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Jerusalem Western Salisbury
3441 Devonshire Road
Allentown, PA 18103
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When determining the age of something, the "birth" year is important, for people as well as for objects. As we are now preparing for our 275th Anniversary, I thought it might be fun to look back and find the oldest information in the records about celebrating an anniversary. Consulting the "Minute Book of Salisbury Church," which is the oldest minute book we have in the archives (1884), I began to look for a date of an anniversary celebration. I thought I might find a one hundred and fiftieth anniversary celebration alluded to in the minutes in 1891, but the minutes were silent on a celebration that year. However, the minutes of 29 August 1893 had the following motion: "By a request of some of the members of the Congregations to [hold] a One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary, the Consistory decided to do so on the 8th of October 1893."
Did they forget to hold the celebration two years earlier? No, rather they were celebrating the anniversary of the church using the date they presumably had proof of: the issuance of the deed for the first log church, which happened in 1743. The story was recorded by Rev. William Rath, Lutheran pastor, on page 72 of a book entitled Skizzen aus dem Lecha-Thale by Benjamin F. Trexler (1886). This deed was granted on December 15, 1743: "An enthusiastic oral buying and selling had been done and closed between Heinrich Roth and Johann Martin Bamberger of one part and Johann Wilhelm Straub, preacher here on the Little Lehigh, and his elders. We give to ourselves this little place (2 acres for 20 shillings,) with all rights and freedoms of land, on which is already built an Evangelical Reformed and Lutheran Church, to honor our God and (provide) our souls [and those who follow] with holy Grace and Righteousness." (English translation from German by Richard L. Musselman.)
So there you have it. In 1893, the congregations were celebrating 150 years of the first church building, dated from the record of the first deed. By the way, the minute book also has a record of October 8, 1893 for the "150th Anniversary." Collections for two services (one at 9:30 in the morning and one at 2:00 in the afternoon) amounted to $53.60. It was recorded that "the church was very nicely decorated with evergreens and flowers." After the afternoon service, "large tables were erected on the lawn, plentifully supplied with eatables of all kinds by the members, and [they were] repeatedly filled by friends and members of the church." H. J. Reinhart (1845 - 1927) finishes the entry for the day with these words for the future: "May many more such pleasant events occur."
So where did the year 1741 come from? In the original Lutheran Parish Register, with baptisms dating from 1755, a new page was begun by the Rev. Daniel Schumacher in 1759. On this page he records the following: "Anno Domini 1741 ist die Kirche gebaut worden" (In the year of the Lord 1741 was the church built.) Thereafter in the register, he records the names of the children who he baptized. So we are thankful for Pastor Schumacher, who recorded the building of the first church in 1741.
Apparently by 1896, someone in the church discovered that 1741 was the important year, and later that year on September 13, a 155th Anniversary Service was held, in which the Lutheran collection was $19.66 and Reformed collection was $19.47. They even had a booklet printed up with the text of the sermon preached that day by Rev. Dr. F. D. F. Schantz. This was translated from the original German in its entirety by Richard L. Musselman and is filed in the church archives.
I appreciate the positive responses to my articles and I am pleased that people are interested in the rich history of our church.. If you have a curiosity about our church and its history, please contact me through the church office or at Finkyx@aol.com.
Joshua Arthur Fink, Historian