933 Brookline Boulevard, Pittsburgh,
PA 15226 * Phone 412-531-9575
<St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church, E.L.C.A.
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
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'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'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'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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Former church organist Marie Fischer
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.
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
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,
and Florence Schmidt. Back Row - Mrs. Meisel, Barbara Davis, Mildred Ludwig,
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.
Charter members Mrs. White and Mr.
the $19,627 mortgage on May 4, 1947.
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."
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.
Sunday school children perform a mock
wedding ceremony in 1947.
The blushing bride is Janet Hatfield.
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
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.
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.
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
The 8th Grade Confirmation Class of 1970. Shown here are Merry Lou Conte, Gretchen Kunst,
Yvette Price, Dorothy Bryant, Jane Ribbans, Sheryl Cook, Patricia Tokar, Yvonne
Nalepa, Carol Willkomm, Glenn Bennett, John Farney, Clyde Stanford, Jim
Turcol, Doug McCracken, Tom Stout. Harold Cordell, Robert Geyer,
Pastor Naumann, Bill McWhorter and Scott Weber.
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.
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.
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's Evangelical Lutheran Church,
at the corner of Glenarm Avenue and Brookline Boulevard, in 2011.
Roll Call of Pastors at St. Mark's Church
Reverend O. G. Schoenlein
(October 1906-December 1910)
Rev. Leonard O. Burry
(June 1911-July 1922)
Rev. Herbert R. Trump
(July 1922-February 1926)
Dr. Walter E. Miesel
(August 1926-October 1953)
Rev. John B. Ackerman
(October 1954 - April 1967)
Rev. Edward J. Naumann
Rev. Alfred S. Petrill
Rev. Scott A. Bryte
Pastor Christina Ingold
"Each one should use whatever
spiritual gift you have received to serve others."
1 Peter 4:10
<St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church, E.L.C.A.
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 *