A Bit of History
St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church is located in Schaefferstown in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country. At St. Luke you will find a church that is steeped in history from its founding in 1765, yet committed to meeting the needs of members and the community in the 21st century.
In fulfilling its purpose – “As the Body of Christ we proclaim the Gospel by serving and doing God’s will in a manner that meets the needs of a changing world” – the ministry of St. Luke Lutheran focuses on serving the Lord and our neighbors as Jesus taught his Disciples, and showing through faith and outreach the transformative power of Jesus Christ in our daily lives.
Since 2014 the congregation has been involved in an ongoing renewal process, discerning the Emmaus Road account in Luke Chapter 24 as our Guiding Story, from which the following four Guiding Principles were adopted:
We study scripture, pray, and gather in worship to open ourselves to trust God and each other. We practice walking together through compassionate listening and sharing the love of God. We practice being patient, loving and generous companions with God to serve and meet the needs of others. We practice authentic hospitality by welcoming others as we would welcome Christ.
Our History: From the 1700s to the 21st Century
Lutheran Christians in Schaefferstown started worshipping together as early as 1720, holding services in two log buildings shared with the Reformed Congregation, and served initially by traveling missionaries, theological students, and teachers. This early gathering was known as the Union Church.
The Rev. Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, who became known as the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania, received a call in 1741 to serve as a missionary in this area and preached at St. Luke.
From the 1700s to the 21st century! A rich heritage and a firm faith that lives on in the congregation to this day. As a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we welcome all to worship and fellowship with us, knowing that when we gather for worship, we connect with believers everywhere. We are part of God’s unfolding plan.
- In 1765, the Lutherans sold their interest in the Union Church and constructed their church at the corner of Church Hill Road and Main Street, where it stands today.
- The new building was constructed of native limestone and sandstone trim. The interior included three galleries with heavy wooden pillars and long straight-backed pews facing a raised pulpit. A four-foot square altar stood in front of the pulpit, having a railing around the four sides.
- Among early gifts given to the church were a Dieffenbach pipe organ, a pewter communion service, and a German pulpit Bible.
- During the Revolutionary War, the church was used as a hospital and suffered considerable damage.
- Eighteen pastors and one assistant pastor (The Rev. Frederick AC Muhlenberg, who later became the first speaker of the House of Representatives) have served the congregation.
- The last major renovations to the church were completed in 1884, when the steeple was moved to the east end along with the main entrance, the pulpit was moved to the west side, and the balcony was added.
- The Chapel building was constructed in 1932 to serve as a Sunday School and social gathering facility.
- The longest-tenured pastor to serve St. Luke Lutheran in Schaefferstown was the Rev. William W. Miller, who served from 1952 to 1992. He was known throughout the community as Pastor Bill. In 2010, the chapel was renamed “The Rev. William W. Miller Chapel.”