(Adapted from the 75th Anniversary Historical Records)
In 1925 in a thriving cornfield, bounded by a lightly traveled country road, Strathmoor Presbyterian Church was formally organized and received into the Louisville Presbytery. The first building was a simple structure built of rough lumber and stained dark brown inside and out. It consisted of one large room heated by a coal stove.
But the ground on which this church grew was plowed years before.
The story of this church began in 1905 when a little outpost Sunday School was started in a small wooden building on Schoolhouse hill on Newburg Road. Pioneers in this effort were Charles J. Meriwether and Charles Myers, both members of Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church. After attending their own church each Sunday, the men would conduct afternoon services at the outpost. In 1913, the Sunday School regularly drew 100 people. More space was needed. The group moved to a school building on Bishop Lane and adopted the name "Shady Side Sunday School".
The group moved once again in 1922- this time into their own newly constructed building on the site of the current church. It was called Strathmoor Community Chapel - the name adopted from it's surrounding neighborhood. The Chapel became a Church when officially accepted by the Presbytery on September 13, 1925.
The physical church changed many times over the next fifty years. In 1938 a balcony, choir loft, vestibule and basement (with furnace!) were added. So was a belfry, in which a bell cast in 1858 was hung. That same bell can be rung today by pulling the rope that hangs in the current balcony! In 1942, a Soldier Recreation Room and kitchen were added to host the soldiers from Bowman Field Air Base.
The current Sanctuary was dedicated in 1948 and twelve years later; the Educational building was completed.
In 1973, the original church, in later years known as Fellowship hall, was razed to make way for the new Fellowship and Administrative complex.
On the morning of Sunday, May 16, 1976 a Bi-centennial Service was lead with the Rev. Dr. Gary Pennington presiding with the OLDE ORDER OF DIVINE WORSHIPPE.
And the history of Strathmoor Presbyterian Church continued into the next quarter century with 733 active members. There were Sunday School classes for every age group, seven circles in the Women of the Church, as it was then called, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and the very important Day School. The Church continued to be a beacon in the neighborhood as the facilities were used by many groups and activities.
On December 3, 1977, the new pastor was welcomed--Dr. Richard Clippinger preached his first sermon. He remained the pastor until August 1987. A very active music program was directed by Dr. Forrest Heeren, and Mrs. Heeren was the organist.
The Women of the Church became the Strathmoor Presbyterian Women and continued to fund many mission projects with the annual Christmas Bazaar.
On November 13, 1983, the congregation approved the establishment of the Strathmoor Presbyterian Foundation to receive gifts and general endowment funds. Money received will be held and managed by trustees and interest earned may be spent at the direction of the session and or the congregation. The first Foundation committee members were Maurice Nicholson, Jack Martin and Robert Kuhnle. The Foundation continues to be a welcome way to honor and remember friends and relatives.
It was 1987, fifty years after the 1937 flood in Louisville, and Strathmoor celebrated the work that was done in the church, by church members. Many people were fed and given shelter in that little brown church. A Flood Crest commemoration breakfast was held in Brown Hall.
When Dr. Clippinger accepted a call to a church in Portland, Oregon, in 1987, Dr. Glen Edgerton became Moderator until the new pastor, David M. Montgomery, was called in 1988. Mrs. Ann Marie Montgomery became the interim Director of Christian Education, Sarah Jane Whitehead was the organist/choir director, and Jane Merrill was director of the Educational Center. The Youth Ministry at Strathmoor remained an important part of the curriculum, and the ministry of music was a viable part of worship as the bell choirs continued to be apart of the music program.
The year of1993 brought many changes to the church. In June, Rev. David Montgomery received a call to another congregation. Dr. James E. Wagner was installed as the interim pastor in December, and he served in that capacity for two years and nine months.
During this time, Dr. Wagner initiated two groups to create a new vision for Strathmoor - "Mirrors", to examine the needs within the congregation and "Windows", to access the needs of the neighborhood outside the walls of the church. Dr. Wagner ended his service to Strathmoor on August 16, 1996, and on August 18, 1996, Alan G. Adams, a recent graduate of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, was ordained and installed by the Presbytery of Louisville as the current pastor of Strathmoor.
Over the final years of the twentieth century, Strathmoor was blessed with a resurgence of activity and the addition of a number of young families. In August 1999, a Director of Youth Ministry, Candy Wheat, was hired and began to revitalize the Christian Education program. In November 1999, the 25th Annual Christmas Bazaar of the Strathmoor Presbyterian Women donated a 25-year total of $106,000 for mission causes throughout the area.
The congregation has changed often during the years as well. As the quiet country road grew into a major artery and the cornfield gave way to homes and businesses, the church rolls grew. From 26 official members in 1926 to a peak of more than 850 by the mid-1960s, Strathmoor's rolls reflected the phenomenal growth of suburban Louisville.
Participation at the turn of the century was again on the rise and stood at 222, but the programs and services offered within the walls of the buildings served many more. The successful Nursery-Kindergarten School, one of the oldest continuous programs in the county, was also one of the most sought after by parents. Scout troops, community groups, and non-profit organizations used the church for both office space and as a recreation center. And the attractive space regularly served as a backdrop for weddings throughout the year.
In the early 2000s, the church began opening its doors to a wide variety of civic and community groups. Included in this was a Persian group that began meeting on Sunday afternoons and evenings, where poetry was written and read and volleyball was played in the church's gym. This was an especially important partnership with 9/11 having recently happened in order for the congregation to show their support for neighbors who did not look like the membership of the church and to invite the community to into more compassionate outreach.
January 2009 saw a huge ice storm hit the Louisville area. Strathmoor became a second home for people experiencing displacement from the effects of the weather, as people slept in various rooms and utilized the church's power to stay warm.
The Rev. Elizabeth Kirkpatrick became the first female minister installed at Strathmoor in the late 2000s. She is the daughter of Clifton "Cliff" Kirkpatrick, a retired Professor of World Christianity and Ecumenical Studies at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the former Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) from 1996-2008. Her family was very active in sustaining the ministry for youth as well as ushering the church into the social media era.
After Rev. Kirkpatrick's departure in 2018, Strathmoor called The Rev. KT Ockels to be the second female clergy in the church's history, and she began her service in 2019. Rev. Ockels began her relationship with Strathmoor as one of the Scout leaders for a troop that moved after Buechel Presbyterian Church closed its doors. Strathmoor was grateful for the pre-existing connection as well as for Rev. Ockels' service to the global Church through her mission work as a resident teacher in Palestine and her work for the PC(USA) National Center - all in the 1990s before her call led her to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She continues to be our church's pastor today and also splits her time in ministry with Beechmont Presbyterian Church, serving as their Financial Assistant and Honorary Parish Associate.
Strathmoor has seen plenty of changes over the last 100 years, but the considerable spirit of the original Out Post Sunday School group remains. As we celebrate a full century of ministry based in Louisville, Kentucky, Strathmoor stands poised for whatever calling comes our way - wherever that may take us - and it will forever be a place Christians can call home.