Reverend Lucious Thalley founded Grace Memorial, the original Transfiguration Lutheran Church, on November 8, 1903. This church was the first African American Lutheran Congregation west of the Mississippi River.
Quickly after the church’s creation, a Christian day school was started in 1904. By 1909, the congregation was reorganized as Grace Lutheran Church. The members met at several storefronts until 1927 when a new site was secured. The church was again renamed St. Phillips Lutheran Church. Since the location was moved, the children of Grace Lutheran could no longer walk to the school. A group of Lutherans organized to support the remnants, but the school was dissolved in 1940.
After worshipping at several different locations, the most recent location (1807 Biddle Street) was officially secured. A chapel was erected and dedicated on July 1, 1946 with the name Transfiguration Lutheran Church.
Pastors serving the congregation included: Lucious Thalley (1903), James Dowell (1909), George Schmidt (1913), Herbert Claus (1917), Paul Gose (1923), G. L. Kroenik (1927), John Fey (1929), Wilbert Field (1941), William Seebeck (1943), Gerhardt Groerich (1949), and William Young.
The Lutheran Ladies Aid for Neighborhood Missions began to establish a community center in 1958. The Lutheran Business Women of St. Louis led by a woman named Anna Beck brought the Community Center to realization and carried out work in the St. Louis community. In the same year, lifelong Transfiguration member Deaconess Geraldine Plato was consecrated as the first African American deaconess.
Though Transfiguration was founded by an African American pastor, the church was soon turned over to the leadership of white pastors. Though they served the community well, Transfiguration is proud to have come back under the leadership of the African American pastors for over 25 years. Under their leadership, the church has transformed into a self-supporting congregation. In 2003, Rev. Dr. Stanley Engram, Sr. became the pastor of Transfiguration.
In 2005, Great Commission Lutheran Church grew out of Transfiguration and established itself as one of our sister churches. Our other sister churches include: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, St. Matthews Lutheran Church, and Unity Lutheran Church.
From our long history, it is clear that we welcome and embrace change. The community around Transfiguration is changing yet again. In 2010, our congregation completed a major renovation project to the front of the church. We have renovated the outside, but our “internal” renovation is an ongoing process. We are a congregation that has the mind to work.
The TLC Summer Day Camp was created in 2016. The camp was founded by the youth of Transfiguration in order for them to provide the community children with meals, sports, dance, music, arts classes, and field trips over the summer. In 2018, we welcomed Rev. Aaron Dickerson to lead Transfiguration.