History of St. Michael Lutheran Church
As early as 1833 Lutherans were holding services in Mifflin (then called Petersburg) under the leadership of a pioneer Lutheran minister, the Rev. Francis J. Ruth, who came to Ohio on horseback in 1831 from Frederick, Maryland preaching in schoolhouses, dwellings and in the open air holding revival meetings with great success. Rev. Ruth preached at Mt Zion and it is thought he preached some at Mifflin since he was in the vicinity and also because Mifflin was closely tied to Mt. Zion.
1835 - the German Lutherans organized a congregation in Mifflin and built a church (#1) of round logs covered with clapboards on the site of what is now the Zehner Cemetery. The pastor, the Rev. Rauhauser, lived on the fourth lot west of the center of Mifflin on the north side of the street.
1843 - the Rev. George Leyter started preaching in the English language. He had been at Mt. Zion since the spring of 1841.
1845 - under the pastorate of the Rev. Henry K. Hennigh, the German congregation built a new house of worship (#2), a frame building located north of the center of town. On August 14, 1846, a sacramental occasion was held and 24 persons reported themselves as members of the church. A benevolent offering was lifted which amounted to $3.01.
1846 - the Rev. Joshua Hoffman started preaching and held a "protracted meeting", or a revival, where 19 people were added to the congregation for a total membership of 43.
1848 - the Rev. Joshua Crouse started preaching and under his pastorate, another church (#3) was built west of the present village cemetery. This building burned down in 1863. In 1854, the Rev. W.A.G. Emerson began his ministry and it was during this time that Michael Culler, a zealous member, and his family brought their membership from Mt. Zion which greatly strengthened and supported the congregation and caused vigorous growth until 105 were attending by the spring of 1860. Pastor Emerson resigned to serve Trinity Lutheran Church in Ashland and soon thereafter became a chaplain in the Civil War.
1861 - the Rev. Francis J. Ruth returned to minister to the churches of this parish which numbered four; namely, Mt. Zion, Mifflin, St. Paul's-Lucas and St. John's-Monroe Township near Pleasant Hill Lake. This parish was known as the Mt. Zion charge. During this pastorate, on Feb. 18, 1863, the church building burned down but with real vigor another was built (#4) in the same location.
In 1866, according to the records, the congregation was first known as the "St. Michael Congregation".
1864-1871 - the Rev. HL Wiles was the last minister to serve the four congregations. After his resignation in 1871, with common agreement, the Mt. Zion and Mifflin congregations withdrew and formed a separate parish which continued until 1967. The Rev. I. J. Delo was the first minister to take charge of the Mt. Zion-St. Michael parish. By 1871, services were held every Sunday - in the morning one Sunday, and in the afternoon on the following Sunday, thus alternating every Sunday. With the advent of the automobile and improved roads, this arrangement was changed to a morning service every Sunday.
One of the pastors who served in the next two decades was the Rev. John A. Hall, D.D. It was during his pastorate that Rev. Hall delivered a speech of welcome and prayer at the unveiling ceremony of the Copus, Ruffner and Zimmer monuments on Sept. 15, 1882 with over 6,000 people attending this memorial event. He served from 1877-1884. Rev. Robert F. Hall, D.D. who served from 1974-2003 , and is still a church member is his grandson.
June, 3 1890 - the cornerstone for the present church (#5) was laid. Plans for this building began under the pastorate of the Rev. G.M. Grau and was completed and dedicated on Nov. 30, 1890 (or 1893 as the records are controversial as to the exact year of dedication) under the pastorates of the Rev. W.G. Smith and the Rev. S.P. Kiefer. All the expenses incident to the erection of this $10,000 building were met before the day of dedication. Some of the people active in the construction of this building were Michael Culler, Jr., Ezia Culler, John Culler, Henry Kagey, Ben Swoveland, Christ Kagey, Kate Koogle, George Koogle, Jacob Koogle, Luther Koogle, Mart Swoveland and Gideon Hoover. The late Daisy Bennett, long time member of St. Michael, told of carrying water for the bricklayers at the time this church was constructed.
1910-1926 - the Rev. George S. Bright served as minister and his pastorate, thus far, has been the longest in the history of the church. In 1911, some fifty members were received as a result of his father's evangelistic preaching. The Rev. John A. Bright of Topeka Kansas often came to Mifflin to assist his son with these services. David Bright, Sr. and Mrs. Marta Bolen, are grandchildren of the Rev. George S. Bright.
August 31, 1924 - new chancel furniture was dedicated. It was a gift of Nancy Shanibarger, a schoolteacher in the area, and consisted of the altar, pulpit, lectern, baptismal font and railing. These were all constructed and hand carved by Charles Switzer, the grandfather of Ethel Markley who is still a member.
Many faithful and dedicated ministers served during the next four decades; namely, the Reverends Sittler, Bishop, Stacy, Lumadue, Jogwick, Safford, Linder, and Neimiller.
1966 - one of the greatest decisions in the history of our church was starting to take place when Mt. Zion and St. Michael were considering becoming two separate parishes. In order to find out if this would be feasible, t was decided to call an intern for a trial period of one year. On July 22, 1967, it was voted to become an independent parish and call a retired pastor to serve until June 1968. A seminary student, Bernard Hess, graciously accepted the call as intern and the Rev. C.B.A.Stacy kindly returned as interim pastor while Intern Hess completed his last year of Seminary. This period of time was a great challenge for our small church with only 33 families attending, but under the supply pastorate of Rev. Stacy, the assistance of Rev. Jay Brown of Mt. Zion, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, great history was successfully made for St. Michael to become a single parish.
A new parsonage was built by our members on a lot donated by Mrs. Mildred (Koogle) Sigler and her family and with funds received from Mt. Zion for half of the joint parsonage property. With many donations and hours of labor and love it was ready for Reverend Hess and his new wife to move into by early 1969.
Becoming separate parishes was favorable to both Mt. Zion and St. Michael and made each stronger to carry on the mission of their individual churches.
1968 - The Rev. Bernard Hess accepted the call to be the first pastor of this parish. Under his pastorate there was much growth and an era of moving forward with plans for the future. More parking was needed and the Hazen property (second house west of the church) was purchased in 1970. Rev. Hess left in the summer of 1973, having made history as the first full time pastor of St. Michael Evangelical Lutheran Church and for taking a special part in the events up to the actual separation of the joint parish.
1974 - The Rev. Robert F. Hall accepted the call to serve our church form Emmanuel at Elyria where he had been since 1961. He was the fourth generation of the Hall family to serve in the Lutheran ministry. His great-grandfather started his ministry as a circuit rider from Wooster to Fort Wayne, establishing churches from town to town.
1990 - an addition was started and completed in 1992. The new addition included new restrooms, pastor's office and fellowship room all of which were previously in the basement. The new addition was fully paid for by the time it was completed without any outside contributions thanks to the generosity of our members.
2004 - St. Michael joined together with Trinity Lutheran church in Jeromesville Reverend Alan Smearsol served as pastor to both churches. In 2009, Pastor Smearsol accepted another call and the church was left without a full time pastor for a little over a year. At the same time there was conflict with some decisions made by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the North East Ohio Synod.
2010 - St. Michael took the bold step to remove itself from the ELCA Synod and join the LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ). As a result of this decision the shared ministry between St. Michael and Trinity ended.
April 2010 - Pastor Jeffrey K. Scott took the call to our church.