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Jerusalem Western Salisbury
3441 Devonshire Road
Allentown, PA 18103
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Office: 610-797-4242 or 610-791-4979
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The 275th Anniversary Committee has been planning some events to benefit the anniversary celebration (more information at the end of this article.) One of the projects that committee is working on for the anniversary is to create a new history book. This may be in the form of a history, or might also include the republishing of our parochial records, which are especially important to genealogists. If we are to republish the records, we are certainly indebted to an earlier group who compiled the 1911 history, the first real historical book for our church. Some of the records and information contained therein would have been lost to history. I consult this book almost every time I write a history article, so I praise God that someone took the initiative to compile the history back in 1911.
There was, of course, a committee back in 1911 who prepared and arranged the book, just as there will need to be this time around, a little more than 100 years later. This committee was comprised of Tilghman Neimeyer, Jacob J. Reinhard, Marcus J. Kemmerer, Rev. Myron O. Rath and Rev. John Baer Stoudt. While I am sure this was a collective effort, my hunch is that the book was a result of the urging of Rev. Dr. John Baer Stoudt, who at the time, was the pastor of the Reformed congregation. The writer of both the introduction and the chapter on the Reformed congregation, Rev. Stoudt was a new pastor at the time, but one who had a real sense of the past as it helps to guide a congregation into the future. He may have been the right pastor at the right time in the congregations's history, for as he says in the introduction "it seems strange ... that this work was not done many years ago, when many of the records now lost were still at hand and when the necessary facts for an accurate history might have been more easily collected."
While he may have only been pastor of the Reformed congregation for two and half years, Rev. John Baer Stoudt left an indelible impression on our church. He was born in Maxatawny Township, Berks County on October 17, 1878, the second son of John Reppert Stoudt and his wife Anna Amanda (Baer) Carl. He spent his boyhood days on a farm in Richmond Township and was graduated from the Fleetwood High School. He attended the Keystone State Normal School (now Kutztown University) and earned his diploma in 1901. He taught school for one term and then entered the College of Franklin and Marshall in 1902, graduating from that institution in 1905. From there, he went on to the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church at Lancaster, from which he graduated with honors on May 14, 1908. He was examined and licensed by the Reverend Classis of Lehigh on June 3 of that year and accepted a call from the Salisbury Reformed Charge (consisting of Western Salisbury, St. John Reformed, Emmaus and St. Mark Reformed, Allentown.) His ordination took place on September 28, 1908 at St. Mark's Reformed Church in South Allentown.
Rev. Stoudt married Elizabeth A. DeLong, daughter of Joseph and Mary (Yoder) DeLong of Topton on October 15, 1908. Miss DeLong was the great great great granddaughter of Peter DeLong, founder of Christ (DeLong's) Reformed Church in Bowers, PA.
In his two and a half years of ministry at Jerusalem, Western Salisbury, Rev. Stoudt was very progressive. The charge was divided (St. Mark's left the charge) and the Reformed congregation's membership was increased. Contributions for congregational and benevolent support doubled. Lastly, English language morning services were introduced during his tenure.
His work with the Salisbury charge did not go unnoticed. Grace Reformed Church of Northampton extended a call to Rev. Stoudt on February 8, 1911. That evening, the joint consistory of the Salisbury charge adopted resolutions thanking him for his spiritual guidance and conscientious work.
Soon after arriving in Northampton, a son was to born to the Stoudts, John Joseph, who was born at the Grace parsonage on March 11, 1911 (he would later go to be a Pennsylvania German scholar, following in his father's footsteps.) While the pastor of Grace, Northampton, he helped to co-author the monumental 1914 History of Lehigh County in three volumes. Rev. Stoudt labored at Grace for nearly eleven years, until retiring from the pulpit in 1922.
Rev. Stoudt assumed the directorship of the Huguenot-Walloon Tercentenary in 1922. This national celebration that was to take place in 1924 in both America and abroad, commemorating three hundred years after the settlement of New Netherland in 1624. This appointment brought him great international fame, as he organized events and made possible a Huguenot commemorative stamp and the Huguenot half dollar (below).
In 1924, Rev. Stoudt was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree by the University of Montpelier, France. He then served as the assistant to the President of Cedar Crest College from 1925-1926. In 1926, in the Pennsylvania Building at the Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia, he was responsible for bringing together six county "liberty bells," bells that had proclaimed freedom on the day in which the Declaration of Independence was read in their respective towns ad locations.
In his later years, Rev. Dr. Stoudt with his family lived at 1054 Tilghman Street in Allentown and devoted much of his time to writing and lecturing. In addition to our history book, as well as Grace, Northampton's, he is remembered for books such The Folklore of the Pennsylvania Germans (1916), which is still in print. In 1916, he also wrote Michael Schlatter in the Valley of the Lehigh and later in 1930, The Liberty Bells of Pennsylvania. He was also a member of historical and church societies too numerous to list.
At last, his earthly labors ceased on April 8, 1944, at the Allentown Hospital after a short illness. His funeral took place on April 12 at Salem Reformed Church in Allentown and his buried along side his wife at Christ's (DeLong's) UCC in Bowers.
I have appreciated 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