St. Paul's United Church of Christ


St. Paul's UCC in Woodstock may be the oldest congregation in this part of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The German settler families of the Reformed faith had already been gathering occasionally for worship, when in May of 1748 the Rev. Michael Schlatter visited the town of Muellerstadt - now Woodstock. Here he preached and baptized many, as he noted in his diary, before continuing on his way.

The first church building was a log structure erected well before the first full-time pastor came in the 1770's. It was located on the land which is at Church and South Streets. The land is still the site of the church cemetery containing graves of the early settlers, including the aide to General George Washington, Cpl. John Effinger, and others from the mid-twentieth century.

The present church building was begun in 1869, following the Civil War, after the old building had reportedly been used as a stable by the Union forces. In any case, it had outlived its usefulness. In addition to an 1896 renovation, the church has had numerous additions and renovations to provide for the educational, worship, fellowship, and service needs of the congregation and the community.

St. Paul's church grew out of the Reformed Church of Germany and Switzerland, dating to the time of the Reformation of the 16th century. The Reformed Church traces its roots to the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) in Zurich. From 1725 on German settlers brought their religion into the Shenandoah Valley from Pennsylvania and New York. Some came over the mountains from places like Germanna, Virginia east of the Blue Ridge, or south from Fredericktown - now Winchester.

The German Reformed Church is an example of the developing American tradition of church life. In uniting with the sister German Evangelical church of North America in 1934, the church became the Evangelical and Reformed church. Then in 1957 was the birth of the United Church of Christ through the forming of the newer church with the Congregational - Christian Denomination, itself the result of a merger in 1929.

St. Paul's rich history includes the fostering of the Massanutten Academy, an educational institution for learning, which has served the community when there was a lack of public educational facilities. In 1910 the Church also supported the founding of Hoffman Homes for Youth in Littlestown, Pennsylvania, and continues to support this unique institution.

Through the years the church has supported the mission program of the denomination in World-Wide concern for the needs of humanity, as well as programs of need in the community. It is always responsive to the needs and concerns of its members, as it is guided by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul's has always joined in the efforts of the local Christian community in worship and service.