The First Church

In 1762 the congregation built their first church. It was situated on Fish Street (now Saratoga) near Gay Street, about a block north of the present day church. The addition was built in 1785.

The little Lutheran church was a primitive structure upon the steep hill near Jones’ Falls. It was approached only with difficulty, and the steep, sandy hill was very inconvenient for the older people. Nevertheless, the congregation had found its first permanent home, which was a monument to their honor and credit. 

Many years later, Pastor J. Daniel Kurtz reminded the people of Zion of this willingness to sacrifice, which distinguished the congregation in 1762: “May our contemporaries remember these and similar sorrowful days of their forefathers, and thank the Lord in humility of the heart, if they in the actual wealth of their congregation can worship their God in well-constructed, beautiful temples.” The old manuscript gives testimony to the fact that they were well aware of their limitations, when we read: “Wisely we had to cut our coat according to our cloth, and erected only a wooden building which we would consider a school-house until our revenues would allow us to build the church proper.” But they were also looking forward to the future when the chronicler added: “If, however, a church with a steeple should be built upon the hill, it cannot help being seen afar and will make a fine appearance. For the time being it could not at all be compared with the temple of Solomon, except for our ardent zeal which made it possible that within a short time we could gather there for services.”

When Pastor Kirchner held his first service in the church it was a day of happy thanksgiving. The flock, scattered and without a home a few years earlier, now gathered for the first time in a church of its own, built by the members with their own hands. The roughly hewn benches and unadorned walls of weatherboard were far from providing a comfortable setting for divine services. But comfort was alien to these pioneers who gathered there even in the harsh winter days, when the cold northwest wind would pierce through the thin walls. Schoolmaster Worschler led the singing, uncouth and simple as it was, unaided by the music of an organ. Then Pastor Kirchner would stand before the simple altar, lead the congregation in a prayer and begin his sermon. He had no great zeal for liturgical worship and, he sometimes spoke of the liturgy as “the exercises preparatory to the sermon.”