A Church That Inspires Us
The historic preservation movement began at the grassroots level, and this is where its deepest roots still thrive. A few passionate individuals can make all the difference in preserving their place’s history.
This was clearly evident when PSP visited St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Falls County, Texas. It was the fifth stop on a tour we led of 12 historic sacred places on February 27th, part of the Preservation Texas 2017 Summit.
German settlers founded this church, originally known as St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran, in 1894, erecting its present structure in 1920. It is a beautiful example of the gothic revival style, with a corner bell and impressive stained glass windows. During its heyday, the church held 120 worshipers. Even today, in honor of their heritage, the congregation conducts Christmas Eve worship services partially in German.
St. Paul’s motto is “Whoever you are and whatever your circumstances in life, God loves you, and you are welcome here.” However, their beautiful structure that allows this hospitality is in dire need of renovation. The basement walls that operate as a foundation are buckling inward severely.
Given their small membership, it would be easy for the members of St. Paul’s to feel discouraged, even hopeless. Just the opposite is true. A corps of members is passionately motivated to save this sacred place that embodies so much of their past. They have established:
- A website that highlights the capital campaign and restoration needs.
- Brochures and business cards to spread the appeal, including this phrase: “Please join us in preserving this beacon on the hill for future generations.”
- A crowd funding page that makes it easy to give.
- A database of potential donors, including any living relatives of members whose history is part of St. Paul’s story.
One creative aspect of their website is a “memories” section, where a former member recently posted these words.
“I have so many fond memories of St. Paul’s. My grandfather, born in 1898, told of helping to dig the church basement. I remember spending Saturdays with my grandparents cleaning the church for Sunday service. My father was Sunday School Superintendent. I remember Christmas Eve pageants and having to pack all the costumes and stage curtain away before we could go home for our family celebration. To me, with its tall steeple and beautiful windows, St. Paul’s is a ‘church’s church.’ All my prayers and support for a successful restoration campaign!”
Carol Dietrich, 69, is the Chairperson of the fundraising campaign. St. Paul’s is inseparably a part of her story; her extended family members – including her parents and grandparents – are all buried in the adjacent cemetery. Because of recent health problems, Carol had grown inactive, but that would soon change.
“I wasn’t living a purpose driven life,” she says with a smile. “Then the opportunity arose to chair our fundraising efforts, and I volunteered. I left there thinking ‘What have I done?’ Sure, I have struggled with doubts when I look at the money needed to repair our foundation. But every time I do, something great happens. I feel God is helping direct this effort. I will do everything in my power to make sure St. Paul’s survives. There is so much history here, and this church has always been a cornerstone for this community. It would be such a shame to see it crumble.
“This has given me a new passion for living.”