St. Pauls
Lutheran Church

Strasburg, Virginia

History as published
in the 
Strasburg News, 1917


St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Strasburg was organized in those days when the German pioneers came to this section of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, at a time approximately between 1740 and 1760.  At this time there was no other church of any denomination between Strasburg and Winchester, and none west of Strasburg until the Woodstock congregation was organized.  However, at that time regular services were held only annually, and were conducted by ministers coming from Philadelphia, who made long journeys on horseback to a circuit of churches, often consuming six months in making the rounds of the circuit.

In 1771, a farm of 200 acres near Capon Road was granted to the St. Paul's Lutheran Church by Lord Fairfax.  The name of the first minister who preached here is not known, as the church record for years was written in German, and the early portion is now worn and illegible.  The first minister mentioned in the records signed his name as Pastor Steufer.  He came from Philadelphia and the church records show that he was the first Lutheran minister to be ordained in America.

Although the name of Rev. Peter Muhlenburg does not appear in the church records, yet it is quite evident that he preached here while he made his home in Woodstock, and also held services in all the churches in this section of the country, which made it no longer necessary for Philadelphia ministers to make the long journeys west, to hold services.  Rev. Peter Muhlenburg is one of the most noted characters of who, in the year 1776 at a meeting held in his church at Woodstock, threw off his ministerial robe and organized a company of volunteers to fight for the Revolutionary cause.  He enlisted as a Captain, but at the close of the war held the title of Major General on the staff of General Washington.  He was afterward a member in both the First and Second Congress held in Philadelphia.

This congregation was one of those which passed through the trying transition period, when the German element was compelled to surrender the ideas and customs, as well as the language of the Fatherland.

The ministry of Rev. William Godfrey Keil, 1824 to 1826, marked the change in the use of language in the church service, at which time the English was substituted for the German.

The ministry of Rev. L. L. Smith, from 1882 up to the time of his death, which occurred in June 1911, has as a memorial the rebuilding and remodeling of the present church building which during the Civil War was used as a hospital.

The membership, as enrolled at the present time, includes almost 300 names.  There is a splendid, well organized Sunday School with a membership of over 200.

 In January 1912 a Luther League was organized and has since grown to be an active branch work of the church.

Following are the pastors and their periods of service:  Rev. Christian Streit, 1785-1812; Rev. Abram Reck, 1818-1824; Rev. Nicholas Schmucker (German pastor) 1824-1854; Rev. Wm. Godfrey Keil (English pastor), 1824-1826; Rev. John Barton Davis, 1834-1843; Rev. John Francis Campbell, D. D., 1843-1849; Rev. Levi Keller, 1849-1860; Rev. Jos. Alex. Snyder, D. D., 1860-1865; Rev. Wm. Rusmisselle, 1866-1869; Rev. G. A. Long, 1869-1871; Rev. John Francis Campbell, D. D., 1872-1876; Rev. James Willis, 1877-1882; Rev. L. L. Smith, D. D. 1882-1911; Rev. J. W. Link, 1911 to date.

Copied from the Strasburg News by Calvin Sonner