St. Mark's Lutheran Church
San Francisco, CA Biographies





ST. MARK'S LUTHERAN CHURCH
St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco, of the United Lutheran Church of America, is the oldest church of this denomination on the Pacific coast, its origin dating back to the years of German emigration to the western country. Many of the settlers came from German centers of the east which trace their origin to pre-Revolutionary times, and others came directly from the Fatherland. St. Mark's itself is formed of two congregations, which merged several years after the founding of the separate organizations. In the early part of the year 1859, a congregation was formed under the name of The First German Evangelical Lutheran Church of San Francisco. Church property was secured on Greenwich street, and there services were held for a number of years. Within a short time, another congregation was formed under the charter name of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church, and this church bought property on Geary street, opposite Union Square, on which a house of worship was erected. In 1867, the two churches heeded the old adage that in union there is strength, and for a period thereafter the Geary street church, which continued under the name of St. Mark's, was served by two pastors. The growth of the business district eventually encroached on the effectiveness of the church, and in 1891 the O'Farrell street site was purchased and the handsome church now in use was constructed thereon.

Rev. Mosshacke was one of the first pastors of St. Mark's congregation, and in 1882 Rev. Julius Fuendeling was called to the pastorate. He remained until the year 1911, and did notable work in developing the church during his twenty-nine years of leadership. He was succeeded by Dr. Henry S. Feix, a nationally known church leader, who served until his death. Rev. Albert L. Benze, D. D., assumed the pastorate August 10, 1930.

St. Mark's Church has a membership of strength, between fifteen hundred and two thousand people being affiliated, and it is considered one of the leading church societies of the bay district. Those organizations within the church such as the Ladies' Aid Society, the Luther Society and the Luther League for young people are sources of much beneficial work and influence.

Rev. Albert L. Benze, D. D., was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, July 4, 1874, and is a son of Rev. A. L. Benze and Elizabeth (Kiehl) Benze, the father having been a Lutheran divine. Four of his sons followed him in the ministry and are now so engaged. Dr. Benze received his education in the public schools of Erie, in the Lutheran College in Rochester, New York, and the Chicago Lutheran Seminary, from which latter institution he graduated in 1898. He was ordained in the Pittsburgh Synod at Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1898, since which time he has officiated in pastorates in Meadville, Pennsylvania; Wheeling, West Virginia; Cleveland, Ohio; Toledo, Ohio; and now in San Francisco, where he arrived in August, 1930. He constructed a church building while engaged in Cleveland, and also in Wheeling. He occupied a pulpit in the latter city during the World war period, and assisted the country's cause by acting as chairman of the Red Cross committee there. He has served on the examining committee of the Synod of Ohio, and until recently was a member of the board of directors of Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio.

Rev. Benze was married in Meadville, Pennsylvania, to Emma Bork, a native of that place, and to their union has been born one daughter, Alberta Virginia.

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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