Important Dates in Zion’s History
In 1784 a lot and a half was purchased from Col. Christopher Truby at Main and 3rd, and First Lutheran Church was established at that corner. This was a German Lutheran Congregation.
Fast forward about 60 years, a groundswell of voices within the congregation of First Lutheran urging they begin to worship in “the language of commerce.”
In 1847 The Rev. John Rugan was called to First Lutheran Church with his focus to be on English services. In that year, “every other week English services were begun,” but the older members voted to stop these services after just a few weeks.
As the hope for worship in English was dashed, “A critical number” of members banded together and:
Resolved, That it is proper and expedient to organize an English Lutheran congregation in Greensburg.
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to ascertain who and how many will be willing to enter this organization.
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to draft resolutions, and nominate officers under this constitution.
1848 January 16 the first English congregation in the city, Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, was established with 40 members. The Pastor was the Rev. John Rugan. Worship was held first at the Episcopal Church, then the Court House, then the Presbyterian Church.
1851 the lot where we now stand witness was secured and a small clapboard church was built costing 2,800.00. The Rev. Michael Eyster was then pastor (Trinity Adamsburg (yoked) and Salem in Delmont, planted). He died at 39 years of age in August 1853. His remains were re-interred in the lowest level in Zion’s, along with Col. Truby and his wife, following the commercial development of the former Lutheran cemetery.
1877 the first building was destroyed by a fire which originated in Naly’s Opera House across the street.
1878 the first services in the new building were held in the basement.
1879 new building was dedicated. Communing membership was 325.
From the years of its founding, until 1932, Zion’s was served by 18 Pastors. Since 1932 Zion’s has been served by just 5 Senior pastors (there have been two assisting pastors during that time)
1932 Pastor J. Paul Harman was installed.
1936 ground was broken for the educational unit; the building was then dedication May 9, 1937.
1938 January 16, on the ninetieth anniversary of its organization, the congregation re-dedicated the remodeled chancel and nave.
1952 another cornerstone is laid as the old walls, constructed in 1877 were encased with the brick and stone you now see as the exterior.
1964 November 8, The Rev. J. Paul Harman retires.
1965 The Rev. Kenneth R. May is called. He is elected President (Bishop) of the Synod in 1974.
1974 The Rev. John P. Harman (son of J. Paul) is called as pastor. He served Zion’s for 23 years. Zion’s celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination in June of 2012.
1998 The Rev. Gene Stuckey is called as pastor. Pastor Stuckey retired in 2009.
2010 Our current pastor, The Rev. Brian B. Chaffee is installed on August 15.
+ Pastor Carl C. Rassmussen (a lecture at the annual Luther Colloquium in Gettysburg Seminary is named for him)
+ Milton Valentine (became president of Gettysburg College, and the main building at Gettysburg Seminary is named for him.
+ Kenneth May was elected bishop of the Western Pennsylvania / West Virginia Synod of the Lutheran Church in America