the lights from the sky during the day, and is illuminated at night to stand as a beacon to the neighborhood, and to those who pass by. The front of the church is highlighted by a large cross that is backlighted at night, and extends in front of colorful limestone.

Color has been used in many ways, through stone, paint, and wood, to express the joy of religion. The focal point of the worshiping congregation is the cherry altar. The organ grille and its colorful panels were used to form a background for this altar.

The plan of the building provides for a multitude of church programs, social and educational as well as worship. It can also be expanded in the future to take care of a growing congregation.

The dedication service for the new church was held on May 17, 1959, with an additional dedication service held for the organ one week later on May 24, 1959. The sanctuary and classroom area had been built at a cost of $158,000. The use of folding chairs in the sanctuary provided the flexibility to use the sanctuary as a fellowship hall. The present day church office area served as the kitchen.

Rev. Bruce Kriete
Just before St. Paul moved to East River Rd., the United Church of Christ was born in Oberlin, Ohio in 1957. Therefore, the former St. Paul E&R Church was now known as St. Paul United Church of Christ.

The Rev. Bruce Kriete served as the pastor for St. Paul from May of 1962 to 1968. During this time the second important phase of the building project was completed. The new educational wing, fellowship hall, and kitchen were constructed at a cost of $139,000. At this time permanent wooden pews were added to the sanctuary. The new facilities were dedicated on Sunday, May 16, 1965 with the Rev. Paul Irion serving as guest speaker. An estimated 450 people attended the afternoon open house which included organ and vocal presentations by Nathan Williams, Jennifer Bauman, Mrs. Howard Washka, Edward Sayles, Mrs. Carl Henes, Maureen Schrader, and the Cherub and Herald Choirs directed by Mrs. William J. Edwards.

Rev. John Bertsch
The Rev. John Bertsch served St. Paul from 1969 until October of 1971. His installation service was held on January 11, 1970. Shortly after Rev. Bertsch's resignation, St. Paul Church celebrated its centennial anniversary.

One Hundreth Anniversary
A Centennial Weekend was held on October 16-17, 1971. Thomas Haywood served as the committee chairman. A centennial banquet was held Saturday evening, October 16, featuring Bob Choate of Wilmot Printing Co. as the keynote speaker. Sunday service on October 17 featured Dr. Elam J. Weist of the Western Reserve Association. A special centennial hymn was composed by Ruth Renkel for this occasion. An afternoon open house featured an organ recital by Paul D. Crowder.

Rev. Martin Waidmann
Dr. Nelson served as interim pastor in 1971 until the Rev. Martin Waidmann was called to serve St. Paul. Rev. Waidmann's 16 years of dedicated service from 1972-1988 equaled the third longest pastorate in our history.

Rev. Kevan Franklin
December 10, 1989 - May 30, 1999
The Rev. Thomas Porter served as an interim minister from 1988 until the fall of 1989 when Kevan Franklin came from St. John UCC of Plum Hill, Illinois, to serve the needs of our congregation.

125th Anniversary
October 16, 1996 was our 125th Anniversary. Because this was a very special year, our Historical Committe, headed by Bill Bird, planned various events over the course of the year (Oct. 16, 1995-1996). On Sunday, October 13, 1996, we hosted a tureen dinner after the church service to reminisce about our history. Rev. Martin Reif, son of a former minister of St. Paul Church, was the guest speaker.

Wednesday, October 16, 1996 was the actual anniversary day. We had a special service with Holy Communion for rededicating the church. The following Sunday (Oct. 20) we welcomed Dr. Ralph Quellhorst, Ohio Conference Minister, as guest speaker. The newly landscaped planter was dedicated to the late Rev. Martin Waidmann, former St. Paul minister. After a tureen dinner, the St. Paul Chancel Choir presented "Our Faith in Song," a collection of hymns that match the themes portrayed in our stained-glass windows. Lastly, Kathryn Hodgson buried the Anniversary Time Capsule.

Rev. Franklin's last service was on Sunday, May 30th, 1999. He took a position as full-time minister at First Congregational UCC in Springfield, Illinois.

Several people stepped in to preach while the new Search Committee interviewed candidates for an interim minister. Rev. Ken Hutchinson, Jr. served as interim pastor for almost three years, until May 19, 2002. The Rev. Dr. Allen H. Grothe shared his first worship service with us on May 26, 2002. He came to us from St. Peter UCC in Seven Hills, Ohio, where he had served since 1980.

During the summer of 2011, Pastor Grothe announced he had been called to serve Pilgrim UCC in St. Louis, Missouri. His last worship service with us was November 6, 2011. The Rev. Tom French, a member of St. Paul, served as an interim pastor through the advent season until the arrival of Rev. Kim Bayless, who served as interim for a year. Toward the end of her time with us, the Search Committee called upon the Rev. Bret Myers, of Wisconsin, to be our long-term pastor. On January 6, 2013, the congregation voted unanimously to welcome Rev. Myers as our seated pastor, a calling which he graciously accepted.

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