Jordan Lutheran celebrates 285 years serving the community
Jordan Lutheran Church, Orefield, kicked off its year-long 285th anniversary celebration with a luncheon following the March 3 worship service.
Luncheon guests dined on glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, rolls, beverages and apple crumb pie for dessert.
After the luncheon, church members Elwood Laudenslager and Ted DuBois, both of South Whitehall, and Ruth Kemp of The Lutheran Home at Topton shared the church’s history.
“The church building was dedicated July 31, 1842, and in 1868, the church basement was excavated for Sunday School purposes,” Laudenslager said. “The tower, bell and steeple was added in 1886.”
In 1887, sheds for horses belonging to church members were built.
“The Rev. Wesley Wenner came to Jordan Lutheran Church in 1926,” Laudenslager stated.
“On June 9, 1927, a committee of 17 women was appointed by Pastor Wenner to organize a Ladies Aid Society.
“This marked the beginning of an organization which did much for Jordan Church.”
The first project was building an annex in 1928. This included a large social room and lavatories. An artesian well was drilled, as well.
Pastor Wenner served Jordan Lutheran from 1926 to 1952.
“The Rev. Arthur Grammes was the interim pastor from October 1952 to June 1953,” Laudenslager said. “He gave advice to the council and congregation to begin weekly worship services.”
Laudenslager said when the Rev. Marvin Harding came to Jordan on June 1, 1953, the church council purchased a home in Seigersville for a parsonage.
In 1960, Laudenslager and his wife, Lucille, helped organized Boy Scout Cub Pack 60 with Maryann and Bob Meagher.
“When the Rev. Carl Schmoyer was pastor I was on the church council,” Laudenslager said. “We helped the fund drive build the Sunday School addition and held its groundbreaking in 1964.”
In 1976, the church celebrated its bicentennial with many members wearing Colonial-era costumes.
“In 1997 and 1998, a group of volunteers, most retired, got together to remodel the adult Sunday School room to become the memory room,” Laudenslager said. “After the memory room was finished we started with the Sunday School foyer and removed 4-foot by 8-foot sheets of plywood, moved the alarm panel, patched walls and painted, then painted the choir room.”
DuBois said when he and his wife, Joan, came to Jordan in 1956, the church was just a sanctuary and Sunday school room.
“In 1964, an education unit was built,” he stated.
In 1956 the barn housed a dairy herd, a few years later it was home to sheep.
“In 1956 we were a two-church parish, Lowhill and us,” DuBois said. “Alternated Sundays Jordan shared a pastor. One Sunday a month the Rev. Harding was sometimes late.”
In 1970, the triangle lot which housed a house and barn was bought and turned into a parking lot.
Kemp said her roots at Jordan go back a long way as she is a seventh generation descendant of Lawrence Guth, considered one of the church founders.
“However, he was not a Lutheran,” Kemp said.
“He was a Reformed, so this became a Union church until 1752 when the Lutherans sneaked off to Philadelphia and registered the land in our name (Jordan Lutheran).”
“Lawrence Guth said in six weeks a church will stand on that hill and boom he gave 50 acres and they built a log church,” Kemp said. “Of course, that left a lot of rifts between the two congregations.”
Kemp went to Sunday School at Jordan as a child but when it was time for her to be confirmed, some of her Guth relatives became feisty so she was confirmed at Jordan UCC.
“That was wartime and there was very little transportation, so I didn’t get there very much,” she said.
After nursing school, moving to Oklahoma and getting married there, she returned home to Pennsylvania.
“When we moved here, I was still considered a member of Jordan UCC,” Kemp stated. “My sister was coming to Jordan Lutheran and raved on and on about the new young preacher and all the stuff that was going on here, so we had to come visit and we were hooked.
“It wasn’t long before we were members of Jordan Lutheran and we got involved in all the activities.”
Kemp was the second female elected to the church council at Jordan Lutheran.
“It is because of Jordan that we found a faith to live by and we are forever grateful to Jordan Lutheran,” she said in closing.
Before leaving the luncheon, members were able to view old church artifacts, photos and directories furnished by Elwood and Lucille Laudenslager.