Saint Paul Lutheran Church: A Brief History
St. Paul Lutheran Church has been part of the community of downtown Vancouver for over 100 years. Today St. Paul is a small congregation with a large building and an influence on a large number of people in down town Vancouver.
We invite and encourage all people to join us for Sunday worship and to share in our commitment to people in the local area and beyond. St. Paul Christian Day Care currently serves about 60 children freeing their parents to work locally. In the winter we provide food and overnight shelter, (Winter Hospitality Overflow or W.H.O.) for 24 homeless men, protecting them from the cold wet nights. St. Paul is a community of believers working together and supporting each other in large ways and small.
Annually the women of St. Paul make 30 to 50 quilts and collect other materials to send to Lutheran World Relief. This spring we donated $2,400 to the Clark County Food Bank and continue to support F.I.S.H. (Friends in Service to Humanity) which St. Paul housed for 40 years until they moved to their new building in 2015. While located at St Paul, F.I.S.H. served approximately 3,000 peopleeach month with food, clothing, and other basics of life. We support Friends of the Carpenter in their work with the homeless. In providing shelter for the 24 single men we work cooperatively with SHARE House, Council for the Homeless, and St. Andrew Lutheran Church to create the Winter Hospitality Overflow. We have a close connection with an Alcohol Anonymous group which has been meeting at St Paul for decades and we welcome requests for other uses of our facilities. Several of these points of outreach have grown and thrived in the rooms that were originally the church offices and many Sunday school classes.
In 1948 following World War II St Paul voted to build the current church building at 13th and Franklin Streets and in 1960 added the education building to house the Sunday school with additional space for the church office and to fill other congregational needs. These were the years when church membership was high and the organizations of the church included Sunday School, Ladies Aid andMissionary Society, Altar Guild, Lutheran Brotherhood, Lydia Circle, Luther League, St. Paul’s Fellowship, Tri-C’s, and two choirs. During this time, St. Paul was the first church in Vancouver to host a Red Cross blood drive and set up a library of religious books.
St Paul was organized on December 14,1902, with twenty-five people signing the charter. The congregation first met at Sohn’s Hall at 6th and Main Streets but the following year they moved to “the edge of town” at the corner of 13th and Franklin Streets. The congregation built a church, paid off the debt, and aided the start of several congregations in the area. St. Paul was a major source of support in the area during World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, providing food and other items to those in need, as well as supporting the soldiers, shipyard workers, and their families. In September 1948 the congregation voted to construct the church we find today at 13th and Franklin Streets.