Thanks be to God for St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Hamlet, NC these past 75 years. To reflect on the history of this gathering of Christian souls reveals a testimony to faith and fortitude. That this church remains and continues its witness in this community today is truly a sign of the Lord living and breathing in this outpost of Lutheranism in NC. From its early beginnings during the turbulent times of World War II to the accelerated change that we experience today, St. Paul has been a light standing on the rock in a sometimes placid but often stormy sea. We are still here! Our Mission continues!
St. Paul Lutheran Church was organized in December 1941 coinciding with the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The church began with fifty-one charter members. The Reverend Claude Deal conducted the first Lutheran service in Richmond County on March 9, 1942. The church that we meet in today was built during WWII on this property purchased in February 1942 with help from the NC Synod. Ground was broken for the new church building on November 16, 1942 and completed with the laying of the corner stone on July 25, 1943.
The first pastor called to St. Paul was Rev. Roscoe Fisher. On the day the cornerstone was laid, a 4:00 pm Opening Service was held in the Church and that evening at 8:00 pm, Pastor Fisher was installed. He and his family became the first official residents of the first parsonage across the street from the church. An interesting aspect of Pastor Fisher’s tenure was his ministry to the troops stationed at Camp MacKall, Maxton Air Base and Palmer Field during the war.
We thank the Lord for the witness and service provided by the following pastors who have served St. Paul over the years.
1941-1941 Claude V. Deal
1941-1942 Frank K. Efird
1942-1944 Roscoe Fisher
1944-1948 Rufus B. Cuthbertson
1948-1952 C. Marion Starr
1953-1958 H.P. Wyrick
1958-1959 Charles Ridenhour, Supply
1959-1963 Paul Beatty
dates unknown) E.R. Lineberger (Vice Pastor)
1964-1967 Ralph Wallace
1968-1969 Levaughn Keisler
1970-1971 Paul Hamsher
1971-1977 Clyde Haas
1977-1978 John D. Barringer (interim)
1978-1983 David Vaughn
1984-1984 Roy Trexler
1984-1989 William Haskell
1990-1995 William E. Jeffcoat
1996-1998 Jonathan C Gantt
1998-2000 Robert E Land
2001-2004 Vickie Powell
2004 – present John C. Pfisterer
Some notable events, ministries and special group endeavors over the years include: Lutheran Brotherhood, Woman’s Missionary Society (later to become St. Paul Ladies Circle groups), Luther League (youth group that dropped the name League but has seen many lively undertakings of our youth over the years), Sunday School for all ages, healing ministry, world hunger, support for domestic violence victims, soup kitchen lunches, and suppers at the homeless shelter. “Feed My Sheep”, our ongoing food ministry, distributes food on the third Saturday of each month to Richmond County families. May God continue to bless this ministry and the crew that makes sure hungry people in this place get an “extra helping.”
Past ministers and congregation members remembered our youngest members by providing children’s sermons that spoke directly to them. We recall fondly the 50th anniversary cookbook, a project of the Jeffcoats in the nineties. This cookbook compiled recipes from members of the church living and those who had gone to their great reward; in that sense it is a historical document.
In 2002, a lift was installed making all floors of the church building accessible to all. An audio-visual system was installed in 2007 to provide tapes of our service to members of the congregation who are unable to attend. The system also helped persons with hearing loss to fully participate in the worship services. These two project reflect our desire to allow everyone to fully share in the life of the congregation.
Ecumenical and community service activities have included softball teams made up of Lutheran, Catholic and Episcopalian church groups, joint vacation bible schools, our facilities being open to such groups as boy scout and overeater anonymous. Clothing closets of all kinds have been provided, St. Paul has participated in the Hamlet Easter week services each year. The ladies circle took on the Chrismon decoration project which enhances our sanctuary each year during the Christmas season with the Chrismon tree,
The maintenance and upkeep of the building and grounds of St. Paul is a testimony to our stewardship of gifts bequested to us by those who have gone before us. The grounds of the church are a living testament to the Glory of God, nurtured and cared for by many members. They add beauty to our community and along with our red front doors are a living symbol of St. Paul Church.
At present time, we celebrate the 12th year that Pastor John Pfisterer has served St. Paul. He continues to be a warm and loving presence within the congregation while at the same time reminding us that Jesus loves us and that we are God’s hands in the world.
The members of St. Paul know that their mission is to serve in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This service, a hall mark of our life together, defines us as people of faith in this community. Though the congregation may be smaller in number, we believe that good things happen through us—in this community, in this state, in this country and around the world.