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Our History

1889 — World War II

St. Paul Lutheran Church came into existence on August 22, 1889, through the efforts of 11 men who, as members of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Albina, had become dissatisfied with the introduction of the doctrine of predestination. They first worshiped at a Lutheran church at SE. 7th and Lincoln street. Later they decided to solicit pledges for a church of their own.

Pastor Krause preached his first sermon on September 20, 1893. The congregation numbered 20 communicants and 15 people were present at his first sermon. Services were conducted in the German language and Sunday school, Saturday school, and Vacation school were diligently held. In March 1896 a site was purchased for $1,000 at SE 12th and Clinton. On May 17, 1896, the cornerstone was laid and in August the building was dedicated to the service of God.

By 1909, the congregation numbered about 260 communicants. In that year, the church was enlarged to accommodate the growing congregation. An occasional evening service was conducted in English and later on the English language service became one of the two Sunday morning services.

In 1889, the first St. Paul Lutheran members worshiped at a Lutheran church on SE 7th and Lincoln.

In April 1928, Pastor Krause, after 35 years of service to St. Paul, was unable to continue active ministry. Pastor Just was installed on July 8, 1928. Under his leadership the very controversial transition was made from emphasis on German to English services, and the instruction of children in German was discontinued. The greater part of his ministry was carried on under the shadow of the great financial depression which gripped the country. Through one financial crisis after another he never wavered from the course of true Lutheran teaching and doctrine.

World War II — 1970

Pastor Just preached his final sermon on February 2, 1941. The following week he fell ill and was unable to return to the pulpit. Pastor Battermann was installed on August 10, 1941. As the Second World War progressed, Pastor Battermann recognized that St. Paul needed a new building more then ever and, in the summer of 1946, a building site was purchased on the 3800 block of SE Brooklyn Street in southeast Portland. The last service in the old church was held on May 25, 1951. The church had been in use for 55 years. Services and Sunday school were held at the Reed College Chapel until the new church was completed.

The first St. Paul Lutheran Church site was purchased in 1896 and was located on SE 12th and Clinton.

The cornerstone for the new building was laid on Sunday, July 15, 1951. The new Church building was dedicated on Sunday September 9, 1951. A total of 1,727 people passed through the doors of the new St. Paul Lutheran Church on that day during three separate services. Meanwhile, the congregation worked to finish and furnish the interior of the new building, including Sunday school rooms, educational units, a social room and kitchen.


In December 1955, the small chapel was dedicated, in January 1956 the individual communion cups were used for the first time replacing the common cup. By April 1958 the basement fellowship hall was completed and furnished. Most of this work was done by members of St. Paul. At the dedication, only nine panel windows above the altar and the rose window in the balcony had been installed. By the spring of 1964, the 48 art glass windows of both sides of the nave, and the three art glass windows in the narthex, were dedicated. Albert A. Gerlach was the artist.


Twenty-five years of ministry at St. Paul by pastor Battermann was celebrated on September 11, 1966. He continued to serve the St. Paul congregation until his retirement on August 10, 1969. A letter was received from Pastor Gunsten that same month accepting the call to St. Paul. He was installed on October 19, 1969.

The Centennial Window in the St. Paul Fellowship Hall was created by artist C. Bryce Anderson, and installed by craftsman Gary Scrutton, in 1986.

1970 — 2000

St. Paul celebrated its 90th Anniversary in August 1979. On September 23, Pastor Forsberg was installed by Pastor Gunsten. Together Pastors Gunsten and Forsberg began St. Paul’s first experience with team ministry. This was well received by the congregation as the team ministry appealed to both young and old and the congregation experienced new growth.

In July 1982, Pastor Gunsten retired from active ministry. In the spring of 1982, Pastor Forsberg accepted the call as St. Paul’s new lead pastor and was installed on August 29, 1982. In December 1982, Randall Schutt accepted the call as St. Paul’s second associate. Pastor – was installed on January 30, 1983.

The social room was remodeled in December of 1986 and transformed into the new St. Paul room. The most important part of the remodeling was the installation of the Centennial Window, which depicts St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Given in memory of Charles Wegener, this window reflects the past, the present, and the future of St. Paul Lutheran Church.


2000 —

Pastor Erik, who accepted the call to become the new pastor at St. Paul in 1997, served until 2003. In 2004, Pastor Larson accepted the call as St. Paul’s new lead pastor and served until 2010 when Pastor Glenn Chase became interim pastor. St. Paul’s current lead pastor, Pastor Kelle Nelson, accepted the call in January 2011.

In August 2014 St. Paul celebrated its 125 anniversary and the congregation celebrated in true Lutheran fashion with good food and fellowship!


The 2000s have been a time of change for St. Paul. Upgrades and remodeling began in 2004 with a face lift for the main floor women’s and men’s bathroom facilities. In February 2015, a remodel of the St. Paul Fellowship room expanded our social room space to fit the needs of the growing Church community.

In 2019 the congregation voted to become a Reconciling in Christ Congregation by adopting a welcome statement that is open and affirming reflecting the values and beliefs of the congregation.  

St.Paul continues to be a thriving Lutheran community and is excited and blessed to experience fellowship growth.

In July 2020, Pastor Kelle announced her resignation to pursue other endeavors. The St. Paul community is grateful for her years of service and support.

Pastor Brett Pinder joined us in July 2021 with a 2 year contract to lead us through a time of transition and exploration of what Christian and specifically Lutheran ministry looks like in SE Portland after 134 years.

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