Rev. Thomas Henry Retiring at St. Pauls UCC

June 20, 2010 St. Pauls is steeped in Chicago history. The church founded in 1843 was one of the first five churches in the city. The first one-room church was constructed at the corner of LaSalle and Ohio streets donated by Chicago Mayor William Ogden during 1844. The church was called the Deutsch Evangelisch Lutherische Sanct Paulus Gemeinde or the German Evangelical Lutheran St. Pauls Congregation. The church grew rapidly and a larger building was needed. In 1855, the first brick church north of the Chicago River was dedicated on the site of the first building.

Fire has destroyed St. Pauls twice and was rebuilt each time. First the building was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871. In 1898 St. Pauls moved to its current location at 2335 North Orchard. In December of 1955 the church was destroyed by a Christmas Eve fire. The church was rebuilt reopening in 1957. Since then St. Pauls has become the 35th largest UCC church in the nation with almost 1,200 congregants.

The church starting as a German immigrant body continued German services until 2001. Today St. Pauls is an integral part of the Lincoln Park community. The church supports in an active way the Lincoln Park Shelter, the Night Ministry, Uhlich Children's Advantage and the St. Pauls House for elderly residents.

St. Pauls has long enjoyed long serving pastors that have built the strength of the community. Reverend Thomas Henry served first as an assistant for eight years from 1974 to 1982. In 1982 he was selected as pastor and has served for the past 28 years.

During those years at St. Pauls Reverend Henry has performed over 400 baptisms, 246 weddings and 268 funerals.

Reverend Henry is known as a forceful preacher that causes the congregation to think seriously about issues and act responsibly.

Reverend Tom Henry said, "For the past 28 years it has been an honor to serve this congregation as the Senior Pastor. I feel very good that St. Pauls is a strong and vibrant church; welcoming to all people no matter who they are or where they are on life's journey. We have been a good neighbor in the Lincoln Park community and a congregation that makes a joyful sound in the city. I know my successor will carry this mission forward, just as those who came before me did."

Lorne Frank Congregation President said, "Retirement is always a bittersweet time. St. Pauls will grow because of the work that Tom Henry did here for the 36 years he ministered to the congregation."

Reverend Benjamin Bishop will serve as the Interim-Minister until a new Senior Minister is chosen. Associates Avena Ward and Jeffery Carlson will continue in their positions.

Tom Henry's Biography

Tom Henry is a native of western Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Anderson University, in Anderson, Indiana, in 1966, with a double major in sociology and mathematics. Prior to attending Anderson, he was a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, studying architecture. He is a graduate of the Chicago Theological Seminary, where he received a Master of Divinity degree in 1969. In 1989, Tom was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree, recognizing excellence in urban ministry.

After graduation, he worked as a public affairs television producer for the Church Federation of Greater Chicago, a Protestant ecumenical organization, and later as the communications director for the Community Renewal Society, where he was the editor and photographer for a quarterly publication titled "The Bridge." This publication won the Welfare Public Relations Helen Cody Baker Award for best periodical in 1973. From 1969-1972, he also served in a part-time position as the assistant pastor at Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ.

In 1974, Tom became an associate pastor at St. Pauls United Church of Christ. And eight years later, in 1982, Tom was elected by the St. Pauls congregation as the ninth senior pastor of the church which was founded by German immigrants as one of the first five churches in Chicago in 1843. During his tenure at St. Pauls, the congregation has more than doubled in size to about 1000 members, making it the 35th largest United Church of Christ in the country. It has also grown younger in membership, with the average age being 37.

During the late 1970s, Tom served on the Board of Directors of the Community Arts Foundation/Body Politic Theatre and was instrumental in helping the organization make a transition from a presenting house to a professional producing company. The subsequent success of the Body Politic/Victory Gardens Theatre, (now known as The Greenhouse) complex has had significant economic impact on our community.

Throughout its history, St. Pauls has seen needs in the city and did something to meet those needs. Following the Civil War, there was concern for the children who were orphaned by the War. A children's home was founded by the congregation and it continues today as UCAN (Uhlich Children's Advantage Network). In 1920, the congregation considered the plight of the elderly and founded one of the first homes for the elderly in the country, St. Pauls House.

During Tom Henry's time at St. Pauls, the congregation was one of the five founding churches of The Night Ministry, an ecumenical agency that does significant work with homeless teens. St. Pauls was one of three churches to found The Lincoln Park Community Shelter and the church building continues to be the site of some of the Shelter's programs. Tom played a significant role in the Shelter's life in 2005 during a difficult time of transition.

Tom was also instrumental in starting the Lincoln Park After School Center, which continues at St. Pauls on weekdays during the school year. He believes that it is an important part of the mission of a church like St. Pauls to use its building in service to the community. The Church is also the home of the Park West Cooperative Nursery School.

Tom Henry has served on the Church and Ministry Committee of the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the United Church of Christ. Also, he has been a member of the governing boards of UCAN and the Chicago Theological Seminary. He co-authored, with Phoebe Anderson, a book titled, "Teach What You Preach" and wrote a chapter on St. Pauls that was included in a book published by the UCC and titled, "Good News in Growing Churches." Tom is also the author of a book on St. Pauls history, titled "Making a Joyful Sound in the City."

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