Our Church Paper

Title: Our Church Paper
Available online: 26 August 1875 - 30 August 1904 (988 issues)

Place of publication: New Market, VA

New Market, established 1796 in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and settled largely by German Lutherans and Mennonites, was home to Our Church Paper, a Lutheran weekly published by Henkel & CO.'s Steam Printing House. Founded in 1806 by the Reverend Ambrose Henkel, the press boasted the first German language children's book published in Virginia: Die Fromme Zwillinge: Eine Geschichte von zween Christen-knaben. According to A History of Shenandoah County (1927), Ambrose Henkel got his start in the printing business when in 1802, at the age of 16, he walked to Hagerstown, Maryland from New Market to apprentice with a printer by the name of Gruber, known for printing almanacs. Henkel later purchased his own press and "hauled it up the valley to New Market" where he set up in 1806 and began printing a German newspaper called The Virginia and New Market Popular Instructor and Weekly News. From 1806 to 1925 the press was operated by various members of the Henkel family, printing works in the interests of the Lutheran church. Described by Friedrich Bente in American Lutheranism (1919) as a "busy and skillful people", the Henkel press was an industrious one, often writing their own material, making their own woodcuts, and binding and distributing their own books.

Our Church Paper, which ran from 1873-1904, was one of the most well-known publications by the Henkel press and was "devoted to the interests of the Evangelical Lutheran Church". Edited and published by Revs. Elon O. and Socrates Henkel, along with Luther A. Fox and The Lutheran Home publisher William E. Hubbert, the 4 page weekly was issued on Tuesdays. In 1876 the paper had 1200 subscribers and could be had for two dollars a year, though a discount was offered when bundled with The Lutheran Home, a monthly periodical. The Henkels printed a sermon on the front page, followed by news of interest to Lutherans, as well as recipes, obituaries, advertisements, humor, anecdotes, and household advice. In 1903, with the subscription information, the paper summed itself up this way: "Besides its articles of faith and doctrine, it will contain much of admonition, besides matter of general interest to the family." In 1904, Our Church Paper merged with Lutheran Visitor of Columbia, South Carolina, to form The Church Visitor, the official organ of the United Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the South, which ran until 1919.