Over a century
The history of
St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church began as Memorial Lutheran Church in 1883 and celebrated its Centennial in 1983. The congregation is the result of the merging of four different churches over the years, the most recent being the consolidation of St. Paul Lutheran and Reformation Lutheran in 1977. This congregation and its predecessors have served in urban ministry in the Midway area of St. Paul with a vibrant witness to the Gospel, its Good News of salvation and its call for justice in society. We believe, with the Apostle Paul in Romans 8, that no person or created thing ever stands outside the creative love and grace of God.
Memorial Lutheran Church, 1883
Memorial Lutheran Church was named to commemorate 1883 as the 400th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther, the father of the Lutheran tradition and reformer of the Church. Memorial's leaders maintained that the wider Church should use English - not Swedish - as its language of worship and teaching. Memorial was originally located on Exchange Street in downtown St. Paul.
St. James Lutheran Church, 1895
St. James Lutheran Church was founded as an English-speaking mission congregation and was named after the writer of the Epistle of James (not St. James the Greater or St. James the Less).
In 1911, Memorial Lutheran and St. James consolidated into the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation.
Clara Lutheran Church, 1908/St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1923
Clara Lutheran Church was named for Clara Samuelson, a neighborhood resident who felt strongly that the children of St. Paul needed a Lutheran Sunday School. Later, Clara Lutheran was renamed for the Apostle Paul; the congregation had a strong emphasis on world missions, and translated their mission into one of the first congregations in St. Paul to welcome African Americans in 1953, becoming fully integrated.
In 1977, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation and St. Paul consolidated into the present St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church.
The Ordination of PR. Anita Hill
In 2001, St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church called the Rev. Anita Hill to be ordained as Associate Pastor. Pastor Hill, who had worked for many years at St. Paul-Reformation, was ordained in defiance of "Vision and Expectations" as the first openly gay partnered pastor in the Twin Cities. Her ordination welcomed hundreds of people to St. Paul and continued the long march towards full inclusion for all of those called by God to ordained service. In ways too many to count, this monumental and historic event in the life of North American Lutheranism paved the way for the 2009 vote of the Churchwide Assembly to allow for clergy in partnered relationships to serve openly in this Church. A documentary film entitled "This Obedience" chronicled the experience.
Click below to hear from Pastor Anita Hill about this historic decision: