First Lutheran Church of Edinburg, TX dates to 1926 when representatives of the Lutheran Synod of Ohio and other states came to Edinburg to purchase five town lots in east Edinburg for the purpose of starting a mission among the Spanish speaking population living there. In 1929, the Rev. German Vasquez, a Spanish speaking Lutheran pastor, came to Edinburg from his native Puerto Rico to begin that synod work and the Synod formally organized the congregation of San Pablo Lutheran Church in 1931. Additions to the church began in the 1930 with a church parsonage and educational building added in the 1940’s.
In 1942, English speaking Lutherans (primarily farmers from the Midwest) got together to form a church in Edinburg which they named First American Lutheran Church. The congregation worshiped at San Pablo for a number of months until an abandoned packing shed was purchased and converted into a church building. The congregation thrived and grew, celebrating its 15th anniversary in 1957.
In the early 1950’s, two hard freezes and an extended drought caused the two churches to decline. Farmers had difficulty making a living and some moved elsewhere. The same situation affected the San Pablo congregation as most of the members were employed in various agricultural occupations. In 1958, in order to survive, the two congregations decided to form one parish, one worshiping in Spanish and one in English. During the following two years a decision was made to unite the two congregations into one single congregation, continuing as a bilingual church. By late 1959, a renovated church building was ready for worship, complete with additional Sunday School rooms and a parsonage. On January 1st, 1960, the merger of the two congregations took place. First Lutheran Church was the selected name for the merged congregation.
Over 50 years have passed since the merger which created First Lutheran. In the mid 1980’s, a new sanctuary was built to accommodate the changes and growth of the congregation. Its other buildings, built in 1959-60, have been renovated at different times to serve its changing needs and ministries. The congregation itself has changed over the years. No longer a congregation of farmers and agricultural workers situated outside of town, First Lutheran’s members are now as diverse as the city and the urban/university setting around the church itself.
The mission and ministries of the congregation have grown and changed and many have fulfilled their purpose over the years. First Lutheran’s music ministry, food pantry, and Winter Texan ministry are ministries for which the church has been well known for many years as was its jail ministry. First Lutheran will continue to its mission and its ministries into the future and God continues to guide, direct and sustain them.