Religious services began the day the German settlers arrived in New Braunfels. On that Good Friday, the first service was held under a grove of elm trees. The First Protestant Church would be incorporated later that year, in October 1845.
The original log church with an “onion steeple belfry” served the congregation until 1879, when the current First Protestant Church building was erected of stone. At this church today, one can see the chalice presented by Prince Carl during the first mass held outdoors, as well as the original bells that hung in the onion belfry—which called the people to worship and the children to school.
The first Catholic service was also held outdoors, in March 1846. Finding a Catholic priest proved very difficult, forcing the bishop in Galveston to send “saddle-bag priests” until 1849, when the New Braunfels Catholics got their first priest. This allowed the church to incorporate as Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church. The present-day stone church was erected in 1871 on the same land where that first Catholic mass was held decades earlier.
A Lutheran congregation formed in an outskirts community called Hortontown. Residents in the area built St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1850, originally in brick and fachwerk construction. While the community of Hortontown no longer exists, the church still stands, making it the oldest Lutheran church in the state of Texas.
The area’s first “Colored Methodist Church” was founded in 1890. The congregation purchased land and built the building today known as Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The first “Colored Baptist Church” in New Braunfels began in 1900. The 14 founding members held services in an open field under the shade of a live oak tree. The land was purchased some years later and Live Oak Baptist Church, which still stands today, was built.