St. Paul Lutheran Church, the first Lutheran church in this North Texas area, resulted from the outgrowth of the work of four dedicated ministers sent by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, beginning in 1886, to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to serve Lutherans who had settled in what was known as “the vast mission field of Texas.”
The first church structure, built at this site at 11th and Holliday, was a white frame church, built in 1904. The approximate cost of the original building was $3,000 with much of the labor being done by the members and Pastor G.A. Obenhaus.
By 1918 many families from Clara and Burkburnett were moving to Wichita Falls as oil was found on their farms. This caused an expansion of the church membership during the next few years. As a result, in November of 1926, the cornerstone was laid for the present Gothic style building.
Remarkably, the $70,000 structure was ready to be dedicated to the Lord’s work on April 24, 1927. The new sanctuary had a seating capacity of 300 with an additional 85 in the balcony.
Many generous members of the congregation donated items to beautify the sanctuary. Mr. and Mrs. John Hirschi donated pipe organ at a cost of $5,786. Jacob and Herman Krottinger gave the realistic statue of Christ to be placed on the altar. Certainly the most striking beautification was the stained glass of the sanctuary. At a total cost of $3,725 the following families/individuals donated the painted glass windows which depict Biblical stories:
*denotes families whose descendants are still members of the congregation
Through the years many additions and upgrades were installed, In 1938 the sanctuary was “air-conditioned” by the use of ice and fans. Unfortunately, this project was abandoned after a few months. Eventually the fans were moved to the fellowship hall and central heat and air was installed. The educational wing was added to the church building in 1961, along with an enlarged parking lot. In 1969 a communion rail was added so that members could kneel to receive the Lord’s Supper. In 1994, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the congregation, new carpet was installed along with the coordinating pew cushions. In September 2002, at a cost of over $200,000, the completion of the elevator wing made the sanctuary handicap accessible.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (est. 1847) traces its origin to 600 Saxon immigrants who came to Missouri in 1839 seeking freedom from religious rationalism in Germany. Under the leadership of a young pastor named C.F.W. Walther, these German immigrants joined together with a number of pastors sent to America by Wilhelm Loehe in Neuendettelsau (Bavaria) to form “The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States.” The twelve original congregations, which formed the Missouri Synod, included about 3,000 persons. One hundred years later in 1947 the Synod officially changed its name to The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which remained largely German in its make-up and even in language until the end of the First World War, grew dramatically during the latter part of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. In 1897, 50 years after its founding, the Synod reported a membership of 685,000. During the next 50 years, it more than doubled its membership. The LCMS has congregations in all sections of the United States, but the heaviest concentration of its membership continues to lie in the Midwest.