SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - St. Paul Lutheran Church was first established in the mid 1950′s on Lakeshore Drive in Shreveport.
“My family has roots in this church,” explains Tim Brobst.
“My grandfather was the second pastor of this church.”
His grandfather, Lothar Kleinshans, was one of the many pastors who led St. Paul’s through years and years of packed pews for Sunday services. But as the years began adding up, church leadership identified a problem that reach a perilous peak by 2016.
“We tried for years to bring people to the church from the area,” remembers Brobst.
But the faces around St. Paul had begun to change as the faces in the pews began disappearing, either because families moved away from the area or because others passed away.
“It was like pounding your head against a brick wall,” says Brobst.
“Hopeless is the word I’d use,” echos Bob Mathis, another St. Paul church member. “We didn’t see an outcome that would save the church until certain things happened.”
The church was down to less than two dozen members.
But help arrived in one of the most unsuspecting ways possible, the day their pastor was available to lead Sunday service.
“Our pastor was away on a meeting and we had no one to preach that week,” recalls Mathis.
So instead of inviting a fill-in pastor to lead service, many of the St. Paul parishioners attended church at nearby Faith Lutheran Church.
“Those of us who went over were blown away over how they treated and welcomed us,” cites Mathis. But St. Paul was dealing with growing problems of their own.
“We needed classrooms for Sunday school,” begins Faith Lutheran Pastor Michael Shannon.
His church’s worship numbers were growing and their building needed major repairs.
“I can recall our roof was leaking,” adds Faith church member Eddie Swift.
Not long after that Sunday when St. Paul’s members were led to Faith, the few remaining members of St. Paul came up with this idea to save their church and it’s history.
They decided to give St. Paul, who was in desperate need of more space, their church, the property, and what money they had remaining in their account.
“Because they showed us they were doing God’s work in the right way,” explains Mathis.
And before long, Faith moved his ministry and members to St. Paul’s sanctuary.
“It was way beyond our wildest dream or imagination,” Pastor Shannon remembers with a smile.
And even more surprising to Pastor Shannon and others, that most of the St. Paul members, mostly all white, decided to stay there at 4175 Lakeshore Drive and join Faith Lutheran. a predominantly black church.
“I just prayed one day that we could be in a position to where people could come to our church and nobody cared who they were and could see somebody that looked like them,” explains Pastor Shannon.
“And the humbling thing to me, He allowed me to be a part of that kind of blessing.”