Congregational Church History
By, Rebekah Knaggs Neidig
St. Matthew congregation began on Memorial Day, 1936. The St. Matthew congregation was founded as a two-part mission known as St. Peter’s / St. Paul’s with Lodi Pastor Waldo E. Byers serving both parishes. The Rev. Glaser, also the Missionary Pastor, was called to help with the work of establishing the mission here.
On February 6, 1938 the first service was held at the Little Store Front Church at 110 West Washington Street with standing room only (Image of West Washington Street Property). The Church was established as the 9th Church in Medina and at the time had a total of 22 charter members. From then the congregation continued to grow to the point that they needed a new space.
The congregation was able to fundraise and purchase two lots, on the corner of Broadway and Pearl streets by 1939, and a new building fund was started with the hopes of creating a new home for the growing St. Matthew congregation. By 1948 the congregation had become a completely self-supporting church and parted from serving as a mission church. A ground breaking ceremony was held on June 4, 1950 and the corner stone of the new church was laid on October 1, 1950. (See ground breaking image)
On April 29, 1951 the final service was held at the Little Store Front Church and the next week the first service was held at their new church on North Broadway Street on May 6, 1951. Throughout the remainder of the 1950’s the church continued to grow as a congregation, and even physically when a new parsonage was dedicated in 1956. This growing congregation and sense of community created with it a desire and responsibility for Christian education and on November 19, 1961 the first educational unit was established.
Now settled as a full functioning congregation the members of St. Matthew started to grow in regards to mission and service. The early roots of the church’s now Transitional Housing program began when the congregation resettled and sponsored the Toua family from Laos in 1976 (See Gazette clipping). The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services Program was calling Lutheran congregations to support refugees during the Vietnam War. The family, friends, and relationships created the ministry to continue this passion for service of others. In 1996 the Priscilla House, was purchased for a second Transitional Housing family. In 2002 the Promise Place, a 6-unit apartment building, was purchased as a third location for Transitional Housing, and in 2006 the property next to church on Broadway Street was purchased for Transitional Housing Ministry, now known as the Faith House.
Other forms of ministry and service that started at St. Matthew came about in the 1980’s including Stephen Ministry and the Lay Pastoral care program, both of which were initiated in 1981. And in 1989 the Rehoboth Cottage ministry began. By the end of the 1980’s there was a call by the congregation for an associate pastor and a two ordained clergy ministry began.
The 1990’s brought about planning and growth for St. Matthew in regards to its congregational life. In 1990 an installation of an elevator for handicap accessibility was done to tailor to current and future members. In August of 1993 the nursery was up-dated and relocated to a visitor-friendly location in the lower level of the church. 2000 brought with it a new scope to the world of St. Matthew with a New Ministry Outreach Development initiated between five local Lutheran Church’s, St. Matthew, St. Paul, Living Word, Grace and Jerusalem.
The 2000’s have brought about St. Matthew living by its current mission motto L.G.L., Living Gods Love. The congregation continues to learn from its past and strives towards its passion for community and ministry, in Medina and beyond. Are you ready to become part of our history?
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Check out fun "Little Treasures from the Past", taken from letters and minutes from the early days. Posted in the 70th Anniversary booklet, 2008. Click here.
1936 Rev. Waldo Byers and Rev. Robert Glaser
1938 February 6, 1938, the first service was held at 110 W Washington St. This was the ninth church established in Medina. There were 22 charter members.
1939 Rev. Weldon Bittkofer began his ministry on June 25, 1939.
1939 Two lots were purchased on the corner of Broadway and Pearl Streets and a building fund was started.
1946 Rev. Weldon Bittkofer ended his ministry at St. Matthew, May, 1946.
1948 The Rev. Henry Young, March 7, 1948
1948 St. Matthew became a self-supporting church.
1950 June 4, ground was broken for the current church building. October 1 the corner stone was laid.
1951 May 6, 1951, the first service was held in the present St. Matthew building.
1953 Rev. Harry Boyer began his ministry at St. Matthew, June, 1953.
1956 In January the new parsonage was dedicated (brick building across the street from St. Matthew).
1961 November 19, 1961, the first educational unit was established.
1963 Rev. Alfred Stein began his ministry at St. Matthew.
1970 Rev. William Lucht began his ministry at St. Matthew, June, 1970.
1976 Resettled and sponsored the Toua family from Laos.
1981 In September the new educational unit and the Otto Disch bridge were dedicated. Parsonage sold.
1982 Stephen Ministry, lay pastoral care program, initiated.
1988 The merger of the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church Synods occurred on January 1, 1988, under the name Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
1989 The ministry of Rehoboth Cottage began. With the calling of an associate pastor, Pastor Tom Schwartz, a two ordained clergy ministry began, September, 1989.
1990 Installation of an elevator for handicap accessibility.
1993 April 13, 1993, completion of the Five-Year Strategic Plan.In August the nursery was up-dated and relocated to a visitor-friendly location.
1994 Seven sets of altar paraments were dedicated.
1996 Priscilla House purchased for second Transitional Housing family.
2000 New Ministry Outreach Development initiated between five local Lutheran Church (St. Matthew, St. Paul, Living Word, Grace and Jerusalem).
2002 Promise Place, a 6-apartment building, was purchased for third Transitional Housing.
2003 Pastor Bill Lucht retired after 33 years in ministry at St. Matthew and the calling of a new minister began.
2003 Pastor Ken Anderson served as interim pastor (2003-2004).
2005 Pastor Dave Anderson was called and installed as team pastor along with Pastor Tom Schwartz.
2006 Home next to church purchased for Transitional Housing.
2012 The decision was made to retire Stephen Ministry.
2014 House on Pearl Street was purchased, dedicated in Don Hodek's memory.
2015 Pastor Dave Anderson retired.
2015 The Memorial Garden on the south side of the church was dedicated. This was created and installed by Matt Burke for his Eagle Scout Project and supported by congregational donations.
2017 Lindsay Bailey was hired as the Director of Living God's Love (LGL).
2018 Lindsay Bailey was installed as Deacon of St. Matthew on September 23, 2018.
2019 Pastor Tom Schwartz retired, August 2019.
2019 Rev. William Diehm began his term as Intentional Interim Pastor, September, 2019.
2021 Rev. William Diehm ended his term as Intentional Interim Pastor, September 5, 2021. The Interim period was originally meant to last six months, but was prolonged due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
2022 February 27 - Rev. Steven Mahaffey accepted the Letter of Call to serve as St. Matthew's next pastor. His ministry began May 1, 2022. Installation was August 21, 2022.
2022 June 5 - the congregation voted to approve the sale of Promise Place,
a 6-apartment building used for Transitional Housing.
2023 Sept. 15 - The Northeastern Ohio Synod accepted St. Matthew's participation in the Dandelion Project.
Pastor Tom Schwartz 1989- 2005-2019
Deacon Lindsay Bailey 2018 - present
Interim Pastor Bill Diehm 2019 - 2021
Pastor Steve Mahaffey 2022 -