On October 6, 1773, the Rev. John Michael Enterline purchased 250 acres of land in the Lykens Valley. He was the only Lutheran minister in the area. The same year Wert’s church, which later became Salem Lutheran Church, Killinger, was organized under his direction. In 1780 St. John’s Lutheran church, Berrysburg, was organized. Services prior to the organization of St. John’s congregation, were probably held in the school house. The Rev. Enterline was pastor of the Lykens Valley Charge until 1793. Fetterhoff’s church, near Halifax, and Dreisbach’s church, in Union county, between Lewisburg and Mifflinburg were also organized under his direction.
Lutheranism in Millersburg dates from the early part of the nineteenth century. About 1830, when Millersburg had a population of 300, the Rev. John Nicholas Hemping, licensed to preach the Gospel at Carlisle on May 27, 1812, was pastor of the Lykens Valley Charge. The Lykens Valley Charge included Stone Valley, Mahanoy, and Line Mountain from 1823 to 1850. He held occasional services in Millersburg, preaching in the old school house and always in the German language. In 1845 his charge was divided and the Rev. J. G. C. A. Bergner became the pastor of the Mahanoy and Line Mountain Parish. In 1850 Pr. Hemping retired from active ministry to his farm near Halifax, where he died on March 12, 1855. His body is interred in Fetterhoff’s church cemetery.
In 1832 the Rev. S. D. Finckels, who later became a Doctor of Divinity, began preaching in Millersburg. His visits, however, were at long intervals. The Rev. W. G. Leitzell also preached in Millersburg during the 1842 and 1843. Still the Word was preached from the school house to the few Lutherans in the town.
The Rev. Charles F. Stoever, who was licensed by the West Pennsylvania Synod in 1836 and ordained in 1838, was the next minister to preach to the Lutherans of Millersburg. From August 31, 1845 to 1850 he also served the Lutheran churches at Berrysburg, Killinger, Gratz, and Dauphin. The Rev. Stoever was followed by the Rev. C. Martin who preached at Killinger and Millersburg, and under whose guidance Trinity Lutheran church, Dalmatia, was organized.
There was no regular Lutheran church organization in Millersburg until the advent of the Rev. Daniel Sell. He became pastor of the Berrysburg Charge, in November, 1853. Upon the conclusion of his trial sermon he received the sum of $1 for his effort. This Charge, at the time the Pr. Sell assumed the pastorate, consisted of Salem church, Killinger, and Salem church, Berrysburg. In 1853 St. John’s Lutheran church at Lykens was organized under his direction. He preached his first sermon in the Millersburg school house on December 6, 1855.
Pr. Sell’s zealous endeavor and enthusiastic devotion led to the organization of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran church of Millersburg 1855, with a membership of nine. Pr. Sell served the Berrysburg Charge until 1860. Simon Wert was elected the first elder, and Levi Miller the first deacon. The charter members of St. Paul’s Lutheran church were Simon Wert, Levi Miller, Christian Walborn, Daniel Martz, David Kramer, Mary Seal, Catharine Walborn, Sarah Hebel and Hannah Auchmuty.
Pr. Sell, observing that the Reformed congregation of Millersburg was without a pastor, encouraged them to unite with the Lutherans to erect a church edifice on what was then Middle Street (now Center Street), at the exact location where the present Reformed church stands. The church was dedicated on Christmas day, 1856. The Rev. Philip Williard, of Danville, later Superintendent of Tressler’s Orphans’ Home, Loysville, delivered the dedicatory sermon. The Rev. Fitzinger, of the Reformed Church, was also present on this occasion. The first Holy Communion was celebrated on March 12, 1857, Pr. Sell presiding. The guests who surrounded the table of the Lord were Simon Wert, Levi Miller, David Kramer, Christian Walborn, Catharine Walborn, Daniel Martz, Rosina Miller, Magdalena Beard, Sarah Hebel, Philip Beller, Hannah Auchmuty, Susan Collins, Mary Seal and Susanna Shaffner.
Upon Pr. Sell’s departure in 1860, the population of Millersburg was about 1,000 souls. He was succeeded by the Rev. P. P. Lane, who served the Berrysburg charge for only a year, preaching his farewell sermon on September 29, 1861. In October of the same year, the Rev. George P. Weaver assumed the pastorate of the Berrysburg Charge. During the summer of 1862 he was afflicted with a severe case of smallpox, which kept him confined to his home in Millersburg throughout the summer. During his illness he had very little time to devote to his congregations and, as a result, the Killinger catechumen were not confirmed until December. Miss Caroline Wert, of Millersburg, was one of the six who received the Rite of Confirmation. Pr. Weaver left the Berrysburg Charge in the spring of 1863.
The Rev. C. A. Fetzer became the pastor of the Berrysburg Charge on April 1, 1863. In the church president’s report to the 22nd annual Conference, held from September 30 to October 6, 1863, is found: “Under date of March 27, Rev. C. A. Fetzer advises me of resignation from Annville and reception of pastorate of Berrysburg Charge.” During the year 1863 Pr. Fetzer conducted 18 infant baptisms, confirmed one person and officiated at 5 adult funerals and 10 child funerals. During that year there was an epidemic of scarlet fever, probably accounting for the large number of child deaths.
The Charge consisted of:
- 228 communicant members
- 3 churches
- 3 Lutheran Sunday schools
- 2 Union Sunday schools
- 55 teachers
- 300 scholars
Pr. Fetzer resigned the pastorate in 1866. He was succeeded in December of the same year by the Rev. Moses Fernsler. Pr. Fernsler was licensed by the Synod of Central Pennsylvania on May 25, 1863, and was ordained after 14 months of service in Fisherville, a mission charge. During his pastorate the Lutherans separated from the Reformed and the present Lutheran Church edifice was erected on the corner of North and Walnut streets, Millersburg.
On November 20, 1871, President Judge John J. Pearson, Dauphin County Courts, granted a charter to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The petition for a charter was signed by M. Fernsler, pastor; Simon Wert, Daniel Martz, J. Auchmuty, and John Martz. It is recorded in Charter Book A, at the Dauphin County Courthouse, and reads as follows: “To the Honorable, the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County: The undersigned citizens and members of the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, of Millersburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, respectfully petition the Honorable Court to be incorporated agreeably to the provisions of the Act of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, and they will ever pray, etc.”
The plot of ground on which St. Paul’s church is erected, 66×155 feet, was purchased from Joseph M. Freck and wife, of Centralia, Columbia count, Pennsylvania, for the sum of $1000. The deed, dated August 29, 1872, is recorded in Deed Book Y, Volume 4, at the Dauphin county courthouse. Record of the title is given as follows: Daniel N. L. Feuhr and Benjamin Musser to George Penrose, October 10, 1843, and George Penrose to Joseph M. Freck, February 1, 1853. In transfer to St. Paul’s congregation, cash in full was paid on the day of transfer, by George B. Weider, trustee. Prior to its purchase by St. Paul’s, the plot of ground contained an apple orchard.
The cornerstone of St. Paul’s church was laid on July 13, 1873. The first floor was finished by Contractor Theodore Dechant and dedicated on June 14, 1874. The original building was 45×70 feet. The bell in the church tower was purchased at a cost of $500. Mrs. Mary Fernsler, one of the older members of the congregation, recalled that she sewed carpet rags for a local carpet factory to help pay for the bell. Miss Caroline Wert remembered seeing the bell before it was placed in the church tower. Pr. Fernsler gave the bell a tap so that she could hear its pleasing tone. During Pr. Fernsler’s pastorate Lutheran churches were also erected at Killinger and Berrysburg. Although no figures are available on the cost of St. Paul’s edifice, the cost of Salem church, Killinger, was $13,000. In November, 1878, the Rev. Pr. Fernsler accepted a call to the Schaefferstown (Lebanon County) Charge, where he served for 21 years. He died on January 15, 1907.
The Rev. George C. Henry was installed as pastor of the Berrysburg Charge on October 30, 1879. At that time the population of Millersburg was about 1400 persons. This was Pr. Henry’s first Charge and it consisted of the three churches, Berrysburg, Salem, Killinger, and St. Paul’s. In 1880 the Charge had 279 communicants and the apportionment was $195.00. The pastor’s salary was $800 a year. During Pr. Henry’s pastorate, the second floor of the church was finished and dedicated on November 14, 1880. For the six years from the time the first floor was completed until the dedication of the second floor, the windows openings on the second floor were covered with canvas to keep the rain from coming into the building.
Pr. Henry left the charge in December, 1882, to serve a congregation in Des Moines, Iowa. He later returned to Pennsylvania and died in Shippensburg on January 16, 1909. His successor at St. Paul’s was the Rev. J. Fishburn, who became pastor of the Berrysburg Charge in May, 1883. The Church Council for the year ending April 7, 1890 was composed of the following: Elders: Simon Wert, and W. L. Poffenberger; Deacons: J. H. Rowe, John F. Gilbert, N. C. Freck, and G. W. Gilbert; Trustee: Levi Miller. Officers of other church groups were: Missionary Society, Mrs. J. Fishburn, president; Miss Linda E. E. Wirt, vice-president; Mrs. John F. Gilbert, secretary; Miss Sarah Johns, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Susan Heckert, treasurer. Sunday school, G. W. Gilbert, superintendent; J. H. Rowe, assistant superintendent; Chas. F. Miller, treasurer; Sumner Miller, secretary; J. Luther Johns, assistant secretary; Spencer Weiser, librarian. St. Paul’s congregation had 120 contributing members. Mr. Fishburn resigned his pastorate in May, 1890.
The Rev. B. F. Kautz assumed the Charge in July, 1890. Under his pastorate the Millersburg congregation withdrew from the Berrysburg Charge on July 1, 1894. Pr. Kautz remained as pastor of St. Paul’s church and the Rev. E. Dutt was elected pastor of the Berrysburg and Killinger churches. A house on Walnut Street was the first parsonage. The first cantata in St. Paul’s was presented in 1894, under the direction of Mr. Charles F. Miller, Choir Director. The Luther League was a flourishing organization of the congregation. Attendance was so large that persons were compelled to come early in order to be assured of a seat. The organization even had its own orchestra.
Pr. Kautz resigned in July, 1895, and the Rev. R. F. Fetterolf became pastor of St. Paul’s on October 13, 1895. That year the choir was moved from the rear of the church to the southeast corner of the sanctuary and occupied three short benches. Previously they had occupied the place between the two stairways in the rear of the sanctuary.
On Easter Sunday, 1896, a monetary quibble occurred. It seems that the church was beautifully decorated with flowers appropriate to the occasion. However, some of the members objected to the amount of money spent for that purpose. Consequently, the committee in charge had a photograph taken of the front of the church and sold just enough of these pictures to pay for the decorating expenses.
After the resignation of Mr. Fetterolf, on December 5, 1897, the Rev. Benjamin R. Lantz became the pastor of St. Paul’s, assuming the pastorate on July 1, 1898, and preaching his first sermon on July 3. Mr. Lantz was born in Hagerstown, Maryland and graduated from Gettysburg Theological Seminary in 1898. He was licensed by the Maryland Synod in 1897 and ordained by the same body the following year. This was his first charge. Under Pr. Lantz’s leadership, St. Paul’s congregation grew rapidly. Some of this growth can be attributed to the fact that at the time many people moved to Millersburg from other towns, having secured employment in the Johnson-Baillie shoe factory. Quite a number of these people were already Lutheran and, naturally, became members of St. Paul’s.
On October 23, 1904, the Rev. Mr. Lantz resigned the pastorate of St. Paul’s to accept a call from the First Lutheran church, St. Joseph, Missouri. The Rev. D. E. Rupley became pastor of St. Paul’s on March 1, 1905. For the year ending April 1, 1905, the benevolences of the congregation amounted to $186.10. During that year a new roof was place on the church at a cost of $324.85.
Pr. Rupley urged the tithe. He told the congregation to dig down in their pockets for money rather than raise it by selling things. He informed the Ladies’ Aid Society that so many sauerkraut suppers had been held in the parsonage that he was unable to get the smell of sauerkraut out of the building. Therefore the church decided to adopt the free offering system. A sufficient amount of money was raised to meet all current expenses in full.
Even capital improvements rested on the good graces of the membership. Extensive alterations and repairs were made to the church property during the latter part of the year 1905 and early in 1906: an addition of a brick room and a new entrance to the first floor; the removal of the old gallery and the addition of a sloping floor in the sanctuary; new pews, pulpit furniture, velvet Brussels carpet, and “electroliers”; the sanctuary walls and ceiling were frescoed; the choir loft was erected and a handsome $2,000 two-manual pipe organ was installed, of which Andrew Carnegie paid the half; the Sunday school room was newly papered and painted; rooms were provided for the secretary, church officers, and library; new books were purchase for the library; and the exterior of the entire building was repainted.
Including a few updates to the parsonage, the total cost of the additions was nearly $9,000. Of this amount, $3,800 remained to be raised at the time of the re-dedication services. Beyond all expectations, the sum was subscribed with about $600 in excess. As a result, all this work was completed without burdening the community with fundraisers.
The re-dedication services were held on February 18, 1906. The Rev. Dr. Charles C. Albert, of Philadelphia, delivered the sermon during the Sunday morning Services. In the afternoon the pastors of the different churches of Millersburg made brief addresses. The discourse in the evening was delivered by the Rev. Benjamin R. Lantz, of St. Joseph, Missouri, former pastor of the church. The music of the day was under the leadership of Mr. H. H. High, assisted by Mrs. Fred Buffington, of Killinger. Prof. Henry Eyre Browne, of Harrisburg played the preludes and postludes at these services while Mrs. M. Ulrich, the organist, played for the singing of the hymns.
For two weeks following the re-dedication, special Services were held each evening in the church. The guest preachers for the first week of these Services were: Rev. A. M. Stamets of Harrisburg (Monday); Rev. A. H. Kelly of Harrisburg (Tuesday); Rev. L. C. Manges of Harrisburg (Wednesday); Rev. U. Myers of Catawissa (Thursday), and Rev. M. S. Romig of Liverpool (Friday). The Services during the second week of the celebration were conducted by the pastor.
After serving the congregation for nearly 3 ½ years, Mr. Rupley resigned on August 15, 1908, and was succeeded by the Rev. Clifton Glemm White on February 1, 1909. Pr. White was born at Manheim, Pa. He graduated from Gettysburg College and the Gettysburg Theological Seminary. During Pr. White’s tenure the church grew in rapid strides. The pastor’s salary was increased to $12,100 per year in 1909. Benevolences for the year ending April 1, 1910, were $699.40 with total contributions of $2,521.96. For the year ending April 1, 1911, total contributions of members for all purposes was $3,672.95. In 1912 the pastor’s salary was increased to $1450 per year.
On May 13 and 14, 1912, the Harrisburg Conference of the East Pennsylvania Synod held its spring sessions in St. Paul’s Church.
In 1913 Mr. White contracted an illness from which he never recovered. He submitted to treatments at the hands of leading specialists of the country, but to no avail. During his illness he kept in close touch with his congregation and while confined to his bed, prepared the following letter, which was read to the congregation on Sunday, October 10, 1915, a copy of which was sent to each family of the congregation by the church council:
It is with a feeling of the deepest regret that I am not able to meet with you at the Table of the Lord this morning.
The greatest desire of my life is to stand again in this pulpit and preach The Word, and minister unto you in holy things. But since it is the will of our loving heavenly Father, Who doeth all things well, to lay the cross of affliction upon my shoulders, I pray that He will bless my suffering to your good and make my sickness a richer ministry to you than my health has ever been. We cannot understand the mysterious workings of Providence. However, my faith in God leads me to believe that the Lord has planned that my sickness should be my most effective ministry to you.
I have not had to bear my burden alone, for He who stood by me in six troubles has not forsaken me in the seventh. He has drawn me closer to Him; taught me the invaluable lessons to be learned in suffering, and given me grace to patiently bear my cross.
Then, too, your loyalty and faithfulness, your prayers and kindly interest in me, have cheered my life and made me happy. Your kindness has been as sunshine along a dreary way, and I pray that the Lord will bless and prosper you in so abundant a measure as you have been mindful of me. Your goodness to me I can never repay. My whole heart goes out in gratitude to you, for I believe no pastor ever had a more loving and loyal people who stood by him so faithfully during his sickness.
Now that your pastor cannot lead you, I want to urge all the members to a greater activity for Christ and His church. You should seek out the indifferent members and invite them to attend Divine Services Sabbath after Sabbath. You should feel that in my absence you are called upon to do a portion of the work I had to lay down, while I look on and pray. Be faithful. Be loyal. Don’t forget your church and her work.
Work for your Lord while it is called today, for evening-time comes all too soon.
Lovingly, Your pastor, C. G. White
Less than three months after writing the foregoing letter, on January 1, 1916, the Rev. Pr. White was received into the arms of our Heavenly Father, after an illness of two and one-half years, at the age of 41. He was the only minister to be called to his Heavenly reward while serving St. Paul’s. The Funeral Service was held on Tuesday, January 4, 1916, at St. Paul’s, with the Rev. L. C. Manges, pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church, Harrisburg, presiding, assisted by the Rev. Dr. J. W. Ott, of Hagerstown, Maryland.
The Rev. Joseph H. Musselman became the next pastor of St. Paul’s on April 30, 1916. He was born at Fairfield, Pa., and graduated from Gettysburg College in 1899. He received his B.D. from the Gettysburg Theological Seminary in 1902 and was licensed by the West Pennsylvania Synod in 1901. He was ordained by the same body in 1902.
During Pr. Musselman’s pastorate, St. Paul’s congregation purchased the parsonage at 265 North Street at a cost of $7,200. The congregation continued to grow rapidly. Forty-nine new members had been added to the church roll during the year ending April 1, 1918. Total benevolences for the year were $1,227.60; current expense receipts were $2,795.44. Fifty men from the congregation served our country in various branches of the service during World War I. All of them returned to their homes after the war. The church and Sunday school made splendid contributions to help relieve the suffering in Europe which resulted from the war.
On February 8, 1920, Pr. Musselman resigned the pastorate of St. Paul’s to become the pastor of St. John’s Lutheran church, in Lancaster, Pa. On May 27, 1920, the Rev. Frederick C. Sternat began one of the longest pastorates in the history of St. Paul’s, one which spanned 15 years. Pr. Sternat was born in Vienna, Austria. He graduated from Gettysburg College in 1904 and from the Gettysburg Theological Seminary in 1907. He was licensed to preach by the Maryland Synod in 1906 and ordained by the East Pennsylvania Synod in 1907. In 1922-1923, new hymnals were purchased at a cost of $370.43 and a new blower was installed in the organ for $347.24. The Reem property, adjoining the church building on the east, was purchased at a cost of $3,000, providing temporary quarters for several departments. A new boiler and new radiators were placed in the church, the total cost of which was $655.35. The receipts from the various sources that year were $4,311.23. In 1926, the exterior of the church and the sexton’s house were repainted at a cost of $4033. The gold Chancel Cross was presented by the Berean Ladies’ Bible Class of the Sunday school as a memorial to Mrs. M. Ulrich in 1927.
In 1931 extensive improvements to the church property were completed and the newly renovated building was re-dedicated on July 19 of that year. The Reem property received an addition of twenty-five feet added and connected with the main church building, thus becoming the regular meeting place of the primary department and various organizations of the church. The basement of the new primary department was excavated and fit with a well equipped kitchen and a cozy hall for all social services of the church. The Ladies’ Aid Society of the congregation paid the expenses incurred by this much-needed addition to the church.
The church spire was repaired and covered with new shingles and a fireproof roof was placed on the main building. The sanctuary window casings were changed from a Colonial to a Gothic type in order to harmonize them with the rest of the room. The walls were frescoed in a stiple, glazed effect, with tracings of stencil work. An entire new lighting system was installed, with lantern-shaped lights hanging from the ceiling. The choir loft was enlarged and fitted with new paneling. The chancel and altar recesses were also enlarged, making room for a beautiful new altar gifted to the congregation by Howard Helwig, a member of the church and the contractor in charge of the work. Above the altar was placed an art glass window, the subject of which is “Christ Knocking at the Door.” Prior to this time a painting of the same scene was on the wall of the chancel recess. When it was found that the painting could not be restored to its former beauty, the members of the Berean Bible Class of the Sunday school decided to have the painting replaced with the art glass window, which cost $350. It was placed as a memorial to the Rev. Clifton Glemm White. New stained glass memorial windows were placed throughout the sanctuary and Sunday school rooms. All of the furniture was refinished and the aisles covered with new carpet.
The Sunday School Room was frescoed in its three departments and new carpet was laid on the floors of the Main School, Young Men’s Classroom and Primary Department. The Vestibule was refrescoed and new marble-effect congoleum laid on the floor. The entire Sunday School Room was rewired with new fixtures installed. Electric standards were placed outside the church. Cement pavement was installed along two sides of the building.
Rev. Pr. Sternat resigned the pastorate of St. Paul’s church on November 26, 1935, to accept a call from the congregation of St. John’s Lutheran church, Swissvale, Pittsburgh, PA. On March 8, 1936, the Rev. Charles L. Mogel preached a trial sermon in St. Paul’s. The following Sunday he was unanimously elected pastor of the church, assuming his duties on April 29, 1936. He was installed on May 17. Pr. Mogel was born at Newport, PA. He graduated from Gettysburg College in 1923 and from Gettysburg Seminary in 1926, was licensed by the East Pennsylvania Synod in 1925 and ordained by the same body in 1926.
Throughout the years, two women’s organizations served the needs of the Lord. The Ladies’ Aid Society provided many worship items, such as the Common Service Books, paraments, altar vases, choir robes, tables, chairs, as well as debt reduction and the possibility of renovation for various rooms. The women’s organization which served the mission of Jesus Christ in the world for many years was the Women’s Missionary Society. Its contributions to various home and foreign mission causes have been comparable to those of many larger societies. These women were those who sought to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ with no thought of personal acclaim. Their annual Thank-offering Service was the fruit of daily remembrance of those others less fortunate throughout the world. The many acts of mercy and kindness on behalf of both the Ladies’ Aid Society and the Women’s Missionary Society are examples of the Christian spirit of this congregation.
Thanksgiving Day, 1936, was a day of rejoicing for members of St. Paul’s. At a special Service held on that day the note for all church indebtedness was burned, the sum of $3302 having been received for this cause. On May 22, 1938, printed bulletins were used for the first time. Christmass Eve witnessed the first candlelight Service. On March 7, 1939, Charles Lark and sister, Mabel Gies, offered the sum of $400 for the purchase and installation of organ chimes as a memorial to their parents, Henry Lewis Lark and Loyetta Tressler Lark. The congregation unanimously voted on March 26 to purchase and install a Schulmerich Electronic Sound Unit and Deagan Microphonic Chimes at a cost of $868.00. The system was dedicated on June 4. Easter Sunday in 1940 witnessed the largest Communion in the congregation’s history when 451 communicants received the Sacrament.
During World War II, 149 members of the congregation served in the armed forces of our country. Six members made the supreme sacrifice. They were Lt. Benjamin M. Bailey, Jr., Lt. William Y. Jones, Sgt. Josephine Strohecker, Freeman Bordner, Richard McBride and Carl R. Wright. Following the war, as a memorial to the service men and women of the congregation, the 1947 Church Council submitted to the congregation a proposal for the purchase of a new Moeller pipe organ at a cost of $8,893.50. Also submitted was a proposal for the construction of a fire tower at the southwest corner of the sanctuary. These proposals were approved by the congregation and in November, 1947, the contract for the construction of the fire tower was awarded to Fred R. Helwig, a member of the church, at his bid of $3,961. In November, 1948 additional improvements to the church property were authorized. These improvements included the construction of an additional tower at the southeast corner of the sanctuary, the installation of oak paneling across the front of the sanctuary, and re-painting the entire interior of the building.. The organ works were placed in chambers above the two towers. The total cost of improvements was slightly over $34,000.
On May 12, 1952, a meeting of the various organizations was held to discuss the possibility of erecting a new Sunday school building and the installation of a new heating plant. The proposed location of the new addition was east of the church building, to replace the Reem property which no longer provided adequate space for the constantly expanding Sunday School. On October 6, a Building Committee was chosen to proceed with the project of constructing the new Sunday School building, kitchen and social hall. Members of the committee were Albert R. Barnes, J. Donald Johnson, Oscar I. Row, W. J. Minier, Fred R. Helwig, Mrs. Charlotte Jones, Mrs. Lewis Lahr, Miss Esther Warfel, Orville R. Epler, Ray M. Blasser, Clifford L. Sterner, John D. Ulsh and Pastor Emerick. Mr. Ulsh was elected chairman of the committee. Harry R. Lenker, of York, a son of the congregation, was engaged as the architect. Bids for the construction were opened on June 16 and Fred R. Helwig was the low bidder, at his figure of $65,834 for the general construction. The architect’s fee and the estimated cost of the electrical work brought the total construction cost to $74,554.04. Contractor Helwig started demolition of the former Reem property shortly after he was awarded his contract and the construction of the new Sunday school building progressed rapidly. The new building was dedicated on November 21, 1954 at 10:30 a.m., when the Rev. Dr. Dwight F. Putman, Synod President, officiated and preached.
During the construction of the new Sunday school building, there were many members who contributed their skills and efforts to the cause. Particularly noteworthy are the contributions in time and energy of Oliver Feeser and Fred Alleman, members of the congregation, who placed all of the electric wiring and fixtures in the new building without cost to the congregation. Mr. Feeser died before the work was completed and Mr. Lawrence Latsha thereafter assisted Mr. Alleman in completing the electrical work. Also noteworthy are the many hours of work contributed by Edgar Strohecker, a foreman of Mr. Helwig.
A highlight in the life of the congregation took place on Sunday, June 14, 1953, when the Rev. George M. Walborn and his wife, Evelyn Miller Walborn, former members of the congregation were commissioned foreign missionaries during the Sservice. The Rev. Dr. Viggo Senson, pastor of Zion Lutheran church, Harrisburg, a member of the Board of Foreign Missions, was in charge of the commissioning. The Rev. Dr. Dwight Putman, president of the Central Pennsylvania Synod, Pastor Emerick and the The Rev. Frederick C. Sternat, of Swissvale, a former pastor of St. Paul’s church, participated in the commissioning service. Pr. and Mrs. Walborn and their four children, Nolan, David, Carolyn and Christine, sailed from New York on June 27, 1953, for Argentina, where they served as missionaries, until 1968.
Membership in 1954 was 1,177 Baptized, 899 Confirmed, and 520 Communed.
Throughout 1955-1957 many repairs, renovations, and updates occurred: a new boiler; canvas was applied to the walls and ceiling of the church sanctuary; the church ceiling was insulated with four ventilators installed; new red carpet was installed in the sanctuary;
the sexton’s house had aluminum siding installed and was connected to the church heating plant; the parsonage was remodeled with a new kitchen, bathroom and furnace; and new choir gowns were purchased.
On September 2, 1957, the Council was notified of a Lutheran Home for the Aging to be built in upper Dauphin county and pledged $5,000.00 toward the construction. Ground breaking ceremonies for the Home were held in 1960 at Union and Church streets.
On August 26, 1962, the congregation approved the construction of an addition to the existing Sunday School building. The plans called for a two-story addition providing an enlarged fellowship hall and kitchen, additional classrooms, toilet facilities, office space, and an oil-fired furnace to heat the new addition. The new building was dedicated on April 28, 1964.
From 1967 to 1980, St. Paul’s congregation has benefited by the use of vicars from the Lutheran Seminary, in Gettysburg. All new sets of paraments have been purchased. The congregation has become debt free. Property improvements include the purchase of the Keiper and Miller properties on North Street, east of the Parish School Building, for the purpose of expansion in the future. A portion of these properties has been surfaced and used for parking. Other improvements include the rebuilding of the church organ and the adding of 100 new pipes, a new sound system, and a new furnace in the Parish School Building.
A special honor for St. Paul’s was to have the Service of Ordination for the Rev. James M. Emerick, son of St. Paul’s and of the Rev. James W. Emerick, in St. Paul’s church on July 1, 1971. Pr. Emerick was a 1967 graduate of Millersburg Area High School, Gettysburg College, and the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He accepted the call to serve the Wertzville-Carlisle Springs Lutheran Parish.
In 1968 the Clifford L. Sterner Memorial Fund was established at St. Paul’s. On the first Sunday of each month a memorial bouquet of flowers is placed in the nave of the church memorializing departed members.
In January 1981, the Church Council approved the use of The Lutheran Book of Worship (the green book or LBW). Exit lights and signs were installed at the Church entrances. Council approved the formation of the Prayer Circles on January 12, 1981. In September, Council approved the repair of the Education Building roof. In 1982, Council received a recommendation to call an Associate Pastor. At the Congregational Meeting in January, 1982, amendments to the Congregational Constitution made the pastor an Ex-Officio member of the Church Council. In June, the age for First Communion was changed to fifth grade with a prerequisite that the children receive instruction from the Pastor. In November, the Upper Dauphin YMCA began offering aerobic classes and other fitness programs in Fellowship Hall.
In April, 1983, ceiling fans were installed in the church sanctuary. At a special congregational meeting in May, 1983, a call was extended to Rev. Nancy Thomas to be the first Associate Pastor of St. Paul’s. A play on Martin Luther, written by Glenna Sultzbaugh and directed by her son, John McCormick was held on November 18 and 19, in the Millersburg Area High School Auditorium with a cast chosen from Community churches.
In 1984, the second floor of the Education Building was renovated to include a room for Church Council and Adult Education, dedicated to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. Karl Bashoar. The room was dedicated on January 22. In June an annual congregational Pig Roast was begun and held at Allen Shaffer’s Cottage. Wednesday Night Week Day Church School was discontinued in September, 1984. When did this begin? A new service was provided with volunteers transporting residents of Susquehanna Lutheran Village to Services. The doors and windows of the Sanctuary and Education Building were sanded and painted. Two ceiling fans were installed in the front of the Sanctuary, in October.
In January, 1985, the congregation voted, upon the Council’s recommendation, not to continue the dual ministry begun in 1983. A contract system for all employees of St. Paul’s was begun.
In January, 1986, the Congregational approved the installation of an elevator in the main church building. In May, Council approved the installation of a new sound system. In September, a ramp for handicapped use was installed. A significant liturgical change was that the altar was moved away from the wall. In December, the offices of the Pastor and Secretary were moved to the first floor of the Keiper House Property.
In January, 1987, the Church Council decided to enter the Internship program through Gettysburg Seminary. Dennis Snider was approved by Gettysburg Seminary to serve as our first intern at St. Paul’s, in March. In May, Council approved that all funds from Sunday School be transferred to the General Fund, thus eliminating the Sunday School fund.
In 1988, St. Paul’s continued to provide space for YMCA Programs at no charge and, in April, decided to provide facilities to the YMCA for a Summer Day Care Center.
In January, 1989, the mesh screening in front of the organ chambers was removed to provide better ventilation for the organ pipes. Council accepted a bid to install air conditioning in the sanctuary; a call for financial support of this project began in April. In June, Council approved “hands on care” for ninety days for a Hungarian Family who had arrived in Millersburg in September. In July, James Slemmer was hired as choir director.
The Phillips Glass Studio was hired in August of 1990 to install plexiglass over all stained glass windows in the church. The cost was to be paid by contributions from congregational members and Bashoar Funds. At a second special congregational meeting in August, the Church Council’s recommendation to once again enter into a dual ministry was approved. In November, Council accepted a bid for two oil burners and removal of all asbestos from the old burners
In 1991, meetings were changed from Monday night to Tuesday night to accommodate the Bethel Bible Study program. This class began with 17 members and was taught by the Rev. Dr. William Walton, interim pastor. On Sunday, February 24, followed by a special Congregational Meeting, a call was issued to the Rev. Dr. Richard Ballard and Rev. Ruth Ballard for dual ministry. In June, two antique pulpit chairs were returned to St. Paul’s by the Millersburg Order of Eastern Star which had been in their possession for many years.
In 1992, James Slemmer was hired as permanent Organist and Choir Director, and, Susan Slemmer was hired as Associate Choir Director. Services in the “Chapel” at 4:00 pm were provided. The Millersburg Area School District leased space from St. Paul’s during the re-modeling of the school buildings. A van was purchased from Rohrer Bus Company. This particular van was known to the youth of the congregation as “Big Yellow”. The Food Pantry and Clothing Center (Outreach Center) was first opened in June, operating out of the Adult Sunday School Room. A “Pet Blessing” service was held on the Festival of St. Francis in the parking lot.
In March of 1993, the Nave, Narthex, Stairway and Library were painted. In May, Millersburg Community Nursery School was given approval to use St. Paul’s Nursery. Council approved in September the former Sexton’s House to be used for the Food and Clothing Center.
In 1994, Council provided a Food & Clothing Center policy based on Matthew 5:42 – “We will freely give food and clothing to anyone who asks, without trying to investigate their background or worthiness to receive help. Patrons are limited to one visit per month, except for bona fide emergencies.” At its August meeting, Council approved a professional assessment of the steeple. The conclusion was that the main structure of the steeple was sound, but that the externals needed repair.
January, 1995, Council approved the purchase of a digital chime system to be installed after the Steeple repair. Steeple repairs commenced.
March, 1996, Church Council accepted bids to replace the roof on the Christian Education Building and determined that the current work on the steeple was unacceptable and terminated the contractor. In April, Council approved the installation of an emergency lighting system. At a special Council Meeting a bid to complete work on the steeple was approved. Council approved a three year lease with the Millersburg Community Nursery School. The nursery was remodeled by the Nursery School. At a special congregational meeting, approval was given to install a pitched roof over the Education Building. On Sunday, June 2, Bishop Mwakisunga of the Konde Diocese in Tanzania honored St. Paul’s with his visit and preaching.
Tuesday, June 11, was a dark day in the history of St. Paul’s: the steeple of St. Paul’s caught fire and burned. Repairs made by the contractor required using a blow torch to remove paint from metal sheets in the belfry. As a result, the intense heat caused some undetected smoldering. About two o’clock in the afternoon, high winds caused the smoldering material to ignite, sweeping up through the steeple. Thankfully, local fire companies were able to contain the fire within the belfry and steeple. Collateral water damage was minimized by quick action of church members who directed the flow of water by placing sheets of plastic in the sanctuary under the belfry, down the middle aisle, around the front of the chancel to the fire exit where it flowed down the cement stairway of the fire exit at the southwest corner of the sanctuary. Many members watched the removal of the steeple, lowered by a crane onto a truck on North Street, from the Parsonage porch. Wood from the steeple was made available for souvenirs to members. Wood was also preserved to make a cross for the church. Immediate professional help was provided by the insurance company the regular Service was held on June 16, in the sanctuary. The month of July was very busy. Much cleaning and repair work needed to happen as well as a search for companies qualified to rebuild the steeple. On September 28, Council approved a proposal for replication and installation of a new steeple and a cross for the steepletop. An even more significant event occurred within the walls of the Bashoar Room when, on October 8, the Council approved a full Service of Word and Sacrament at both the 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. services every Sunday beginning on December 14. By December 15, the timbers of the belfry having been replaced and the church bell cleaned and tested, it was rung for the 9:00 a.m. service for the first time since the steeple fire. What a beautiful sound!