* Time Line of Significant Events *
Late 1876 - schoolteacher Oscar Samuel petitions the Lutheran Church to license him as a minister and allow him to start a church in Cibolo.
1877 - first church building is built
January 29, 1893 - St. Paul votes to leave the Lutheran Church and join the Evangelical Church
1892-1934 - St. Paul is pastored by the legendary, unofficial "Bishop of Texas" Rev. Carl Kniker.
St. Paul gives birth to a number of daughter churches, including Redeemer in Zuehl, St. John Lutheran in Marion, and churches in Converse and Leissner School area of Seguin.
1905 - second church building is built
1934 - the Evangelical Church merges with the Reformed Church to form the Evangelical & Reformed Church (E & R for short.)
1957 - The E & R merges with the Congregational Christian Churches to form the United Church of Christ.
1958 - third building is built
1966 - the terrible tragedy of the car and train wreck where Rev. Robert Breitkreutz, his wife and two young children, and Rev. Raymond Maggart were killed at the train crossing between Seguin and McQueeney.
February 1, 2000 - Rev. Brett Becker becomes the pastor of St. Paul by unanimous vote.
2001 - St. Paul celebrates its 125th anniversary.
2003 - Mr. Willie Stratemann completes the requirements to become a Licensed Minister and by unanimous vote is called to be the Associate Pastor.
January 29, 2006 - Due to theological differences which lead to other differences, St. Paul votes to leave the UCC and join the Evangelical Association and to change the name of the church back to what it was for much of its early history - St. Paul Evangelical Church.
April 2009 - Moved by a desire to reach new people with the gospel, the church hires a worship leader, an audio and technology director, and a youth minister in advance of launching a contemporary worship service.
September 13, 2009 - Moved by a desire to reach new people with the gospel, the church launches a contemporary worship service in addition to its traditional service.
For a more detailed history read further.
Mr. George Schlather donated the property for the raising of a church, which later became known as the "St. Paulus Kirche." However, the early beginnings of the church appear to have been in a small schoolhouse which stood west of Cibolo and is now called the Hugo Schneider farm. Here Mr. Oscar Samuel taught the children of families who came from miles around to attend school. This schoolhouse was used by the Southern Methodist as a place of worship.
Mr. Samuel, being of the Evangelical Lutheran background was very much in favor of having worship services. About this time, Pastor T. Frehner, an immigrant from Germany came to Texas. Mr. Samuel spoke with him about the situation. Soon they and other interested parties were able to have Pastor T. Frehner preach once a month. At first, worship services were held in private homes. Later they were held in a small-renovated schoolhouse. After Rev. T. Frehner could no longer conduct services, Mr. Samuel was asked to lead in singing, prayer and the devotions.
Oscar Samuel attended a conference meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Zionsville, Washington County. While in attendance, he asked to be admitted into the ministry. Soon he was to receive his license as a pastor and later was installed by the Reverend C. Weiss of Fredericksburg. Since there seemed to be a desire to hear God’s Word, it was decided to organize a church adhering to the Evangelical Lutheran denomination.
The congregation began plans to construct a church building. It was to be a wooden structure. It had the dimensions of 40 by 24 feet and 16 feet high. The lumber had to be hauled by oxen since the railroad came only as far as Kingsbury. The railroad through Cibolo was completed by the time the new church was built in 1877.
Soon Rev. Samuel began working on a constitution to guide the congregation. This constitution was adopted in a meeting on May 21, 1877 and signed by nineteen members, namely: Fredrich Dreyer, Hermann Winkelmann, Heinrich Kriewald, Johann Boettinger, Wilhelm Schulz, Dietrich Wieters, Fredrich Achterberg, Phillip Harlos, Wilhem Prochnow, Jacob Sieler, Carl Hake, Fritz Hake, Gottfiied Harlos, Heinrich Wieters, Edward Lenz, F. H. Rosenbrock, Dietrich Winkelmann, Anton Wetz, Carl Schuenemann, and Pastor Oscar Samuel. The members of the Board also were elected to lead the congregation. During this same meeting it was decided to purchase a bell. Rev. Samuel, Edmund Pfeil, and Robert Schaeffer made the selection of the bell.
The dedication of the new church took place on November 13, 1877. Pastors officiating at the service of dedication were C. Weiss, T. Frehner, and Oscar Samuel. The cost of the building up to this time including the bell, was $1,086.22. Later on there were a few more expenses involved that caused the cost of construction to total $1,501.47.
It was also decided to dig a well to serve as a water supply. Also, in the lower part of the church property, a cemetery plot was laid out and enclosed by a fence. In a meeting on June 9, 1879, it was declared that St. Paul Church had been received as a congregation of the Texas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The congregation at this same meeting elected to build a parsonage. Its overall dimensions were to be 34 by 24 feet and 14 feet high. It was to have four rooms and a hall measuring 6 by 24 feet long.
The present schoolhouse was destroyed by fire caused by an overheated stove. The attic of it had been used as a storage place for hay.
The next schoolhouse, somewhat larger than the first, was probably built in 1879 but in another location.
The Rev. Oscar Samuel resigned as pastor at a meeting on September 12, 1879. His successor was the Rev. C. C. Rudi. Rev. Rudi met with the church board for the first time on December 5, 1880. His resignation as Pastor was accepted on January 7, 1883. The next Pastor was Rev. H. A. Lettermann who arrived in September of 1883.
The building of a daughter church at Marion was discussed at a meeting on June 20, 1886. The minutes indicate the membership of St. Paul Church contained the names of people from the Marion area. In a meeting on October 1, 1886, there was discussion of building a kitchen as an addition to the parsonage. Sunday school at St. Paul Church was held for the first time on June 27, 1886. In January 1887, with the hopes of obtaining assistance from the county or state, a roster containing the names of children eligible to attend the Cibolo School was presented to the County Clerk. The delegates from St. Paul Church attending a conference meeting April 11, 1887, invited the German Synod of Texas to meet at Cibolo in 1888. The Rev. H. A. Lettermann attended his last meeting for the congregation in October 1, 1887.
The Rev. Carl Kreutzenstein was elected to become the next pastor of St. Paul Church on April 2, 1888. After his arrival he announced he had joined and had standing in the Evangelical Synod of North America. The congregation, however, decided to remain unattached for the time being. A delegate did attend the conference of Evangelical Synod of North America on June 26, 1889.
It was announced presumably in 1889, that a sum of money had been collected for the purpose of building a church at Marion. The building was erected and later dedicated as St. John’s Church, on November 23, 1890. The Rev. Kreutzenstein handed in his resignation in 1891. After his departure, the Reverend C. Bauer of Comfort was to supply St. Paul Church.
A special service was held on August 1, 1892, at which time the Rev. Carl Kniker delivered the sermon. He was unanimously elected as the new pastor. The installation service, with Rev. Carl Bauer officiating, took place October 9, 1892.
The congregation, on January 29, 1893, voted to affiliate with the Evangelical Synod of North America. The name Lutheran was presumably dropped at this time. A delegate was elected to attend the conference, April 6, 1893. The congregation decided some changes were due in the constitution. The first Mission Festival service was held in conjunction with the regular morning service. The first "Song board" was purchased in 1893. The Frauenverein was organized also in 1893.
The congregation, on February 7, 1894, voted to erect a new elevated pulpit in the sanctuary. Probably in the same meeting, insurance in the amount of $2,000.00 was taken out on the church property. In this same year, Rev. Kniker was granted permission to preach on the last Sunday of each month at the Leissners School.
Many people from Zuehl brought their children and attended services at St. Paul Church. Therefore, it was discussed and agreed upon to build a church at Zuehl. Redeemer Church was organized in 1900. The two groups agreed upon a schedule for services. Rev. Kniker was to hold services at St. Paul Church on the first, third, and fifth Sunday of each month and at Zuehl on the second, fourth and afternoon of the fifth Sunday.
Somewhere in these past few years, two more rooms had been added to the front of the parsonage. It was felt in 1901, that a connecting porch and bathroom should be added to the parsonage. Also, a committee was appointed to make repairs on the old church and make plans for the building of a new brick church. It was to be built, if possible, debt free. On May 7, 1905, the building plans for a new church were presented and accepted by the congregation. Work began almost immediately in October 1905. The dedication service was held for the new sanctuary. It had been built at a cost of $4,500.00 and free of debt.
The corporation was applied for and the church was incorporated by the state for fifty years in 1911. This charter bearing the name of St. Paul United Church of Christ was renewed in 1963.
Mention was made of the fact that the pastor, Rev. Kniker, was given permission in 1914 to begin a Sunday school at Converse. A congregation called Friedens Church was organized at Converse on March 8, 1916. About 1929, this congregation was dissolved and its members united with St. Paul Church, Cibolo.
Many changes took place within and around the church building in the following years. The Frauenverein in 1917 presented the congregation with a new pulpit and altar for the sanctuary. Carbide lights were installed in the sanctuary in 1920. Rev. Kniker, in 1923, began conducting some services in the English language. The church and parsonage were wired for electricity at about the same time. New Carpet was laid around the altar in the church in 1926, as a gift of the Frauenverein. Sidewalks, paid for by the Frauenverein, were constructed along the front of the church property in 1927. In June 1927, there was some discussion about Redeemer Church, Zuehl, having its own pastor. No action was taken. On October 2, 1927, the congregation observed the "Golden Jubilee" of St. Paul Church. There was a service at 10:00 A.M. with Rev. Paul C. Kniker preaching, a service at 2:30 P.M. with Rev. Walter Luedtke preaching, and an English service at 7:30 P.M. with the Rev. Paul Piepenbrock and Rev. Paul C. Knicker preaching. The San Antonio Regional Women’s Federation (later called the Regional Guild) was organized in 1934. In June 1934, having reached the 50th Anniversary of his Ordination into the Ministry, Rev. Kniker resigned as the pastor of St. Paul Church, which he had served for some forty-two years. The 50th Anniversary of his ordination was observed in a special service before he left the congregation.
The congregation called the Rev. R. F. Kuretsch as its next pastor. The first meeting he attended was on January 5, 1935. Shortly thereafter a decision was reached whereby funeral services would be held again in the church. Worship services were to be continued on an every Sunday basis at Redeemer Church, Zuehl. The first adult confirmation class was instructed, confirmed and received into the membership of the church during 1935. The congregation of May 30, 1935, voted to construct a new parsonage. Free will offering were received for this purpose.
The congregation had purchased some land west of Cibolo previous to this time, a part of which was to be used as a cemetery plot. Mr. Rudolph Krickhahn however, offered and did purchase the land for $3,200.00.
The every Sunday envelope system had been in use for a number of years in the denomination. The late Rev. J. Jaworski spoke of it before the delegates at the 1935 Regional Conference, New Braunfels. Mrs. Robert Weyel, delegate, presented the idea to the congregation. The every Sunday envelope system of giving became a reality by January 1936 with Mrs. R. Weyel in charge of it.
A second pastor who would serve Redeemer church, Zuehl, was discussed again in March 1936. Following the merger of the Evangelical Synod of North America and The Reformed Church in 1934, St. Paul Church on June 25, 1937, changed its name officially to St. Paul Evangelical and Reformed Church. Redeemer Church elected to become independent of St. Paul Church in June 1937, and called the Rev. Allrich as its pastor on July 19, 1937.
Among the events taking place in 1937 was the convening on October 21 of the San Antonio Regional conference. The first English organization, the Bethany Circle, became a reality. Pew communion was introduced and used in the worship services. Gas was placed into the church and parsonage for heating and other purposes.
The Rev. E. Tischhauser became the pastor of St. Paul Church on February 1, 1938. The last German congregational minutes were written in June 1939. Since January, 1940, all proceedings of the congregation have been written in the English language. The Evangelical and Reformed Hymnals were introduced into the worship services. A paper was edited by the pastor beginning in the fall of 1940 primarily to keep in contact and report church happenings to the more than forty young men in the service. Small Bibles were presented to the men in the service by the Women’s Guild. The Day of Prayer for Missions beginning in 1940 was observed in alternate years at Cibolo and Zuehl by the Women’s organizations. Lenten services were conducted from 1943 to 1945 for the first time at Schertz, Converse, Schirmerville, and Cibolo.
Several organizations continued their work in the life of the church. The Frauenverein (1893), the Bethany Circle (1937) were assisted by the Brotherhood and Young Peoples League. During the ministry of Rev. Tischhauser, the Frauenverein held annual services out-of-doors in nearby Crescent Bend Park. The Sunday school held its picnic in the afternoon of the same day. The organ from the church was brought to the park to accompany the singing. The Young Peoples League planned and conducted a vesper service in Landa Park. The San Antonio Regional Women’s Guild organized at Cibolo and held its Spring Rally here on April 28, 1942.
On the first Sunday in November, 1942, three offering plates were dedicated to the memory of Rev. and Mrs. Cark Kniker, this being the 50th anniversary year of his arrival as pastor of St. Paul Church. The Rev. Tischhauser resigned as pastor effective June 1, 1946.
The Rev. Otto J. Krueger began his ministry at St. Paul Church on July 1, 1946, moving to Cibolo from St. Paul Church, Marlin, Texas. A girls choir was organized during his pastorate. The Day of Prayer in 1947 was observed with the women of the neighboring churches invited to participate in the service. A new organ was purchased and used on all occasions. The organ fund was started during Ref. Tischhauser’s pastorate. The first Vacation Bible School was conducted in the summer of 1949. A new parish house was constructed and dedication service was held on March 15, 1950. Rev. Krueger submitted his resignation effective January 30, 1955. He and Mrs. Krueger presented the congregation with a Revised Standard Version of the Bible as a farewell gift, to be used on the Lectern.
The next pastor called to serve St. Paul Church was the Rev. Carl Kluge who began his ministry on July 1, 1955. The Women’s Guild was organized in 1956 bringing together the Frauenverein and Bethany Circle. A new constitution was written for the congregation. In 1957, following the merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches, the denominational name was changed again, this time to St. Paul United Church of Christ.
On June 17, 1958, the congregation elected to construct a new building, the expenditure for it not to exceed $50,000.00. Groundbreaking service was held on June 29, 1958. Mrs. Ida Sonntag, the oldest member of the congregation, was given the honor of turning over the first spade of soil. While the new sanctuary was under construction, which included removal of the old sanctuary built in 1905, services were held in the Parish House. The laying of the cornerstone for the new building occurred after the morning worship service, November 2, 1958. Items included in the cornerstone were: the original membership list of St. Paul Church, excerpts of the constitution, a roster of consistory, building and finance committees, a picture of the brick church built in 1905, copies of the Church Herald (called the Informer), a German Church Paper (Friedensbote), and copies of the worship service of the day.
The dedication of the new sanctuary occurred on Palm Sunday, March 22, 1959, with the Rev. Carl H. Kluge delivering the sermon in the morning service on the theme, "A new House for the Body of Christ." In the afternoon, Rev. Paul A. Kluge, Sr., Waco, led the liturgy and the President of the Synod, the Rev John G. Mueller, delivered the sermon on the theme, "the Church in a Modern Setting."
All furnishings within the church including the stained glass windows were provided through donations, many of them placed as memorials. The Rev. and Mrs. Carl Kluge gave the stained glass window of "Christ in Gethsemane" in the chancel.
Another highlight during the ministry of Rev. Kluge was the observance, in 1959, of his fortieth anniversary of Ordination into the Christian Ministry.
On July 1, 1960, the Rev. William C. Royster attended his first consistory meeting. The service for his installation as pastor was on August 28, 1960. Under his guidance, pew communion was re-introduced into the service of worship. A signboard bearing the name of the Church was built and dedicated on the lawn in front of the sanctuary. Christmas Eve candlelight service was held for the first time and is now an annual occurrence. The congregation purchased and attached to the pews, seventy-five pencil and card holders. The original installing company placed a new roof over the defective roof of the sanctuary. The congregation in 1962 established a goal of $800.00 toward the cost of the new Health Center at Eden Home for the Aged, Inc. Following the resignation of Rev. Royster, effective November 1, 1962, the congregation was supplied by the Rev. Raymond Maggart, Bethany Church, San Antonio.
The Rev. Walter W. Kieker, Walnut, Iowa, assumed his duties as pastor on January 1, 1963. The service of installation was on February 10, 1963. The congregation applied for and received standing in the South Texas Association, South Central Conference, United Church of Christ. Also, Altar books as well as a communion set equipped to serve 276 individuals were purchased with funds from the Memorial Fund. The Women’s Guild and Brotherhood joined and formed the "St. Paul Laity." Two large exhaust fans were installed in the sanctuary to make the service more pleasant during the summer. Rev. Ray Maggart and Rev. Carl Kluge together, were to supply at St. Paul following the departure of Rev. Kieker on July 31, 1964.
The Rev. Robert Breitkreutz began his ministry at Cibolo, February 1, 1965. Another street light was raised between the sanctuary and the parsonage. An office desk, chair, and open bookshelves were purchased for the office of the pastor in the parsonage. In the annual meeting, January 10, 1965, the consistory was given authority to proceed with necessary repairs to the parsonage and church buildings. A central heating furnace was installed in the parsonage. An air-conditioning system was installed in the sanctuary and began operating in July 1965. The Consecration Service for Miss Joan Redhage with Rev. Breitkreutz officiating took place July 7, 1965. Miss Redhage was trained then at Pottstown, PA., and served one year in Volunteer Service at Caroline, Missouri and St. Louis, Missouri. Plans were begun for the 90th Anniversary observance.
In February 9, 1966, a terrible car-train accident east of Cibolo took the lives of Rev. and Mrs. Breitkreutz, Mark and Amy, and Rev. Raymond Maggart. The two pastors were returning from the annual pastors retreat at Palestine; having only a short time before dropping off Rev. Federwisch, Geronimo, and picking up Mrs. Breitkreutz and children. The service of Christian burial for the Breitkreutz family was held at his home church, Friedens Church, Riesel, Texas, on February 11th. A memorial service was conducted here at St. Paul Church, Saturday afternoon, February 12, followed by the service for Rev. Maggart at Bethany Church, San Antonio, at 4:00 P.M.
The Rev. R.F. Kuretsch, Chaplain at Eden Home for the Aged, New Braunfels, and Rev. William Anderson, pastor of Redeemer Church, Zuehl, responded to the call of serving St. Paul Church until the calling of the next pastor.
The Rev. and Mrs. Albert C. Hennig, Donna and Allen, of St. Paul Church, Marlin, and St. Paul Church, Cego, moved to Cibolo on August 25, 1966, where Rev. Hennig began his ministry on September 1, 1966. The Rev. R. F. Kuretsch received Rev. and Mrs. Hennig, and son Gary, into the membership of St. Paul Church on Sunday, August 28.
Prior to the arrival of the Hennigs, a new roof was placed on the parsonage and plans under the guidance of the late Rev. Breitkreutz, Rev. Kuretsch, and Rev. Anderson, were continued for the observance of the 90th anniversary of St. Paul Church, for Sunday, October 16, 1966. Kindergarten school was begun for the first time on September 7, 1966, with Miss Joan Redhage and Mrs. Marvin Pahmiyer being teachers.
Of significance to the members of St. Paul, was the installation of the "Iron Cross" above the entrance doors of the sanctuary, on Saturday, September 3, 1966. This Cross, given by Mr. Louis Henne, stood atop the steeples of the first and second sanctuaries. Many other relics and pictures out of the history of St. Paul Church were being gathered for display at the time of the 90th Anniversary. A worship service recognized the anniversary. Liturgist for the service were the host pastor, and a former pastor, the Rev. Carl Kluge, now associate pastor, First Protestant Church, New Braunfels. A former pastor, Rev. R. F. Kuertsch, delivered the morning sermon: "Living Stones on Firm Foundation." An afternoon service at 3:00 P.M., with the Rev.Carl Burkle, Conference Minister, Austin, delivered the sermon "A Precious Relationship Like None Other," including the Installation Service of the Rev. Albert Hennig, as the present pastor. Liturgist for the service were the Rev. Wm. Anderson, Redeemer Church, Zuehl, the Rev. William Royster, First Protestant Church, New Braunfels, and Moderator of the South Texas Association; participating.
In 1967, the parsonage was air conditioned, St. Paul Church became affiliated with the Texas Council of Churches and the Congregation participated in the Pictorial Church Directory program, receiving its pictured directories at Christmas, 1968.
The mortgage note for the sanctuary was burned in a special ceremony during worship on Sunday, November 24, 1968. A double car garage and a second bathroom were added to the parsonage in 1969.
In 1972, an annual fall service of worship and picnic was instituted at Slumber Falls Camp near New Braunfels.
The congregation, after much planning and deliberation, voted to build a new Educational Fellowship Building in 1974. The groundbreaking ceremony was held as part of the morning worship service on November 10, 1974. The completed building was dedicated in special services on June 1, 1975, with Rev. Rollin Russell, Associate Conference Minister, serving as guest minister in the morning service and Rev. Frank Dietz, Faith United Church, Bryan, as guest minister at the 3:00 P.M. service, followed by a fellowship hour.
In 1976, St. Paul celebrated it’s 100th Anniversary with special services held on September 26.
Office help on a part-time basis was first approved on November 8, 1977. At the same meeting, plans to join the Blood Bank were approved. Rev. Henning left St. Paul in 1978 succeeded by Rev. Tom Whitcomb in the fall of 1978 coming from Austin, Texas. Installation was held on December 31, 1978. Also in 1978 the choir was reorganized.
The constitution was reviewed with some changes being recommended. The congregation on November 29, 1981 accepted the new constitution.
The first fall Bazaar was held in October 1982, and is now an annual affair.
Dedication of the remodeled chancel of the church was held on Sunday December 30, 1984. At about the same time new roofs were installed on the parsonage and sanctuary due to hail damage. Rev. Whitcom left St. Paul on February 28, 1986 for retirement.
Rev. Gervas Meinzer came to St. Paul on June 22, 1986. A new sound system was installed in 1987; on March 6, 1988 the Stephen Ministers were commissioned. In the fall of 1988 a new organ was dedicated and the front of the church was remodeled and enlarged to accommodate the choir. An organ concert was held on February 25, 1990. Rev. Gervas Meinzer left St. Paul in June of 1990.
From June 1990 to September 1991 St. Paul had in interim pastor. A second organ concert was held in early 1991. Rev. Dennis Brayman came to St. Paul in September of 1991. A modern kitchen was added in the fellowship hall including a microwave. Teaching aids, including books, films, videos and a large screen TV have been added. Machines for duplication, stencil making, copier, electric typewriter and a computer were added to our church office. Also at this time, the church parking lot was paved and a new-lighted sign replaced the old one. Rev. Dennis Brayman left St. Paul in January of 1999.
Rev. Don Gardela became our interim pastor and part of our "Church Family" until the Pastor Relations Committee could find a pastor for our needs. A new computer was installed in the church office.
In February 2000, Rev. Brett Becker, present pastor, came to St. Paul with a unanimous vote from the congregation.
Under the leadership of 17 pastors and several interim pastors our membership has grown to 327 members in 2007 with an annual budget of $189,845.00. St. Paul’s hopes and prayers are to continue serving the Lord by sharing his love in Cibolo and the surrounding communities.