Early in the summer of 1859 several Shelby Lutherans, primarily migrants from
Perry County, Pennsylvania, approached Rev. John Stough of Ashland about the
possibility of establishing a Lutheran church in Shelby. During that summer
Rev. A.R. Brown of Mansfield held services in :the homes of interested families,
culminating in the organization of the First Lutheran Church of Shelby on
September 1, 1859.
Rev. Brown resigned his charge in 1861 to serve as a Union Army chaplain
during the Civil War, an on December 1, Rev. Daniel Summers accepted the charge.
During Summers’ pastorate (1861-68) the congregation grew to such an extent that
the trustees decided no longer to rent the facilities of the Reformed Church
(now the United Church of Christ), but to erect a building for the sole use of
First Church. Subscriptions were taken starting in 1863, and sometime in
September 1867 the new church was dedicated on “two lots on Depot Street,
of Samuel Sutter, “which still remain our church site.
For the next thirty years, no major additions were made to the physical
plant; however, there was “the evidence of a healthful atmosphere, a steady growth,
and of increasing power and blessing” under the Revs. J.F. Shearer (1868-72),
D.I. Foust (1872-76), Daniel Summers (2d pastorate 1876-85),
M.L. Kunkelman, M.D. (1885-88), J.E. Lerch (1888-90), and M.L. Wilhelm (1890-97).
When Rev. W.H. Singley, D.D., was called in 1897, the rolls had grown to
160 members, and the need for a larger building was evident. During Singley’s
pastorate, therefore, the church was incorporated (Feb. 25, 1898), and the church
building was removed to the rear of the lot to allow construction of a new edifice.
This second church building, dedicated on March 12, 1899, “an American
adaptation of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, “contained the original
church building, which was brick-veneered and served as the Sunday School
During the early years of this century, the church building was improved
by the installation of electricity (1911) and the completion of the church basement.
Pastors serving in this period included the Revs. George S. Bright (1901-02),
A.B. Shrader (1902-04), Henry C. Funk (1904-11), J.H. Neuhauser (1911-16),
W.M. Hackenberg (1916-23), and John S. Tome (1923-25).
First Evangelical Lutheran Church (ca. 1920)
By 1926, when the Rev. D. Bruce Young accepted First Church’s call, the
congregation numbered 827. During Dr. Young’s thirty-seven year pastorate
the membership increased substantially and church facilities were expanded
accordingly with the addition of an Educational Building in 1939 and demolition
of the church building, the present structure being built on the same site and
dedicated on May 10, 1959. Associate pastors during Dr. Young’s pastorate were
Rev. M.P. Paetznick (1934-40) and C.B.A. Stacy (1957-60).
After Dr. Young’s retirement in 1962, Rev. James L. Lumadue accepted
ourcall and has remained with us from 1963 to the present. Under his ministry the
church parking facilities have been expanded by the purchase and razing of
Grant School, the former Nazarene Church has been bought and remodeled for
parish office and meeting facilities, and the northwest corner of the block has
been transformed from decaying houses into a beautiful garden and lawn
with a massive roughhewn cross as its focal point. Associate pastors under
Rev. Lumadue have been Revs. Richard Faust (1967-72) and
Donald L. Albert (1972-).
A brief historical sketch such as this is necessarily concerned with names,
dates and building programs. The true worth of a church cannot be measured
in such mundane terms, but these mundane terms can serve as evidence of the
congregation’s growth as a living testimony to the glory of God through the
activities of the First Lutheran Church of Shelby.
…copied from First Lutheran Church Directory – July 1979

Article contributed by Ruby Bonecutter

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