In 1760, residents of this area who wanted to worship walked, or rode on horseback, to a small building at Rude’s Hill south of Mt. Jackson. This Union Church, called Rude’s Hill Church, accommodated congregations of various denominations. Among these were the Lutherans who continued to practice the religion they had acquired in Germany before immigrating here.
At the time the church was founded there were no regular Lutheran ministers in the area. Instead circuit riding preachers visited each congregation on an irregular basis to conduct services. In 1772 the first full time Lutheran minister came to Shenandoah County. Peter Muhlenberg, a Lutheran who was also ordained an Anglican priest in accordance with English law, served all the Lutheran and Anglican congregants in Shenandoah County, including the one at Rude’s Hill. He helped recruit many county residents, including ones from this area, to serve in the Continental Army.
Around 1783 enough people had moved to this area that a new church was needed. This building was built away from Rude’s Hill, near the site of the present St. Mary’s Pine Church. Sometime before this, the name had been changed to Pine Church. Local legend indicates the name was derived from the presence of a large grove of pine trees in the area.
This new Pine Church continued to host various congregations. Primarily it served the Reformed and Lutheran denominations since these were the two major branches associated with the German populace. Pine Church also operated a graveyard that is still in existence. The earliest known grave at this site dates to 1786.
Toward the end of the 19th century the groups that had worshiped at Pine Church decided to form independent houses of worship. In 1873 the Lutheran’s completed their own church and named it St. Mary’s Pine. This simple building reflects the popular, more primitive style church used at the time and contains dual entrances for men and women who remained segregated during services.
This church is the basis of the current St. Mary’s building. It has undergone several major renovations, including the addition of a belfry, narthex, and social hall which altered the character of the structure.