The Early Years: German Heritage and Lutheran standing
St. Paul's Lutheran Church was originally conceived in 1838 with various services held at various locations in the city of Albany, New York. The church was officially organized on August 8th, 1841 in Albany. At the time of its organization, it was predominantly a German speaking congregation and the services were conducted in the German language (as most Lutherans in the city of Albany, at that time, were of German descent). As such, its first name was 'German Evangelical Church of the City of Albany". In 1855, its name was changed to "The Second German Evangelical Lutheran Church ". In 1872, the church acquired its present property at the junction of Western and Lexington Avenues. The church building was dedicated on March 23rd, 1873. In 1886, to satisfy its younger members, the church began having English speaking services every second Sunday evening. Also, in 1886, the congregation joined the "The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod" and adopted all the confessional standards of the Lutheran Church. In 1892, the name of "St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church" was adopted by the congregation.
The Middle Years: Expansion, Mission, and English speaking
After having 8 pastors over its first 72 years, the church achieved a turning point when it installed Rev. H. William Mueller as its Pastor in 1913. He oversaw the first major expansions of the church building including the removal of the 176-foot-tall church steeple on 1923, which was replaced by the gothic tower which remains in standing to this date. In 1923, the first every member canvas of the church was taken and the first ever Endowment Fund was established. From 1925 to 1926, the current Luther Hall was built in the church basement and the State Street parish house was constructed, which provided needed construction rooms, kitchen, furnace room, and storage space. At the young age of 42 years, Rev. Mueller was called to his eternal rest in 1927. He was remembered by his parishioners as a faithful pastor and a fearless preacher. After a 1-year vacancy, Rev. Paul Prokopy was installed as Pastor on March 25, 1928. A former missionary to Cuba, Pastor Prokopy was instrumental in carrying out an expansion plan and in stirring up missionary zeal at St. Paul's. As a result, St. Paul's and St, Matthew's Missionary Society was organized in 1931. As part of this mission endeavor, three "daughter" congregations were established; Our Savior's Lutheran Church in 1929, Christ Lutheran Church in 1931, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church in 1955. In 1941, an English only service was added at 9 AM on Sunday mornings, with the 11 AM service still being held in German. In 1943, after 15 years of dedicated service, Pastor Prokopy left St. Paul's for a call to Zion Lutheran Church in Manchester, Connecticut. In 1943, Rev. William Reiser, was installed as St. Paul's 11th pastor. He was instrumental in organizing two choirs at St. Paul's and oversaw the dedication of the new chimes and carillon in 1948. In 1951, the Rev. Arthur Steinke was installed as St. Paul's 12th pastor. The last German speaking service was held on Maundy Thursday 1951. As such, it forfeited its title of "Oldest German speaking church in the City of Albany". It now had become a Church of "All Nations". At that time, the congregation was represented by 26 different nationalities among its communicant members. Their common bond was not just the English language but a love of and loyalty to the Word of God. In 1957, major renovations to the church building, sanctuary, and parish house were completed and the new building (which stands in this form to this very day) was dedicated to the Lord on Decmber 22, 1957. Rev. Steinke served as pastor until 1964.
The Modern Era:
In 1964, the Rev. Stanton A. Yingling was installed as the 13th Pastor of St. Paul's. Pastor Yingling received the Call to the Ministry in his thirties, after working as an engineer for General Electric in Schenectady, NY. He brought a passion to his ministry and preached "Christ Crucified!" as a focus of his ministry. He oversaw the growth of evangelism at St. Paul's via modern delivery methods, including telephone and radio. Through his leadership, St. Paul's established its Radio Ministry in 1968, Braille Ministry in 1968, Minute Meditation in 1973, and Altamont Fair Ministry in 1973. These ministries flourished and helped St. Paul's spread the gospel to thousands of people around the world. In 1988, St. Paul's celebrated its Sesquicentennial Anniversary celebration. In 1989, after 25 years of dedicated service, Pastor Yingling retired from the ministry. In 1990, the Rev. Dr. William G. Hempel III was installed as the 14th pastor of St. Paul's. Pastor Hempel oversaw an era of cultural diversity and inclusion at St. Paul's. Our congregation became truly multi-national as our congregation was comprised of members with European, South American, Asian, and African descent. He also established the Albany Maritime Ministry at St. Paul's and this eventually grew and relocated to the Port of Albany. His leadership and patience enabled St. Paul's to survive the stormy seas of secularism and the anti-church movement of the late 90's and 2000's. After 22 years of faithful and dedicated service to St. Paul's, Rev. Hempel retired as its Pastor in January 2013. In July 2013, the Rev. David A. Gruenwald was installed as the 15th pastor of St. Paul's. Pastor Gruenwald was called directly out of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. His ministry focused on St. Paul's being a "church in the city and for the city". He reinvigorated our Youth Ministry and oversaw the outreach of our congregation towards various groups in the community. In 2014, the church opened its building to host two regular Alcoholics Anonymous groups, one Narcotics Anonymous group, and allowed several entities to use its commercial kitchen. This outreach enabled the church to turn from being inward focused to outward focused. In addition, Pastor Gruenwald helped the congregation to grow into a tight community through various events and was instrumental in establishing the current church logo. In 2015, in conjunction with its updated logo, the church modified its name to "St. Paul's Lutheran Church". In February 2018, Pastor Gruenwald left St. Paul's to take a Call to Resurrection Lutheran Church in St. Louis, MO. St. Paul's is currently being served by the Rev. Dr. Steven Ware as its interim Pastor.