- Church History
- Pastors Serving Zion
Zion Lutheran Church
Spring City, PA
As Chester County’s oldest Lutheran church, Zion boasts a fascinating and inspirational history rooted in the pre-Revolutionary War era. Initially nurtured by Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America, the congregation was among the first established in Pennsylvania.
Originally known as Zion’s Lutheran Church, the congregation of early German settlers migrated to northern Chester County from Montgomery County. The church represented Muehlenberg’s effort to establish a preaching point on the western banks of the Schuylkill River.
Although northern Chester County Lutherans retained their membership in the Augustus Church at Trappe, the initial development of an early congregation had begun by 1743. However, the prohibitive distance and perilous travel made the journey particularly difficult for the aged and infirm. Consequently, Muhlenberg visited frequently on horseback, often at risk to his own safety, to baptize, preach and bring communion to the faithful.
A simple log building, a joint effort of the Lutherans and Reformed, served as the first structure. Dating to 1751, the log cabin housed worship services for both groups. In 1762, the Lutherans purchased the building and maintained sole ownership.
Muhlenberg himself preached the sermon and laid the cornerstone when the congregation began work on a new church in 1774. It was completed and dedicated in 1775. The following year saw the purchase of 50 acres of land on which to construct a parsonage. Hence, Zion emerged among the first churches in the county to own a residence for its pastor.
Zion’s Church assumed an important role in history when, during the Revolutionary War, the church pews were removed from the building in order to convert it to a hospital for American soldiers injured in the Battle of Brandywine. During the American army’s encampment at Valley Forge over the winter of 1777-78, the church was again used as a hospital. General George Washington visited the sick and wounded soldiers housed in the church building.
Erected in 1861, the third and current church building has served the congregation from the time of its construction to the present. The church’s interior was refurbished in 1993.
Please make sure to check out our Zion Art Collection.
Zion Lutheran Church
Spring City, PA
* * * Pastors Serving Zion since 1743 * * *
2009 – Present The Rev. Paul D. Townsend
2008 – 2009 The Rev. Richard Mathison
1989 – 1997 The Rev. Kristine A. Peterson (Asst. Pastor)
1985 – 2007 The Rev. Dr. Kenneth S. Nelson
1966 – 1985 The Rev. Dr. Ralph Alderfer
1962 – 1965 The Rev. Gordon W. Ward, Jr.
1956 – 1962 The Rev. Charles E. Mertz
1951 – 1956 The Rev. Eugene C. Harmony
1933 – 1951 The Rev. H. Oscar Schlessman, Jr.
1926 – 1933 The Rev. Dr. Abraham B. Markley
1922 – 1926 The Rev. John E. Mohn
1910 – 1922 The Rev. Dr. Charles L. Dapp
1906 – 1910 The Rev. William K. Fischer
1904 – 1906 The Rev. Hiram F. Seiger
1892 – 1903 The Rev. J. B. Haigler
1872 – 1892 The Rev. Jacob Neff
1864 – 1872 The Rev. Henry Seipel Miller
1855 – 1864 The Rev. William Weaver, A.M.
1850 – 1854 The Rev. J. Clemens Miller
1842 – 1850 The Rev. C. F. Weldon
1840 – 1842 The Rev. H. S. Miller
1836 – 1840 The Rev. Frederick Ruthrauff
1827 – 1836 The Rev. Jacob Wampole, Sr.
1818 – 1823 The Rev. Frederick W. Geissenhainer, Jr. (Asst. Pastor)
1817 – 1827 The Rev. Frederick W. Geissenhainer, Sr.
1807 – 1815 The Rev. Frederick William Jasensky
1807 – 1807 The Rev. John Revenauch
1804 – 1807 The Rev. Conrad Frederick Plitt
1800 – 1803 The Rev. J. F. Weinland
1765 – 1800 The Rev. John Ludwig Voigt
1762 – 1765 The Rev. Jacob VanBuskerk
1754 – 1762 The Rev. John Helfrich Schaum
1743 – 1754 The Rev. Henry M. Muhlenberg (Founder)