History of St. Johnís Evangelical Lutheran Church Fogelsville, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
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St. Johnís Evangelical Lutheran Church had its origin in the High German Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Church which was founded in 1834. A considerable number of houses had been built in Fogelsville, with a consequent increase in population. These people had a church membership elsewhere, chiefly in Trexlertown, Ziegelís and Jordan congregations, and it was natural that they should want a church of their own. Thus in 1834 the sentiment crystallized in a meeting held in the public house of George Guth. Here it was decided to build a new church.
The cornerstone was laid on May 9, 1835. The services were conducted by The Revs. Joseph Dubbs and Isaac Roeller, who also preached the sermons. The ďProclamationĒ was read by The Rev. George Wartman. The Rev. Dubbs and The Rev. Wartman were pastors of the Union Church, Neffs.
Dedicatory services were held on Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1, 1835, forenoon and afternoon. The Revs. Joshua Yeager and Isaac Roeller preached the first day, and The Revs. G. G. Herman and Gottlieb Yeager had charge of the services on Sunday.
On November 22, The Rev. Isaac Roeller was elected pastor of the Lutheran congregation. The first Lutheran Communion of which there is any record was held on May 17, 1837; forty-seven communing. At the same time seventeen persons were confirmed.
The Rev. Isaac Roeller, the first Lutheran pastor, served for fifteen years (1835-1850) and was succeeded by The Rev. Jeremiah Schindel who served for eight years (1850-1858). The Rev. E. H. M. Sell served for the three years following The Rev. Schindel. The Rev. Owen Leopold served for the next forty-seven years (1861-1904). Upon The Rev. Owen Leopold's death in 1904, his son The Rev. Elmer O. Leopold served as pastor until 1908.
It was under the able leadership of Pastor Owen Leopold that the majority of the Lutheran congregation withdrew from the Union Church and built their own place of worship. Records indicate that a subscription was solicited and the sentiments of the congregation expressed by the fact that the subscriptions contained nearly all of the Lutheran members. On Whitsunday 1874 the cornerstone of the present St. Johnís Evangelical Church was laid. The record is not clear as to the date of the dedication, but from all indications it must have taken place sometime in 1875.
Many changes took place in the physical aspects of the building from that early date. Gas lights were installed, and new space heaters were added on two occasions. A new heating plant was installed in 1924. In 1930 a new pipe organ was purchased. During this time different renovations were made to the basement for added Sunday School rooms. In 1938 a major project of roof repair and tower repair was carried out. At the same time, the Ladies Aid Society, which had been organized in 1903, stated that they would like to have the church remodeled and beautified and they would assume the responsibility of paying the interest on the borrowed money. A major remodeling program was completed in 1940 at the cost of about $20,000. It ended with the Ladies Aid Society not only paying for the interest but also a large part of the principle. All of this took place under the able leadership of The Rev. John F. Keller, who served as pastor for thirty years (1908-1939).
During the war years very little could be done in reducing the debt or remodeling, but after the war the congregation flourished and once more became debt free. The first parish-owned parsonage was built in 1948, under the leadership of The Rev. Robert A. Laubach, who was pastor from 1939 until 1953.
Through the years many attempts had been made to provide individual class rooms for the pupils of the Sunday School. This was accomplished in a meager way. However, the rooms served double purposes, making it impossible for the children to have rooms they could call their own. Proposals were advanced to provide new social and educational facilities. The congregation approved the project in October 1964. Work was started on the project early in 1965 and the new addition to the Church was dedicated on September 26, 1965. This expansion was done during the pastorate of The Rev. Robert C. Schiebel. The Rev. Schiebel served as pastor of the four church Fogelsville Lutheran Parish for twelve years (1953-1966). When the Parish was divided in two, The Rev. Schiebel elected to remain with the Ziegels-Weisenberg Parish. The Rev. Thomas A. Berg was called to serve the new Fogelsville-Morganland Parish. He served from 1966 to 1969.
In 1970, St. Johnís elected to become a single church parish and The Rev. Robert L. George accepted their call to be the pastor on August 1, 1970. He served until 1984, when The Rev. Christopher N. Hershman was called to be pastor (1984-1992).
The succeeding years saw a number of physical improvements to the church building, with the installation of air conditioning and an elevator. It also saw a number of pastors serving as shepherd to the congregation. The Rev. Sherwood L. Dieter served as interim pastor in 1994 until Pastor John Fritch was called. The Rev. John P. Fritch was called to serve from 1994 to 2001, and The Rev. David D. Long served from 2002-2006. The Rev. Richard H. Stough served as interim pastor from 1992 to 1994, and again from 2001 to 2002. The Rev. Stanley R. Trout served as interim pastor from 2006-2007. The Rev. MaryAnn Hamm was called in 2007, and serves as the Pastor as St. Johnís celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2009. (thanks David)
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