St. John's Towamensing Lutheran Church

Established 1798 – Palmerton, Pennsylvania


St. John’s Lutheran Church Chronology

Jump to year:  1850190019502000

1798       The Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed denominations, Towamensing Township, Northampton County were organized at Aquashicola and six acres of land were purchased from Michael Strohl for $58.25

July 22 – Johanes, son of Heinrich Bloss, born June 18, was entered in the Church Record as the first baptism.  Sponsors for the baptism were Johanes and Juliana Klein (from the Lutheran Congregation).

Volume I of the Church Record was opened by the Reformed Pastor John Jacob Eyermann.  The first entry is a Confirmation class for 1798.

1799       February 6 – The two congregations agreed to build a Union Church and a Schoolhouse.

June 12 – The cornerstone for the Church, a log structure, was laid with an appropriate service.  The Rev. John Casper Dill (first Lutheran pastor) and the Rev. J. Henry Helfrich officiated.  The first Lutheran Communion and Confirmation services entered in the church record were observed on the 27th Sunday after Trinity in November.  Rev. Johannes Fridirici officiated.

1800       The first Reformed Communion recorded in the Church Record was observed on November 23 by the Rev. Thomas Pomp.

1809       December 10 – A subscription list for the purchase of an organ is found in the Church Record, however no organ was purchased.

1811       The Rev. Fred W. Meendsen replaces Rev. Dill as pastor.

1812       The Rev. Jacob Becker’s first Communion is recordedJune 7, 1812 and the Rev. Friedrich Meendsen’s first Communion is recorded onSeptember 20, 1812.

1820       George Kelchner, later a member of the State Congress and treasurer of the Union Church, was the schoolmaster in the 1820’s.

1829       April 12 – The first time more than 100 members participated in a Lutheran Communion service.

1843       April 30 – The first time more than 100 members participated in a Reformed Communion Service.

1845          Adam Kunkle erected a fence around the cemetery.

1849       First organ used in Church.

1852       The Rev. William Roth replaces Rev. Meendsen as pastor.

1858       Daniel Henry placed a slate roof on the Church at a cost of $63.65, but it did not save the building.

The Rev. David Kuntz is called to replace Rev. Roth as St. John’s pastor.

1862       The present brick building was erected at a cost of about $9,000.  The Building Committee consisted of Henry Baumann, Abraham Harleman, Daniel Stemler, and Levi Kern.

1868       A rail fence was erected around the cemetery to help the organist keep cows from grazing there.

1869       Pastor Kuntz is succeeded by the Rev. Reuben Kistler asSt. John’s Lutheran pastor.

1874       August 2 – Church Constitution revised.  Subsequently this revision was rejected by the congregations onJuly 22, 1877.  A kitchen was added to the schoolhouse.  (The former sexton’s home.)

1876       First English sermons were delivered.  The Rev. George A. Bruegel is called to serve as pastor replacing Rev. Kistler.

1881       February 27 – Rededication services were held after extensive repairs on the roof and painting.  There is a detailed account of money received and spent on this occasion in the Church Record.

1886       November 13 – A new bell, presumably the present one, was purchased from the Meneely Bell Company to replace the old bell which was broken.  The cost of the bell was $243.94.

1887       The Rev. Jesse S. Erb is called to shepherd the Lutheran congregation.

1890       The first pipe organ was installed and dedicated.

February 1 – The 1874 revision of the congregation finally was approved.

1896       October 28 – The Rev. H. E. Moyer received and accepted a call to the Lutheran Congregation.

St. John’s Lutheran congregation became the Towamensing Pastoral charge with its sister congregation,Jerusalem, Trachsville.  Originally it was part of the Cherryville Pastoral charge.

1899       October 8 – The two congregations celebrated the Centennial Anniversary.  The Reverends George Bruegal, T. O. Stem, Professor Bauman, David Kuntz, and Thomas Huber delivered sermons.

1908       October 4 – After extensive repairs inside and out of the church, rededication services were held.  Reverends J. S. Erb, W. M. Rehrig, L. H. Straub, O. O. Noss, Jacob Rupp, and J. E. Freeman officiated.

1912       A substantial fence was built around the cemetery.

1917       The church was remodeled, a pipeless heating system and electric lights were installed.

1920       October 31 – A farewell service was held for Rev. and Mrs. Henry H. Moyer, Missionaries toRajahmundry,Godavery District,India.  The Rev. C. T. Benze, member of the Foreign Mission Board preached the sermon.

1924       October 26 – 125th Anniversary services of theChurchBuilding.  Reverends W. M. Rehrig, C. A. Butz, J. E. Freeman, Theo. F. Herman and H. W. Tyson preached.  A revised edition of the Constitution was adopted.

1926       First Home-Coming services were conducted with the offerings and donations used for improvement and care of the Church cemetery.

1933       May 28 – The title of “Pastor Emeritus” was conferred upon Rev. H. E. Moyer by the Lutheran Congregation.

June 11 – The Rev. M. L. Wahrmann was called as pastor to the Lutheran Congregation.

1937       Earl Seip accepted the position of organist and choir director and continued in this position more than 40 years.

1940       May 12 – Dedication services were held for improvements including a two Manual Moller electric pipe organ, hot water heating system, memorial windows, new carpet and linoleum, new doors, redecoration of the interior walls and pews, and a new altar.

1942       January 25 – The Church was kept open daily for meditation and prayer.  The Christian flag was presented to the Church by the Men’s and Women’s classes of St. John’s Reformed Chapel, Aquashicola.  The American flag was presented to the Church by the Lutheran Chapel, Aquashicola, and dedicated on March 18 at a union Midweek Lenten service.

1943       One thousand American red pine trees were planted on Church property, donated by the Bachman family in memory of James U. Bachman.

1944       The first midnight Christmas Eve service was held on Sunday, December 24 by the Rev. R. Edwin Kutz.

1946       The Lutheran Congregation with Jerusalem Lutheran Congregation purchased the home of A. A. Ziegenfus as a parsonage.

1947 A tract of land north of the highway excluding the Sexton’s home was purchased with donations from the congregation.

1948       During the week of June 20, 150th Anniversary services were held.  The Rev. Dr. E. E. Fischer and Rev. H. M. Klein preached the sermons.  A Music service was observed featuring the Moravian Trombone Choir and the Church Choir under the direction of Mr. Earl B. Seip.

1951       The outdoor Bulletin Board and the picnic grounds were dedicated at Homecoming services.

1954       May 20 – The Rev. Mark Heiney, a son of the congregation was ordained.

1955       The interior of the Church was redecorated to its present light color scheme from the former dark oak varnish.

Edwin A. Boyer retired after 55 years of service as Union Secretary.  As far as can be determined this is the longest continuous service in any single capacity by a member of the congregations.

1957       May 26 – Sons of the congregation, Sherwood Dieter and George Ziegenfus are ordained into the ministry of theLutheranChurch.

1958       The Rev. M. Luther Wahrmann was honored upon completion of 25 years of ministry at St. John’s by a Testimonial dinner.

1959       May 6 – Reformed Congregation purchased a parsonage at889 Columbia Avenue in Palmerton.

1960       January 6 – Titile of “Pastor Emeritus” was conferred upon Rev. R. Edwin Kutz by the Reformed congregation.

1965       The basement room was redecorated in the Church.

1966       Lutheran Congregation purchased the Aquashicola Public School building for use as a Christian Education Building.

1971 Newspaper and magazine recycling efforts began.

1974       The Rev. M. L. Wahrmann retires and is honored for 40 years of service.  Pastor Wahrmann purchases the parsonage at789 Delaware Ave., Palmerton.  The Rev. Robert von Frisch is called to shepherd the Lutheran congregation and  in September purchases a home at25 E. Mill St., Bowmanstown.

1977       January 30 – Lutheran and United Church of Christ bodies dissolve the St. John’s Union.  The vote consisted of 90 for and 31 against the dissolution on the U.C.C. side with Lutherans voting 78 for and 60 against the action.

An equity fee of $43,750 was established by the union study committee of the two congregations and was paid to the U.C.C. congregation in five installments of $8,750.  The first was paid the day the agreement was signed.  The pastors at this time were the Rev. Robert von Frisch, Lutheran Pastor and the Rev. William D. Mitchell U.C.C. Pastor.  The Lutherans remained in the building and the U.C.C. congregation moved to the site onColumbia Avenue, which had served as its Sunday School building.

1980       June 1 – Ground breaking ceremonies were held for a new Christian Educational building.

October 5 – The Blessing of the new parish hall is held.

November 2 – Dedication of the parish hall and new Christian Education building.

1981       The Cemetery was cleaned and is now maintained.

1983       The Rev. Robert von Frisch leavesSt. John’s and is called toZionLutheranChurch, Weatherly.

April – Ms. Nancianne Metz begins duties as organist and choir director.

May –  On Mother’s Day, the Rev. Jody L. Neifert is called and accepts the position of Pastor.

June 1 – Pastor Neifert begins as St. John’s Pastor and is ordained on June 19.

A garage was built and donated to the church for its recycling progam by Nettie Christman at a cost of $7,390.  The old garage was torn down.

1984       May 6 – The debt of the Christian Education building is retired with a mortgage burning celebration.  A new well is dug for the water supply, a new bulletin board is erected.  The parking lots are paved and new steps to the church installed.  Costs of these improvements total approximately $57,000.

1985       Hand Bells are donated.  Walkway lights are installed along with extensive landscaping done around the buildings. Church office equipment is updated.

1986       Sexton’s house built circa 1817 was removed.  New flooring central vacuum system and remodeling of the sanctuary performed including carpeting and water filtration system installed.

1985          New altarware purchased and dedicated.  Earl Ziegenfus begins maintaining the cemetery.

1987       Water purification system installed by George’s P&H at a cost of $1650.

1988       Aluminum soffeting installed on the church eves.  Ceiling fans installed in the sanctuary.  A sacristy was built in the Christian Education building to house worship supplies and altar vestments.

November 19 – Lutheran/Reformed Sunday School on Lehigh Ave. is closed.  The Sunday School ran independently from St. John’s for many years.  It was donated to the church for sale by its trustees, including: Mr. & Mrs. George Werley and Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Walk, members of St. John’s.

1990       New Copier purchased.  Began using a Paschal candle in the sanctuary.  Banners for the liturgical seasons were designed and made.  New altar linens were purchased and dedicated.

1992       New Sound system installed in church and church office becomes computerized.  Preliminary plans for a new addition to the Sunday School and to connect the Sunday School to the church are drawn.

1993       Aluminium can recycling begun.  All recycling efforts are led by Carl Behler, Robert Ruch, and Fred Serfass.

1994       New Choir Albs and scapulars are purchased and dedicated.  Ms. Nancianne Metz resigns as organist after 11 years of service.

1995       Mrs. Adele Kunkle becomes new organist and choir director but later in the year resigns.  Bibles were sponsored and dedicated for use in worship in the sanctuary.

A new digital carillon is donated to the church.

1996       Adam Koch becomes new organist and choir director.

1997       Two sons of the congregation, the Rev. George Ziegenfus and the Rev. Sherwood Dieter celebrate the 40th Anniversary of their ordinations.

December 1 – Adam Koch resigns as organist/choir director.

1998       May – Margaret Shinsec is appointed to serve as organist/choir director.          

St. John’s celebrates its 200th Anniversary, designating October as the month for various activities and events


2000  Additions to the Christian Education Building and large renovations completed

2008       Pastor Neifert celebrates his 25th Anniversary with the congregation as shepherd of St. John’s.  Earl Zeigenfus steps down as caretaker for the cemetery and is replaced by Peter Green

2010       Altarware is renewed and restored by an effort led by Kelly Green and sponsored by members of the congregation

2011      St. John’s begins hosting the Palmerton area food pantry coordinated by Charles Silliman

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