A period of growth and expansion marked the coming of the Rev. John Fielding Crigler in 1915. It was during Dr. Crigler’s ministry in 1918 that three Lutheran bodies united to form the United Lutheran Church in America. From 1861-1918, St. Mark’s along with other southern Lutheran congregations had been part of the United Synod of the Lutheran Church in the South. In 1919 work was begun on a Sunday School Building and enlargement of the church. On November 1, 1920 the congregation and Sunday School held the first service in the new building and the church reopened for service October 1, 1922 with new memorial windows and furnishings. 1915 marks the first year of recorded Council minutes to be found in St. Mark’s archives.
The population of Charlotte in 1920 was 46,338 and as the city grew, St. Mark’s grew and reached out to the larger community to spread the Gospel.
From 1917-1919, St. Mark’s served as a church home for thousands of soldiers stationed at Camp Greene. Camp Greene which was located on the western outskirts of the city was considered one of the largest military camps in the United States. St. Mark’s virtually had a military congregation during those war years; and since there was no army chaplain available, Dr. Crigler administered to their spiritual needs, performing innumerable marriage ceremonies, visiting the sick at the base hospital, and conducting funeral services.
A new constitution was adopted by the congregation in 1923 providing rotation in office for Councilmen. In 1924 the organization of the Business Woman’s Group of the Women’s Missionary Society was effected. Also during 1924 the Lutheran Brotherhood was reorganized.
In 1928 another new Charlotte Lutheran Church, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, was started in the Dilworth area with assistance from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. In October 1935, St. Mark’s celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone at 416 N. Tryon Street. The congregation persevered during the hardships of the depression.
St. Mark’s has always had active programs for its youth, and with the establishment of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, the congregation was an early sponsor of these programs among Charlotte churches. Boy Scout Troop 24, Cub Scout Pack 24, Hornet’s Nest Girl Scout Troop 881, and Hornet’s Nest Brownie Troop 881 have long provided moral and fitness training for community youth and inculcated in them the virtues of honor, integrity, and duty to God and country. For a time during the 1970’s and 80’s the congregation also sponsored both a Boy Scout and a Girl Scout program for mentally delayed youth.
During World War I, World War II, and the Korean Conflict, the congregation sent many of its members to serve in the Armed Services.
In 1948, Dr. Crigler completed thirty three years of service as Pastor of St. Mark’s. He was much beloved, and his pastorate marked a period of active growth and expansion of the work of the congregation. Dr. Crigler served as Pastor longer than any other Pastor.
The Rev. C. K. Rhodes served the congregation as supply pastor before the Rev. Walter B. Freed was called to the pastorate from St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wilmington in September 1948. During Dr. Freed’s ministry, the program of evangelism and expansion which had begun in Dr. Crigler’s ministry continued to grow. The congregation was incorporated in 1949. The Rev. Walter Marz, a son of St. Mark’s, served as assistant pastor of St. Mark’s from 1952 to 1954.
In 1953 approximately 55 members of St. Mark’s withdrew to organize Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Providence Road area. Other families from St. Mark’s formed the nucleus for another new Lutheran Church in the Ashley Park area, Redeemer Lutheran Church.
The city of Charlotte and its population continued to grow rapidly, and there was a shift of the population to the suburbs.
In 1953 Dr. Freed resigned to accept a call to Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, D.C., and on January 1, 1955 Dr. John E. Brokhoff answered a call from Atlanta to become pastor of St. Mark’s. Dr. Brokhoff immediately began plans to build a greater St. Mark’s. February 1, 1955 marks the date of the first issue of Re: Mark’s (our monthly parish paper).
In 1956 a building committee was appointed and a $300,000 building fund canvass was opened. During 1956 a lot at the corner of Edgehill Road and Queens Road comprising approximately two acres was purchased for the construction of new worship and educational facilities. A new parsonage was also purchased at 226 Huntley Place. The Rev. A. James Laughlin served as associate pastor from 1957 to 1959.
In 1960 after one hundred years in downtown Charlotte, St. Mark’s moved to and occupied the new church facilities at 1001 Queens Road. The new church, modern in architectural style, was filled throughout with windows, art work, and arrangements that combined the best of historical Christian symbolism, based upon the portrait of Christ given by the Gospel of St. Mark, designed to reflect in the mind of the believer the mystery of Christ in the visible world.
All during 1959 the new church was under construction. Excavation was nearly complete in May 1959 but bad weather delayed completion, and the new church was a little more than half finished by mid 1960. The congregation sold its property on North Tryon Street in 1959 to the Barringer Hotel Corporation, and the old church building was subsequently razed for a parking lot and now provides parking for Hall House, a residential facility for the elderly which occupies the old Barringer Hotel on North Tryon. The congregation retained the right of possession of the old church until July 1, 1960. The formal opening and consecration of the new church was held on September 11, 1960 when the congregation moved into the new and present church home.
Between 1910 and 1960 the population of Charlotte had grown almost six times to 201,564, and the city had emerged as a dynamic urban center of the New South. St. Mark’s shared in this growth and faithfully responded in sharing and spreading the Gospel. During this fifty year period several members of the church had entered the ministry to serve the wider church including the Rev. S. White Rhyne (1922), the Rev. Jacob H. Young, Jr. (1950), the Rev. David Cooper (1941), the Rev. George Kahl (1953), the Rev. Walter George Marz (1952), and the Rev. Paul B. Beatty, Jr. (1957).