The Texas Synod (attempts to) expand into Coupland, Texas

In the last few weeks, I’ve started to get to the point where I’m finding connections everywhere between congregations that I’ve photographed and researched… connections I would have missed six or twelve months ago.

Or at least supposed connections.

Sometimes those turn into actual connections, though.

Somewhere along the way, I ran into a reference to a Rev. Ernst serving as a Lutheran pastor in Coupland… and unfortunately, I’ve lost the reference already. (Shame on me!)

One of my readers, the Rev. David Ernst, is the great-grandson of Rev. Louis Ernst, who served as pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lincoln. I thought that perhaps the Rev. Ernst in my reference was the same pastor.

Nope.

This other Rev. Ernst is the Rev. Friedrich (or Frederick) Ernst, who graduated from the St. Chrischona School and served in the Texas Synod (he’s also pictured in the 1880 photograph that I posted the link to yesterday).

Rev. Friedrich Ernst was the first pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church of New Bern, Texas (which later merged with St. James on Wuthrich Hill, and contributed the building that the new congregation, Prince of Peace, uses to this day).

As to how this connects with Coupland… when the folks in Coupland decided they wanted to establish a church, they prevailed on the Rev. Gus Szillat of St. John in New Bern to come down and serve them. Later they were served by Rev. Friedrich Ernst, who by that time was serving Siloah Lutheran Church in McDade.

Ultimately, the new congregation in Coupland decided to affiliate with the Evangelical Synod of North America instead of the Texas Synod (perhaps due to the mix of German and Swiss settlers who populated Coupland– the Swiss would have almost certainly been Reformed in their theology), and became St. Petri Deutsche Evangelische Gemeinde (St. Peters German Evangelical Church).

Through the mergers of the twentieth century, St. Peter’s then became part of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and is now part of the United Church of Christ.

I find this story interesting because it, like many other stories I’ve uncovered over the last few years, shows the fluid natures of affiliations with denominations in the nineteenth century in Texas.

Since I connected a lot of these dots while doing research yesterday, I decided to take a side trip through Coupland this morning on the way out to Thorndale so I could photograph the St. Peter’s building. It was completed in 1906 and was restored in 2006 as part of the celebrations of its 100th year in service.

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