On March 27, 1881; St. Paul Lutheran Church was formed when 8 founding members signed a constitution. The congregation’s name was First Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of the U.A.C. in St. Joseph, MO. The congregation changed their name to St. Paul on Oct. 16, 1881; due to the fact that another church in St. Joseph bore the name Zion Evangelical. In 1883, the two-year old St. Paul Lutheran Church joined The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, a denomination to which it has belonged since that time.
On December 18, 1881; the congregation dedicated their first church building – a white frame building at 1019 South 10th Street. The congregation soon outgrew this structure and built a brick edifice at 14th & Lafayette Street, which was dedicated in 1900. That facility served the congregation for 68 years.
A building committee was formed in the mid-1960’s to explore the possibility of a new sanctuary at a new location. The building committee was Wilbur Voltmer, C. G. Harner, Loren Heimsoth, Victor Hergenreter, Henry Howe, DeWayne Keener, Louise Krueger, Jack Mulligan, Richard Pioch, and Norman Walter. Property was eventually purchased for a new sanctuary to be located at 4715 Frederick Avenue. The decision was very controversial at the time because it was feared that people would not be willing to travel that far out into the country to attend worship.
In 1968, construction began on a single level, handicapped accessible building which was dedicated on October 13, 1968. The building is patterned after architecture developed by the French architect LeCorbusier, as seen in the Notre Dame du Haut Chapel, in Ronchamp, France. This style is distinguished by its pattern of irregular windows. The twelve windows lining the side of our church contain the coat of arms of the 12 Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sanctuary’s steeple is crowned by an aluminum cross in the “celtic” style. The “celtic” style is distinguished by its eternal circle around the arms of the cross. The baptismal font and altar cross from St. Paul’s previous sanctuary at 14th & Lafayette were placed in the chapel as a reminder of our roots.
In 1987, St. Paul began a Pre-school to minister to the educational needs of the community and to enhance the ministry and outreach of the congregation. The pre-school was an immediate success and led to planning for an addition to the facilities to open a Childcare Center. The original facilities dedicated in 1968 ended at the north door of the Sunday School classrooms. The addition that was built in 1993 nearly doubled St. Paul’s facilities with the addition of the childcare offices, four classrooms, cafeteria, and the Multi-purpose Center. The Childcare Center also flourished immediately and led the congregation to open an elementary school in 1996.
In 1996, the house next door was purchased and converted into a school building. With the various additions that were finally completed in 2001, that building encompasses 10 classrooms, a library, and an office. In 2010, that building was given the name “The Silas Center”.
Continued growth of St. Paul Lutheran School and Childcare led the congregation to another expansion. In 2010, the Youth Ministry Center was constructed. This steel shell building was initially only partially finished in the interior. When it is completed, it will have youth rooms, 10 classrooms, offices, a library, a cafeteria and kitchen, a gymnasium and locker rooms. Occupation began with the 2011-12 school year.
As of 2016, St. Paul’s total facilities include a worship sanctuary, chapel, fellowship hall, multi-purpose center, teacherage, 2 kitchens, 9 offices, 2 libraries, 3 parking lots, 2 storage barns, a cafeteria, 30 classrooms, 23 furnaces, and 18 bathrooms and a newly completed gymnasium/concession area. To God alone be the glory!