Biography of Rev. Herman Gehrcke
San Francisco, CA Biographies





REV. HERMAN GEHRCKE
Rev. Herman Gehrcke, prominent in the clergy of San Francisco, was the founder of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, situated at Sixteenth and Dolores streets in this city, and he is also the only pastor who has ever served this congregation. He is a native of Germany, where his birth occurred October 15, 1865.

Rev. Gehrcke attended the gymnasium, corresponding to the American high school, in his native country, also the university in Goettingen, Germany. He came to California in the year 1891, and in Sacramento, in 1893, was ordained to the ministry in the synod of the United Lutheran Church of America. Prior to his ordination, he was assistant pastor at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, at 1133 O'Farrell street, which is the oldest Lutheran society in San Francisco. In 1895 he organized and founded St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, became its first pastor and is the only pastor to have filled this pulpit to date. The first house of worship was small and was situated on Eleventh street. When the fire of April 18, 1906, swept over San Francisco, this church was destroyed. In the meantime, in the previous year, a lot had been purchased at Sixteenth and Dolores streets, and here the present church building was erected in 1907. It is a most attractive structure, being fifty by one hundred and ten feet in ground dimensions. Fifteen beautiful memorial windows adorn the church, all donated by the families of prominent deceased members of the congregation. The interior of the church is tastefully decorated, and compares favorably in this respect to any church in the city. The membership of St. Matthew's comprises two hundred and fifty families, and a most advantageous spirit of comradeship and democracy exists in the congregation.

The church has a large Sunday school, and many organizations within the society as a whole, among them the Ladies' Aid Society, the Junior Ladies' Aid, the Missionary Society, the Luther League, and altogether there are four ladies' circles. Bazaars are held annually, and dinners are served from time to time in the Social Hall and are usually patronized by two hundred and fifty people. Noontime luncheons, which have been served recently, have been attended by fully one hundred guests. On February 10, 1930, St. Matthew's Lutheran Church celebrated its twenty fifth anniversary with appropriate exercises. Rev. Gehrcke has served two terms as president of the California Synod of the United Lutheran Church, and in May, 1932, its state convention will be held in St. Matthew's Lutheran Church of San Francisco.

Rev. Gehrcke was married to Miss Martha Kuner, a native of California, and a daughter of the late Albert Kuner, who was born in Bavaria and came to California in 1849. He was a noted engraver, and had the distinction of having engraved the state seal of California. He won fame by his cameo engravings, and was in every way an accomplished artist. Rev. and Mrs. Gehrcke are the parents of three children: Albert L. H.; Helen, the wife of Ernest Conradi; and Alice A., deceased.

The long and faithful service contributed to St. Matthew's Lutheran Church by Rev. Gehrcke is an outstanding phase of the religious history of San Francisco. He has developed his church in marvelous unity of purpose and principle, and has made it one of the most ideal and model holy organizations of this city. Outside of his church activities, he has likewise created for himself a position of marked respect and prestige in the city of San Francisco, and is admired for his democratic personality and public spirited attitude toward affairs of local import.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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