St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

Churches | St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
813 Bay Rd. | (585) 671-1899 |

In 1953, Alice Schimpf was asked by the Home Board of the American Lutheran Church to determine if there was an interest in the Webster area for a Lutheran Church. From her study results, it was decided to form a Lutheran congregation in Webster. The first service was held on August 16, 1953 in the former West Webster Free Methodist Church. By September, membership had increased to the point that the services were moved to a remodeled garage at 450 Forest Drive. On October 6, 1953, St. Martin’s Evangelical [American] Lutheran Church was the name chosen for the new church. By November of that year, the membership of the church included 31 families. In 1954, the church celebrated the groundbreaking for a new church to be located on Chestnut Bend. A dedication of the new church building was held May 22, 1955. Several development projects took place over the next decade, including an expansion of the church building and an entrance from Bay Rd. A dedication service of the newly remodeled church was held on October 30,1966.

On January 5, 1970, the St. Martin’s Christian Nursery School opened with 29 children. There were two sessions, five days a week. The nursery school offered classes for three- and four- year-olds. The school was open for 29 years before it closed in In June of 1998.

Pastor Carleton left St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church to become Associate Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Minot, North Dakota on December 31, 1970. Rev. Robert Sael was installed as the fourth pastor of SMLC on September 19, 1971. Rev. Sael and his wife Beth have two children, Linnea and Stephen.

On June 4, 1972, David and Eleanor Leoliger and family, members of SMLC, were commissioned as missionaries with the Division of World Missions of the American Lutheran Church in Japan. Dr Loeliger taught at the International Christian University in Tokyo.

St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1973. The church celebrated with a dinner at the Colonial Hotel on Empire Boulevard on November 3rd. Former pastors were in attendance, with Pastor Albert Horn acting as Toastmaster. A dedication service was conducted on November 4th with the former pastors participating. The church’s celebration included the formation of the Site Development Committee which was charged with planning for the future. A program for enlarging and upgrading the parking area and new site landscaping was presented on November 3, 1973.

Pastor Jacob Huehn and his wife Elizabeth became members of the SMLC family in 1974. In the early stages of St. Martin’s, Pastor Huehn had been instrumental in the establishment of a mission congregation. On October 30, 1977, the church marked the 60th anniversary of Pastor Huehn’s ordination by holding a special service.

On December 8, 1974 a special Thanksgiving service was held to honor Pastor Albert Horn, a charter member of the church and former Chaplain-Director of the Rochester Lutheran Inner Mission Society. Pastor Horn was given the title of Pastor Emeritus of St. Martin’s. A reception was held following the service.

Pastor Sael left SMLC on December 28, 1975 to become the Pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Hialeah, Florida. Rev. Ronald Willmann was installed as the fifth pastor of St. Martin’s on August 1, 1976. Pastor Willmann graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Pastor Willmann, his wife Barbara and their three children Matthew, Sarah and Andrew resided at Bending Bough Dr.

On June 5, 1977, the congregation of SMLC approved a major $50,000 modification and facility upgrade project. The project included the complete renovation of the exterior of the church, new windows, a new entrance and siding.

The SMLC held its first Strawberry Social in June of 1983. The Adult Sunday School Class sponsored the Strawberry Social as an outreach to the community as well as to benefit the building fund.

On February 9, 1986, the congregation of SMLC approved the securing of a mortgage for $350,000 to “step out in faith” and build a new worship center. Bill Rampe was hired as the contractor and Fred Unger was hired as the architect. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on December 7, 1986 during the worship service. The congregation adjourned to the outside to shovel the first bit of dirt to start the building of the new worship center and fellowship hall. Work on the building started that week with an expected completion date of August, 1987. The expansion included a new sanctuary and individual classrooms. An elevator-style lift was installed to provide handicapped access to both levels of the church. The congregation completed much of the painting and conversion of the old building into classrooms. The dedication service for the expansion of the Worship, Learning and Ministry Center was held on September 13, 1987. Bishop E. Harold Jansen delivered the sermon at the 10:45 worship service. A reception and open house for the community followed the ceremony which many attended.

In July of 1990 the existing mortgage was refinanced with Lutheran Brotherhood [now Thrivant Financial for Lutherans]. The total of the mortgage was $340,000 with a 30-year plan to reduce the monthly mortgage payments.

Pastor Willmann left St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in July of 1991 to participate in a year long Clinical Pastoral Education Residency Program at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Pastor Willmann was known for his caring and compassion for the sick and suffering. Upon completion of the program Pastor Willmann was to become a hospital chaplin.

In July of 1992, Pastor Gregory W. Hager became the sixth pastor of St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

On March 27, 1997, the first Sonshine Contemporary Service was held at the church. This service provided a contemporary music style and casual atmosphere for worship. A sound system was installed to accommodate the service.

In May of 1995, Pastor Hager left St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church to become a military Chaplain at the Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. In November of 1995, Pastor Nadine Muller became the seventh pastor of St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

During the summer of 1996, St. Martin’s youth started participation in Work Camp. Each summer, high school youth and adult chaperones strengthen their faith by dedicating a week of service to those less fortunate. Home repair and improvement projects are completed in various location in Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio and New York.

Rock the Church came into existence in the spring of 1997. This was an outreach ministry of SMLC in which the youth of the community would came together on Friday night to hang out. It also included band night. After about four years, this ministry came to a close.

On April 25, 1998, Pastor Nadine Muller left St. Martin’s. Pastor Muller married and became Pastor Ridley. She moved to Binghamton, NY to become a hospital chaplain.

Boy Scout Troop 110 received its charter April 25, 1953 and began meeting at St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran. Over the years, they have had several boys complete the rank of Eagle Scout. One such Eagle Scout was Michael Campanella who, in the summer of 1998, installed a playground behind St. Martin’s as an Eagle Scout project. Michael said that St. Martin’s had given a lot to Scout Troop 110 and he wanted to give back to St. Martin’s. In 2018 Troop 110 will complete its 65th year at St Martin’s.

On September 14, 1998, Pastor Peter Johnson became the eighth pastor of St. Martin’s. Pastor Johnson, his wife Michele and two children Alex and Andrew came to Webster from the Minneapolis area.

The Young at Heart group began to meet in June of 2001. Young at Heart provides a forum for senior citizens and empty nesters to develop programs for fellowship. Monthly events are scheduled with tours, trips, guest speakers luncheons and plays.

Also in July of 2001, Creation Celebration, a theme based Christian summer camp for elementary-age children opened. This was an outreach program of SMLC for the families of the community. The original funding comes from a grant for a new children’s program. The camp was open to children who had completed kindergarten through sixth grade. There were three two-week sessions, each with a different theme. Each session had limited registration to allow the children to receive individual attention.

The first chicken barbeque was held at St. Martin’s in September of 2001. This event is a means to connect with the community and to serve as a fellowship time for the congregation. At times. it has used over 40 volunteers and served 500 dinners. As of 2018, this event is held twice a year and continues to be an important part of the church’s interaction with the community.

St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 17, 2003 with a banquet at the Venetian on Holt Rd. The evening included remembrances from former pastors and founding members Ray Jenis and Mary Skane. On Sunday October 19th, a special worship was held at the church.

Pastor Peter Johnson left St. Martin’s in the fall of 2004 to accept a new position at Nokomis Heights Lutheran Church in Minneapolis Minn. Pastor Johnson was responsible for leading the development of a revised Mission Statement at St Martin’s. A Farewell Worship Service was held on August 15 with a luncheon that followed the service.

Rev Joyce Taipale became the ninth pastor of St. Martin’s on May 22, 2005. Pastor Taipale came from Parma, Ohio.

In 2007, the Sonshine Contemporary Worship Service came to an end. As a result, St. Martin’s now held one worship service at 10am.

On December 30, 2008, Rev. Taipale left St. Martin’s and returned to her hometown of Parma, Ohio.

St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Penfield entered into a Covenant to have a joint ministry, sharing a pastor and other resources beginning in September, 2010. A covenant-signing celebration was held on Sunday, November 21, 2010 at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Pastor Johanna Johnson became the first jointly called pastor of St. Martin’s and Bethlehem Lutheran churches. Pastor Johnson became St. Martin’s 10th pastor on September 11, 2011. Sunday worship was held at 9 am at BLC [later adjusted to 8:45], and St. Martin’s at 10:30 am. Pastor Johnson married Michael Rehbaum in August, 2013.

During the summer of 2014, St. Martin’s and Bethlehem Lutheran Church began to hold Vacation Bible School. This 4-day children’s ministry has been offered every summer since to community and church members. It is staffed by both churches and is held at SMLC. In the summer of 2018, Transfiguration Lutheran Church joined St. Martin’s and Bethlehem Lutheran Church, enabling VBS to become a multi-congregational venture.

St. Martin’s has a strong commitment to community outreach, participating in several outreach programs including Operation Christmas Stocking, Mad Hatters, Vegetable Garden and Grocery Cart (supporting Webster Food Cupboard), Bay Buddies (supporting Adopt a Highway and Irondequoit Bay), Barnabas Ministry, and Webster Council of Churches. St. Martin’s also has global outreach programs in Egypt, Africa, and India.

Pastor List

Rev. Fred W. MacLean1954-1962
Rev. Ralferd Freytag1962-1966
Rev. Clyde Carlton1966-1970
Rev. Robert J. Sael1971-1975
Rev. Ronald C Willman1976-1991
Pastor Gregory Hager1992-1995
Rev. Nadine Muller1995-1998
Rev. Peter C. Johnson1998- 2004
Rev. Joyce Taipale2005-2008
Rev. Johanna Johnson Rehbaum2011-2018
Rev. Korey L. Finstad2018-
Rev. Johanna Rehbaum
Rev. Korey L. Finstad


  • Webster Church box, St. Martin Evangelical Lutheran Church, Webster Historian Office, Webster Museum, Webster, NY
  • Dunn, Esther, ​Webster Through the Years​, Webster Town Board, Webster, NY, 1971, p100-102.
  • “Progress Report, Religion is Alive and Active in Webster”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY January 24, 1973, p 26.
  • Hyatt, Irene ‘Sam”, “St Martin’s Church celebrates 20th year”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, October 17, 1973, p 7.
  • Hyatt, Irene “Sam”, Dinner to Mark 20th Anniversary”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, October 24, 1973, p 17.
  • “St Martins Mark 20th Anniversary, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, January 30, 1974, p 4.
  • “Service Honors Retired Pastor”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, December 4, 1974, p 8.
  • “Loeligers To Visit Webster:, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, August 6, 1975, p 18.
  • “New Pastor for St Martin”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, July 21, 1976, p 2.
  • “Around Town, Strawberry Festival”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, June 15, 1983 p 4A.
  • “St Martin’s holds groundbreaking for new classrooms and sanctuary”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, December 17, 1986, p 18A.
  • “Willmann leaving St Martin’s at end of July”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, July 24, 1991, p 1.
  • “St Martin’s plans dedication”, Webster Herald, September 9, 1987, p 5.
  • St Martin Lutheran Church celebrates 50 years of worship”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, October 29, 2003, p 10B.
  • “St Martin’s host summer camp”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, April 11, 2001.
  • “Pastor bids farewell”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, August 4, 2004, p 6.
  • “St Lutheran church welcomes Joyce Taipale as new pastor”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, April 13, 2005, p 7.
  • “New Pastor joins St Martin’s”, Webster Herald, January 21, 2009, p 10.
  • Haffen, Sharon, “St Martin Lutheran History update from 1970-present”, St. Martin Evangelical Lutheran Church, Webster, NY, July 25, 2018.
  • St Martin Lutheran Church, 2018, ​