St. Martin’s Ev. Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is about celebration, joy and continual thanksgiving. For nearly 140 years, St. Martin’s has been dedicated to being the body of Christ in downtown Austin. We’re a group of caring, loving people with open hearts and minds who gather for worship, education and faith formation, fellowship, and mutual encouragement.
GOING STRONG SINCE 1884
On March 4, 1883, a group of families of German descent came together to worship.
Led by a Swiss missionary, these were the first German Lutheran services held in Austin. Three months later, the congregation of twenty founding families was organized and chose its name, Deutsche Evangelische Lutherische St. Martin’s Kirche (St. Martin’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church), and St. Martin’s was born.
LOVING, SHARING, AND SERVING BOLDLY TODAY
St. Martin’s has grown considerably from that humble beginning, fed by the deep roots planted by that small group of faithful founders.
Today the church is filled with dedicated, loving members, volunteers, teachers, and staff. From the weekday preschool classes to worship on Sunday, the people of St. Martin’s strive to live out the church’s motto – to love, share, and serve boldly – every day of the week.
Throughout the decades, the defining feature of St. Martin’s has not been its long history or its beautiful church buildings, but people like these – the Body of Christ serving and supporting one another, guided by trust and faith in God’s everchanging plans. We are people willing to go where God leads us, committed to living in service to others, and proud to be a part of this supportive and encouraging fellowship.
Join us for worship on Sundays, for classes, in our music or pastoral care ministry, or check out our preschool for your children or grandchildren. No matter where you are on your journey, there will always be a place for you here.
Learn more about St. Martin’s history, faith, and ministries below!
St. Martin’s History
On March 4, 1883 a group of families of German descent met for their first bimonthly worship in Austin’s First Presbyterian Church. They were led by Reverend Henry Merz, a Swiss missionary who came to Texas after the Civil War. Merz was called to Austin to lead the German mission church by the First German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Texas and the German Home Mission Committee of the Lutheran General Council of North America.
Three months later, They selected the name Deutsche Evangelische Lutherische St. Martin’s Kirche in celebration of the 400th birthday of Martin Luther, naming itself after the namesake of Martin Luther – Saint Martin of Tours. In 1920, they became St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.
St. Martin’s congregation laid the cornerstone of its first church at 106 Peach Street on December 21, 1884. At this time the congregation consisted of 50 confirmed members with approximately 75 children enrolled in Sunday School. Coincidentally, this date was three months prior to the laying of the cornerstone for the present state capitol building two blocks to the south.
In 1926, the State was expanding its capitol complex and required the church site on 13th Street. The congregation selected a site on 14th Street. The new white stone Gothic structure at 14th and Congress was dedicated on April 28, 1929. The roll of the congregation’s membership listed 432 active members.
In November 1957, the congregation agreed to sell the 14th Street property as the state capitol complex dictated another congregational move. A new site at 15th and Rio Grande was purchased. The Romanesque edifice at 606 West 15th Street was dedicated on March 27, 1960. The church’s vaulted roof, ornamental brick patterns and integral use of sculpture combine to express the glory of the church as an instrument of God.
Above the triple-arched canopy over the doors, a figure of Christ seems to float, to beckon all, “Come unto Me.” Groups of angels complete the composition, which was executed in cast stone by Charles Umlauf, a well-known Austin sculptor.
Soon after the dedication of the new church, the pastors began planning a day school. Nursery school and kindergarten classes began in September 1962. The purpose of the school is expressed in its current mission statement:
St. Martin’s Lutheran School provides a nurturing Christian environment for families as a ministry of St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. It is the school’s goal for the children to grow spiritually, morally, academically, culturally, socially and physically while helping them to mature in Christ.
St. Martin’s is now well into its second century. What began in the tiny building near the new state capitol has grown to a congregation of over 1,000 members. On any given day at St. Martin’s, the facilities accommodate numerous bustling activities by children, church members, volunteers, visitors, and staff.
St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church has both endured trials and experienced exciting advances throughout history. The life of the congregation has been, and continues to be possible only by God’s working through faithful pastors and laypersons in the consistent mission: “Go Ye . . . Teach . . . Preach . . . Baptize . . . Administer the Sacraments.”