St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church History

St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church

933 Brookline Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15226 * Phone 412-531-9575

<St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church, E.L.C.A. Website>

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The Mission Begins

In October 1906, Pastor O.G. Schoenlein began his work in Brookline. The first service was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Hermann at 2611 Pioneer Avenue. Services continued at this home for over a year until the congregation secured the use of the Knowlson Methodist Church near the Brookline Junction (West Liberty Avenue and Brookline Boulevard).

Knowlson Church - 1915
The Knowlson Church at the Brookline Junction, shown here in 1915.

In 1908 the Lutheran City Mission Society assisted in the purchase of a lot on Brookline Boulevard near Pioneer Avenue, a block up from the Junction. The Lutheran City Mission Society also helped with the erection of a frame chapel at the location. A parsonage along Aidyl Avenue was secured and the cornerstone for the church was laid July 19, 1908.

The chapel was dedicated on September 20, 1908. Reverend C.V. Sheatsley of Surgeon's Hall, preached the dedicatory sermon. Rev. O.G. Schoenlein conducted the ceremony and an address was given by Rev. H.J. Schuh.

The Original St. Mark Church - 1909
The original St. Mark's Church served the congregation from 1908 through 1928.

St. Mark's original little chapel, besides being used by the congregation for church services was, prior to the construction of Brookline Elementary School in 1909, leased to the West Liberty School Board to accomodate the community's growing scholastic needs.

St. Mark Church on Brookline Blvd - 1909
St. Mark's Church on October 1, 1909, one year after the dedication.

In December 1910, Reverend Schoenlein resigned, and in June 1911, Reverend Leonard O. Burry, who was also the pastor of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Castle Shannon, became the second pastor of the St. Mark's Mission. The following year, in 1912, the congregation was incorporated with thirty-two confirmed members.

St. Mark Church on Brookline Blvd - 1913
St. Mark's Church stands on the left, near the top of the hill,
along the lower end of Brookline Boulevard, in 1913.

The Mission Grows

During Reverend Burry's pastorate it became evident that a more favorable location had to be secured for expansion in the future. So, in 1920, the present site was secured at the corner of Brookline Boulevard and Glenarm Avenue. On July 1, 1922, Reverend Burry resigned to accept the pastorate of Bethany Lutheran Church in Dormont.

Reverend Herbert Trump became pastor on July 9, 1922. During his pastorate the congregation purchased a suitable parsonage at 958 Berkshire Avenue. It was also during his pastorate that the congregation employed O. M. Topp as architect to make plans for a new building. In February, 1926, Reverend Trump accepted the call to Perrysville and after several months of anxious waiting, Reverend Walter E. Miesel accepted the call to Brookline.

Reverend Miesel was installed the first Sunday in August, 1926, by Dr. Walter E. Schuette. It soon became evident that a new building was a necessity. Finding the proposed church site too small the congregation purchased an adjoining lot.

This gave the congregation a corner lot with 130 feet frontage on Brookline Boulevard, 127 feet on Glenarm Avenue, and eighty feet on the alleyway. With church membership now at 350, This made it possible to expand plans for a new Church and Sunday School building.

A new parsonage was purchased on October 21, 1928 on a lot adjoining the church property along Brookline Boulevard. The old parsonage on Berkshire Avenue was sold the following year, along with the former chapel, which was purchased by the Woman's Civic Club of Brookline.

The Sunday School and Church

The church had ambitious building plans for their new Brookline lots. A $50,000 assembly room was to be build first, with a $100,000 church to be constructed soon afterwards.

St. Mark Church - 1929
The Pittsburgh Press printed this image of the new St. Mark Sunday School on April 6, 1929.

By the spring of 1929, the time had come for the construction of the new Sunday School across the three lots along Fitch Way. On April 7, 1929, the cornerstone of the new building was laid with appropriate ceremonies. Special guest Dr. Walter E. Schuette, President of the Western District, delivered the sermon. Rev. Charles Eisenbach of Sheraden, president of the Lutheran City Missionary Society, assisted with the services. Rev. Miesel conducted the ceremony and placed the stone.

St. Mark Church - 1929
Rev. Walter E. Miesel.

On this most important day for the congregation, former pastors Reverend Burry and Reverend Trump returned to assist with the services. Also honored during the ceremony were Mr. Jacob Hermann, in whose home the first services were held, Mrs. Celia White and Miss Emma Havner, both early charter members, and Miss Laura Dierker, the first child baptized at St. Mark's.

St. Mark Church - 1929
The auditorium of the new Sunday School shown here on September 8, 1929.

The building committee, headed by Rev. Miesel, was composed of C.G. Phillippi, Charles Gross, Harry Mickley, Hermann Nelson, Oscar Anderson and John Anderson. Members of the finance committee were Dr. Henry Klinzing, chairman; G.B. Turnbaugh, Felix Dedlow, E.J. Burnhenn, H.D. Horst, George Klein, Stephen Tulenko, Jacob Hermann, Nelson Hunter, A.J. Baer, Fred Schwartz, L. Phillippi and W.A. Clayton.

Marie Fisher Daugherty - Organist - St. Mark Church
Former church organist Marie Fischer Daugherty.

Construction of the Sunday School was completed five months later. The dedication of the building was held on September 15, 1929. Installed in the new building was a beautiful pipe organ, that for many years was played by long-time Brookline resident and piano master Marie Fisher Daugherty. The organ was damaged during a renovation years later and was removed with much regret.

St. Mark Church - 1960
The combination Sunday School and Church building was dedicated on September 15, 1929.

The pastorate of Reverend Miesel was one in which the congregation enjoyed steady growth, reaching 553 confirmed members. Also during this time, the church managed to liquidate all debt. This was done through a group effort involving the entire congregation.

Girls Junior Choir - St. Mark Church - 1931
The Girls Junior Choir in 1931. First Row - Katherine Klinzing, Dorothy Dedlow, Margaret Ludwig,
Adele Smith and Mary Hall. Second Row - Melba Keck, Betty Baer, Lillian Ludwig, Mrs. Peterson
and Florence Schmidt. Back Row - Mrs. Meisel, Barbara Davis, Mildred Ludwig, Rev. Meisel,
Mary Bleuel, Margaret Klinzing and Mina Nungesser.

The May 3, 1947 Pittsburgh Press reported that "the Church Council shunned orthodox methods of obtaining money and appointed a special committee to call on church groups and members. Hundreds of calls were made. The campaign was given a boost when $8000 was promised within a week."

Contributions continued to be made, some big and some small until finally, on May 2, 1947, the remaining $19,627 of the original $42,000 mortgage for the new Sunday School building was paid off in full.

A mortgage burning ceremony was held on May 4 in which Reverend Miesel announced the results of the campaign to the entire congregation. The guest speaker was Dr. E.H. Meuser, executive secretary of the Board of American Missions of the American Lutheran Church. His subject was "The Message of the Church."

Burning the Mortgage - 1947
Charter members Mrs. White and Mr. Hermann burn
the $19,627 mortgage on May 4, 1947.

An evening of fellowship was held afterwards in the church social room. The honor of burning of the mortgage went to Mrs. Cecilia White, a charter member, and Mr. Jacob Hermann, whose home was used for the first service, back in 1906.

A Change in Plans

Reverend John B. Ackerman took over as pastor from the Reverend Dr. Miesel in October of 1954. Plans were still on the table to construct a large church next to the Sunday School, which was acting as the church since its opening. But times were changing, and a large gothic style church did not seem to be the answer to the mission's expansion plans.

St. Mark's Church and the old parsonage.
The Sunday School/Church and the old parsonage, shown in this 1960 photo.

After much consideration, it was decided that the Sunday School would be sufficient to serve as the church, and the new addition would be an educational building that would serve as both the Sunday School and a community meeting area/small auditorium. The central location of the church grounds made this a beneficial alteration for both the congregation and the community of Brookline, which would not have a central meeting place.

St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran
Church and the educational building.
The new educational building and annex stands next to the gothic-style church.

In 1958, a new parsonage was built on Klein Place, and the old parsonage was used as a temporary Sunday School. Construction of the new education building and annex began in 1963. The completed addition, christened Miesel Hall, was dedicated on April 19, 1964. Rev. Gordon S. Huffman, Washington D.C., president of the Eastern District of the American Lutheran Church, preached the morning sermon. At an evening service, Rev. John Auer, Butler, was the guest speaker.

St. Mark's kids ready to clean Brookline Boulevard in 1964.    St. Mark's kids ready to clean Brookline Boulevard in 1964.
Children of members of the Junior Women's Civic Club in 1953 (left) and a group of hearty
children gather to do some spring cleaning along Brookline Boulevard in 1964.

The Challenges of the Future

In July, 1969, membership in the congregation stood at 415, a number that has held relatively steady for over forty years. Reverend Edward J. Naumann replaced Reverend Ackerman in 1967, and his pastorate lasted nineteen years. In 1981, the final changes were made to the property. Two offices in Miesel Hall were converted into restrooms, and two new memorial offices were constructed between the existing church buildings.

Confirmation Class - 1970
The 8th Grade Confirmation Class of 1970

Reverend Naumann retired in 1986, and the pastorate was passed to Reverend Alfred S. Petrill, who held the position for two years, from 1993 through 1995. A short time afterwards, Reverend Scott A. Bryte became the spiritual leader of the St. Mark's congregation. His pastorship saw the mission through the end of the 20th century and well into the first decade of the new millenium.

During Pastor Bryte's tenure, membership remained stable at approximately four hundred confirmed. Over sixty children were enrolled in the Sunday School program. For the youth of the congregation, there were four different ministerial activity groups and, beginning in 1997, a traveling puppet ministry, with sixteen participants ranging in age from ten to eighteen years of age. Reverend Bryte's successful pastorate ended with his reassignment in 2009.

In March 2010, Pastor Christina Ingold was assigned as the ninth pastor of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church. During her current pastorate, St. Mark's has continued it's mission in the Brookline community, sponsoring several innovative youth and outreach programs. Pastor Ingold's youthful exhuberance, spirit and dedication has been instrumental in serving both the St. Mark's congregation and the Community of Brookline.

The Little Red Bus (1977-2012)

Back in 1975, a group of Brookline Vista volunteers began a shuttle service to provide senior citizens and handicapped residents with a convenient way to travel to doctor's appointments or to the Boulevard to shop. The program was an instant success.

The Little Red Bus
St. Mark's Little Red Bus provided transportation to the elderly and needy
residents of Brookline from 1977 to 2012.

In 1977 the program was taken over by the St. Mark's Mission, and continued under their supervision. Affectionately known as the "Little Red Bus," the shuttle service continued for the next thirty-five years. The bus, which was funded and operated by the mission, was a common site around the community and an invaluable transportation resource for it's many riders. Unfortunately, due to the increasing financial burden of the program, the shuttle service ended in 2012.

Where The Spirit Roars

St. Mark's continues to be a very active congregation, with over 370 confirmed members committed to serving God and the community. The Mission's Lutheran heritage and congregational identity provides a means of faithfully examining life issues and a spiritual foundation for passing on the unchanging tenants of faith to the younger generations. St. Mark's is building a community in the name of Jesus Christ in which the weary can find rest and the energized can come to give themselves in service.

For many years, St. Mark has taken the lead in Brookline, providing services to the needy and the elderly. The Meals on Wheels program provides balanced nutrition for those who are hungry. The Education Annex is used often by local community action groups, like the Brookline Area Community Council and South Pittsburgh Development Corporation, for meeting space. The outreach missions also actively support the Pittsburgh Area Food Bank, St. John Lutheran Care Center, Lutheran World Relief and World Hunger Appeal.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church has served its congregation now for over 100 years, and in that century it's accomplishments have been many. The Mission does not just provide for the spiritual needs of its congregation, young and old alike, but also extends a helping hand to all members of the Brookline community, regardless of religious preference. Under the leadership and direction of Pastor Chris, the future for St. Mark looks bright. The dedicated congregation and the entire Brookline community can only benefit from having such a valuable asset right here in the heart of our neighborhood.

Come Alive and ROAR with the Spirit at St. Mark's!

St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church - 2011
St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church, at the corner of Glenarm Avenue and Brookline Boulevard, in 2011.


Roll Call of Pastors at St. Mark's Church

No Photo available for Reverend Schoenlein

Reverend O. G. Schoenlein
(October 1906-December 1910)
 

Reverend Leonard O. Burry

Rev. Leonard O. Burry
(June 1911-July 1922)
 

Reverend Herbert R. Trump

Rev. Herbert R. Trump
(July 1922-February 1926)
 

Doctor Walter E. Miesel

Dr. Walter E. Miesel
(August 1926-October 1953)
 

Reverend John B. Ackerman

Rev. John B. Ackerman
(October 1954 - April 1967)
 

Reverend Edward J. Naumann

Rev. Edward J. Naumann
(July 1967-1986)
 

Reverend Alfred S. Petrill

Rev. Alfred S. Petrill
(1993-1995)
 

Reverend Scott A. Bryte

Rev. Scott A. Bryte
(1996-2008)
 

Pastor Christina Ingold

Pastor Christina Ingold
(March 2010-present)
 

"Each one should use whatever spiritual gift you have received to serve others."
1 Peter 4:10


The St. Marks's Church history webpage created by Clint Burton in cooperation
with the St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Mission.
* Last updated: December 21, 2013 *

St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Sanctuary - May 2012

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