With Christ as our foundation and the Holy Scripture as our guide, the mission of St. Paul Lutheran Church is to give thanks and praise to God through worship services, special services, and study groups, being sure to provide opportunities for all age groups. By the grace of God we are to love, grow in faith and fellowship, forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us. Working in unity with one another, we are to go, caring for all his people.
St. Paul Lutheran Church was organized September 12th, 1821 by a group of early settlers meeting in the home of George Henry Mueller at “Benvenue”, led by Bishop Johann C. G. Schweitzerbarth.
The Rev. Schweitzerbarth, the first resident minister of Zelienople, came here from Germany on June 5th, 1819. He was sent here by Dettmar Basse, founder of Zelienople, to establish and build a church in Zelienople. He was a young University graduate at the time.
Some forty Lutheran churches in Butler, Beaver, Lawrence, and Armstrong counties today trace their origin to Zelienople and St. Paul Church‐ the pioneer work of Rev. Schweitzerbarth. His pastorate comprised the years of 1820‐1852.
Charter of incorporation of St. Paul Lutheran was in effect as of February 20th, 1822; by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania February 28th, 1823. A later date of incorporation was March 5th, 1907.
St. Paul Church has strong ties to the Passavant family, one of the most prominent and influential pioneer familes of Zelienople. Philippe Louis Passavant and his wife, Zelie (daughter of Dettmar Basse) donated land for the church (one acre) and cemetery (four acres). They also gave the stone and furnished much of the labor. The Church was built in 1826.
The original small church measured 46 feet in length and it has been said that St. Paul could be one of the “first Gothic churches in Western Pennsylvania". The church's architect was John Henry Hopkins, who became the 1st Episcopal Bishop of Vermont. Bishop Hopkins married into the Mueller family,who were prominent figures in our church in its early days.
In 1913, the church was enlarged. A new bell tower was added to the north end of the church and the interior was remodeled. The exterior of the original part of the church was unchanged. Henry Buhl, Jr., whose family were instrumental figures in the church, donated the stained glass Martin Luther window as well as one of the aisle windows in memory of his grandfather Christian Buhl. Henry Buhl,Jr. founded the Buhl Planetarium and Buhl Foundation of Pittsburgh.
The church parsonage was built in 1858 and its north and south wings were added in 1907. The educational building was erected in 1960 and is now known as Strobel Hall. The Cemetery Association was formed in September 1910.
William Alfred Passavant (1821‐1894), youngest son of Philippe and Zelie Passavant (founders of St. Paul Church) was baptized and confirmed in this church. Dr. Passavant was a renowned Lutheran pastor and founded more than 40 hospitals and institutions throught the United States. He is regarded as the greatest institutional leader that the Lutheran Church has produced in the United States. A plaque in his memory is located in the front of the church.
Currently serving St. Paul as Pastor, Rev. Timothy Dawes
American History and St. Paul Lutheran Church Timeline
1643 – Pennsylvania first settled by the Swedish
1681 – Pennsylvania chartered
1682 – First purchase of land from Indians
1776 – Declaration of Independence
1789 – George Washington inaugurated first U.S. President
1796 – First Settlers in Butler County
1802 – Zelienople founded by Dettmar Basse
1821 – St. Paul Church organized
1826 – Church cornerstone laid
1861 – American Civil War until 1865
1914 – World War I
1921 – 100th Anniversary of St. Paul Lutheran Church
1950 – Korean War until 1955
1961 – Vietnam War until 1975
1989 – Pastor Brewer became 15th pastor of St. Paul Church
1996 – 175th Anniversary of St. Paul Lutheran Church
2010 – You could be a member of our family and a part of history!!
2011 - Pastor Keplinger became 16th pastor of St. Paul and English Lutheran
2015 - Interim Pastor Beverly Banyay
2019 - Pastor Timothy Dawes joint pastor of St. Paul and Zion Lutheran
2019 - Zelienople Harmony Lutheran Ministry Formed with Zion Lutheran
2021 - Celebrating our 200th Anniversary, September 12, 2021