St. Pauls was founded by German immigrants in a storefront on Franklin Street in 1843 (hence, our name has no apostrophe, a slight nod to the original German, which does not use them).
From there we moved to Ohio and LaSalle Streets, where we worshipped for many years. That building was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, quickly rebuilt, and ultimately replaced, in 1898, when we moved to our current Lincoln Park location. Fire struck again in 1955, destroying the building on Christmas night of that year.
Rather than join the growing flight to the suburbs, however, St. Pauls rebuilt on the same spot, recommitting to “make a joyful sound in the city.”
Pastor Emeritus Tom Henry (1943-2022) wrote a book about us, Making a Joyful Sound in the City, to commemorate our 150th Anniversary (copies are available for $20, shipping extra; order from the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org). Then, on the occasion of our 175th Anniversary, he delivered the following overview of our first one-and-three-quarters centuries.
A Chicago church with a progressive vision for the future
While our past informs and inspires us, we remain firmly rooted in the present and committed to the future. To make the most of the gift of St. Pauls that God has given us all, in 2016 we embarked on a strategic planning initiative. As the introduction to the resulting report observes, “Throughout our long history, God has called St. Pauls forward. God called us into being in 1843. God called us to help form the UCC. God called us to rebuild after fires, to start UCAN, to remain in the city, to move to Lincoln Park, to welcome LGBTQ+ people, to embrace change, to hold fast, to make a joyful sound in the city. God is still calling! Our neighborhood is changing rapidly. Our nation is torn by divisive politics. The American religious landscape is shifting dramatically. In the face of all this change, God is calling St. Pauls to step forward and meet new needs.”
We hear God calling us to…