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History of Christ Lutheran Church

Additonal Founding Information

Picture of Church on Dedication Day The following content was extracted from an email sent by Pastor Silliker to a member of the media in response to a request for historical information on the beginning of Christ Lutheran Church

Your request sent me digging. In the huge, old church safe I found a pile of documents, including the program from 1935 when Christ Church celebrated its 45th anniversary. It contained the information I'm sharing about the three buildings. I also found a basement closet with old documents and photographs wrapped in crumbling newspaper and brown craft paper. Is there any volunteer group who might be interested in sorting through it?

Apparently, my understanding of the founding of the church was slightly garbled. In fact, in 1867 a Sunday School group from Zion was meeting in a little school house at 18th and Park. In 1872, Shoop offered some property at 15th & Shoop to gather the members of the Sunday School into a congregation. ("Mr. Shoop owned most of the land between between State Street and Market Street.") They accepted, and in 1872 they formed Jubilee Chapel, which at some point must have changed its name to Memorial. They outgrew their space and couldn't agree where to build. In 1890 Christ Church began. 62 of the original 64 members "had withdrawn from Memorial Lutheran Church."

In the description of the argument about where to build, it was noted that, "At that time [1880's] there were no houses on State Street east of Fourteenth. The section between State Street and Herr Street was a brickyard. There were no houses on Market Street east of Fifteenth. All of the land east of Seventeenth Street was farm land. The assumpion was that the Hill Section of Harrisburg would develop out Derry Street."

The first building was at 13th and Thompson. July, 1890 through March, 1891 they met at the Webster Public School Building at 13th & Kittatinny while the church was being built, at a total cost of $10,000. Rev. F.L. Bergstresser was one of the preachers who dedicated it. It was re-frescoed, the pipe organ re-built and a stereopticon was installed in 1912. In 1916 the "Sunday School Chapel" was dedicated.

The 1923 Easter offering was the financial foundation for a new building. We still have the model that was made "so that members might see what they could enjoy in the finished product." I had found that model early on in my association with Christ Lutheran, and thought it was from the nursery for kids to play with! That 1916 building, and another small building that had been erected on church property, were dismantled starting in October, 1923, and contruction continued into in November, 1925. The first Service in the new, current building was held on January 3, 1926.

One of our members who is in her mid-80's, recalls being very young and terrified of the church basement. The bathroom was there. The floor was dirt and a spring actually ran through it. She hated having to jump over the spring to get to the bathroom for fear of not making it. It's concrete now, but to this day, when we get torrential rains, water comes up out of the drains there (no sewer smell either).