Transfiguration Lutheran Church
To be a living testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we minister to the spiritual, and physical needs of God's people in church, community, and the world about us.
An African American Pastor, the Reverend Lucious Thalley founded Transfiguration Lutheran Church, originally organized as Grace Memorial, on November 8, 1903. Services were conducted at 1008 High Street, now Tucker Boulevard. This was the first African American Lutheran Congregation west of the Mississippi River.
A Christian Day School was started in 1904. This was, at that time, under the auspices of the Evangelical Lutheran Conference of North America. In 1909, the congregation was reorganized as Grace Lutheran Church, meeting for worship services at several store fronts until 1927, when a new site was secured at St. Ferdinand and Goode Avenues. The Congregation was then renamed St. Phillips Lutheran Church.
The congregation moved, but later it was discovered that the children of Grace Lutheran would not walk that far and through the white community, which at that time was just west of Jefferson Avenue. A group of Lutherans organized to support the remnant left downtown, and Grace Chapel was continued at Wash St. The school was dissolved in 1940. After worshipping at different locations, a lot was secured at 18th and Biddle Streets. A chapel was erected and dedicated on July 1, 1946. It was then that the name was changed to Transfiguration Lutheran Church.
Pastors serving the congregation included: Lucious Thalley (1903), James Dowell (1909), George Schmidt (1913), Herbert Claus (1917) Paul Gose (1923), G. L. Kroenik (1927), John Fey (1929), Wilbert Field (1941), William Seebeck (1943), Gerhardt Groerich (1949), and William Young (1955).
After a vacancy of several months, Pastor Hugo E. Hartmann was called to serve both Transfiguration and Good Shepherd Missions in January, 1959. In the course of a year, these two congregations merged. The work of the Lord in the Pruitt Igoe units, west of 20th Street, was currently being operated by All Nations Lutheran Chapel as a branch of Transfiguration Lutheran Church. At that time, there were 356 communicants, and 1083 baptized members at Transfiguration. There were 77 communicants and 311 baptized at All Nations. Vacation Bible School, with enrollments of up to 1,735 was conducted from 1959 to 1963, until the present building project forced a suspension of this activity.
In 1958, the Western District decided to erect the first unit of an improved enlarged church. This project was underwritten by the organization now known as the Lutheran Ladies Aid for Neighborhood Missions with the idea of establishing a community center. The Lutheran Business Women of St. Louis, with Miss Anna Beck as their leader carried on the work of the Community Center.
Transfiguration was started and organized by an African American Pastor, but most of the Pastors were white. Transfiguration received financial assistance from the church at large for almost 90 years of its existence. For the past 22 years, this congregation has had the leadership of African American Pastors. Under their leadership, this congregation experienced becoming a self-supporting congregation. In May, 2003, in a service of Thanksgiving, Transfiguration Lutheran Church installed its first African American Pastor, The Rev. Dr. Stanley Engram, Sr., whom they, as a congregation had called. In April, 2005, a new congregation, Great Commission Lutheran Church grew out of this church and is located on Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. In a service of praise on August 18, 2013, we celebrated the 55th Anniversary of the consecration of the first African American Deaconness, Geraldine Plato, who is a life long member of Transfiguration Lutheran Church.
The community around Transfiguration is changing again. Transfiguration Lutheran Church embraces this change. In 2010, our congregration completed a major renovation project to the front of the church. The church is ready, willing and able by the Grace of God to be of service to the needs of God’s people once again. We believe that we are stronger than ever before. We have an energetic music program. We have our social ministry program. We have a fantastic youth program. Most of all, our congregation has the mind to work. Transfiguration looks with anxious expectation to our next 110 years in downtown St. Louis.
Transfiguration Lutheran Church at 18th and Biddle Street is celebrating 110 years of service in downtown St. Louis. We will marked this occasion with an Anniversary Celebration and Thanksgiving Dinner on November 17, 2013. The congregation started as a seed; the many Pastors planted and watered, but God gave the increase. To HIM alone is the glory!!!