Stewart Avenue Evangelical Lutheran Church

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Official Web Site for the Church

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This photo illustrates the original church in the background and just the foundation laid for the new existing church.

This photo illustrates the old church with the new church beside it

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Artist's drawing of the Stewart Avenue Lutheran Church

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Photo of the inside of the church

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From the Advent Historic Church Walk Booklet

Stewart Avenue Evangelical Lutheran Church

2810 Brownsville Road

Pittsburgh PA 15227

Phone: 412-881-0171

The need of establishing a church in this community was keenly felt by the Pittsburgh Lutheran City Mission society, back in 1919. Canvassing the field showed that the time was ripe for action. There were many Lutheran families who could be interested in organizing a mission congregation. Prospects of winning souls for the Lord were also promising. Everything pointed to the necessity of going together with our City Mission Society, in purchasing the choice location at the corner of Brownsville Road and Stewart Avenue for the sum of $11,000.

The first house of worship was a renovated barn, the gift of Mr. Claus, from whom the property had been purchased. It was a humble beginning, indeed; this barn, converted into a Chapel. Yet wasn’t our Savior born in a lowly stable? So the memory of this humble beginning is especially cherished by us.

The first meeting was called together by the Rev. Fred O Schuh, then pastor of Zion Lutheran Church Brentwood. The records reveal that this meeting was attended by six people. At the next meeting a week later temporary officers were elected. Saw horses were used for chairs, and an oil lantern, with its flickering light, illuminated this first service.

The Chapel was dedicated on the first Sunday in May, 1920; when an overflow crowd taxed the capacity of this modest building. At a meeting held on Sunday afternoon, May 23, 1920, the new congregation was permanently organized as “The Stewart Avenue Evangelical Lutheran Church of Carrick:. This name was a natural selection inasmuch as the new church had been generally referred to as the “Stewart Avenue Mission.”

We are deeply indebted to the Zion Lutheran Church, Brentwood, for granting us the services of Rev. Schuh, as supply pastor during those early months of our beginning. The first few worship services were held in the afternoon. But this soon proved unsatisfactory. Pastor Schuh then received the consent of Zion congregation to absent himself from his own Sunday school in order to conduct worship at Stewart Avenue in the morning. Zion congregation also generously released a considerable number of her members, residing in this vicinity, that they might unite with the new Mission. Thus the beginning of what was to become a substantial congregation was launched. The hand of God was leading into larger fields of service.

At a meeting held on Sunday, May 23, 1920, the new congregation was permanently organized. Under the energetic and able leadership of Pastor Michelfelder the work progressed to the point where the Chapel was no longer adequate to meet the needs of the growing congregation. Plans were then formulated to begin the building of the first unit of a permanent church plant. On Sunday afternoon, July 23, 1922, an impressive service was held, when ground was broken for the basement of the Sunday School unit. The first unit of the new church was dedicated in the name of the Triune God on Sunday December 10, 1922. A great forward step had been taken. It as a work of faith and hope, misplace; for it soon became evident that the next unit of the church should be added as soon as possible.

Worship was still being held in the Basement Church when a call was extended to the Rev. Herman Meyer, who was completing a post-theological course of study in Europe. He was installed as Pastor on July 11, 1926. It was under his leadership that the 2nd unit, known as the Sunday School Unit of the church was begun in 1927. This unit was dedicated on June 17, 1928.

Plans were already underway to complete the building, by adding the third and final unit, within another five years or so. But of course the future could not be foreseen. A year later the “Great Depression” set in, which upset many of the plans. Instead of pointing toward another building project, every effort was directed toward meeting the obligations of the heavy church debt. The property, as it stood, was valued at $84,000.

Those were difficult years for the church as well as in every field of life. Projects had to be sharply curtailed. The unemployment list was growing. Man had to learn to get along on less and less. The pressure of a large building debt was becoming increasingly heavy. Principal payments had to be forgotten for the time being, as every effort was made to meet the interest. Under these rather discouraging conditions Pastor Meyer received a different call.

With little loss of time a call was extended to the Rev. John Wannemacher on January 1, 1933. The first years of his ministry here were quite difficult. The depression was in full swing. As a result there was some tension as efforts were made to meet pressing obligations. But the congregation took hold courageously and progress was made. Gradually conditions in the economic world began to improve and the burden became lighter. New life was in evidence and the congregation was gradually taking on a greater stability. What had seemed like many loose planks in the foundation, were becoming more firmly anchored together. We were reaching our maturity.

With the entrance of our country into this great global war, in December, 1941, the ranks of our youth were strongly invaded. In 1945 the church honor roll carried the names of 134 young men and women who had entered the service of our country. Many of them had been taking an active part in the life and work of the church, and their absence was keenly felt. Many men did not return from the war. One man of our congregation gave his life for his country, that being Homer Landefel who went down with his ship in the Atlantic. The pipe organ was dedicated to his honor on July 2, 1946.

With the continued growth of the congregation the pastoral work, together with the office became a burden for the pastor and church council. We then hired our first office worker, Elva Dovedot. Our membership was now numbering over 900. At that time we entered the internship program. It consisted of Seminary Students who had to serve one year before being ordained.

With growing pains and limited space for Sunday School facilities, a building fund program was begun in July, 1953 with the purpose of completing the present structure. Mr. Arthur Steinmark was the architect and D. Carapellucci was awarded the contract to complete our present church. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on March 16, 1958.

On June 15, 1958, two important events in our history happened. The first son of the congregation Rev. Robert Sheets was ordained into the Gospel Ministry at the morning worship. In the afternoon a cornerstone laying service was held for our present building. The present sanctuary was dedicated on March 8, 1959. The overall cost, including the renovation of the old basement, was about $275,000. The mortgage of $125,000 was to be paid off in fifteen years.

In 1970 in conjunction with the Lutheran Service Society, Carol Succop, and others the South Hills Meals on Wheels was formed. In 1971 it began operating out of the Brentwood Presbyterian Church and continues operating in our own time.

On May 5, 1982, under the direction of Kay Papuga, Gertrude Weinert, and Hilda Davis, the Food Pantry was created. In that first year 800 lbs of food was distributed to forty families. Kay Papuga still directs the Food Pantry with help from many members of the church as well as the community.

The stained glass windows are a stunning feature in this church. Although the designer and installer are unidentified, the magnificent windows tell the story of Jesus ‘life and ministry. Beginning in the balcony and continuing along the left side of the sanctuary the colorful and finely detailed windows tell a beautiful story.

These photos were taken during the 2011 Advent Church Walk, December, 2011

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How The Church Can Help You!

People seek out the church for many, many reasons. Sometimes, they are looking for a spiritual home. Sometimes, they are in crisis looking for support, help and guidance. Sometimes, there are practical reasons: they want to be married in a church or there is a baby that needs to be baptized or their children need to come to Sunday School! Whatever your reason – that is why we are here! Feel free to contact us at:

Mission Statement:

Stewart Avenue Evangelical Lutheran Church is called by the power of the Holy Spirit to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to proclaim the Good News of Salvation and the Promise of Everlasting Life. In Christian unity we dedicate ourselves and our resources to the praise and glory of our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, through partaking of the Sacraments and hearing of the Word and through regular worship, evangelism, service, education and support among the members of this congregation and with those persons in our surrounding communities to whom the Holy Spirit leads us.

Worship Service 2011 September to end June Sunday Worship 2011 8:15 AM Traditional 10:45 Contemporary July 3 - September 4 Services held at 8:15 - 9:30 AM

Holy Communion is Celebrates Both Services

Pastor Pat Mohr Kelly 2810 Brownsville Road Pittsburgh, PA 15227-1905 Phone: (412) 881-0171 Fax: (412) 881-0746 Email:

Church Secretary Chris Rothhaar Phone: (412) 881-0171 Email:

OFFICE HOURS (Sept-June): Monday thru Friday 9:00 a.m until 2:30 p.m. SUMMER HOURS (June-Sept): Monday thru Friday 9:00 a.m. until 12 noon. Directions to Stewart Avenue: Take U.S. Route 51 South from Pittsburgh or North from Interstate 70. Where Route 51 intersects with Brownsville Road,turn left if traveling South and turn right if traveling North. Travel approximately 1.5 miles on Brownsville Road and SAELC is located on the corner of Brownsville Road and Stewart Avenue, across the street from Burger King.

Church History:

Stewart Avenue Evangelical Lutheran Church was established in 1919 when the Lutheran City Mission Society sought land from Mr. Charles Clause to establish a church. Mr. Clause donated an old barn which was converted into a chapel and dedicated on the first Sunday in May 1920. The bell which is located in the Narthex dates back to the founding congregation. On May 23, 1920, the new congregation was permanently organized and a motion was passed that the name of the Church would be “The Stewart Avenue Evangelical Lutheran Church of Carrick.” The church continued to grow and in 1953 a building fund was started to put on an addition to the church. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on March 16, 1958 and on March 8, 1959 the new sanctuary was dedicated. We are a congregation of the ELCA, Southwestern PA Synod. The congregation has strong German Roots and now reaches out to a diversity of people.

“I shall say nothing here about the pure pleasure a [person] gets from having studied ... how at home by himself he can read all kinds of things, talk and associate with educated people, and travel and do business in foreign lands....”- Martin Luther

July, 2011

VBS Children! God absolutely loves them as Jesus explains this to us in His Word. He dropped them here just a little bit ago, into the loving arms of their parents. He tells them how much He loves them by giving them the sunshine to play in, And macaroni and cheese and delicious fruits to eat, water to clean and refresh them, Each other to enjoy the beautiful creative ways they discover to play.

And then in July, He blesses the church with their presence As they come to the church to eat wonderfully prepared dinners, Listen to beautiful stories of His love, Meet teachers and volunteers dedicated to serving, Play really fun and sometimes very wet games. They make cool crafts and get their faces painted. They learn in Missions how they can also share their love and they sing adoring fun songs to praise God.

And they learn what they already know

That God absolutely loves them!

Pastor Pat and Deacon Rich Mohr-Kelly

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