The Founding of

St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church

Mendon, New York

The command of our Lord Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel to every creature was well known, respected, and carried out in this area by churches in the Eastern District of the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states, now officially known as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. In the above spirit, the Eastern District, then comprising the western half of the State of New York, the state of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the southeastern seaboard states, commissioned Candidate Emil H. Reuter as Missionary at Large for Rochester and the surrounding vicinity.

 

He was commissioned to explore and research the Rochester area with the possibility of establishing a Lutheran congregation. He found a willingness of the resident Christian people in Mendon to establish a new congregation because, at the turn of the century, the means of transportation prohibited regular attendance at the established churches in Pittsford and Victor. As a result, on September 15, 1901 the first Lutheran worship service was held in Mendon. It was conducted in the rear kitchen shed of the Mendon Grange Hall.

 

After much work, Candidate Reuter was able to call an organizational meeting of interested people in this community on November 7, 1901 at the residence of Mr. Louis Ernst. At this meeting the following name was adopted for this Christian congregation: “Die erste Evangelische-lutherische Saint Markus Gemeinde, ungeanderter Augsburgischer Confession, zu Mendon, Monroe County, New York”: `The first Evangelical Lutheran St. Mark Congregation, unaltered Augsburg Confession at Mendon, Monroe County, New York'.

 

At this same meeting, a short Constitution was adopted in the German language and signed by the eleven charter members: Louis Ernst, Fred Leverenz, Albert Leverenz, August Nemitz, Sr., William Pietschmann, John W. Reese, Henry Schuth, Carl Schultz, Albert Schultz, Otto Schultz, and Wilhelm Wolff.   With these men and their families, there were a total of fifty-seven souls who were the first members of this Christian congregation. It was further decided at this meeting, that God willing, they would meet after January 1,1902 in Thomas Finnucane’s Hall (because of larger facilities) instead of the Mendon Grange Hall. The rent for Finnucane’s Hall was $60 per year, later reduced to $50 annually.

 

The first officers of the infant congregation, elected under this Constitution on January 15, 1902 were: Elders – Henry Schuth, Fred Leverenz, Louis Ernst; Treasurer – Henry Schuth; Financial Secretary – Louis Ernst; Finance Committee – Auigist Nemitz Sr., Wm. Pietschmann, John W. Reese, and Otto Schultz.

 

In June 1902, Pastor Reuter tendered his resignation to this young congregation because of failing health. This was very disappointing to the new and faithful membership, and for four months, Pastor William M. Czamanske of West Henrietta served as vacancy pastor. After much prayer, the congregation called the Rev. John P. Barkow to be the new pastor. He accepted the call and was installed on October 26, 1902.

 

Under the blessings of God and the consecrated zeal of pastor and flock, the congregation grew steadily so that on January 1, 1904, it could report 125 souls and 17 voting members. At no time was this congregation receiving subsidy from the Mission Board of the District. The need for a permanent church home became very necessary if the congregation was to continue to grow and to retain its present membership intact. Therefore, at the January 1904 meeting, it was decided to build a church home, the members to h all interested people of the community for subscriptions to aid in erecting this new House of God.

 

On March 24, 1904, the Articles of Incorporation of St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mendon, Monroe County, New York, were drawn up under the laws of the State of New York. These Articles of Incorporation were signed by the Pastor and three Elders: the Rev. John P. Barkow, Louis Ernst, Henry Schuth, and Gottfried Zuber, so that the infant congregation might purchase and legally hold title to property in the State of New York.

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