St. Mark’s History of Faith
The history of Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church in Wapakoneta can be traced back almost 150 years. German Lutherans living in the eastern end of Auglaize County had been meeting regularly since before the county’s founding in 1848. Eventually, three groups emerged: St. Mark’s Lutheran church of Clay Township, St. John’s Lutheran Church of Pusheta Township, and the congregation for those living in town. The German Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul Congregation of Wapakoneta. The St. Paul congregation would have eventually grown into the modern day St. Marks.
It was in 1867 over controversies regarding theology and the Civil War politics of the day that led to the split in the St. Paul congregation. Those interested in reform went on and became what is today St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. The more conservative faction broke away and on January 19th, 1868 organized what became known as the Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s Congregation.
The St. John’s Congregation ended up buying an unfinished church facility from St. Mark’s Congregation (an entirely different group from all the others mentioned before) located on West Auglaize Street. The St. Mark’s group had begun construction of this facility in 1865 but the group faded into nonexistence. So it was on March 30, 1869 that St. John’s moved into the newly completed structure.
The name of the current St. Mark’s Congregation was taken from the previous owners of the facility on West Auglaize Street. According to the 1890 handwritten history about St. Marks by the Rev. G. Schmogrow, the congregation of St. John’s voted on August 10, 1890 to change its name to St. Marks officially because so many community members already associated the name with the church building. This would seem a rather practical way of deciding on a name.
St. Marks was going through changes other than names at about the same time. Until 1884 all the worship services had been conducted in German. In a radical change of the time an English worship service was added to the schedule. The congregation remained “bilingual” until 1935 when all the worship services were held in English.
The biggest event for St. Marks since its founding and name change occurred with the construction of the current church facility in 1955-1956 at the corner of Pearl and Seltzer. Grounded was broken at the presented site on August 17, 1955, the corner stone was laid on September 11, 1955, and the formal dedication took place on June 17, 1956.
In 1966 the Rhinehart Fellowship Auditorium and Sunday school Classroom wing was completed, finishing the facility as it appears today. Then on September 7, 1980 the Clara Wahrer Carillon Tower of bells was dedicated to call who hear to worship. The carillons play on a daily basis at 12:00 noon and 5:00 p.m. in the evening.
The sanctuary is situated in the traditional style of the chancel area on the east end with a raised freestanding altar and reredos. As you come away from the raised altar and communion rail the organ is situated on the Southside and the choir loft on the Westside. A three-panel stain glass window over shadows the altar with the figure of Christ in the middle with hands extending a welcome to all who gather to worship. Smaller symbols on this window are that of his birth and resurrection and the chalice and wafer for Holy Communion. The window also contains the symbol of Martin Luther’s Rose as well as pictures of an open Bible to underscore with the communion cup the importance of Word and Sacraments.
The entire sanctuary contains a total of 12 stained glass windows. The Southside windows contain the following symbols of the Christian faith: Noah’s Ark, three nails and crown of thorns, the kings crown and cross as a symbol of victory, the cross and Bible, wheat, grapes along with a chalice and a wafer. Then on the North side the symbols are that of vines with the verse of “I am the vine you are the branches.” the cross and the rock in water, and the Hand of God reaching down from heaven. The balcony contains the 12th and final window with the symbol of the lamb with a banner with is a symbol of victory as well.
The interior of the sanctuary is that of a finished gray concrete block and light oak beams and pews. Along with the colors of the stained glass windows the walls and wood bring forth earth tones that proclaim a warm quiet majesty as an atmosphere of worship. This atmosphere is simple and direct for all who enter St. Marks to worship our God who revealed Himself in our Lord and King, Jesus Christ.
To God alone is the Glory!
St. Mark’s Timeline of Events